5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards

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+ Summary: Best prepaid debit cards
  • Bluebird by American Express: Best for avoiding fees.

  • Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card: Best for ATM withdrawals.

  • FamZoo Prepaid Card: Best for parents (tie).

  • Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard: Best for parents (tie).

  • Walmart MoneyCard: Best for shopping at Walmart.

  • Chime: Best cheap prepaid alternative.

What are prepaid debit cards?

A prepaid debit card can serve as a budgeting tool or an all-out replacement for a bank account — and the best prepaid cards offer convenience while charging few fees.

Prepaid cards are easy to get. Prepaid cards are sold at retail stores (usually for a fee) and some can be ordered online. There’s no credit check, and they’re often available even if you can’t get a bank account because of a bad banking history. Unlike with a credit card, you load funds onto prepaid cards before use.

Some companies also offer mobile-optimized banking accounts that don’t require a squeaky-clean banking or credit history — and they often cost less than prepaid cards. Skip ahead to read about these low-fee alternatives.

Prepaid debit cards vs. regular debit cards

You don’t need a bank account to get a prepaid debit card, but it’s a requirement for a regular debit card, which is linked to your checking account. For prepaid debit cards, you load the card with money when you get it, then use it to make purchases. For regular debit cards, the funds for your payments are taken directly from your checking account as you make payments.

» More from NerdWallet: What is a debit card?

Nerdy tip: If you need to build credit or have been denied a bank account, a prepaid debit card might not be the best option: Secured credit cards help build credit, and if you can't get a regular checking account, try second chance checking. These accounts provide another shot at mainstream banking and its perks.

Why trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to make sure our coverage is fair and accurate, so you can choose the financial accounts that work best for you. See our criteria for evaluating banks and credit unions.

Here are our top prepaid debit cards based on fees and features. Scroll down for more detail on each account.

BEST FOR AVOIDING FEES

Bluebird
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

Bluebird by American Express

  • No monthly fees; no fee for cash reloads at Walmart.

  • Free ATM network.

  • Great budgeting features.

BEST FOR ATM WITHDRAWALS

Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card

  • One of the biggest free ATM networks among prepaid cards.

  • $4 monthly fee that's reasonably easy to waive.

BEST FOR PARENTS

Prepaid Debit Card

FamZoo

  • Multiple subaccounts for kids.

  • Costs $2.50-$5.99 per month.

Greenlight®

Greenlight

  • Multiple subaccounts for kids.

  • Store-specific spending controls.

  • Monthly fee from $4.99.

BEST FOR SHOPPING AT WALMART

MoneyCard® Reloadable Prepaid Card

Walmart MoneyCard

  • 3% cash back at Walmart.com and in the Walmart app and other cash back rewards.

  • Multiple subaccounts for family members.

  • 2% APY on up to $1,000 in savings account.

BEST CHEAP ALTERNATIVE TO PREPAID

Chime Checking Account
NerdWallet rating 

at Chime, Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime

  • No monthly fees.

  • Has a savings component.

Bluebird by American Express

Best for avoiding fees

Bluebird
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

Bluebird, issued by American Express, offers more than the average prepaid debit card, and you can load and spend money without paying fees.

But Bluebird does have limits when it comes to merchant acceptance, and it doesn’t allow cash back at retailers.

  • General fees and features: No monthly fees and no costs for online activation or inactivity.

  • Purchases: No fees.

  • ATM withdrawals: Free at ATMs in the MoneyPass network; $2.50 fee at other ATMs, plus any ATM operator fee.

  • Reload methods: Direct deposit, debit card transfer, card-to-card transfer, mobile check deposit (with a third-party fee for instant processing), cash load at Walmart or other stores. (Retailers other than Walmart may charge up to $3.95.)

  • Other services: Separate “set aside” accounts for savings and up to four subaccounts for family members.

  • Downsides: No cash back at retailers. The card is issued by American Express, which isn’t accepted everywhere that Visa and Mastercard are.

» Learn more about how prepaid debit cards work

Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card

Best for ATM withdrawals

Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card
NerdWallet rating 
Read review

Fifth Third’s Access 360° prepaid debit card takes part in Allpoint’s massive U.S. network and has access to over 50,000 ATMs. This card is available in the 11 states where there are Fifth Third branches, which is the only place you can get the card.

  • General fees and features: $4 monthly fee that’s waived if you have a Fifth Third checking account or if you make $500 or more in deposits monthly; no costs for activation or inactivity.

  • Purchases: No fees.

  • ATM withdrawals: Free at Fifth Third ATMs and ATMs in the Allpoint ATM network; free at Presto! ATMs inside Publix stores and at 7-Eleven ATMs listed on the bank's website or mobile app; $2.75 fee at other ATMs, plus any ATM operator fees.

  • Reload methods: Direct deposit, bank transfer, cash load at Fifth Third branch or ATM.

  • Other services: Card can have joint owners.

  • Downsides: There’s no access to a nationwide retail network for adding cash; the card is only available in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia; and the card doesn’t have a separate savings feature.

FamZoo Prepaid Card

Best for parents (tie)

Prepaid Debit Card

FamZoo is a family-friendly prepaid Mastercard that lets parents become virtual bankers for their kids, even those younger than 13. Four cards are free on the monthly plan, but more can be added for a one-time $3 fee per card. From the website or app, you can send allowances, split payments, see balances and activity across all cards and set up text and email alerts.

  • General fees and features: You can prepay $59.99 for two years of FamZoo — that works out to $2.50 per month. Other prepayment plans also offer a discount. If you don’t prepay, the fee is $5.99 for a monthly subscription. There are no costs for activation or inactivity.

  • Purchases: No fees.

  • ATM withdrawals: No charge from FamZoo, but ATM withdrawals will still cost you: Since FamZoo doesn't have any of its own ATMs, third-party ATM operator fees can apply.

  • Reload methods: Direct deposit; bank transfer; PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo and Square Cash transfer; PopMoney transfer (for a fee); add cash at retailers like 7-Eleven and Walgreens that participate in the Reload @ the Register, MoneyPak and Mastercard rePower networks (about $5 retail fee).

  • Other services: Multiple accounts under one plan, free and instant FamZoo card-to-card transfers, ability to lock and unlock FamZoo cards, budgeting tools.

  • Downsides: No free ATM network; maximum monthly fee is higher than average; no mobile check deposit feature.

» Looking for a traditional spending account? Check out NerdWallet’s best free checking accounts.

Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard

Best for parents (tie)

Greenlight®

Greenlight stands out for a feature that other prepaid cards lack: store-specific spending controls. Parents can preapprove where their kids spend money, so $300 earmarked for school supplies can only be spent at a campus bookstore, for example. The prepaid card also offers real-time activity alerts, free card-to-card transfers for allowances and the ability to remotely lock lost cards.

A Greenlight account can have up to five subaccounts, so it works for a family. Given low purchase and withdrawal limits, it’s best as a family budgeting tool instead of a bank account replacement.

  • General fees and features: $4.99 to $9.98 per month, depending on selected plan (more expensive plans include features like investing education and identity theft protection); no costs for activation, inactivity or account closure.

  • Purchases: No fees.

  • ATM withdrawals: No fees from Greenlight, but ATM withdrawals will cost you: Since Greenlight doesn't have any of its own ATMs, third-party ATM operator fees may apply.

  • Reload methods: Direct deposit, debit card transfer, bank transfer.

  • Other services: Up to 5 subaccounts, no international ATM withdrawal fee.

  • Downsides: No checks or cash can be deposited; no free ATM network; the daily purchase maximum per family account is $1,500 and daily ATM withdrawal limit is $100, which are much lower than average for prepaid cards.

Walmart MoneyCard

Best for shopping at Walmart

MoneyCard® Reloadable Prepaid Card

The Walmart MoneyCard offers its shoppers up to $75 per year in cash-back rewards: 3% for purchases made at Walmart.com and in the Walmart app, 2% at Walmart fuel stations and 1% at Walmart stores. The app, which gets decent ratings, is required to get fee-free cash reloads at Walmart stores. Walmart MoneyCenters and Customer Service desks also offer fee-free cash withdrawals.

This prepaid, reloadable card is family-friendly. You can order an account for free for up to four additional people who are at least 13 years old. The Walmart MoneyCard offers a free “Vault” savings feature. Savings will earn 2% APY on up to $1,000 on the card enrollment anniversary.

Because it’s not part of an ATM network, you’ll pay $2.50 for ATM withdrawals in addition to any operator fees.

  • General fees and features: $5.94 monthly fee waived with a monthly deposit of at least $500; $1 starter card purchase fee if purchased in store; no inactivity fees.

  • Purchases: No fees.

  • ATM withdrawals: $2.50 fee, plus any operator fees.

  • Reload methods: Add cash via the Walmart MoneyCard app at Walmart stores; mobile check deposit; add funds from checks cashed at Walmart stores; $3 to reload cash at a Walmart store; up to $4.95 to reload elsewhere.

  • Other services: Up to four free additional accounts; savings account with 2% APY for first $1,000, and chances to win monthly cash prizes; option to lock and unlock your card via the app; text and email alerts.

  • Downsides: Fee to use ATMs; limited methods for reloading funds.

» Want to build your savings faster? See our list of the best savings accounts

Low-fee alternatives to prepaid cards

The difference between prepaid debit cards and checking accounts is starting to blur, as many have similar features and services.

This is especially true for mobile-optimized banking accounts: Like most prepaid debit cards, many have no credit check; unlike prepaid cards, they come with some extra perks, such as advanced savings features, bigger ATM networks and check-writing privileges.

Chime

Best cheap alternative to prepaid

Chime Checking Account
NerdWallet rating 

at Chime, Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime isn’t a prepaid debit card or a traditional bank account but a free checking account in the Visa payment network. Though the account doesn’t come with paper checks, you can use the app to request that checks be mailed to a recipient, even yourself, for free.

You can also open a linked Chime savings account and set up automatic transfers.

  • General fees and features: No monthly fee and no costs for activation or inactivity; no credit check. Cash withdrawal and third-party fees may apply.

  • Purchases: No additional charge.

  • ATM withdrawals: Free at over 60,000 ATMs in the Allpoint, MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATM networks; $2.50 at other ATMs, plus any ATM operator fee. Cash withdrawal and third-party fees may apply.

  • Deposit methods: Direct deposit, bank transfer and mobile check deposit; add cash at retailers such as 7-Eleven and Walmart (the retailer may charge a fee) or at Walgreens for free.

  • Other services: Optional savings account earns 1.00% annual percentage yield. Chime has two automatic savings programs: one where a percentage of every paycheck automatically goes into the savings account and the other where your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the rounded-up change goes to savings (see below for more information from Chime). You can also receive instant transaction alerts and lock your debit card if you lose it. Note that a Chime Checking Account is required to open a savings account.

  • Downsides: The out-of-network ATM fee.

Chime says: "Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC."

See more information from Chime

Chime says: "Round Ups automatically round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the round up from your Chime Checking Account to into your savings account. Save When I Get Paid automatically transfers 10% of your direct deposits of $500 or more from your Checking Account into your savings account."

The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of July 13th, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.

Best prepaid debit cards and alternatives: Summary

Account/card

Monthly fee

# of free ATMs

Bluebird by American Express

$0

30,000+

Chime account

$0

60,000+

FamZoo Prepaid Card

$2.50 to $4.33 if prepaid; $5.99 if billed

None

Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card

$0-$4

50,000+

Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard

$4.99 to $9.98

None

Walmart MoneyCard

$0-$5.94

None


Frequently asked questions
What is a prepaid debit card?

A prepaid debit card can serve as a budgeting tool or be a replacement for a bank account. The best prepaid cards offer convenience and don’t charge many fees.

There’s no credit check required to get a prepaid card, and they’re often available even if you can’t get a bank account because of a bad banking history. You load funds onto prepaid cards before using them for purchases. Generally, you can also use a prepaid debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Where can you get a prepaid card?

Prepaid cards are sold at retail stores (usually for a fee) and some can be ordered online.

How do you add money to a prepaid card?

The methods for adding money to a prepaid card vary from card to card. But generally, the options include adding cash at a retail register (often for a fee), adding funds by using an app to make a mobile check deposit, and by direct deposit, card-to-card transfer and bank transfer.

METHODOLOGY: Best Prepaid Debit Cards of 2022

We looked at 45 reloadable prepaid debit cards offered by some of the biggest banks, credit unions and prepaid debit card issuers. Where multiple card plans existed, only the basic monthly fee plan was considered.

We analyzed four categories for each card: general fees and features, purchases and withdrawals, reload fees and options, and other services such as bill pay and savings accounts. The cards that made this list had the best combination of these categories. Some cards in this roundup have nonbank program managers that partner with banks. Regardless, all the cards’ issuers are banks that insure consumers’ money through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. No cards above have overdraft fees.

Prepaid debit cards that we considered included: ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card, American Express Serve, Bluebird by American Express, Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card, Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card, Mango Visa Prepaid Card, Netspend Prepaid Card, PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, RushCardPrepaid Visa Card.

See full list

ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card, AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, American Express Serve, BB&T MoneyAccount, Bluebird by American Express, Boost Mobile Wallet Prepaid Mastercard, Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard, Card.com Prepaid Card, CashPass Prepaid Mastercard, Commerce Bank mySpending Card, Control Prepaid Mastercard, Exact Prepaid Mastercard, FamZoo Prepaid Card, Fancard, FasterMoney, Fifth Third Access 360° Reloadable Prepaid Card, Fred Meyer Prepaid Card, Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card, Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard, H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard, Mango Visa Prepaid Card, MOVO Virtual Prepaid Visa Card, MyVanilla Prepaid Card, Netspend Visa Prepaid Card, NexsCard Visa Prepaid Card, Opt+ Prepaid Visa Card, PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa Card, Regions Now Visa Prepaid Card, RushCard Prepaid Visa Card, Starbucks Rewards Visa Prepaid Card, TD Connect Reloadable Prepaid Visa Card, Walmart MoneyCard, Western Union Netspend Prepaid Card.

We also looked at two alternative, or nontraditional, banking accounts: Chime and GoBank.

What the ratings mean:

— Among the very best

— Very good; only minor caveats for most customers

— Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers

— Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you

— Poor; proceed with great caution

(or below) — Best to avoid

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