NerdWallet’s Best List
A prepaid debit card serves either as a budgeting tool or an all-out replacement for a bank account — and the best prepaid cards give you convenient features while charging few fees.
Prepaid debit cards are easy to get, whether online or in stores, since there usually is no credit check. They’re also available to people who have a bad banking history and can’t get a new bank account. But these cards don’t build credit. For that, you’d want to consider a secured credit card.
If you need a way to manage finances, especially to avoid overspending or overdraft fees, a prepaid card can be a solution. No prepaid card is entirely without fees, but the benefits may outweigh the cost. Here are our favorite prepaid debit cards — as well as two money-saving alternatives to prepaid debit cards.
MOVO VIRTUAL PREPAID VISA CARD
Most prepaid debit cards either have a monthly fee or a fee every time you make a purchase, but the Movo Virtual Prepaid Card has neither. The “virtual” element is your ability to make purchases online, but there’s also a physical card for purchases, ATM withdrawals and cash back at retailers. Movo has many services, including a free ATM network, but making bill payments or funding the card with debit card transfers results in fees.
- General fees and features: No monthly fees and no costs for activation or inactivity; no credit check required
- Purchases: No fees
- ATM withdrawals: Free at 6,000 ATMs in the Visa Plus Alliance network; $2 fee at other ATMs, plus any ATM operator fee, and $1 fee for declined ATM transactions
- Reload methods: Direct deposit, bank account transfer, withdrawal from PayPal or Venmo balance, debit card transfer (for a fee), cash load at retailers with Visa Readylink locations such as Walgreens or Safeway (up to $4.95 retailer fee)
- Other services: Online bill payments and free, instant Movo card-to-card transfers. You can also create one-time secondary virtual cards (“MovoCoins”) with their own card numbers. These cards can protect your main account number during transactions.
- Downsides: Each bill payment costs 75 cents. Free ways to reload the card, such as bank transfers, can take two to three business days before funds are available. The card can’t be used to load money to Venmo or PayPal; any attempt to do so results in a rejected ACH transaction and a $15 fee.
Title: Best Prepaid Debit Cards 2017
Publish Date: July 11, 2017
Author: Spencer Tierney
We looked at 44 reloadable prepaid debit cards offered by some of the biggest banks, credit unions and prepaid debit card issuers. Where multiple card plans existed, only the basic monthly fee plan was considered.
We analyzed four categories for each card: general fees and features, purchases and withdrawals, reload fees and options, and other services such as bill pay and savings accounts. The cards that made this list had the best combination of these categories. Some cards in this roundup have nonbank program managers that partner with banks. Regardless, all the cards’ issuers are banks that insure consumers’ money through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. No cards above have overdraft fees.
Prepaid debit cards that we considered included:
ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card, AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, American Express Serve, BBVA Compass ClearSpend Card, Bluebird by American Express, Chase Liquid, Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card, Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card, Mango Visa Prepaid Card, Netspend Prepaid Card, PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, RushCardPrepaid Visa Card, Walmart MoneyCard.