Complete Guide: Top 6 Ways to Get the Best Free Prepaid Cards with No Monthly Fees
What is the difference between regular debit cards and free prepaid cards? A regular debit card is linked to a bank account, usually checking.
If there are available funds in your bank account, you can make instant purchases by using your debit card and accessing the money in there.
Free prepaid cards work differently. With free debit cards that are prepaid, you load the money onto the card in advance, and that card is not linked to another account.
What you are left with is something like a gift card that can be used at stores the same way you would use a regular debit card.
Additionally, you do not have as much flexibility with free prepaid cards the way you do with regular debit cards. When you are using a debit card linked to your checking account, you may have the option of spending more than your available funds if you have signed up for overdraft protection with your bank. If you use free debit cards that are prepaid, you can only spend as much as you have loaded onto the card.
Image Source: BigStock
Another important consideration: security. Regular debit cards linked to a checking account come with institutional support and security protection to help you if your card is lost or there is fraudulent activity in your account.
Free prepaid cards are not necessarily guaranteed the same kind of support in such unfortunate circumstances. (Some companies may go the extra mile and provide this kind of insurance.)
This article will provide helpful tips for how to find prepaid cards with no fees. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when picking free debit cards that are prepaid. In addition to providing advice for how to source quality prepaid card options, this article will provide the names and information of some popular prepaid debit cards with no fees.
1. Understand How to Qualify for Prepaid Cards with No Monthly Fees
Finding prepaid cards with no monthly fees can be a challenge. Banks want to make money, and charging maintenance fees and service fees is one prominent way they do so. But finding one without monthly fees it is not impossible – you just need to be a savvy consumer. While you likely will not find debit cards with no fees outright, there are many promotions and deals that allow you to turn prepaid cards into free prepaid cards with no monthly fees.
If you find a prepaid card that you like, but there is a fee associated with it, do not dismiss it out of hand – take the time to review the fee structure. Like many of the supposed no-fee debit cards, you will find online (and in this article) that there are fees initially, but these can be waived if you are willing to do certain things – the most popular one being to maintain an average monthly balance. This can easily work in your favor by encouraging you to keep money on the card and only use it when needed.
2. Get Free Prepaid Cards with No Monthly Fees from Walmart
There are several reasons why you may want to start using prepaid debit cards no fees. Perhaps you are trying to curb the temptation to spend money without the hassle of carrying around a lot of cash. Putting your money on prepaid cards with no fees may help you get your day-to-day transactions done without spending more than necessary.
Having the bare minimum needed to cover things like gas and groceries is a helpful way to curb indulgent spending and quickly put money aside in savings where it cannot be readily accessed. Regular debit cards are usually linked to both your checking and your savings account, which means that dipping into your savings is as simple as hitting “Savings” at the cash register. Prepaid cards with no fees can help you avoid this.
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Ninety percent of Americans live within 15 minute of a Walmart, so it is safe to say that a significant number of people nationwide go to Walmart for their everyday shopping, including clothing, household supplies, and, of course, groceries.
If you do a lot of your shopping at Walmart, you may often find yourself going in for a few necessary items only to end up with a grand total that goes way beyond what you were planning to spend. Prepaid cards with no fees may help with this.
When we have unlimited access to our funds, we are tempted to buy more than we need. Carrying your debit card linked to your checking account or your credit card tempts you into purchasing things you do not otherwise need because you know you have the funds to pay for it at the cash register. If you go to the store with just a no-fee prepaid card, you will be forced to only go to the register with the items you budgeted for on your no-fee debit card.
If you think this sounds like a great plan, then consider signing up for the Walmart MoneyCard. The Walmart MoneyCard is a reloadable, prepaid card that you can use to make purchases at Walmart whenever. When loading your Walmart no-fee prepaid card, you will be more likely to only put the amount you need, due to considering your financial responsibility.
What Is the Price Structure for This Walmart MoneyCard?
It is important to understand exactly what is meant by “no fee” when exploring no-fee prepaid cards. Some may be referring to the initial cost of purchasing the card while others may be referring to a monthly maintenance fee. The Walmart MoneyCard is a no-fee card for reloading and for cashback. However, there is a monthly maintenance fee of $5. The good news is that if you load $1,000 or more onto the card the month before, your fee is waived the next month.
This is one of the prepaid cards on the market that comes with the potential to be a prepaid card with no monthly fees, based on the user’s preferences and account activity.
No Credit Needed to Receive Walmart Personalized Prepaid Debit Cards
You are not required to have good credit (or any credit at all) to get this Walmart MoneyCard. In fact, this card does not build credit in any way. So long as you are 18 years of age or over and can provide identification, such as government ID and your Social Security number (for compliance with anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering policies that Walmart is required to follow), you can get this card.
Walmart provides its customers with personalized prepaid debit cards for identification purposes.
These personalized prepaid debit cards arrive about two weeks after the card is successfully registered. You will be required to provide your name, date of birth, address, Social Security number, and any other necessary identifying information.
3. Consider Getting Free Prepaid Cards That Are Credit Cards (Alternative to Debit Cards with No Fees)
Debit cards with no fees are not your only option. If you are not firmly attached to the idea of no-fee debit cards, consider finding free prepaid cards with no monthly fees that can be used as credit cards, like Visa or MasterCard.
Compass ClearSpend Prepaid Visa Card
The Compass ClearSpend Visa card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted; however, like other free prepaid cards, it is not technically a credit product. You are simply loading money onto a card that enjoys the benefits of being accepted by different vendors and merchants as if it was a Visa credit card.
The Compass ClearSpend Visa is a handy card. This is one of the free prepaid cards with no monthly fees or annual fees, no reload fees, and no transaction fees on purchases. Users get the benefits of a credit card with the convenience and decreased hassle of one of the best prepaid cards.
There is no credit check or inquiry required for these free prepaid cards since you are contributing the funds well in advance, which means there is no risk for the company issuing these prepaid cards with no fees.
4. Understand Your Needs: The Best Prepaid Cards Should Address Your Unique Financial Situation
Why are you looking for free prepaid cards? If you are just looking for a card that will help you budget, then almost any card should do. However, if you are looking for free debit cards or prepaid cards with no fees that will take the place of a traditional bank account, then you should explore your options carefully.
People do not get free prepaid cards just for budgeting or impulse control. Some consumers cannot get a bank account because of poor credit history or a history of bounced checks. Others may object to traditional bank accounts for political reasons or dissatisfaction with the way banks operate, including their fees, methods, and even their business hours.
The best prepaid cards meet the needs of the people they are for. If you do not have a bank account, for example, you will want free prepaid cards or prepaid cards at a small cost that allow you to directly deposit your checks, receive direct deposits or receive government assistance.
Tailor your search to find the best prepaid card that offers the kind of service you are looking for, whether it is easy cash withdrawals, free cash advances or multiple ways to reload the card, either through depositing checks or reloading online.
The Walmart MoneyCard discussed earlier is one of the best prepaid cards in this regard. With a Walmart MoneyCard, even if you cannot maintain the balance needed to make the card one of the free prepaid cards with no monthly fees, you can use the card in place of a bank account. There are multiple ways you can reload the Walmart personalized prepaid debit cards.
You can deposit your check at a Walmart, set up a direct deposit or deposit a check by taking a picture using the Walmart MoneyCard app. These personalized prepaid debit cards offered by Walmart go a long way towards helping those who do not have a traditional bank account in addition to helping those who simply want to budget better.
5. Qualify for Free Prepaid Cards by Setting up Direct Deposits or Government Assistance to Go to the Card
Some cards become free prepaid cards if you set up qualifying deposits. If you set up a regular direct deposit to go to some prepaid cards, the company will waive any monthly maintenance fees or service fees.
This saves customers money on two fronts, depending on their situation. Prepaid cards with no fees save money for the obvious reason – you do not have to pay a monthly fee for storing and accessing your money. The other reason is that if you were depending on cash checking institutions to get your money every time you were paid, you no longer have to pay the hefty fees associated with such places. Your money comes directly to your free prepaid cards where you can use it.
Image Source: BigStock
Government checks and benefit checks also count as qualifying deposits to make you eligible for free prepaid cards.
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6. Search for Free Prepaid Cards Based on Location, Not Company
Some prepaid cards are treated like free prepaid cards depending on the location within which you get one. The American Express Serve card normally carries a monthly fee of $1 (or $0 when $500 is directly deposited). This is already an extremely low fee that basically counts this as an option among free prepaid cards with no monthly fees. But it really joins the list of prepaid cards with no fees if you live in Texas, New York or Vermont. If you live in these states, there are no maintenance fees or service fees that you have to pay each month.
This is one of the free prepaid cards that comes with the support of a company like American Express behind it. With this card, users have access to 24,000 ATM locations across the country, and they can easily register for the card online.
ATM withdrawals are free, online bill payments are free, and you have access to American Express customer service and fraud protection.
It may be hard to run a Google search on location-based deals, but taking the time to read the fine print or the fee structures and breakdowns of different cards may help you uncover location-based deals such as the one offered by the American Express Serve card.
Free Prepaid Cards Are Financially Versatile Tools
Free prepaid cards are terrific and resourceful tools for a wide range of demographics. Even if you have a regular checking account, you can use free debit cards or personalized prepaid debit cards to keep your spending in check and encourage yourself to budget. By loading only the amount of money you need onto your prepaid cards with no fees, you will only spend what you need to while enjoying the kind of access that comes with a traditional debit card or credit card.
Additionally, free prepaid cards and prepaid debit cards with no fees are a terrific resource for those whose credit scores make traditional bank accounts inaccessible. Individuals can avoid the expensive fees associated with check cashing stores and send their pay or government assistance directly to their free debit cards. They can benefit further this way if their card waives other fees in exchange for setting up direct deposits.
Explore your options and get creative by employing these tips. While it may seem hard at first to find free prepaid cards, remember that companies rarely come outright and say that they offer free prepaid cards with no monthly fees. Read the product fees and features to find offers that allow you to turn regular cards into no fee prepaid cards.
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