Introduction: What Is the Best Prepaid Debit Card?
Nearly everyone likes to have a piece of plastic in their pocket. In our increasingly cashless society, the ease and comfort that comes with being able to pay with a credit or debit card has almost become a necessity.
Instead of making a trip to the bank every time you need cash or trying to balance a checkbook, paying with plastic allows you to carry your money with your wherever you go.
While traditional debit or credit cards are the most common forms of plastic, reloadable credit cards and prepaid bank cards are another option that many people are turning to today.
For people who have trouble sticking to a budget, credit cards can be a risky business. On the other hand, debit cards that are linked to a checking account might not be accessible to everyone – especially people with poor credit who are turned away by banks.
Bank prepaid cards are a sort of hybrid between credit cards and debit cards. The best prepaid cards allow you the convenience of a credit card while also putting a limit on your spending as would a debit card.
Image source: Pixabay
In this brief article, AdvisoryHQ will go over reloadable credit cards. We’ll then go on to explain who benefits from the cheapest prepaid cards available as well as mention some of the pros and cons of prepaid money cards.
Furthermore, this article will offer six tips to help you find good prepaid cards that will financially work for you. Finally, we’ll help you answer the question, “What is the best prepaid debit card?” as we review three of the top cards available today.
What Is a Reloadable Credit Card?
A reloadable credit card is also known as a prepaid bank card or prepaid debit card. The best prepaid cards function like a mix between a credit card and a debit card. Good prepaid cards allow you to load a certain amount of money onto the card that you can then use as if it were a debit or credit card.
Once you’ve used up the funds on your prepaid bank card, you have to reload more money onto your card to continue using it.
The best prepaid cards with direct deposit are offered by well-recognized companies, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards are more common and the most widely accepted. You can find and apply for prepaid cards online as well as through certain banks.
Who Benefits from the Best Prepaid Cards?
Prepaid money cards aren’t for everyone. If you have a decent credit score and are able to get a regular debit card tied to your checking account, then prepaid money cards might not be necessary for you.
Furthermore, if you have good financial discipline and can use a credit card without digging yourself into debt, then credit cards will offer you more perks and rewards than any prepaid bank cards out there.
For people with bad credit who can’t apply for a credit card or aren’t eligible for a debit card through a bank or credit union, however, a reloadable credit card may very well be the best option that allows the facility and ease of paying with plastic.
Furthermore, for people who have a problem sticking to a budget and living within their means, a prepaid bank card may very well be a better option than a credit card as it gives you more control over how much you can spend.
Choosing one of the best prepaid cards for direct deposit is also a good choice for people who travel internationally and don’t want to carry their primary credit or debit cards with them. Travelling can be risky business, and the possibility of having your debit or credit card stolen can lead to heavy losses.
The best prepaid cards allow you the ability to spend internationally while determining how much you want to take with you on your travels.
Lastly, reloadable credit cards are also a good option for young people who are in the process of learning how to be financially responsible. Many parents may choose to give out “allowance” to their children in the form of prepaid bank cards so that they can begin learning how to make a budget and spend responsibly.
Pros and Cons of Prepaid Bank Cards
The biggest advantage to bank prepaid cards is that they allow you to have full control over how much you put onto the card and have the ability to spend. Whereas many people may eat into their savings through overusing a debit card or built up debt with credit cards, the best prepaid cards limit what you spend according to how much you load onto the card.
Furthermore, prepaid cards with direct deposit will allow you to easily transfer a certain amount of money to the card from another bank account that you may have.
Some people may choose to only use their prepaid bank card for everyday purchases, such as gas and food, while leaving the rest of their monthly paycheck in their checking account for larger expenses, like rent or mortgage and other bills.
Image source: Pixabay
Lastly, almost all of the best prepaid cards don’t require any sort of credit check, making them available to anyone and everyone. While the standards for applying for a decent checking account seem to be getting higher and higher every day, anyone can find and gain access to a prepaid card online.
Unfortunately, even the cheapest prepaid card usually comes with a whole host of fees. Below, we’ll review some of the reloadable credit cards with the lowest fees, but if you don’t do your homework, you may end up paying much more than you wish in fees with prepaid bank cards.
Also, since prepaid bank cards aren’t tied to any sort of bank account, they won’t help you build up your credit score. If you want to improve your credit score, Visa or MasterCard prepaid cards won’t help you at all.
Top Six Tips for Finding the Best Bank Prepaid Cards
If you think that bank prepaid cards are the best option for you, follow the tips below to help you find the best prepaid card for you.
- Search for Prepaid Money Cards with Low Monthly Fees
As we mentioned above, prepaid bank cards can come with all sort of fees that can quickly add up. According to findabetterbank.com, “Some reloadable debit cards come with extra fees that many consumers are unaware of.
Charges that come with reloadable debit cards are: enrollment fees, standard monthly fees, ATM usage fees, and reloading fees. Please keep in mind that not all reloadable cards charge these fees.”
Make sure that you read all of the fine print before signing up for any prepaid card online. While almost all bank prepaid cards chare some sort of fee, there is a huge difference between paying a flat monthly fee and being charged several dollars each time you use your prepaid money card.
- Find the Best Prepaid Card for Direct Deposit to Facilitate Reloading the Card
Once you run out of money on your reloadable credit card, you will need to reload money in order to continue to use it.
The best prepaid card for direct deposit allows you to add money to your card without the hassle of having to stop at a store or bank. Prepaid cards with direct deposit will let you electronically transfer funds to your reloadable credit card from a different bank account that you have.
Furthermore, most of the best prepaid cars for direct deposit won’t charge you any sort of fee for reloading your card.
- Find a Prepaid Card Online That Offers Free Customer Service
While you probably won’t be calling customer service every week to use your prepaid card, you never know when an issue can unexpectedly come up.
The best prepaid cards should also offer quality customer service that you don’t have to pay for. Some of the cheapest prepaid cards may have low monthly fees but might charge you several dollars just to speak with a representative to sort out a problem you have with your card.
- The Cheapest Prepaid Cards Should Have a Flat Fee
While “no monthly fees” might sound nice to a number of people, many companies offering prepaid bank cards may find other ways to make money off the reloadable credit cards that they offer. If you’re being charged $2–$3 dollars every time you withdraw money from an ATM machine, then you’re probably being charged much more per month than if you were to simply pay the $3 to $5 dollar monthly fee.
Companies that offer reloadable credit cards with straightforward monthly fees are usually the best way to avoid those annoying hidden fees that quickly add up.
- Choose a Visa or MasterCard Prepaid Card
While there are several companies offering prepaid bank cards, a Visa or MasterCard prepaid card is still the most widely accepted, especially if you’ll be traveling outside the United States and want to use your reloadable credit card during your trips.
- Search for Prepaid Cards with Direct Deposit Linked to the Largest ATM Networks
If you habitually go to the ATM machine several times a week, you will want to find a prepaid bank card that won’t charge you excessive fees for each ATM transaction. The best prepaid cards should be linked to a large ATM network where you won’t be charged any foreign ATM transactions.
Research whether the prepaid bank card you’re considering is linked to an ATM network that has machines in places you usually frequent to withdraw cash.
Top Three Best Prepaid Cards
What is the best prepaid debit card? The answer to that question will depend largely on how you plan to use the card and your own personal financial situation.
For example, if you want a reloadable credit card for your travels, then you will want to find a card that won’t charge you foreign transaction fees, even if that means paying a highly monthly fee.
If, however, you plan to use your reloadable credit card for everyday purchases, then you´ll want to find a low, flat monthly fee card. Below, we review three of the best prepaid cards on the market today.
Billed as an “alternative to banking,” this prepaid bank card offers free direct deposit and a diverse array of money management tools. This best prepaid card for direct deposit also allows you the option of reloading your card with cash at any Walmart location across the country. The card even comes with free budgeting tips to help you get the most out of your card.
This prepaid bank card gives you access to over 55,000 ATM machines around the country and is one of the largest ATM networks for prepaid money cards. The mobile app that you can download for free will even let you know where the nearest ATM machine is. At only $3 dollars per month, this is one of the cheapest prepaid cards out there.
- Chase Liquid
The Chase Liquid reloadable credit card is another of the best prepaid cards available to you. You can sign up for online bill pay with your card and are allowed to spend up to $3,000 per day with this card.
How Good Prepaid Cards Can Help Stabilize Your Financial Situation
Finding the best prepaid card doesn’t have to be a difficult, time-consuming process. While there are certain reloadable credit cards out there that will try and scam you through extensive fees, simply reading the fine print will help you find the prepaid bank card with the qualities best-suited to your personal financial goals.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.