Advertiser Disclosure

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Review

Banking, Prepaid Debit Cards
You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here's how we make money.
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard Review

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

NerdWallet’s rating 3.5/5.0:

Paypal
Learn more
at PayPal
The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard has one special feature: instant transfers from a PayPal account to the card for fast access to funds. But you won’t find anything else unique. The card, issued by The Bancorp Bank and managed by Netspend, has comparable costs and standard services to other prepaid options, but fees can add up.

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
Our Ratings
General fees
Purchases and withdrawals
Reloads
Other services
Overall
 NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of the four categories listed above.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best prepaid debit cards

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.

ProsCons
  • No inactivity fee
  • High purchase limit of $5,000 and maximum card value of $15,000
  • High ATM withdrawal limit of $940 per day
  • Free to get card online
  • $4.95 monthly fee that's unavoidable
  • Up to $4.95 fee to buy card at retail stores
  • $5.95 fee to request a check for your remaining funds if closing your card account

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.

ProsCons
  • No purchase transaction fees
  • Cash back at retail checkouts
  • No overdraft fees or program
  • $1.95 fee per ATM withdrawal, plus any ATM operator fee
  • $2.50 fee per withdrawal over the counter at a bank
  • $1 fee for ATM transactions that get declined

Reloads

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.

ProsCons
  • Free, instant transfers from a PayPal balance
  • Great access for cash reloads: More than 130,000 NetSpend Reload Network locations
  • Direct deposits can be available up to two days faster than what traditional banks offer. PayPal card gives you access right when funds deposit instead of when the transaction settles.
  • Low limit for PayPal transfers: $300 per day
  • Up to $3.95 per cash load at a NetSpend Reload Network location, depending on retailer
  • Mobile check deposit is free for 10-day processing, but for instant deposits, the fee’s 1% of the amount for government checks and 4% for other types of checks.

Other services

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.

ProsCons
  • 5% APY savings account
  • Free card for secondary cardholder
  • Free balance inquiries via customer service, PayPal website, email or text message
  • $0.50 fee per ATM balance inquiry
  • No way to access online services without linking card to PayPal account

» MORE: Prepaid debit cards: What you should know

Helpful link to PayPal but not a bargain

Paypal
Learn more
at PayPal
Turning a PayPal balance into money for card purchases or straight cash is one of the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard’s biggest perks. But other features are comparable to other cards, such as the promotional savings account on the NetSpend card, and PayPal’s card doesn’t let you avoid regular fees.

If you don’t use PayPal that much, consider prepaid debit cards with more services and fewer fees.

Updated April 18, 2017.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.


Methodology

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.