PayPal Prepaid Mastercard
NerdWallet’s rating 3.5/5.0:
The bottom line
- Must have a PayPal account to use online card services
- Free and instant transfers from your PayPal balance to the card
- Offers interest-bearing savings account
- $4.95 monthly fee that’s unavoidable
- No network that offers free withdrawals or reloads
|Purchases and withdrawals|
Let’s break down the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard’s fees and services.
General fees and features
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard’s $4.95 monthly fee comes to $59.40 a year, which isn’t the worst or the best. Some cards charge up to $10 a month, while others offer a way to waive their monthly fee or don’t charge one at all. PayPal’s card also has a separate purchase fee of up to $4.95 if you buy it in stores. It’s free to get online.
Maximum amounts for purchases and daily ATM withdrawals are high.
Purchases and withdrawals
You can use the card wherever debit Mastercard or PULSE cards are accepted; you’ll have more choices than holders of American Express cards like Bluebird. You can get cash back at checkout in retail stores for free and make purchases without fees.
Like the Netspend card, the PayPal prepaid card has no free network for getting cash. There’s a fee for withdrawing money and for declined transactions.
The card doesn’t have an overdraft program or related fees, but cardholders who make a direct deposit may be eligible for a “purchase cushion.” This means you’d be able to have up to a $10 negative balance in your account without any fees. But not repaying the balance within two months can result in your card being canceled.
The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is the only prepaid debit card that’s able to make instant transfers from a PayPal balance. From there, you can convert funds to cash from an ATM or use the card to make purchases.
Outside of PayPal transfers, you have four other ways to add money: direct deposit, bank account transfer, cash reload and mobile check deposit. But only direct deposit and PayPal transfers have no potential fees.
The nationwide Netspend Reload Network lets you add cash to your card at stores such as 7-Eleven or CVS Pharmacy, typically for a fee. Depositing checks on your mobile phone requires the use of a third-party service called Ingo Money and costs a steep fee for deposits faster than 10 days. Bank transfers may have fees from the originating bank or a third-party service.
Linking your card to a PayPal account comes in handy for instant PayPal transfers, and you need that link to access the card’s online services. This includes your card balance, online bill pay, transaction history, savings account and a limited cash-back rewards program. So if you don’t have a PayPal account, you’ll probably need to open one. Other prepaid debit cards don’t require a separate account to access their online services.
Like Netspend, PayPal’s card offers rewards and interest that might help soften fee costs. An optional savings account earns a 5% yield on balances up to $1,000 and 0.5% above that. So a $2,000 balance earns $55 in interest per year. There’s also a limited rewards program where PayPal sends you offers to earn you cash back. You can only redeem cash-back credits at the end of each month.
Checking your balance online or over the phone is free, but ATM inquiries aren’t. Customer service is available on weekends. For online bill pay, the free option via e-checks takes several days for delivery, while the fee-based option via MoneyGram is immediate.
Helpful link to PayPal but not a bargain
If you don’t use PayPal that much, consider prepaid debit cards with more services and fewer fees.
Updated April 18, 2017.
NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of these four categories: general fees and features (40%), purchases and withdrawals (35%), reloads (15%) and other services (10%). Factors we consider, depending on the category, include fees, ATM access, reload options, breadth of merchant acceptance, account features and limits, consumer-facing tech and customer service. Because prepaid debit cards help to manage money without using credit, any overdraft program gets penalized under the “purchases and withdrawals” category. Several Nerds contribute to prepaid debit card ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.