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Compare Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards have come a long way since they were first introduced in the late 1990s. Now they're not just an option for people without bank accounts -- they're also a helpful tool for parents, budgeters, college students, and more.

Are you thinking about getting a prepaid card? Read on to learn more about what prepaid cards are, how they work, when to use them, and their pros and cons. Plus, we’ll show you how to find the best prepaid card for your needs!

What is a prepaid card?

A prepaid card is a payment card that looks like a credit card, but links to a prepaid transaction account. There is no credit involved. Cardholders can transfer money into the account and then use the prepaid card to make purchases, withdraw money from ATMs, and submit payments.

Like debit cards, prepaid cards let users tap into their savings to make purchases. But unlike debit cards, prepaid cards do not link to a bank account. As such, they're a convenient option for people who don't qualify for a bank account.

How do prepaid credit cards work?

First, purchase the prepaid card and add money into the account. Once your account is funded, you can use the prepaid card to make purchases anywhere the card is accepted.

The amount you spend on each transaction will be deducted from your total available balance. If you try to make a purchase when you don’t have enough money, it will be denied. Once your balance is depleted, you’ll need to reload the account with funds to use it again.

To reload the card, you usually need to create an account with the issuer and provide some personal information. There are a few different ways to fund a prepaid card account. To get money on your prepaid card, you can:

  • Link a bank account.
  • Deposit cash in person at a participating retailer.
  • Set up direct deposit from an employer.
  • Buy a reload pack.
  • Deposit a check at an ATM.

You can continue to load, use, and reload the prepaid card until it expires.

Who are prepaid cards good for?

The use of prepaid cards is on the rise due to the security, control, and convenience that they offer. Here are some common use cases:

People without bank accounts and/or credit cards

Prepaid cards are particularly helpful for individuals who don’t have or want standard credit cards or bank accounts. With a prepaid card, you get all the convenience and security of a credit card, so you don't have to carry around a ton of cash.

Parents

Prepaid cards are also a good option for parents who want to teach their kids how to use a credit/debit card. According to an Auriemma Consulting Group survey, 50% of U.S. parents have used prepaid cards. Whether you're looking to give your child secure access to money while you are out of town, or you just want a convenient way to dole out their allowance, prepaid cards are a great solution.

Budgeters

Prepaid cards can also be helpful as a tool for budget management. Many people use them to control their spending and to help save money. For example, if you're going on vacation and you want to stay on budget, you can load money onto a prepaid card to ensure that you don't overspend. Or if you want to keep your grocery bill under a certain cost, load up your prepaid card with your allotted grocery budget. Plus, if you need help saving money for an upcoming purchase, you can load it onto a prepaid card.

Prepaid card pros and cons

WEIGH THE RISKS & BENEFITS

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Safer than carrying cash.
  • No bank account required.
  • Secure payment method.
  • No overdrafts.
  • Can help with budgeting.
  • Provides ATM access.
  • Purchase/fraud protection in most cases.
  • Online bill pay.
  • Worldwide functionality for Visa/Mastercard/Discover/American Express branded cards.
  • No credit card bill to worry about.
  • No risk of going into debt.
  • Guaranteed approval in most cases.
  • Enables online payments and purchases.
  • Credit card alternative.
  • No interest.
Cons
  • No advances or credit available, all money is predeposited.
  • Often stricter notification requirements than credit or debit cards if the card is lost.
  • Fees often apply (monthly, reload, signature purchase transaction. PIN purchase transaction, activation, etc.).
  • Doesn’t help you build credit.
  • May not be accepted by car rental places or other merchants that require a large deposit.
  • Maximum balance limits apply.
  • May lack sophisticated online account management.

Does a prepaid card sound like the right fit for you? Before you buy one, learn how to find the best card for you.

Where to get a prepaid credit card

You can buy prepaid credit cards online, at retail locations like drug stores and grocery stores, over the phone, and at some financial institutions. These cards are issued by payment networks (like (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, etc.), and each comes with its own brand, fees, limits, and conditions.

Comparing a variety of options side by side will help you to find the best deal for your needs.

How to compare prepaid credit cards

What should you consider when comparing prepaid credit cards?

Reload options

Check the available options for reloading the prepaid card. Ensure that they match your needs so that it will be easy and convenient to keep the card funded. For example, if you prefer to load your card with a direct deposit from your employer, make sure that the card issuer allows this option.

ATM network

Find out about the card’s ATM network -- the ATMs that you can use at no cost. Some cards have expansive ATM networks that span the entire U.S., while others are more limited.

Fees

Read the fine print to find out about each fee involved with the card. Common costs include fees for monthly service, reloading, activation, purchase transactions, and closing an account. These costs can add up, so be sure to find a card that charges few and low fees.

Maximum balance limits

The maximum balance limit caps how much you can load onto the card, and typically ranges from $2,500 to $100,000. Check this limit to ensure that it suits your spending habits.

User reviews

You can learn a lot by reading what past users of prepaid cards have to say. Read user reviews to learn about the user experience, benefits, and drawbacks from unbiased sources.

Protections

If your card gets lost or stolen or the card issuer goes bankrupt, you need to be able to get your money back. Prepaid card issuers don't have to offer the liability and fraud protection required by debit card issuers, but some do. Look for a card that offers purchase protection and federal deposit insurance.

Features

Does the card offer any bonus features like online bill pay, cashback rewards, or check writing? Look for extra perks to get the most of your card.

Consider each of the above factors when shopping for a prepaid card. Look for the one that offers the most value at the lowest cost.

Frequently asked questions about prepaid cards

Do hotels accept prepaid credit cards?

Yes, hotels often accept prepaid cards. However, your balance will need to be high enough to cover the cost of the room, taxes, and incidentals.

What are incidentals? Hotels often put a hold on an amount of money to account for incidentals like food, drinks, laundry, room service, etc. The amount that they hold varies from one hotel to the next. To ensure that your balance is large enough to cover this hold, ask the hotel how much they'll put on hold. Plus, find out how long they'll keep it on hold so you can account for the loss in your balance.

Can I load a prepaid card with a credit card?

In most cases, you will not be able to load a prepaid card with a credit card. This option was removed by many prepaid card providers because people were abusing the feature to earn credit card rewards without making actual purchases.

Can you get cashback on a prepaid credit card?

While not a common feature, cashback is slowly making its way into the prepaid card industry. American Express paved the way with its Serve prepaid card, which offers 1% cashback on all purchases.

Do prepaid credit cards build credit?

Prepaid cards do not help you build credit, because they do not use credit. All transactions are prepaid.

How much does a prepaid credit card cost?

The cost of a prepaid card depends on its fees. Monthly service fees often range from $0 to $10, reload fees range from $0 to $6, activation fees range from $0 to $10, and purchase transaction fees range from $0 to $2. You’ll have to shop around to find the best deal.

Can a prepaid card be used as a credit card?

Like credit cards, you can use prepaid cards to make purchases at any place the card’s payment network is accepted. But unlike credit cards, purchases made with a prepaid card draw money from a pre-funded balance, not a line of credit.

Can I use a prepaid credit card on Amazon?

Amazon does allow you to use prepaid cards. However, they can’t be combined with credit cards on a single order. And problems may arise if your card issuer requires you to enter the CVV code to make a transaction, as Amazon doesn’t support that.

Can prepaid credit cards be used online?

Prepaid cards can be used online with most merchants that accept the card’s payment network.

Getting started

Ready to find the right prepaid card for you? Save time by comparing leading cards side-by-side below.

Compare Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards have come a long way since they were first introduced in the late 1990s. Now they're not just an option for people without bank accounts -- they're also a helpful tool for parents, budgeters, college students, and more.

Are you thinking about getting a prepaid card? Read on to learn more about what prepaid cards are, how they work, when to use them, and their pros and cons. Plus, we’ll show you how to find the best prepaid card for your needs!

What is a prepaid card?

A prepaid card is a payment card that looks like a credit card, but links to a prepaid transaction account. There is no credit involved. Cardholders can transfer money into the account and then use the prepaid card to make purchases, withdraw money from ATMs, and submit payments.

Like debit cards, prepaid cards let users tap into their savings to make purchases. But unlike debit cards, prepaid cards do not link to a bank account. As such, they're a convenient option for people who don't qualify for a bank account.

How do prepaid credit cards work?

First, purchase the prepaid card and add money into the account. Once your account is funded, you can use the prepaid card to make purchases anywhere the card is accepted.

The amount you spend on each transaction will be deducted from your total available balance. If you try to make a purchase when you don’t have enough money, it will be denied. Once your balance is depleted, you’ll need to reload the account with funds to use it again.

To reload the card, you usually need to create an account with the issuer and provide some personal information. There are a few different ways to fund a prepaid card account. To get money on your prepaid card, you can:

  • Link a bank account.
  • Deposit cash in person at a participating retailer.
  • Set up direct deposit from an employer.
  • Buy a reload pack.
  • Deposit a check at an ATM.

You can continue to load, use, and reload the prepaid card until it expires.

Who are prepaid cards good for?

The use of prepaid cards is on the rise due to the security, control, and convenience that they offer. Here are some common use cases:

People without bank accounts and/or credit cards

Prepaid cards are particularly helpful for individuals who don’t have or want standard credit cards or bank accounts. With a prepaid card, you get all the convenience and security of a credit card, so you don't have to carry around a ton of cash.

Parents

Prepaid cards are also a good option for parents who want to teach their kids how to use a credit/debit card. According to an Auriemma Consulting Group survey, 50% of U.S. parents have used prepaid cards. Whether you're looking to give your child secure access to money while you are out of town, or you just want a convenient way to dole out their allowance, prepaid cards are a great solution.

Budgeters

Prepaid cards can also be helpful as a tool for budget management. Many people use them to control their spending and to help save money. For example, if you're going on vacation and you want to stay on budget, you can load money onto a prepaid card to ensure that you don't overspend. Or if you want to keep your grocery bill under a certain cost, load up your prepaid card with your allotted grocery budget. Plus, if you need help saving money for an upcoming purchase, you can load it onto a prepaid card.

Prepaid card pros and cons

WEIGH THE RISKS & BENEFITS

Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.

Pros
  • Safer than carrying cash.
  • No bank account required.
  • Secure payment method.
  • No overdrafts.
  • Can help with budgeting.
  • Provides ATM access.
  • Purchase/fraud protection in most cases.
  • Online bill pay.
  • Worldwide functionality for Visa/Mastercard/Discover/American Express branded cards.
  • No credit card bill to worry about.
  • No risk of going into debt.
  • Guaranteed approval in most cases.
  • Enables online payments and purchases.
  • Credit card alternative.
  • No interest.
Cons
  • No advances or credit available, all money is predeposited.
  • Often stricter notification requirements than credit or debit cards if the card is lost.
  • Fees often apply (monthly, reload, signature purchase transaction. PIN purchase transaction, activation, etc.).
  • Doesn’t help you build credit.
  • May not be accepted by car rental places or other merchants that require a large deposit.
  • Maximum balance limits apply.
  • May lack sophisticated online account management.

Does a prepaid card sound like the right fit for you? Before you buy one, learn how to find the best card for you.

Where to get a prepaid credit card

You can buy prepaid credit cards online, at retail locations like drug stores and grocery stores, over the phone, and at some financial institutions. These cards are issued by payment networks (like (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, etc.), and each comes with its own brand, fees, limits, and conditions.

Comparing a variety of options side by side will help you to find the best deal for your needs.

How to compare prepaid credit cards

What should you consider when comparing prepaid credit cards?

Reload options

Check the available options for reloading the prepaid card. Ensure that they match your needs so that it will be easy and convenient to keep the card funded. For example, if you prefer to load your card with a direct deposit from your employer, make sure that the card issuer allows this option.

ATM network

Find out about the card’s ATM network -- the ATMs that you can use at no cost. Some cards have expansive ATM networks that span the entire U.S., while others are more limited.

Fees

Read the fine print to find out about each fee involved with the card. Common costs include fees for monthly service, reloading, activation, purchase transactions, and closing an account. These costs can add up, so be sure to find a card that charges few and low fees.

Maximum balance limits

The maximum balance limit caps how much you can load onto the card, and typically ranges from $2,500 to $100,000. Check this limit to ensure that it suits your spending habits.

User reviews

You can learn a lot by reading what past users of prepaid cards have to say. Read user reviews to learn about the user experience, benefits, and drawbacks from unbiased sources.

Protections

If your card gets lost or stolen or the card issuer goes bankrupt, you need to be able to get your money back. Prepaid card issuers don't have to offer the liability and fraud protection required by debit card issuers, but some do. Look for a card that offers purchase protection and federal deposit insurance.

Features

Does the card offer any bonus features like online bill pay, cashback rewards, or check writing? Look for extra perks to get the most of your card.

Consider each of the above factors when shopping for a prepaid card. Look for the one that offers the most value at the lowest cost.

Frequently asked questions about prepaid cards

Do hotels accept prepaid credit cards?

Yes, hotels often accept prepaid cards. However, your balance will need to be high enough to cover the cost of the room, taxes, and incidentals.

What are incidentals? Hotels often put a hold on an amount of money to account for incidentals like food, drinks, laundry, room service, etc. The amount that they hold varies from one hotel to the next. To ensure that your balance is large enough to cover this hold, ask the hotel how much they'll put on hold. Plus, find out how long they'll keep it on hold so you can account for the loss in your balance.

Can I load a prepaid card with a credit card?

In most cases, you will not be able to load a prepaid card with a credit card. This option was removed by many prepaid card providers because people were abusing the feature to earn credit card rewards without making actual purchases.

Can you get cashback on a prepaid credit card?

While not a common feature, cashback is slowly making its way into the prepaid card industry. American Express paved the way with its Serve prepaid card, which offers 1% cashback on all purchases.

Do prepaid credit cards build credit?

Prepaid cards do not help you build credit, because they do not use credit. All transactions are prepaid.

How much does a prepaid credit card cost?

The cost of a prepaid card depends on its fees. Monthly service fees often range from $0 to $10, reload fees range from $0 to $6, activation fees range from $0 to $10, and purchase transaction fees range from $0 to $2. You’ll have to shop around to find the best deal.

Can a prepaid card be used as a credit card?

Like credit cards, you can use prepaid cards to make purchases at any place the card’s payment network is accepted. But unlike credit cards, purchases made with a prepaid card draw money from a pre-funded balance, not a line of credit.

Can I use a prepaid credit card on Amazon?

Amazon does allow you to use prepaid cards. However, they can’t be combined with credit cards on a single order. And problems may arise if your card issuer requires you to enter the CVV code to make a transaction, as Amazon doesn’t support that.

Can prepaid credit cards be used online?

Prepaid cards can be used online with most merchants that accept the card’s payment network.

Getting started

Ready to find the right prepaid card for you? Save time by comparing leading cards side-by-side below.

Loading results...

Product

Reviews

Signature Purchase Transaction Fee

PIN Purchase Transaction Fee

Max Monthly Service Fee

Card Reload Fee

Max Balance

Additional Details

Product Website

Netspend Small Business Prepaid Mastercard

Netspend Small Business Prepaid Mastercard

Rating not yet determined

3 total votes
In our efforts to provide the community with the most accurate information, recommendation rating is not determined until a sufficient number of SuperMoney users cast their vote
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $0 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $0 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $0 - $4.95     $0 $5.95
Max Balance $25,000 Max Balance
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Text Alerts
Show Additional Details
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Text Alerts
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

6
 
2
8 total votes
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $0 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $0 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $4.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $0 Card Reload Fee
Max Balance $2,500 Max Balance
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

Rating not yet determined

4 total votes
In our efforts to provide the community with the most accurate information, recommendation rating is not determined until a sufficient number of SuperMoney users cast their vote
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $1 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $2 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $0 - $3.95     $0 $5.95
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Card

BBVA ClearSpend Prepaid Card

Rating not yet determined

3 total votes
In our efforts to provide the community with the most accurate information, recommendation rating is not determined until a sufficient number of SuperMoney users cast their vote
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $0 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $0 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $4 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $0 - $4.50     $0 $5.95
Max Balance $6,500 Max Balance
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Kroger Rewards Prepaid Visa

Kroger Rewards Prepaid Visa

 
 
7
8 total votes
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee N/A Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee N/A PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $4.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $3 - $5     $0 $5.95
Max Balance $10,000 Max Balance
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free FICO Score
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free FICO Score
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Pink Netspend Visa Prepaid Card
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $1 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $2 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $0 - $3.95     $0 $5.95
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Blue Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $1 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $2 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee $0 - $3.95     $0 $5.95
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Walking Dead Design CARD.com

Walking Dead Design CARD.com

Rating not yet determined

2 total votes
In our efforts to provide the community with the most accurate information, recommendation rating is not determined until a sufficient number of SuperMoney users cast their vote
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $0 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $0 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $2 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee N/A Card Reload Fee
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Bank of America CashPay Prepaid Visa

Bank of America CashPay Prepaid Visa

5
 
2
8 total votes
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $0 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $0 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $4.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Card Reload Fee N/A Card Reload Fee
Max Balance $5,000 Max Balance
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Free Customer Service
  • Free In-Network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Pink ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Card

Pink ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Card

Rating not yet determined

1 total votes
In our efforts to provide the community with the most accurate information, recommendation rating is not determined until a sufficient number of SuperMoney users cast their vote
Signature Purchase Transaction Fee $1 Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
PIN Purchase Transaction Fee $2 PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Maximum Card Reload Fee $3.95 Maximum Card Reload Fee
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
  • Free Customer Service
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts
Show Additional Details
  • Free Customer Service
  • Rewards Program
  • Text Alerts