Overview: The Importance of Reloadable Credit Cards
While reloadable credit cards tend to be used by those who cannot open a traditional bank account, they have also gained popularity with others. Although finding the best reloadable debit card may seem intimidating at times, they do exist and we are here to help you find one that will meet your financial needs.
For those of you who do have a traditional bank account, reloadable prepaid cards may still be right for you. If you need help budgeting, a reloadable credit card will keep you honest. Since you have control over how much money is on your reloadable prepaid cards, you can keep a close eye on your finances. You can only spend as much as you put on them.
For those of you who cannot open a traditional bank account, however, reloadable prepaid cards are sometimes seen as a must. They are convenient and allow you to make purchases without carrying a large amount of cash wherever you go.
One of the best aspects of reloadable debit cards is that they belong to a very large network of ATMs, which will generally allow you to make withdrawals for free. Additionally, the best reloadable debit cards give you an opportunity to make deposits at many retailers, including convenience stores.
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Of course, all reloadable cards are different. Finding the best one for you will require a bit of research, but we are here to guide you through the process. Throughout this article, we will answer several of the most commonly asked questions, including:
- What are the best reloadable debit cards?
- Where do I buy prepaid credit cards?
- Can I get an international prepaid debit card?
- Can I buy reloadable gift cards?
As you read this article, you should keep in mind that most reloadable credit cards come with higher fees than traditional checking accounts. If you are not careful, these fees can add up quickly, even when you’re trying to use these cards to budget your expenses.
Therefore, you have to compare the features and fees of reloadable prepaid cards. We will begin to do this for you so you know exactly how to find the best reloadable debit cards around.
How to Determine Which Reloadable Credit Cards Are the Best
When weighing the pros and cons of reloadable prepaid cards, there are several characteristics you should be looking for. Not all of them offer the same benefits, and it will be your decision as to which one you choose. Consider what features matter most to you, but look especially at the following:
- Minimal Monthly Fees: The best reloadable debit cards will have very small monthly fees, while some of the ones you should avoid come with high charges that make them unsuitable for the average consumer. Some of the best monthly fees range from $0 to $5, while others can reach the double digits.
- Free Direct Deposit: Try to find a reloadable debit card that does not charge you for direct deposits. If your reloadable debit card does charge you for direct deposit, however, it will probably come with a lot of other fees, too. Remember that these add up in the long run.
- Widely Accepted: Make sure the reloadable cards you consider are widely accepted. As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of a reloadable credit card is that it is usually accepted at most retailers, including convenience stores. If you find reloadable cards that are not widely accepted, then they are not worth the investment.
- Send Money Online or Via Mobile Device: In this modern age, transferring money online or via a smartphone makes everyone’s lives easier. The best reloadable debit cards will allow you to transfer money to a family member or friend with the push of a button.
- Convenient Loading Options: Keep in mind that reloadable prepaid cards are meant to be convenient. There will be nothing more inconvenient, however, than not being able to add money to your card. If there are not easy loading options for your reloadable debit card, make sure you keep looking.
In general, these are the features that we look for when deciding which reloadable prepaid cards are best. There are others to keep in mind, including connections to retail networks and flexible ways to spend and pay bills. But for the remainder of the article, we will focus mostly on weighing the pros and cons of reloadable prepaid cards by considering these features.
Where Do I Buy Prepaid Credit Cards?
Before discussing the specific reloadable credit card that may be right for you, it will be important to note where you can find and purchase reloadable cards. One of the most commonly asked questions we have found is, “Where do I buy prepaid credit cards?”
Well, as long as you are near a convenience store, you’re in luck.
For instance, Visa offers a way to search for reloadable prepaid cards on its website. There are online sources for finding a MasterCard prepaid card as well. You can buy most of them online or in a convenience store, depending on which is easiest for you.
Remember that you do not need to open a traditional bank account to get the best reloadable debit cards. This makes your life a whole lot easier. Once you have decided on the perfect one, you can easily buy reloadable gift cards for you or someone else regardless of your financial situation.
Best Reloadable Debit Card Option 1: American Express Serve®
The first reloadable credit card we will discuss is the American Express Serve®. One of the reasons we consider this to be an excellent reloadable credit card is that the monthly fee is only $1. What makes this card even better is that when you direct deposit $500, your monthly fee is waived. In this case, you are avoiding the little fees that can add up quickly when using a reloadable credit card.
While the card can cost you up to $3.95 to load cash, CVS and 7-Eleven Stores allow you to load cash onto the card for free. This is an important fact to note. Although a lot of other reloadable credit cards claim to have a large retail network, many of those retail partners charge their own fees as well. With the American Express Serve, you never have to worry about these extra retail fees.
Additionally, the American Express Serve® is one of the best reloadable debit card options because it offers two different types of cards: the American Express Serve® Free Reloads and the American Express Serve® Cash Back. There are not too many differences between their online bill pay or direct deposit features, but they do offer some different advantages.
Unlike other reloadable prepaid cards, the Cash Back card allows you to earn up to 1% cash back on purchases. The Free Reloads card, on the other hand, charges $0 to add money at CVS, Family Dollar, Walmart, and participating 7-Eleven locations.
The only downside to these two reloadable prepaid cards is that the Free Reloads card will charge you $4.95 in monthly fees, while the Cash Back card will charge $5.95. Again, it is important for you to determine what matters most to you. If you will use the card in a way that 1% cash back counteracts the monthly charges, then it will behoove you to weigh your options.
Best Reloadable Debit Card Option 2: Western Union® NetSpend® Prepaid MasterCard®
The second reloadable credit card we will discuss is the Western Union® NetSpend® Prepaid MasterCard®. Part of the reason this MasterCard prepaid card succeeds is that is very easy to use and inexpensive. It offers free deposits of your paycheck or government benefits and allows you to accept Western Union money transfers directly on your card.
This MasterCard prepaid card offers a few different options for you to choose from. One option is the pay-as-you-go, which comes with no monthly fee. This version, however, has a couple of drawbacks, including $1 charges for each signature purchase and $2 charges for every PIN transaction.
Another option is the Monthly Fee Advantage Plan. This card will charge you $9.95 a month, but it comes with unlimited signature and PIN transactions. If you use your card frequently, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. If you only plan on using your MasterCard prepaid card once a month or less, stick with the pay-as-you-go.
The final option they offer is the Premier Fee Advantage Plan, which charges $5 per month for your reloadable credit card. You can pursue this option once you have made a direct deposit of at least $500 during one calendar month. This card also offers unlimited signature and PIN transactions, but it comes with access to an optional 5% APY Savings Account on balances up to $5,000.
For those who don’t know, APY is an annual percentage yield, reflecting the total amount of interest paid on an account. This allows you to gain yearly interest on your entire account. For instance, if you earn interest and then leave that interest in the account, you will receive even more interest the next year. The more money you have, the more your APY will earn for you.
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If you think one of these reloadable prepaid cards is right for you, decide how often you will need it. If you will use the card infrequently, do not consider the Premier Fee Advantage Plan. However, if you will use it daily and you want to gain interest, you should at least keep your options open.
Best Reloadable Debit Card Option 3: Visa TravelMoney Card
While there are so many options out there, the final reloadable credit card we will discuss in this article is the Visa TravelMoney Card. This card made our list because it serves as an international prepaid debit card that you can use in almost every country.
The two reloadable gift cards we have already mentioned are great for withdrawing money across the country, but this international prepaid debit card can go with you anywhere. Additionally, it comes with no monthly fee and no inactivity fee.
There will be some fees we haven’t seen yet, however, because this reloadable debit card is used internationally. For instance, there will be a foreign ATM withdrawal fee of $3.95. As long as you make a large enough withdrawal to sustain you for a while, this should not affect you greatly. Also, the card will charge you a currency conversion fee of 2.0%.
The conversion fee is fairly standard on international prepaid debit cards. Like when you exchange money at an airport, a conversion fee exists so the company that does the exchange makes money. Many of these international prepaid debit cards have a wide range of conversion fees, from roughly 2%, which you’ll get here, to 6%.
Consider this reloadable credit card if you plan on going abroad. It is often nice to have a backup source of money when you find yourself far from home. The Visa TravelMoney Card will give you a little extra security.
Conclusion: Finding the Best Reloadable Debit Card Is Your Call
The nice thing about shopping for reloadable prepaid cards is that so many of them exist. The options are countless, and it will be up to you to determine which one best meets your needs. Remember that your own finances will lead you to one card over another. They are built to suit different audiences.
Ask yourself a few questions before deciding which reloadable credit card is right for your situation. Will I use this card often? Will I want to earn cash back? Will I need to use it outside of the country? Once you know exactly what you are looking for, you can begin to search.
As we have shown throughout this article, many reloadable prepaid cards come with different fees. Some charge conversion fees, other have monthly fees, some charge you for signature purchases. Due to these different fees, the best reloadable debit card for you may be different than the best reloadable debit card for a friend. This purely depends on how often you use the card and what kind of role you want it to play in your life.
It will be important that you consider all of your options. If you are not sure how much you will need a reloadable credit card, try one that does not charge monthly fees or inactivity fees. That way, you will be able to see how much you will rely on your card.
Once you have determined the role that a reloadable credit card will play in your life, look at ones that are best for the long term. This may include those that give you cash back, ones that do not charge for withdrawals, or any other feature that matters to you.
It is helpful to have multiple ways of making purchases, but these reloadable prepaid cards are only convenient if you choose the one that’s right for you. Weigh your options and make your purchase. Ultimately, these cards should help you in the long run and should make budgeting easier.
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.
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.