2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST PREPAID BANK CARDS
Learn Responsible Spending with Prepaid Debit Cards with No Fees
Learning how to manage your finances can be difficult if you’re never given responsibility for them in a safe and secure setting. Opting for a prepaid credit card online may damage your credit – if you’re old enough to qualify for one at all. Instead, many parents prefer the idea of teaching their children to manage plastic with prepaid bank cards instead.
Prepaid cards with no fees come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including those with the ability to have direct deposit, subaccounts, and more. So, how do you know which one is the best prepaid debit card for you or your family?
Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Prepaid Debit Cards
To help you make the choice regarding prepaid bank cards, AdvisoryHQ has provided this comprehensive guide to the best prepaid debit card options available. We included prepaid debt cards with no fees and minimal fees to give you a clear overview of what is available on today’s market.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Prepaid Bank Cards
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the credit card names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that credit card):
- American Express® Serve
- American Express® Serve Free Reloads
- Bluebird® by American Express®
- Chase Liquid Card
- KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card
- PayPal Prepaid MasterCard®
Top 6 Best Prepaid Bank Cards| Brief Comparison & Ranking
Credit Card Names
American Express® Serve
$1 or $0 if direct deposit of $500+
Up to $3.95
American Express® Serve Free Reloads
Bluebird® by American Express®
$10 to $20 to open
Chase Liquid Card
$25 to open
KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card
$3, waived with monthly deposit of at least $750
$750 (to avoid fee)
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard®
Table: Top 6 Best Prepaid Bank Cards| Above list is sorted alphabetically
How Do Prepaid Bank Cards Work?
What is the advantage to teaching your teens or young adults to spend responsibly with prepaid bank cards? Even adults can benefit from these prepaid debit cards that allow individuals to focus on maintaining a healthy account balance without overdrafts. Prepaid bank cards are a great way to teach responsibility and fiscal awareness.
Unlike a traditional debit card, prepaid bank cards have only the balance that you load onto them. Many of the prepaid debit cards with no fees do not allow purchases to go through if there are insufficient funds on the account (or they will process the transaction as a partial payment). This allows consumers to get a feel for managing their account balance without costly overdraft fees or developing a habit of spending more than they can afford on a credit card.
Image Source: Pixabay
The easiest way to think of prepaid bank cards is to imagine them as gift cards that are frequently reloaded. You continuously add new funds to them to keep the “gift card” active, but you also have many other options for features. You may even find the best prepaid travel card or other prepaid debit cards with cashback rewards.
Some consumers opt to use prepaid bank cards as their go-to form of payment, having their payroll checks direct deposited into their account. Others use them to pay their children for allowance, babysitting or other miscellaneous funds such as extra spending money. It offers parents the ability to control and monitor their children’s spending habits by viewing their transactions via mobile banking or an online website.
The best prepaid debit card gives you the flexibility to help grant freedom with spending without burdening teenagers with more responsibility than they are ready for. Prepaid bank cards are great stepping stones into the world of credit.
AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology
What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?
Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.
Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Prepaid Bank Cards
Below, please find the detailed review of each credit card on our list of best prepaid debit card choices. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these prepaid debit cards to score so high in our selection ranking.
American Express® Serve Review
American Express® Serve is a great choice for a low-cost or even free online prepaid card. Under certain circumstances, you’ll find that the cost associated with this best prepaid debit card is very minimal.
What can you expect from the free prepaid cards with American Express® Serve? Along with its no-cost services, you can expect a few additional perks to accompany it:
- Free online bill pay
- Sending and receiving money at no cost
- Card replacement
- 24/7 customer service
Additionally, you also have access to mobile transactions, including checking the balance, paying bills, adding checks, getting text alerts, and sending money to others with American Express® Serve accounts.
Among prepaid debit cards with no fees, the American Express® Serve is a great choice if you’re looking for an online prepaid card. When signed up for online and managed through its website, the American Express® Serve comes with no card cost at all. However, when managed through a retail location, you could expect to pay up to $3.95 for the account.
The monthly fees for its best prepaid debit card (exempt in Texas, New York, and Vermont) are just $1. For individuals who direct deposit $500 or more, there is no monthly fee for this online prepaid card. Fortunately, there is no minimum balance on the American Express Serve.
Cash reloads cost up to $3.95 depending on the particular retailer you use. The prepaid debit cards through the American Express® Serve lineup have no fee when used at MoneyPass ATMs or $2.50 at non-MoneyPass ATMs.
American Express® Serve Free Reload Review
This online prepaid card comes with many of the same features and programs that are available with its counterpart. You can still use these free prepaid debit cards anywhere where American Express cards are accepted. The benefit of utilizing its prepaid credit card online is the advantage of all the mobile pay and online banking features.
You receive online bill pay with these prepaid debit cards with no fees. You’ll also get early direct deposit, the ability to bank on the go by adding checks, and having text alerts on your account. Prepaid cards with no fees, such as this one, also come with fraud protection.
Furthermore, you’ll receive these features with its best prepaid debit card choices:
- Free subaccounts
- Free card replacement
- 24/7 customer service
- Purchase protection on eligible purchases
The added benefit of the American Express® Serve Free Reload card is the long list of convenient locations where you can reload the prepaid debit cards for free. With major retailers, including CVS, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Walmart, money can be immediately added to your account for free.
Its best prepaid debit card of this variety is free to register for online but could cost up to $3.95 to open in retail locations. The major drawback to this card, in comparison to the American Express Serve, is the monthly fee: $4.95 (exempt in Texas, New York, and Vermont). However, the free reloads may even out the monthly fee if you top up the balance often.
Like the American Express® Serve, you also pay no fees on ATM withdrawals at MoneyPass ATMs ($2.50 and non-MoneyPass ATMs). No minimum account balance is necessary to maintain an open account balance.
Bluebird® by American Express® and Walmart Review
If you’re looking for a convenient way to make the most of prepaid bank cards and your shopping habits, the Bluebird® from American Express® and Walmart offers one of the best prepaid debit card choices for free prepaid cards.
The Bluebird® prepaid bank cards are an easy choice for those who didn’t necessarily want a prepaid credit card online. With Walmart as an easy location for reloads and services, the Bluebird® prepaid debit cards are a top choice for the best prepaid debit card. You have a handful of advantages that most consumers are looking for in bank prepaid cards:
- Purchase protection with online shopping and in-store purchases
- Fraud protection
- Send and receive funds quickly from other Bluebird prepaid debit cards
- Free online bill pay
If you are signing up for bank prepaid cards in order to transfer money among your children or others, you also have the ability to add several subaccounts. These family-friendly options make the Bluebird® from American Express® an appealing option.
The Bluebird® prepaid debit cards with no fees are truly free accounts with no monthly charges whatsoever. Accounts come with no activation fee and no card fee for those purchased online. Cards purchased at a retail location may incur a fee up to $5.
Adding funds to the best prepaid debit card is free via direct deposit; you can also add funds from a checking account, savings account, cash or debit card, online with a debit card or a check by mail. Mobile check capture is free if you can wait up to ten days; otherwise, you may pay a small fee on its bank prepaid cards with a minimum of $5 or 1 percent to five percent of the check.
Cash withdrawals are free of charge at MoneyPass ATMs or $2.50 at out-of-network options.
Chase Liquid Card Review
Enjoy flexible spending options and low fees with the Chase Liquid card that sets you up for successful banking.
The Chase Liquid card offers plenty of flexibility to consumers searching for the best prepaid debit card. These free prepaid cards can be used to pay bills online (excluding car rentals and equipment or furniture rentals), including money sent directly to others.
You will receive access to chase.com online banking to see your purchase history and account balances as well access to the Chase Mobile app. You can even sign up for text alerts to notify you when your account balance dips below a specific amount.
The biggest disadvantage to its best prepaid debit card is the necessity of having Chase local branches nearby. With many of its fees and services offered specifically at Chase locations, it makes having brick-and-mortar locations (or at least access to Chase ATMs) a convenient necessity.
The Chase Liquid card isn’t necessarily one of the prepaid debit cards with no fees. Unfortunately, it does come with a small monthly fee of $4.95. The monthly service fee could be easily avoided by opening your own qualifying Chase checking account as well. Unlike some other cards, you’ll find that the monthly fee is really the only cost to this Chase Liquid card.
With a deposit of just $25, you can open an account for absolutely nothing. Chase ATMs allow you to make withdrawals whenever you need to with no fee at all. Even reloading your prepaid debit cards with no fees shouldn’t be a big deal since extra fees are waived on the Chase Liquid card.
You can add up to $4,000 in cash each month at any Chase branch of Chase ATM (or use check deposit with the Chase QuickDeposit app on your mobile phone). Direct deposits, transfers, and check deposits at the ATM or via the teller service are unlimited.
KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card Review
If you intend to use your no fee prepaid cards for most of your deposits and purchases, the KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card might be a good choice for you. With a higher than average account minimum, you can waive your monthly fee and enjoy free prepaid debit cards.
Source: KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card
Among prepaid debit cards with no fees, the KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card offers a wonderful solution for consumers desiring to use an online bank. You gain access to convenient features and services that can be used directly from your couch or home computer with ease:
- Mobile banking: Deposit all available checks into your account with its mobile banking app, including your payroll check, cashier’s checks, tax refunds, and personal checks.
- Direct deposit: Make the decision to have all (or just a portion) of your paycheck deposited onto your card.
- Send money: Transfer money to others who are on KAIKU with instant exchanges.
- Cash deposit: With Visa ReadyLink and MoneyGram ATMs, its prepaid debit cards with no fees can load cash easily. You can also withdraw funds at these ATMs with no fees.
- Bill Pay: Set up recurring payments or issue one-time payments with free bill pay.
The KAIKU Visa® Prepaid Card has the potential to be one of the prepaid debit cards with no fees if you meet certain requirements. You don’t pay for inactivity, card replacement, bill payment or ATM fees at in-network options. Its usual $3 per month maintenance fee is waived with a monthly deposit of at least $750.
This may be an easy goal to achieve if you intend to use your best prepaid debit card as your only payment method, opting for direct deposit and all your reloads. Bear in mind that cash reloads can range in price from $2.95 to $4.95 depending on the specific merchant fees, and out-of-network ATM fees will cost you $3 each. Be certain that you live in an area where your account will be easily accessible to avoid these unnecessary fees.
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard® Review
If you’re already utilizing PayPal, you can use this account balance to easily load and reload your prepaid debit cards with no fees. Its free prepaid debit cards are full of features that other free prepaid debit cards are lacking in, including a rewards program and referral program.
Its rewards program is based on the purchases and merchants you use, chosen specifically as a result of your unique shopping habits. Activating the offers allows you to earn things such as cash back and other special offers. For those who were searching for the best prepaid travel card, the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard® could be a good choice. You certainly have the opportunity to earn rewards as you would on many of the best prepaid travel card options.
You can also earn money for every friend that signs up, activates his or her account, and loads $10 onto the card for the first time. Each of you will receive a $5 bonus for the referral.
The cost of the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard® is highly dependent upon the retail location where you choose to open an account. When you receive this temporary card, you will be required to deposit a minimum balance of $10 to $20, depending on the specific location.
On a monthly basis, you will pay $4.95 for usage of this best prepaid debit card, but that fee includes many of your other necessary costs. For example, you will not pay additional for signature purchase transactions or PIN purchase transactions. Direct deposit reloads have no fee, and there is no account maintenance fee. ATM fees are subject to a $1.95 fee (plus the ATM owner surcharge fee).
Some reload locations may not even charge a fee depending on which locations are in your area.
Conclusion—Top 6 Best Prepaid Bank Cards
No fee prepaid cards are an ideal choice for building up responsibility and practicing with plastic before moving on to a real credit card. The prepaid cards with no fees on this list of the top six best prepaid bank cards are certain to get you started on building up that sort of fiscal responsibility.
Consider what features are most important to you when it comes to the best prepaid bank cards.
Do you have ATMs nearby that allow you make free withdrawals and deposits? Are you planning to have direct deposits made onto the prepaid bank cards or planning on cashing your payroll checks often? Depending on what your minimum balance will be, you might be able to easily determine which of the prepaid debit cards with no fees would be the best choice for you.
Maintaining the best prepaid debit card for you is a clear step in the right direction towards financial freedom and responsibility, even before you begin to maintain a prepaid credit card online. By spending within the limits of your prepaid bank cards, you are setting up a pattern that will lead to a successful future.
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.