Best Prepaid Debit Cards for February 2023     – CNET

Best Prepaid Debit Cards for February 2023 – CNET

Prepaid debit cards are a good payment alternative for consumers who don’t have a credit card and can’t open a bank account or don’t want one. Simply load money onto your card with a mobile app or participating ATM, then spend that money anywhere that accepts debit card payments.

Most prepaid cards will provide some services of a traditional checking account — you can usually set up direct deposits, pay bills or deposit checks on your phone. Prepaid debit cards might have fees or limits on deposits and withdrawals. Be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of any card before purchasing. 

You could enable your children’s spending with a prepaid debit card, while teaching them how to be responsible with money. Or set a tight budget by restricting your spending to no more than what you’ve loaded onto your card at the beginning of the month.

Find our top partner offers for the best prepaid debit cards with the lowest fees and the most features below.

Best overall prepaid debit card

Monthly fee: $6.95
ATM Fee: Free at MoneyPass ATMs or $2.50 elsewhere
Reload fee: $0
Cash reload limits: $20 to $500
Other fees: Card purchase is $1.50 at retail stores or free if ordered online
Reload locations: Over 45,000 across the US

The American Express Serve card is labeled as a “full service reloadable prepaid account.” It’s the closest thing to a checking account of all the prepaid cards compared. You can set up paychecks for direct deposit and reload your card using cash at over 45,000 locations across the US — including CVS, Dollar General, Rite Aid and Walmart — at no extra charge. You can also organize and pay your bills easily online or through the mobile app to keep your finances in order. Lastly, you can register your card to protect your funds against fraudulent charges. 

Best virtual prepaid debit card

Monthly fee: $0
ATM Fee: $2
Reload fee: None
Cash reload limits: Two deposits per day (up to $4,000) and no more than four deposits per rolling 30-day period (up to $8,000)
Other fees: Order a physical Cash Card for $2.95
Reload locations: 3.5 million in-network ATMs; participating retailers

Movo offers a virtual prepaid Visa that eliminates the need for a plastic card. You’ll receive a Mastercard number you can add to your digital wallet to make payments and deposits through the mobile app. Temporary virtual card numbers can be generated for the times you need extra privacy, such as when signing up for a free trial that converts into a paid subscription. Movo also lets you convert and transfer cryptocurrency as cash anytime. If you need to deposit cash, you can visit one of Movo’s 3.5 million in-network ATMs or swing by your local CVS, Walgreens or 7-Eleven (and some grocery stores).

Best low-fee prepaid debit card

Monthly fee: $0
ATM Fee: Free in-network, $2.50 elsewhere
Reload fee: Free at Walmart, $3.95 at participating retailers
Cash reload limits: $20 to $1,999 once your card is activated; $1 to $500 for temporary cards
Other fees: No account inactivity or card replacement fees
Reload locations: Over 30,000

The Bluebird by American Express prepaid debit card has the lowest fees of all the cards on this list. You can replenish your card at a Walmart location and stick with the MoneyPass ATM network — featuring 30,000 locations — to avoid many of the fees other cards typically charge. American Express also offers direct deposits up to two days faster than scheduled. And once you’ve verified your email address, you can pay bills and set up recurring payments.

Best prepaid debit card for reload options

Monthly fee: $4.95
ATM Fee: Balance inquiries are $0.50, withdrawals are $2.50 each
Reload fee: Up to $3.95
Cash reload limits: Up to $500
Other fees: Card is free if you order online or up to $4.95 at participating retailers
Reload locations: Over 130,000 
Welcome bonus: Refer a friend and you’ll each receive $20
Welcome bonus value: $40

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard offers the most ways to replenish your prepaid card out of all the cards on this list. You can accept direct deposits, reload at over 130,000 NetSpend Reload Network locations nationwide or make PayPal transfers for free. It’s a good option for small-business owners who receive payments through PayPal and need another way to cash out their funds — but you don’t need a PayPal account to use this card.

Best prepaid debit card for kids

Monthly fee: $4.99 to $9.98 (up to five kids)
ATM Fee: Free
Reload fee: N/A
Cash reload limits: N/A
Other fees: Custom-design card fee for $9.99, card replacement $3.50
Reload locations: N/A

Entrusting your kids with their own debit cards can help teach them about budgeting and financial responsibility. The Greenlight debit card is available for kids of all ages and provides tutorials about money management. Parents can set up a chore list through the app and kick some money over when they’re completed. Funds transfer instantly, in case your kids are out with friends and need money in a pinch. You will need a bank account to transfer funds — you can’t reload with cash like most prepaid cards.

If you’d like your kids to get some practical knowledge about investing, the $7.99 and $9.98 monthly plans add stock trading. Don’t worry — you can approve the trades first. But it’s pretty cool to get notifications that your child wants to buy Starbucks shares instead of a latte.

Best prepaid debit card for rewards

Monthly fee: $7.95
ATM Fee: Free at MoneyPass ATMs or $2.50 elsewhere
Reload fee: $3.95
Cash reload limits: $20 – $500
Other fees: Card purchase is $1.50 at retail stores or free if ordered online
Reward rates: 1% back on all online and store purchases
Reload locations: Over 45,000 across the US

Not to be confused with the free reload card, the Serve American Express Prepaid Debit Account helps you earn cash back for purchases you would be making anyway — a true rarity for a prepaid card. Serve rewards you with 1% back on all your purchases, which hit your account as soon as the transaction settles. You can’t redeem the rewards as actual cash during ATM withdrawals, but you can apply your cash-back balance to your next in-store or online purchase.


How do prepaid debit cards work?

Prepaid debit cards usually are associated with major credit card issuers such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express, and they can be used where standard credit cards are accepted. Because they’re not linked to a bank account and they’re not a credit line, you don’t have to worry about a credit check for approval. As long as you have a card, you can reload it online or at a retailer. The funds you add to the card are available right away for spending. Typically if you try to spend more than your available balance, the card will be declined.

Most prepaid cards offer many of the features you’d expect from a checking account — you can pay bills, receive direct deposits, transfer money, withdraw funds at ATMs and deposit cash. But prepaid cards come with a number of fees you should keep your eye on, such as a monthly or reload fee.

What’s the difference between a prepaid debit card and a traditional debit card?

A traditional debit card is linked to a bank account, so any purchases you make using your debit card will be withdrawn from your bank account. A prepaid debit card is not linked to a bank account, so you can only spend as much as the available balance. If the balance runs low, you’ll need to reload the card by adding cash at a participating retailer or transferring money to the card, if it’s permitted.

How much do prepaid debit cards cost?

Prepaid debit cards come with a variety of fees that add to the cost. While many companies allow you to order a free card online, you can also purchase a card at a local retailer for anywhere between $1 and $6. Besides the cost of buying a card, most cards have a monthly fee that varies between $4 and $10 per month. Other fees include reload charges, which can cost as much as $6 per transaction and ATM withdrawals of $2.50 on average.

Is a prepaid debit card right for me?

Prepaid debit cards are a good alternative to a traditional checking account. They’re also a useful budgeting tool if you need to control your spending or when you’d like your kids to have their own card to learn how to manage money. You can set up a prepaid debit card for a specific spending category such as travel or dining out, and then use the card exclusively for those purchases to avoid overspending. 

Cards researched

  • Serve American Express Prepaid Debit Account
  • Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card
  • Bluebird by American Express
  • PayPal Prepaid Mastercard
  • Greenlight Debit Card
  • Serve American Express Prepaid Debit Account
  • Walmart MoneyCard
  • Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card From Chase
  • MyVanilla Prepaid Visa Card
  • Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard
  • Western Union Netspend Mastercard® Prepaid Card
  • Control Prepaid Mastercard
  • AAA MemberPay Visa Prepaid Card
  • CUMONEY Visa Everyday Spend Prepaid Card
  • Cashpass Visa Prepaid Card
  • Commerce Bank mySpending Card
  • Netspend Prepaid Mastercard
  • Netspend Visa Prepaid Card
  • smiONE Visa Prepaid Card
  • The Mango Prepaid Mastercard
  • BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Debit Card
  • ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card
  • FamZoo Prepaid Mastercard
  • PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa Card
  • Green Dot Reloadable Prepaid Visa Card

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Cynthia Paez Bowman

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