Guide: Finding the Best Prepaid Debit Cards and Best Free Prepaid Debit Cards with No Monthly Fees and Direct Deposits
Having that little piece of plastic card in your wallet or purse can lead to some serious financial problems.
It’s so easy to simply swipe a credit card and tell yourself that you can worry about payment when the end of the month rolls around. That type of thinking can lead to serious debt issues and has led many people to forego credit cards all together. However, free prepaid debit cards are gaining popularity and constitute a quality alternative to your typical credit card.
Whereas credit cards offer the temptation to purchase beyond your budget and will punish you with exorbitantly high late fees and interest rates, bank prepaid debit cards offer you all the comforts and ease of electronic payment without the normal pitfalls.
With no-fee prepaid debit cards, you can avoid having to carry a wad of cash while at the same time not have to worry about having a stack of unpayable bills at the end of the month. With so many different options for the best prepaid debit cards, fees are at an all-time low.
In this brief article, AdvisoryHQ will explain what prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees are and who should consider using no fee prepaid debit cards. We’ll then go on to offer the top six ways to find the best prepaid debit cards on the market.
What Are Prepaid Debit Cards with No Monthly Fees?
The best prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees present users with an easy way to access their money while having more control over their cash flow and budgeting allowance. One of the biggest downsides of using a credit card or normal debit card is that it is easy to spend more money than one has.
Image Source: Best Prepaid Debit Cards
The best prepaid debit cards allow you the flexibility that comes with electronic payment methods while at the same time giving you more control over your money allowance.
To use prepaid debit cards with no fees, you simply load a certain amount of money onto your free prepaid debit card with no fees and use that money for your monthly purchases.
Once your funds run out, you are no longer able to use the card and must reload the card with cash from your savings.
While many bank prepaid debit cards have received lots of criticism in the past for charging numerous hefty fees, it is possible to find prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees and direct deposit.
The large number of companies offering the best prepaid debit cards has driven down prices and fees and made prepaid debit cards with no fees a viable option for many people.
Who Should and Shouldn’t Use No Fee Prepaid Debit Cards?
No fee prepaid debit cards are a great option for people who have had problems with running up debt on credit cards. By offering more control over your monthly or weekly cash flow, they also help to teach financial budgeting skills. Many high school and college students may find that the best prepaid debit card with no monthly fee allows them to manage their money wisely without having to forfeit the flexibility that comes with a credit card.
Furthermore, since many banks have risen the bar on qualifying for a checking account, some people may be left with few other options for managing their money. Prepaid debit cards with no fees are open and available to everyone. There is no minimum credit score needed, and usually you can start up a prepaid debit card with no monthly fees with very little cash.
People who do qualify for a normal checking account, however, probably shouldn’t be using free prepaid debit cards. Almost all banks offer a complimentary debit card linked to your checking account, and while there are prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees and direct deposit options, they do tend to have other fees and charges associated with them.
Top Six Ways to Find the Best Prepaid Debit Cards
If you feel that a Visa or MasterCard prepaid debit card is your best option for managing your money, follow these six ways to help you find the best prepaid debit cards.
1. Read the Disclosure Requirements on Your Free Prepaid Debit Cards
Free prepaid debit cards aren’t regulated the same way as credit cards. For that reason, many companies who offer bank prepaid debit cards charge many fees.
Many financial consultants advise against using free prepaid debit cards because even though they may advertise no monthly maintenance fees, there may be a multitude of other charges that can cost you a small fortune.
According to U.S. News free prepaid debit cards may charge fees “for reloading money, ATM cash withdrawals, balance inquiries, and making a purchase without enough money on the card. There may also be a fee if you close the account or don’t use the card for a few months.” That doesn’t sound very “free” at all.
Spending money just to use your own money is never a smart financial decision. In recent years, the government has mandated companies offering the best prepaid debit cards to fully disclose the different charges and fees associated with using the card.
According to Forbes magazine, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “recently issued draft prepaid card disclosure requirements aimed at helping consumers navigate fee disclosures.” As the CFPB noted in its release: “Currently, each prepaid card company’s retail package discloses different information in different ways. This can be confusing if you’re trying to compare costs between prepaid accounts.”
Whichever prepaid debit card with no fees you choose, be sure to fully read the fine print included in the disclosure requirement. If you find that your prepaid debit card with no monthly fees charges no monthly maintenance fee but will penalize you for excessive ATM withdrawals, you can avoid visiting the ATM machine and thus save money in the long run.
2. Search for Bank Prepaid Debit Cards with the Lowest Monthly Fee
Most bank prepaid debit cards do charge a monthly fee of somewhere between $3 and $10. However, you can find the best prepaid debit cards that charge no monthly fees. There is a huge difference between paying $0 per month and $10 per month just to access your money.
For example, the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card is one of the most expensive bank prepaid debit cards on the market. You’ll pay $9.95 per month just to use the card unless you plan on loading $2,500 monthly.
Furthermore, you’ll be charged $2.50 for each ATM transaction and $1 each time you call customer service to reload your card. If you use this option and use the ATM machine around 10 times a month, your fees could reach close to $35 per month.
In comparison, the American Express Bluebird Prepaid Card has no monthly fee at all and offers you free 24/7 customer service. Another of the best prepaid debit cards with no fees is the Green Dot Card.
While this best prepaid debit card does charge a $5.95 monthly maintenance fee, you can have that fee waived if you upload $1,000 per month or use the card for at least 30 transactions.
When searching for free prepaid debit cards, it is important to understand how you can get the monthly fees waived through your use of the card.
3. Find Prepaid Debit Cards with No Fees Where You Can Easily Reload Cash
When you run out of cash on your prepaid debit card with no monthly fees, you want to be able to reload money fairly easily and quickly.
Not having access to funds on your card can be difficult and frustrating, especially when you’re running low on gas and have no cash in your wallet.
There are many prepaid debit cards with no fees that make it easy for you to reload money whenever you run out.
The Walmart Money Card, for example, allows you to easily reload your card at any Walmart store. With a Walmart around every corner in every town, you should always be able to find a store quickly to reload your prepaid debit card with no fees.
Furthermore, many prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees and direct deposit allow you to set up a direct deposit from your employer or from another bank account linked to your prepaid debit card with no monthly fees.
If you choose to use your Visa or MasterCard prepaid debit card as your main way to make purchases, then setting up a direct deposit account is the best way to avoid fees and reliably transfer money to your card.
4. Free Prepaid Debit Cards Are Most Useful When They Come with Checking Features
A number of free prepaid debit cards also come with a variety of checking features. If you want the benefit of controlling your cash flow that comes with a prepaid debit card with no fees while also benefitting from quality checking features, this may be the option for you.
Image Source: Free Prepaid Debit Cards
Kaiku is another prepaid card that offers a number of quality checking account features including mobile check deposits, direct deposit option, a mobile app, and even an app that allows you to track how your money is spent.
While this is one of the best prepaid debit cards out there, you will have to pay a $3.00 per month fee.
5. The Best Prepaid Debit Card with No Monthly Fee May Even Pay You a Decent APR
Another added benefit offered by a number of prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees is that you may even be able to benefit from competitive interest rates. Many companies offer savings account that you can link to your free prepaid debit cards with no fees and draw great interest.
Mango Money is one company offering a quality MasterCard prepaid debit card that comes with an optional savings account addition.
While there is a monthly fee of $3.00, you can easily offset that fee by taking advantage of their 6% APR on the savings account option that comes together with the card.
6. Consider Loading Large Amounts of Cash onto Your Best Prepaid Debit Card to Avoid Fees
While many of the best prepaid debit cards do charge a monthly maintenance fee, you can usually get around those fees if you commit to loading a certain amount of cash onto your card each month.
Most of us easily spend more than $1,000 each month in food, gas, rent, and other expenses.
If you make your prepaid debit card with no monthly fees your main card for everyday purchases, you can easily get around any fees that may be charged.
Furthermore, since some companies will charge a monthly fee if you don’t use your free prepaid debit card a certain number of times, you should plan on carrying your card with you every time you plan to make a purchase.
How Free Prepaid Debit Cards with No Fees Can Contribute to Your Peace of Mind
While prepaid debit cards with no fees aren’t for everyone, they can be incredibly an incredibly useful way to maintain complete control over your expenses.
With the rising popularity of prepaid debit cards with no monthly fees, you should easily be able to find an option that offers you the best perks and most flexibility for your everyday purchases.
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