If you are looking for a similar yet effective alternative to a debit card, a prepaid card may be your solution. Prepaid cards allow you to load money onto them to make any purchases at any location. Essentially, they function similarly to debit cards, without having any connection to a bank account. This makes prepaid cards a great option if you have poor banking history. Prepaid cards are handy, but you must be careful. Some of them come with fees that can add up and cause you to spend more money. Below, we’ve listed the top nine reloadable prepaid cards with no fees. We also get into the specifics of prepaid cards, how they work, and what benefits you can receive from using them. Use this detailed guide to pick the right prepaid card for you.
What We'll Cover
- What Is a Prepaid Card?
- The 9 Best Zero-Fee Reloadable Prepaid Cards
- Chime Credit Builder Visa
- American Express Bluebird
- NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card
- PayPal Prepaid MasterCard
- Brinks Prepaid MasterCard
- Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card
- Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card
- Fifth Third’s Access 360° Prepaid Debit Card
- American Express Serve
- WeSwap MasterCard
- The Difference Between Prepaid Cards and Debit Cards
- Final Thoughts on Reloadable Prepaid Cards
What Is a Prepaid Card?
A prepaid card is a method of payment that you can use to make everyday purchases, such as gas, groceries, clothing, and more. However, before you can use a prepaid card to make a purchase, you must “load” it with money. Almost all major banking institutions, such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express offer prepaid cards. The concept of prepaid cards seems fairly simple and easy, but you must be careful to read the card’s rules and requirements before you acquire one. For example, some cards require you to pay a number of fees to keep it activated, including annual or monthly fees. You may also find cards that require you to load it with a specific amount of money. The good news about prepaid cards is that there typically aren’t any limitations on what you can buy or where you can buy from. Some prepaid cards will even allow you to withdraw money at an ATM, send money to other people, and receive rewards for making purchases. More importantly, if you’re concerned about your credit history, you will not need to pass a credit check in order to obtain most prepaid debit cards.
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How Do Prepaid Cards Work?
The first step to using a prepaid card that you’ve acquired is to load money onto it. While some cards may let you choose the amount of money that you put on the prepaid card, other cards may require you to load the card with a specific amount. Once you’ve done this, you can use the card to make purchases at any location, both in-person and online, that accepts cards as a method of payment. When you’ve used all of the money on the card, reloadable prepaid cards will allow you to put more money on them so that you can continue making purchases.
What Can I Use Prepaid Cards for?
Essentially, you can use a prepaid card to purchase anything that accepts a card as a method of payment. Prepaid cards are also great for emergency uses and vacations. If you are traveling far from home and don’t want to risk losing your debit or credit card, you can bring a prepaid card to make purchases. Prepaid cards are also a good tool for children. If you have a teenager who doesn’t quite need a bank account yet, you might consider giving them a prepaid card that they can use for necessary purchases. Or, if you give your children allowances, you can also load their allotted allowance money onto the card. Prepaid cards offer plenty of benefits, and you can truly use them how you deem fit. Further below, we talk more about how you can benefit from using a prepaid card.
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The 9 Best Zero-Fee Reloadable Prepaid Cards
Below, we discuss the nine best reloadable prepaid cards that don’t have any annual, monthly, or reloading fees. Any of the cards we listed are fantastic options if you are looking for a prepaid card that will be reliable. In fact, most of them come from big-name banking institutions, such as Visa, American Express, and MasterCard. Check out some of these cards’ best features, and decide which one will work best for your needs.
Chime Credit Builder Visa
When it comes to reloadable cards, chime has to be our #1 pick for several reasons. The card has no annual fees, no interest, it’s easily reloadable from your mobile phone using the chime app, and best of all it helps you build credit by reporting your balances to all the major credit bureaus. Chime doesn’t check your credit before you apply for their visa card which makes card approval easy and seamless.
American Express Bluebird
The American Express Bluebird is a highly recommended prepaid debit card that offers users plenty of benefits without the annoying fees. This card is a great option for parents who want to teach their children money management skills, as it does not allow you to go into a negative balance. You can also load the card with money via direct deposit, money transfers, checks, or at a cash register at a Walmart location. Some of the other pros to this card are that you can opt to receive alerts when the balance begins to run low, and you can withdraw cash at any MoneyPass ATM in the country. However, with the American Express Bluebird card, you cannot get cash back at a retailer. Additionally, some extra perks from the card will cost you a small fee.
NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card
The NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card is one of the best no-fee prepaid cards. With this card, you will not have to worry about overdraft fees, activation fees, credit checks, or minimum balances. The NetSpend mobile app allows you to manage the money on the card with ease, and you can load money onto the card via direct deposit or checks. One of the best features about this card is that it is insured by the FDIC. This means that it is a safe card to use to make purchases. NetSpend also makes it easy for customers to replace their card, in the event that it gets lost or stolen.
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard
If you’re looking for a prepaid card that is quick and easy to use, the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard is a great option. PayPal has dominated the online banking world by providing effective technology and processes. This card is especially easy to use if you already have a PayPal account. To add more money to the card, all you have to do is move money from your PayPal account onto the card, which you can do online. This card offers perks that most others don’t, including cash back offers and deals from the stores that you like to shop at. This card is insured by the FDIC.
Brinks Prepaid MasterCard
If you’re in need of a prepaid debit card quickly, you will appreciate the quick activation process for the Brinks Prepaid MasterCard. When you load money onto the card using direct deposit, you are granted quick access to your money. You will also enjoy the convenience of the mobile app, which allows you to manage your money at any time of the day. Additionally, this card is insured by the FDIC, so you can be sure that your money is protected. This card is also free of pesky monthly fees, allowing you to save your money.
Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card
The Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card is amongst the best prepaid debit cards because it is an excellent economical choice. One of the benefits to this card is that you can withdraw cash from any ATM that accepts Visa cards. Additionally, you can have easy online access to manage your card through the Movo mobile app. This app makes it easy to add more money to the card via PayPal or direct deposit. Overall, this card has no fees that you need to worry about. However, you must be conscious of using your card regularly. If you don’t use the card for three months, Movo will charge you a $4.95 monthly fee until you resume using the card.
Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card
With a maximum balance of $10,000, you will enjoy the flexibility of the Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card. With this card, you are not limited to making purchases at Starbucks. In fact, you can use it anywhere that accepts Visa as a payment method. This card does not have any monthly or activation fees, and if you’re an avid Starbucks drinker, you can link your card to your Starbucks rewards account. Unfortunately, the downside to this card is that you cannot withdraw money from an ATM. You will also see a 3% fee if you use the card outside of the United States, so we don’t recommend this prepaid card for travel purposes abroad.
Fifth Third’s Access 360° Prepaid Debit Card
The Fifth Third’s Access 360° Prepaid Debit Card is a great prepaid debit card that gives you the option to go without paying fees, but you must be careful. This prepaid card does come with a $4 monthly fee, but you have two options to waive that fee: open a checking account with Fifth Third, or deposit a minimum of $500 a month onto the card. However, there are no activation or inactivity fees to worry about. One of the coolest features about this card is that you are allowed to have joint owners. This makes it a great card for parents and children.
American Express Serve
The American Express Serve Direct Deposit Prepaid Debit Card gives you access to grants you access to easy money management without a credit check, hidden fees, and minimum balances. With this card, you can pull cash for free from more than 30,000 MoneyPass ATM locations in the country. This card also comes with fraud protection security, access to a mobile app, and the customer service team at American Express. This card typically has a monthly fee of $6.95, but you are able to waive that fee as long as you deposit at least $500 on the card monthly, via direct deposit.
The WeSwap MasterCard is a good prepaid debit card without fees, but we’ve ranked it at the bottom of the list because you have to be very careful with how you use it. Or else, you could find yourself paying extra money. This card allows you to add money quickly and free of charge via direct deposit and checks. You can also make withdrawals for free, as long as the amount is at least $200. This card is one of the best choices for people who want to obtain a prepaid card well-suited for travel. This card works in more than 180 countries and allows you to store money in 18 different currencies. However, making instant conversions can cost you.
The Difference Between Prepaid Cards and Debit Cards
It’s important to note that prepaid cards are different from debit cards. Although both debit cards and prepaid cards allow you to make purchases, the major difference between the two is that a typical debit card is associated with a bank account. There is also a difference between prepaid cards and credit cards. When getting any type of card, it’s important to read the fine lines to make sure that you are not signing up for something you don’t really need or want. Additionally, prepaid cards are different from gift cards, despite a few similarities. You can only use gift cards to make purchases at designated locations. With a prepaid card, you can buy anything that you want from any location. Although prepaid cards are not the same as gift cards, prepaid cards still make great gifts—especially if you want to give somebody the freedom to make purchases anywhere.
Final Thoughts on Reloadable Prepaid Cards
Prepaid cards and debit cards are not the same thing. However, they have similar functions. If you are looking for a card that you can use to purchase items, without having to link it to a bank account, a prepaid card may be your best bet. Some prepaid cards, however, come with hefty fees. To avoid extra spending, you should find a prepaid card that doesn’t require you to pay additional fees. In this article, we discussed the pros and cons of the nine best reloadable prepaid cards with zero fees. To find the right card for you, consider your needs, as well as what you plan on using the card for.