20 Best Prepaid Debit Cards in 2018

20 Best Prepaid Debit Cards in [current_year]
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Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: October 30, 2018
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Although it’s now easier than ever to open a new bank account — online banking means you can even do it in your pajamas — a traditional bank account and debit card may not be for everyone.

For some folks, prepaid debit cards can represent a simpler, perhaps even a more affordable, way to keep on top of their money. Others still may pair a prepaid debit card (or two) with a traditional bank account to add an extra layer of organization to their budgets.

Whatever your reason for choosing a prepaid debit card for your purchases, finding the right debit card can be an important part of making the most of your money. Whether you prefer a specific network or want to minimize your fees, there’s likely a prepaid card that fits your needs.

Mastercard | Visa | American Express
No Monthly Fees | No Transaction Fees
No ATM Fees | Alternatives

Best Mastercard Prepaid Debit Cards

Although there are many factors that go into picking the right prepaid card, which network logo it sports will determine where you can use the card. While many merchants accept all four major networks (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express), that’s not true of all merchants.

Mastercard has extensive merchant acceptance throughout the country, with more than 40 million merchants taking Mastercard cards. This gives users a lot of options since Mastercard prepaid debit cards can be used to make purchases anywhere Mastercard Debit is accepted.

  • Trust Brink's with your money. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with Direct Deposit.
  • Access your money whenever, wherever you are. Use your mobile phone and online Account Center to check your balance, send money, find reload/ATM locations and much more.
  • Let alerts help you stay connected to your money. Know when your card is used, direct deposit arrives, transaction details and your available balance.
  • Shop securely Online with a Virtual Account so you don't have to use your card number.
  • Add extra protection for shopping in stores by putting your photo on your card.
  • Earn Cash Back via the PayBack Rewards program from restaurants, shops and more.
  • $10 Purchase Cushion When You're A Little Short.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

Whether you want a monthly plan with unlimited transactions or a pay-as-you-go plan with per-transaction charges, this card offers a purchase plan for you. No matter which plan you pick, however, direct deposit is always free. The card also has a handy mobile app so you can manage your money wherever you go.

2. Akimbo Prepaid Mastercard®

The Akimbo Prepaid Mastercard® aims to help users organize their expenses by offering multiple cards to users so each major expense can have its own dedicated prepaid card. The first sub-account card is free, and there’s no monthly fee (so long as the account stays active).

Akimbo Prepaid Mastercard®

  • Reload for free with ACH transfer, direct deposit, or mobile check deposit
  • Pay $0 transaction fee on signature or online purchases
  • Pay $0 monthly fee

Additional sub-account cards will have a $4.95 account creation fee. And while signature and online transactions are free, PIN transactions will have a 99¢ fee for the first five transactions.

3. Mango Prepaid Mastercard®

The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® has one of the lowest monthly fees of fee-charging prepaid debit cards. It also charges no transaction fees, though it has no option for fee-free ATM withdrawals.

Mango Prepaid Mastercard®

  • Reload for free with direct deposit, card-to-card online transfers, or bank-to-card transfers
  • Pay $0 for online and in-store transactions
  • Pay $3 monthly fee

Cardholders can add funds to their card in several ways, including through eligible retail locations, as well as MoneyGram, Western Union, and GreenDot Reload. Direct deposits, card-to-card transfers, and bank-to-card transfers can also be used and have no fee.

Best Visa Prepaid Debit Cards

With some countries sporting only minimal credit or debit card acceptance rates, international travelers have to be particularly aware of what network they use. Visa is the undeniable leader in global card payments, accepted in over 200 countries around the world.

Of course, acceptance isn’t guaranteed here in the U.S., either. For example, Visa is also the only card network accepted at Costco wholesale stores, which may make all the difference to cardholders who like to take advantage of Costco’s bulk buys.

  • Easy to sign up. Set up your secure PIN and load money to your card with cash or checks or enroll in Direct Deposit.
  • Enroll in Direct Deposit and get your pay up to two days early. Certain restrictions apply*
  • Easy Online Bill Pay - pay your rent, utilities or a friend*.
  • Shop online and in stores - everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
  • Your funds are FDIC-Insured through MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card accounts are subject to ID Verification.*
  • * Certain restrictions apply. See card site for details. Click on "Apply Now" to learn more about Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

This card offers purchase plans for multiple types of users, with both an unlimited monthly plan and a pay-as-you-go plan. The monthly plan charges a monthly fee (with a discounted fee for users with direct deposit) but offers unlimited transactions, while the pay-as-you-go plan charges $1.00 per transaction.

5. Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card

The Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card is a solid low-fee Visa prepaid debit card option, offering free transactions anywhere Visa is accepted, as well as fee-free withdrawals at any Chase ATM or bank branch.

Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card

  • Add funds through direct deposit, cash loads at Chase branch, bank transfer, or check deposits
  • Pay $0 for PIN or signature transactions
  • Pay $4.95 monthly fee

Cardholders can also reload their card for free by transferring funds from an eligible checking or savings account, or by visiting a Chase bank branch or ATM and using cash or a check to make a deposit. Checks can also be deposited for free through Chase’s mobile app.

6. Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card

The Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card offers users their choice of purchase plan. For frequent users, the monthly plan unlocks unlimited transactions, while the pay-as-you-go plan charges per transaction for more conservative spenders.

Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card

  • Pay $9.95, $5.00, or $0 monthly fee, depending on the purchase plan you choose
  • Choose a monthly or pay-as-you-go plan
  • Free direct deposit

Cardholders can reload their cards for free by setting up direct deposit or through an account-to-account transfer. Cards can also be reloaded through eligible retail locations, though some retailers may charge a fee for the service.

Best American Express Prepaid Debit Cards

American Express is one of two processing networks that also issues many of its own payment cards. It is also ranked as one of the top two card issuers in terms of customer satisfaction in the U.S..

While American Express doesn’t have as high a rate of merchant acceptance as Visa or Mastercard, most domestic merchants that accept the other networks will also be likely to accept American Express cards, though the international acceptance rate can be much lower.

7. Bluebird® by American Express

The Bluebird® by American Express is one of the more affordable prepaid debit cards you can obtain, charging no monthly fees, no transaction fees, and no ATM fees for ATM withdrawals made at MoneyPass® ATMs.

Bluebird® by American Express

  • Add funds for free through direct deposit, mobile check capture, debit card transfer, or at Walmart
  • $0 activation fee & $0 card fee when you buy online
  • $0 Monthly Fee

Reloading this card is also free when you do so via direct deposit, through mobile check capture (instant check deposits may have a fee), or by using cash or a debit card to reload at a Walmart store.

8. American Express Serve®

The American Express Serve® isn’t quite as fee-free as its other prepaid Amex sibling, but that may be worthwhile for users who want to take advantage of the card’s additional reloading options, including more retail locations and the ability to reload online.

American Express Serve®

  • Reload for free at over 45,000 locations including CVS/pharmacy®, Dollar General®, Walmart® and more
  • Pay $0 activation fee & $0 card fee when you buy online
  • Pay $4.95 monthly fee

While this card has a monthly fee, it still offers free transactions, free ATM withdrawals at MoneyPass® ATMs, and, of course, free reloads through direct deposit or with cash at thousands of retail locations.

Best Prepaid Debit Cards with No Monthly Fees

One reason many people turn to prepaid debit cards for their money management is to avoid the big account fees charged by many banks these days. As such, paying big monthly fees for a prepaid card kind of defeats the purpose.

And it makes even less sense to pay big fees when you’re using prepaid cards as an organizational tool to augment your existing bank accounts. These cards offer the option to avoid monthly fees entirely, making them a viable option for either type of prepaid card user.

  • Trust Brink's with your money. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with Direct Deposit.
  • Access your money whenever, wherever you are. Use your mobile phone and online Account Center to check your balance, send money, find reload/ATM locations and much more.
  • Let alerts help you stay connected to your money. Know when your card is used, direct deposit arrives, transaction details and your available balance.
  • Shop securely Online with a Virtual Account so you don't have to use your card number.
  • Add extra protection for shopping in stores by putting your photo on your card.
  • Earn Cash Back via the PayBack Rewards program from restaurants, shops and more.
  • $10 Purchase Cushion When You're A Little Short.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

This card has two plan types, a by-the-month plan and a pay-as-you-go plan. Users who don’t want a monthly fee can choose to pay as they go, in which case they’ll only be charged when they make a transaction (accounts with no activity may be charged a monthly inactivity fee, however).

  • Easy to sign up. Set up your secure PIN and load money to your card with cash or checks or enroll in Direct Deposit.
  • Enroll in Direct Deposit and get your pay up to two days early. Certain restrictions apply*
  • Easy Online Bill Pay - pay your rent, utilities or a friend*.
  • Shop online and in stores - everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
  • Your funds are FDIC-Insured through MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card accounts are subject to ID Verification.*
  • * Certain restrictions apply. See card site for details. Click on "Apply Now" to learn more about Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

Cardholders who don’t use their prepaid card enough to make the unlimited plan’s monthly fee worth paying can choose the pay-as-you-go plan, paying just $1.00 for each transaction. Make sure you use your card at least once every 90 days to avoid being charged a fee for inactivity.

11. Bluebird® by American Express

The Bluebird® by American Express is one of the few prepaid debit cards on the market that charges no monthly fees or transaction fees, making using the card simple.

Bluebird® by American Express

  • Add funds for free through direct deposit, mobile check capture, debit card transfer, or at Walmart
  • $0 activation fee & $0 card fee when you buy online
  • $0 Monthly Fee

This card can also work for users who prefer to withdraw their money, rather than use their prepaid card to make purchases, as it charges no ATM fees at thousands of MoneyPass® ATMs around the country.

Best Prepaid Debit Cards with No Transaction Fees

When used simply as a tool to help organize your budget, prepaid debit cards likely see only a couple of transactions each month. When used as your daily debit card, however, that’s a different story — and, if you’re charged per transaction, it can be a very expensive story.

These cards offer monthly purchase plans that come with unlimited transactions, both PIN and signature, so you can make as many purchases as you like, both in-store and online. Keep in mind that most prepaid cards count ATM withdrawals as different from transactions and may require an ATM fee.

  • Trust Brink's with your money. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with Direct Deposit.
  • Access your money whenever, wherever you are. Use your mobile phone and online Account Center to check your balance, send money, find reload/ATM locations and much more.
  • Let alerts help you stay connected to your money. Know when your card is used, direct deposit arrives, transaction details and your available balance.
  • Shop securely Online with a Virtual Account so you don't have to use your card number.
  • Add extra protection for shopping in stores by putting your photo on your card.
  • Earn Cash Back via the PayBack Rewards program from restaurants, shops and more.
  • $10 Purchase Cushion When You're A Little Short.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

This card’s unlimited transaction plan has two price points, with a lower monthly fee available to cardholders who have a qualifying monthly direct deposit set up for their card account. Foreign transactions, ATM withdrawals, and certain account transfers will have a fee.

  • Easy to sign up. Set up your secure PIN and load money to your card with cash or checks or enroll in Direct Deposit.
  • Enroll in Direct Deposit and get your pay up to two days early. Certain restrictions apply*
  • Easy Online Bill Pay - pay your rent, utilities or a friend*.
  • Shop online and in stores - everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
  • Your funds are FDIC-Insured through MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card accounts are subject to ID Verification.*
  • * Certain restrictions apply. See card site for details. Click on "Apply Now" to learn more about Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

The monthly fee for this card will vary based on whether you have a qualifying monthly direct deposit, which can provide a $2 discount each month. The monthly plan includes unlimited transactions, and both available purchase plans include free bill pay and card-to-card internal transfers.

14. American Express Serve®

The American Express Serve® offers free in-store and online transactions anywhere American Express is accepted. Users can also enjoy fee-free ATM withdrawals at eligible MoneyPass® locations.

American Express Serve®

  • Reload for free at over 45,000 locations including CVS/pharmacy®, Dollar General®, Walmart® and more
  • Pay $0 activation fee & $0 card fee when you buy online
  • Pay $4.95 monthly fee

Adding funds to the card is also free through a variety of methods, including direct deposit, or by using cash at any of the thousands of participating retailers, including popular stores like Walmart and Dollar General.

Best Prepaid Debit Cards with No ATM Fees

Although each prepaid debit card has its own fee table, ATM fees seem to be a common occurrence on nearly every card’s list of fees. With these fees typically coming in around $2.50, ATM fees can turn a convenience into a huge expense if you simply need $20 for the day.

With some cards, simply checking your balance at an ATM can mean paying a fee. Happily, a number of prepaid cards offer the option to access fee-free ATM withdrawals and balance inquiries, often through large networks of ATMs, which helps ensure you’re never far from a fee-free option.

  • Easy to sign up. Set up your secure PIN and load money to your card with cash or checks or enroll in Direct Deposit.
  • Enroll in Direct Deposit and get your pay up to two days early. Certain restrictions apply*
  • Easy Online Bill Pay - pay your rent, utilities or a friend*.
  • Shop online and in stores - everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
  • Your funds are FDIC-Insured through MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card accounts are subject to ID Verification.*
  • * Certain restrictions apply. See card site for details. Click on "Apply Now" to learn more about Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

This card allows fee-free ATM withdrawals from any of its in-network ATMs. Cardholders can go to the RushCard website’s handy locator tool to find the nearest in-network ATM. Balance inquiries made at an ATM do come with a fee, however, no matter which ATM you use.

16. Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card

The Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card allows fee-free withdrawals at any of its Chase-branded ATMs or bank branches. Cardholders can also make free transactions both in-store and online.

Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card

  • Add funds through direct deposit, cash loads at Chase branch, bank transfer, or check deposits
  • Pay $0 for PIN or signature transactions
  • Pay $4.95 monthly fee

Reloading the card is also free when users have direct deposit, use cash or deposit a check through a Chase ATM or teller window, transfer funds from an eligible checking or savings account, or when they use Chase QuickDeposit to deposit checks through the Chase mobile app.

17. Bluebird® by American Express

Bluebird® by American Express cardholders have access to the MoneyPass® ATM network, so they can make free withdrawals at over 30,000 ATMs across the country. Plus, the free MoneyPass® mobile app can help users find the nearest ATM in minutes.

Bluebird® by American Express

  • Add funds for free through direct deposit, mobile check capture, debit card transfer, or at Walmart
  • $0 activation fee & $0 card fee when you buy online
  • $0 Monthly Fee

In addition to free ATM withdrawals, reloading is also free when users add funds through direct deposit, mobile check capture, or by using cash or a debit card at Walmart.

Best Alternatives to Prepaid Debit Cards for Bad Credit

Although people have many reasons for using prepaid debit cards, prepaid cards are not ideal for every situation. One particularly important thing to understand is that prepaid debit cards can’t help you establish your credit, nor can they help you build credit or improve your credit score.

That’s because prepaid cards aren’t associated with a credit line at all. If credit building is your goal, a better alternative to a prepaid debit card may be a secured credit card. Similar to a prepaid card, you can set your credit limit by making a cash deposit.

Where secured cards differ is that the money you deposit won’t actually go toward your purchases. Instead, that money acts as collateral for a credit line that you pay off each month as you use it. Those payments are reported to the credit bureaus, allowing you to build credit with responsible use.

  • Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000. Super Low Fixed 9.99% interest rate on purchases - with no penalty rate.
  • No minimum credit score requirements. We invite all credit types to apply. No processing or application fees.
  • Helps strengthen your credit with responsible card use. Reports to three national bureaus.
  • Fast, easy application process. Choose your credit line and open your Personal Savings Deposit Account to secure your line.
  • See additional Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card details
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 9.99% Yes 9.0/10

While this card does charge an annual fee, it does offer a competitive grace period to help users avoid interest on new purchases. Plus, the low APR can be a boon for any emergencies that require you to carry a balance beyond the grace period. A minimum deposit of $200 is required, though you can put down up to $5,000 for a larger credit limit.

  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$2,000 submitted with application
  • Good for car rental, hotels; Anywhere credit cards are accepted
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • Just pay off your balance and receive your deposit back at any time
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 20.49% (V) Yes 7.5/10

This card’s annual fee is relatively low — working out to less than half the typical monthly fee for a prepaid card — and the grace period for avoiding interest on new purchases covers a standard 25 days. Approved cardholders will need to make a minimum $200 deposit with a maximum deposit (and, thus, credit line) of up to $2,000.

20. Discover it® Secured Card

The Discover it® Secured Card is a powerhouse option for people who need to build credit, charging no annual fee while still offering unlimited cash back rewards on every new card purchase.

Discover it® Secured Card

  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Minimum $200 deposit
  • Pay no annual fee

What makes this card truly great for credit building is its ability to be upgraded. Discover will periodically check your payment history and credit profile to see if you qualify for an automatic upgrade to an unsecured credit card.

Prepaid Cards: One Tool in the Box

In the modern consumer finance world, people have more options than ever for ways to manage and spend their money. From online-only banks to mobile wallets to budget tracking apps, few people rely solely on that old checking account anymore.

For some consumers, prepaid debit cards are an easy, convenient way to add to their money management strategies or even replace a fee-heavy checking or savings account. But, making the most of a prepaid card comes down to finding the right card, with the right fee structure to suit your spending habits and needs.