For people who don’t have a bank account or a regular credit card, a prepaid credit card is an excellent option. Even some people who have a bank account and credit card opt to use prepaid credit cards as a way to budget effectively.
With a prepaid credit card, you’re not at risk of paying interest or being charged an overdraft fee. Prepaid cards also don’t require a credit inquiry, so they’re great for people who may have bad credit at the moment. Since prepaid cards are safe and relatively fool-proof, they’re also among the best credit cards for teens.
Here are five of the best prepaid credit cards available.
The Bluebird card by American Express and Wal-Mart has a variety of loading options, all of which are free. For example, you can make a cash deposit at a Wal-Mart location or you can use the Bluebird app to deposit checks via your mobile device. There are also several payment options, including online and by check. You can also make withdrawals from the card for free at a MoneyPass ATM, or for a fee at any other ATM or at a Wal-Mart store.
The Bluebird prepaid card will work wherever American Express is accepted. It also has both purchase protection and fraud protection. It’s free to register for a Bluebird count and to get the card, and you can sign up online or via the mobile Bluebird app. You can also get a Bluebird kit at Wal-Mart for just $5. You won’t ever pay a monthly fee and no credit inquiry is required in order to get this card.
American Express Serve
The American Express Serve is one of the best prepaid credit cards because it doesn’t cost a lot, it makes it easy to steer clear or fees, and it’s simple to add cash to the card. There’s a monthly fee of just $1, but if you add a minimum of $500 to your card monthly, or if you use direct deposit, you won’t have to pay the monthly fee. By enrolling in direct deposit, your paycheck will go right into your Serve account.
Visit a 7-Eleven or CVS to load cash onto the card for free. While there are other prepaid cards that are partnered with bigger retail stores, many times those stores will charge a fee to add cash to the card. American Express Serve is really great if you have kids who you want to connect with the card. You can create accounts for each child and then set limits when it comes to how much they can spend. The card is also great for planning and saving, because you can move money into the reserve account to keep it separate from your spending accounts.
This card also comes with around-the-clock customer support and security. When you shop either offline or online, you’ll be safe thanks to Purchase Protection. Withdraw cash from approximately 24,000 ATMs around the country. The mobile app can be used to make deposits, pay bills and manage your accounts.
American Express Serve Free Reloads
The American Express Serve Free Reloads has different perks than the basic American Express Serve prepaid card. This is the best card to choose if you want one that’s easy to load with cash. There are over 45,000 partners across the U.S., including Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven and Rite Aid, that will let you add cash to the card for free.
This card comes with a $4.95 fee per month, except for people who live in New York, Texas and Vermont, where there is no monthly fee. You can link sub-accounts for up to four people who are 18 years old or older, though in some states the account must be for someone who’s at least 19 years old. You can deposit checks via the mobile app and you can also use the app to pay bills.
To purchase this card, you can order it online for no cost or you can buy it in a retail store for $3.95. There is no credit check necessary in order to get this card.
Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card
The Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card from The Bancorp Bank and Kaiku Finance are partners with Allpoint ATMS. You can access any of these ATMs for free and there are 55,000 throughout the U.S. With the mobile app, you can find the ATM that’s closest to you. The app will also let you find out your balance, transfer money to other people, deposit checks, and pay bills.
The Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card has easy-to-understand, low fees, especially when you compare them with many other prepaid credit cards. You’ll have to pay $3 per month, but you can avoid the fee if you add a minimum of $750 to the card each month. If you use an ATM that’s not in the network, you’ll pay a fee between $2.95 and $4.95. You can also add cash to the card at a MoneyGram or Visa ReadyLink location.
It’s important to know that when you make a mobile check deposit, it can take up to 10 business days to show up in your account. Or, you can pay $5 or 1%, whichever is more, to the third party service Ingo to get your money sooner. The card will work wherever Visa cards are accepted.
PayPal Prepaid Master Card
PayPal is one of the best companies around when it comes to making and receiving online payments, so it’s no wonder that they have a great prepaid card, too. The monthly fee for this card is $4.95, but the card comes with a lot of perks that seem to out-value the charge. You can make an unlimited number of PIN and signature purchases, and you’ll get cash back on your purchases from certain restaurants and retailers. You can also move money from the card to your PayPal account and vice versa.
While there are some other prepaid cards that you can technically link to your PayPal account, none seem to work as well as the PayPal Prepaid Master Card. Also, with this card you can add money to it via direct deposit or at a NetSpend Reload Network spot (there are more than 130,000 in the U.S.).
Prepaid cards aren’t simply a last option for people who can’t get a traditional bank account or credit card, or who are trying to get back on their feet after bankruptcy. Valuable features have made prepaid cards a mainstay for a lot of people, regardless of their financial situation. They’re a great alternative to traditional credit cards if you need a way to spend daily while you build credit with another card, or if you’re looking to curb your spending by managing how much you have on hand. Since prepaid cards can usually be used at various ATMs for no fee, some people prefer to use prepaid cards simply for convenience.