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American Express’ Serve Pay As You Go Visa prepaid card offers helpful features without hidden fees. There are four different Serve prepaid options: the Serve Pay As You Go Visa prepaid card (reviewed here), and the Serve American Express Prepaid debit accounts, including Serve Free Reloads, Serve 1% Cash Back and Serve Free Direct Deposit.
With no monthly fee, the Serve Pay As You Go Visa Prepaid card could be the top choice of the four for most people. If you’re looking for an alternative to a bank account, this card offers many of the same services and features.
People who want a traditional banking alternative that allows mobile deposits, direct deposits and ATM access.
People who want to set aside savings in reserve funds.
Families who want to help kids learn how to save and budget with "subaccounts" linked to the card.
People who want to avoid paying a monthly fee.
» See more options: Check our list of best prepaid debit cards
Serve Pay As You Go Visa prepaid card pros:
A feature that lets you set money aside for future goals.
Unlike other prepaid debit cards, there’s no monthly fee.
Free funding with direct deposits, mobile check deposits and transfers from other Serve accounts.
» Looking for a way to build credit instead? Learn about secured credit cards
Serve Pay As You Go Visa prepaid card cons:
Fee of up to $3.95 to load cash on the card at retailer locations (fee varies by retailer).
ATM withdrawal fee of $2.25, on top of what the ATM owner may charge.
$1 fee for each PIN- or signature-based transaction.
» Ready to open a traditional savings option instead? See the best high-yield savings accounts
Overview of prepaid debit cards
What is a prepaid debit card?
A prepaid debit card is a type of payment card that only lets you spend the money you load onto the card. They don’t help you build credit. Like a debit card, a prepaid card works at any merchant that accepts its payment network, such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express. It’s safer and more convenient than using cash. Usually the prepaid card has a mobile app to deposit checks and transfer money. Learn more on our guide to prepaid debit cards.
Unlike checking accounts, prepaid debit cards may lack some services such as free ATM or branch networks, checks, among others. If that doesn’t work for you, see our list of best checking accounts. Or, if you’ve struggled with banks before, check out second chance checking options.
Prepaid debit card vs. debit card vs. credit card
Prepaid debit cards — pay before: You load money onto the card via cash, checks, direct deposit or a bank account before paying for transactions.
Debit cards — pay now: You use money directly from a checking account when paying for purchases or withdrawing money from an ATM.
Credit cards — pay later: You borrow money from a bank when you use the card and pay the money back later.
How does FDIC insurance on prepaid cards work?
Prepaid debit cards nearly always have FDIC insurance, which keeps your funds protected in case the issuer goes bankrupt. Only financial institutions can have FDIC insurance, so a prepaid card is either managed by a bank or by a prepaid card company that partners with a bank to offer that insurance. You must register your prepaid debit card with your name and other identification information in order to be eligible for FDIC insurance and other protections.