Home » Top Picks » The Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2019

The Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2019

The Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2019

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Jan 18, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Prepaid debit cards can help with direct deposits, making purchases and paying for bills without affecting your credit. If you’ve struggled being approved for a credit card in the past or want to avoid the risk of racking up unnecessary debt, but still want the convenience plastic has to offer, a prepaid card can help.

Unlike a credit card that extends you a line of credit, or a traditional debit card that draws funds from a linked checking account, prepaid debit cards require you to add funds to the account. You can only purchase items or pay for bills up to the amount you have loaded onto the card. For example, if you add $100 to your prepaid debit card, you can only make up to $100 in combined purchases and bill payments. A transaction of say, $110 wouldn’t be approved until you deposit an additional $10.

If you’re looking to open a prepaid debit card, you may not know where to start. There are cards that offer free ATM access, instant card use after account opening, rewards, and more, making it hard to select the right card. We’ve reviewed several prepaid debit cards to find options that fit a wide range of consumers so you can choose the card that fits your needs. Plus, all of the cards below have no direct deposit or purchase fees.

Here are the best prepaid debit cards of 2019:

Prepaid debit card comparison

Prepaid card Card opening fee Monthly fee ATM fees (ATM operator fees may also apply) Foreign transaction fee Max balance
Bluebird by American Express $0 online; up to $5 at retail locations $0 $2.50, $0 at MoneyPass® ATMs None $100,000
American Express Serve® $0 $6.95 monthly fee;
$0 with a direct deposit of $500 or more during each monthly statement
Up to $2.50; $0 at MoneyPass® ATMs 2.7% after conversion to U.S. dollars $100,000
Chase Liquid® $0 $4.95 monthly fee; $0 when you link a qualifying Chase checking account $2.50; $0 at Chase ATMs 3% No preset limit
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® $0 online, price varies at retail locations $4.95 monthly plan fee $1.95 2.5% $15,000
Walmart MoneyCard® $1 $5 per month, waived if you loaded $1,000 or more in the previous month $2.50 3% $10,000
Visa® Buxx Card $0 $0 $1 0.8% for transactions made in foreign/international countries in U.S. dollars, 1% for transactions made in foreign/international countries in foreign currency $2,000
MOVO® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card $0 $0 $2 up to 3% $10,000

What to look for in a prepaid debit card

There are so many prepaid debit cards available, we’ve narrowed down some of the most important features to look for:

  • No monthly fee
  • Free direct deposit
  • No purchase fee
  • Simple reloads
  • Fee-free ATMs
  • Wide merchant acceptance

The best prepaid debit cards

Bluebird by American Express

The Bluebird by American Express is a great choice for families that want to teach their kids responsible card use without the risk of a typical credit card. Plus, this card has minimal fees and offers a range of Amex perks.

Pros

  • $0 monthly fee
  • No ATM fees at MoneyPass® ATMs
  • No card opening fee when you open a card online; otherwise up to $5 at certain retail locations.
  • None foreign transaction fee
  • Add funds with cash or debit for free at virtually any Walmart checkout register
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Amex benefits: Roadside assistance hotline, purchase protection, Global Assist® Hotline, shopping, dining, and other discounts with Amex Offers, access to Amex experiences in select cities (terms apply)
  • Family accounts: Add up to four cards for family members 13 years of age or older and set limits on spending, ATM access, and more

Cons

  • Card opening fee of up to $5 at retail locations ($0 online)

American Express Serve®

The American Express Serve® is one of three Serve prepaid debit cards, and the only card that offers a monthly fee waiver. Similar to the Bluebird by American Express, the American Express Serve® also has a wide range of Amex perks and allows you to add up to four accounts for eligible family members.

Pros

  • $0 online card opening fee
  • No ATM fees at MoneyPass® ATMs
  • Waive the $6.95 monthly fee with a direct deposit of $500 or more during each monthly statement
  • Mobile check deposit
  • Cash pick up via by Ria® at Walmart locations
  • Family accounts: Add up to four cards for family members and set limits on spending, ATM access, and more
  • Amex benefits: Roadside assistance hotline, Global Assist® Hotline, purchase protection (terms apply)

Cons

  • $6.95 monthly fee if you don’t have a direct deposit of $500 or more during each monthly statement
  • Foreign transaction fee: 2.7% after conversion to U.S. dollars

Chase Liquid®

The Chase Liquid® is a prepaid debit card for people who prefer to bank person-to-person and live in one of 23 states with Chase branches. You can use this locator tool to find out if your state qualifies by filtering “Location Type” and selecting “Chase Branch.” This card primarily benefits select Chase checking or savings account holders since linking an eligible account is the only way to waive the $4.95 monthly fee.

Pros

  • No card opening fee
  • No ATM fees at Chase ATMs
  • $4.95 monthly fee waived if you link your card to a qualifying Chase checking account (Chase Premier Plus CheckingSM, Chase SapphireSM Checking, Chase Private Client CheckingSM, Chase Premier CheckingSM and Chase Better Banking® Checking)
  • Ability to walk into a bank location and speak to representatives
  • Mobile check deposit

Cons

  • Must live in one of 23 states to open the card
  • $4.95 monthly fee if you don’t link your card to a qualifying Chase checking account
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

The information related to the Chase Liquid® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Read our review of the Chase Liquid®.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®

PayPal account holders can benefit from the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, which links directly to your PayPal account. You can easily transfer funds to your card and manage it directly from PayPal. Just know, while a PayPal account is free, this card has a $4.95 monthly plan fee that can’t be waived.

Pros

  • Easily link to your PayPal account and transfer money to your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®
  • Special offers and cashback rewards based on your shopping habits
  • Mobile check deposit

Cons

  • Need a PayPal account (however, accounts are free)
  • $4.95 monthly plan fee
  • $1.95 fee for all ATMs (ATM operator fees may also apply)
  • $10 minimum reload in-store at NetSpend locations (select grocery stores, gas stations and check cashing stores)
  • 2.5% foreign transaction fee

Read our review of the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®.

Walmart MoneyCard®

The Walmart MoneyCard® is the rare prepaid debit card that offers rewards. If you want to benefit from earning cash back on Walmart purchases, this card is a good choice.

Pros

  • Monthly fee is waived when you load $1,000 or more in the previous month (excludes person-to-person transfers received using the Send Money feature)
  • Cashback program: 3% cash back at Walmart.com, 2% cash back at Murphy USA and Walmart fuel stations, and 1% cash back at Walmart stores. Maximum of $75 cash back per reward year.
  • Mobile check deposit

Cons

  • $5 per month, waived if you loaded $1,000 or more in the previous month
  • $1 card opening fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Most reload methods cost up to $4.95 (ATM operator fees may also apply)

Read our review of the Walmart MoneyCard®.

Visa® Buxx Card

The Visa® Buxx Card is geared towards parents looking to teach their kids responsible card use, and it delivers plus provide helpful Visa benefits.

Pros

  • No card opening fee
  • Cardholders can be as young as 13
  • Parental controls including setting spending limits and suspending card use
  • Visa benefits: roadside dispatch, 90-day purchase protection, travel and emergency assistance

Cons

  • The parent opening the account must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union and either have a Navy Federal Visa® or Mastercard®, or checking or savings account with Navy Federal
  • $1 ATM fee (ATM operator fees may also apply)
  • 0.8% for transactions made in foreign/international countries in U.S. dollars, 1% for transactions made in foreign/international countries in foreign currency foreign transaction fee

Read our review of the Visa® Buxx Card.

MOVO® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card

The MOVO® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card is a great prepaid debit card if you need access to a card right away. After registering your card on the MOVO® app, cardholders receive instant access so they can load funds, make purchases and pay bills without waiting for their physical card to arrive in the mail.

Pros

  • $0 monthly fee
  • No card opening fee
  • Account available to use instantly after registration on the app
  • Mobile wallet payment options: Pay with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay
  • Mobile check deposit via the Ingo Money app
  • Transfer funds from Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash

Cons

  • $2 ATM fee (ATM operator fees may also apply, but no surcharge fees for Visa Plus Alliance Network ATMs)
  • 0.8% for transactions made in foreign/international countries in U.S. dollars, 1% for transactions made in foreign/international countries in foreign currency foreign transaction fee

*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.


Recommended Posts: