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Compare Prepaid Cards

For millions of credit challenged consumers, prepaid credit cards allow access to many of the functions of a regular credit card. Millions of unbanked individuals and households use prepaid credit cards to obtain many services associated with savings and checking accounts, including online bill payment, direct deposit and ATM access. Other individuals simply prefer the forced financial discipline associated with prepaid cards, which do not allow spending money that isn’t available. Nonetheless, prepaid credit cards are neither bank accounts nor credit cards – and the potential pitfalls and drawbacks associated with prepaid cards can be substantial.

Prepaid Credit Cards Defined

Prepaid credit cards carry the Visa or MasterCard logo, and are accepted by many of the same establishments that accept regular credit cards.  One notable exception: car rental agencies.  Prepaid cards can also be used to make online purchases. Some prepaid cards features allow users to direct deposit paychecks or government-issued checks directly onto their accounts for immediate access to their funds.

How Prepaid Cards Are Like Credit Cards

In recent years, prepaid cards have come to include features that were formerly only available with conventional credit cards, including online bill pay and credit score monitoring.  Many websites for prepaid cards are mobile friendly; some card companies have developed dedicated mobile apps.  Others have incorporated limited rewards programs, mostly in the form of discounts with affiliated merchants.

How Prepaid Cards are Unlike Credit Cards

Despite their resemblance to regular credit cards, prepaid cards lack many of their features.  For instance, most Car rental agencies and many hotels refuse to accept them. Those that do often attach hefty preauthorization allowances over and above the actual transaction cost. These preauthroizations reduce the amount of available credit until they are released, which can require 30 days or longer. Some car rental agencies run hard credit checks on prospective customers, which is problematic to users with bad credit. Prepaid credit cards also don’t report to any of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion or Experian.

Perks and Potential Pitfalls

Prepaid credit cards represent a form of forced discipline for spendthrifts.  In addition, many prepaid credit cards allow unbanked customers to avoid costly currency exchanges.  However, the main drawback associated with prepaid cards can be summed up in a single word: fees.  Almost all have monthly fees; some impose dormant activity fees.  ATM fees can also be high.  Finally, some prepaid cards cannot be used outside the United States – a definite drawback for users who frequently travel abroad.

What to Look for in a Prepaid Credit Card

  • Low or No Monthly and Annual Fees
  • Access to free ATMs and/or Low ATM Fees
  • No Excessive Authorization Holds
  • Availability of Online Account Services (Including Bill Pay)
  • Validity for Use Outside the United States
  • Perks and Rewards Programs
  • Satisfactory Better Business Bureau Rating and Few or No Consumer Complaints

Compare Prepaid Cards

For millions of credit challenged consumers, prepaid credit cards allow access to many of the functions of a regular credit card. Millions of unbanked individuals and households use prepaid credit cards to obtain many services associated with savings and checking accounts, including online bill payment, direct deposit and ATM access. Other individuals simply prefer the forced financial discipline associated with prepaid cards, which do not allow spending money that isn’t available. Nonetheless, prepaid credit cards are neither bank accounts nor credit cards – and the potential pitfalls and drawbacks associated with prepaid cards can be substantial.

Prepaid Credit Cards Defined

Prepaid credit cards carry the Visa or MasterCard logo, and are accepted by many of the same establishments that accept regular credit cards.  One notable exception: car rental agencies.  Prepaid cards can also be used to make online purchases. Some prepaid cards features allow users to direct deposit paychecks or government-issued checks directly onto their accounts for immediate access to their funds.

How Prepaid Cards Are Like Credit Cards

In recent years, prepaid cards have come to include features that were formerly only available with conventional credit cards, including online bill pay and credit score monitoring.  Many websites for prepaid cards are mobile friendly; some card companies have developed dedicated mobile apps.  Others have incorporated limited rewards programs, mostly in the form of discounts with affiliated merchants.

How Prepaid Cards are Unlike Credit Cards

Despite their resemblance to regular credit cards, prepaid cards lack many of their features.  For instance, most Car rental agencies and many hotels refuse to accept them. Those that do often attach hefty preauthorization allowances over and above the actual transaction cost. These preauthroizations reduce the amount of available credit until they are released, which can require 30 days or longer. Some car rental agencies run hard credit checks on prospective customers, which is problematic to users with bad credit. Prepaid credit cards also don’t report to any of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion or Experian.

Perks and Potential Pitfalls

Prepaid credit cards represent a form of forced discipline for spendthrifts.  In addition, many prepaid credit cards allow unbanked customers to avoid costly currency exchanges.  However, the main drawback associated with prepaid cards can be summed up in a single word: fees.  Almost all have monthly fees; some impose dormant activity fees.  ATM fees can also be high.  Finally, some prepaid cards cannot be used outside the United States – a definite drawback for users who frequently travel abroad.

What to Look for in a Prepaid Credit Card

  • Low or No Monthly and Annual Fees
  • Access to free ATMs and/or Low ATM Fees
  • No Excessive Authorization Holds
  • Availability of Online Account Services (Including Bill Pay)
  • Validity for Use Outside the United States
  • Perks and Rewards Programs
  • Satisfactory Better Business Bureau Rating and Few or No Consumer Complaints

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Product

Reviews

Max Balance

Max Monthly Service Fee

Credit Score Range

Additional Details

Product Website

Netspend Small Business Prepaid Mastercard
Max Balance $25,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

1
 
 
1 total votes
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • No Monthly Service Fee
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

2
 
1
3 total votes
Max Balance $2,500 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $4.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Free Customer Service
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Free Customer Service
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
BBVA Compass ClearSpend Prepaid Card

BBVA Compass ClearSpend Prepaid Card

 
 
1
1 total votes
Max Balance $6,500 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $4 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Free Customer Service
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Free Customer Service
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
  • No Monthly Service Fee
AccountNow Prepaid Visa Card
Max Balance $10,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee N/A Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
Pink Netspend Visa Prepaid Card
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Blue Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range 300 - 850 300 850
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • No Monthly Service Fee
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • No Monthly Service Fee
ACE Elite Purple Visa Prepaid Card

ACE Elite Purple Visa Prepaid Card

1
 
 
1 total votes
Max Balance $15,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $9.95 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range N/A Credit Score Range
  • Text Alerts
  • Free Customer Service
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Free Customer Service
AccountNow Prepaid Mastercard

AccountNow Prepaid Mastercard

 
 
1
1 total votes
Max Balance $10,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $0 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range N/A Credit Score Range
  • Text Alerts
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
American Express® Serve

American Express® Serve

3
 
6
10 total votes
Max Balance $100,000 Max Balance
Max Monthly Service Fee $1 Max Monthly Service Fee
Credit Score Range N/A Credit Score Range
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Free Customer Service
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit
Show More
Show Additional Details
  • Text Alerts
  • Rewards Program
  • Free In-network ATM Withdrawal
  • No Signature Purchase Transaction Fee
  • No PIN Purchase Transaction Fee
  • Free Customer Service
  • No Monthly Service Fee with Direct Deposit