Prepaid Cards: The Checking Account Alternative
- 100% Guaranteed Approval
- No Overdraft Fees
- No Bounced Checks
- Multiple ways to deposit money Direct Deposit, 100,000+ Locations
(Walmart, Safeway, Western Union, etc...)
- Access to a MasterCard® or VISA® Card
We work hard to present you with the most accurate prepaid card information, however, this information does not originate from us and thus, we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Certain offers originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on a card’s details page, when applicable.
Before you apply for a prepaid debit card we recommend that you review and verify the card’s terms and conditions on the prepaid card company's web site. Please let us know if you find any differences related to the Prepaid Cards shown on this page.
Ask Questions & Learn More About Prepaid Cards
What is a prepaid card?
A prepaid card is essentially a debit card with two major exceptions: it does not require a bank account and it comes with guaranteed approval.
How do prepaid cards work?
A prepaid card is simple: you load money onto a pre-paid, re-loadable account, and spend it until that money runs out. You can easily add money to your prepaid account with cash and in person at thousands of locations, including major grocery stores, drugstores, and gas stations. Prepaid cards also give you the option to have your paychecks directly deposited into your account. This is a much cheaper way to cash your paychecks than going to check cashing stores.
Your prepaid card works the same as any VISA or MasterCard. Not only is it useful for making purchases and withdrawing cash, but it also gives you the option to pay your bills online, as opposed to mailing in a check.
Should I get a prepaid card?
A prepaid card is a good option if you need an account that allows you to deposit money, pay bills, make purchases with plastic, and withdraw cash at ATMs. As a result, having access to a prepaid card allows you to buy things online and, depending on the policy of the particular company, even rent a car or book a hotel room.
If you're wondering whether or not a prepaid card is right for you, it will help to know that prepaid cards have three primary applications: 1) As replacement checking accounts; 2) As financial literacy teaching tools; and 3) As check cashing alternatives. Below you will find an explanation of how prepaid cards serve these purposes and what you should look for when trying to find the right prepaid card for each:
- Replacement Checking Account: Pretty much everything you can do with a checking account/debit card can also be done with a prepaid card; you just won’t have an actual checkbook. If you plan on using your prepaid card as a replacement checking account, either because the cost of your traditional checking account has risen or you cannot get approved for a traditional checking account, you obviously want one that offers free direct deposit, ATM withdrawals, and online bill pay. In addition, if you are utilizing direct deposit, it's fair to expect not to be charged any monthly fees.
- Financial Literacy Teaching Tool: Loading your child's allowance onto a prepaid card is a good way to get them started on the road to financial responsibility. Prepaid cards offer online account management, which allows you to review your child’s spending habits with them. You can also give them enough money to last a couple of weeks in order to instill the importance of budgeting. Just getting used to making transactions with plastic will be a benefit as well.If you plan on using your prepaid card as a financial literacy teaching tool, you’ll want a card that has a low monthly fee and no fees for in-network ATM withdrawals or making purchases. In addition, you should avoid cards with inactivity fees or fees for customer service because you don’t want to get your child in the habit of having to make purchases or prevent them from asking questions.
- Check Cashing Tool: Many people cannot utilize direct deposit, but need to cash paychecks nonetheless. Check cashing stores tend to be expensive, so if you can find a prepaid card that allows you to load checks and withdraw cash for free, that would save you a lot of money in the long run. If you plan on using your prepaid card in this manner, you’ll most likely need a card offered by a large national bank with nearby branches, like the Chase Liquid Card.
It's important to note that if you're interested in building your credit history, a secured credit card is a much better option than a prepaid card. Some prepaid cards will allow you to apply for a short-term loan once you have met certain requirements, such as making two direct deposits on your prepaid account. If you are approved for this loan, then your payment history will be reported to the three major credit bureaus.
What does the term prepaid credit card mean?
Prepaid credit card is a misleading term encouraged by prepaid card issuers because it implies that their products have a combination of the best attributes found on prepaid cards and credit cards. One might think that prepaid credit cards would offer lines of credit and credit bureau reporting in addition to standard prepaid card features like guaranteed approval and no initial deposit. However, none of the prepaid cards currently on the market offer lines of credit or report to the major credit bureaus. If you are looking for a second chance checking account, get a prepaid card. But if you want to build or rebuild your credit standing, you should open one a secured credit card.
Justina Atkins: I paid a bill using green dot gold prepaid the company disputes receiving it how do I verify account activity.
April 28 at 5:7am
Mirella C Roth: I am looking for a no (or low) fee card that I can make purchases, use an ATM and pay bills. Are there any prepaid cards for either educators or state employees?
March 16 at 2:12am
Carolyn Birdsall: Prepaid cards are NOT 0 liability. I sent my grandson a prepaid card which was removed from their mailbox by a neighbor who has been seen going through mailboxes other than her own. We got the times she used the card, the location, amount and she was caught on surveilance, however, the police would not press charges without a fraud report from the postal service and the postmaster generals office would not issue one. They informed me they were only interested in mail carrier fraud. I always thought mail tampering was a federal offense. Perhaps this woman is just being given a free pass? Bottom line, we were out the entire amount.
February 23 at 11:17pm
Merrianne Plotnik: I love my prepaid card but some time company's take more than they should.
February 22 at 10:29pm
Kamal Pandey: hello card hub I am in Nepal and can you suggest me the cheapest card so that I can perform online transaction and register to Paypal as its not allowed in our country.
January 7 at 12:53am
Diana Blomgren: Prepaid Cards:
How about NETSPEND?
December 28 at 5:30pm
John Sloane: I got talked into purchasing a green dot card in a swindle operation. If there is still money remaining I would like to know how to retrieve it.
October 27 at 8:6pm
Yolanda Angeles: ilike to have a pin number.
October 15 at 10:7pm
Christian B Greenup: I love the Account Now Gold Visa Prepaid Card! Honestly, it's been an awesome experience and honor to have a such worthy credit card. I pay bills, use my card as direct deposit, order items online and ect....
This credit card with no fee to apply hanged my life because I didn't have any money when I needed the card and I still got it in the mail for free! I singed up for it and it was there within a couple days.
Every time I use this card I feel like I won and that's the type of card we all need. I can withdraw any money directly from my card from any ATM and so far my monthly fees for the card has only amounted to about 20.00$ within the last 8 months.
July 12 at 5:22pm
Card Hub: Christian, it's great to hear that you had such a positive experience with your Account Now card. One small correction though: your card, and all the cards on this page for that matter, are prepaid debit cards and NOT credit cards. This is a source of confusion for a lot of people.
August 2 at 11:26pm
Margie Cole: On a random note, I can’t wait to see which celebrity becomes the next prepaid card endorser. Who you guys got?
June 14 at 11:52pm
Jim Shanahan: The Shark---Daymond John
June 19 at 12:50pm
Card Hub: Magic Johnson just launched his prepaid card!
June 28 at 4:8pm
Ross Garner: With the rising popularity of prepaid cards, there will be a lot of new customers into the market, so I thought I’d pick my favorite cards for each of the following three categories:
1. Replacement Checking Account: I like the Green Dot Prepaid Card since it’s free as long as you deposit at least $1,000 per month. This can easily be done with direct deposit of your paycheck. Plus, ATM withdrawals are free at Green Dot ATMs.
2. Financial Literacy Teaching Tool: The American Express Prepaid Card is pretty well suited to this application since it does not charge a monthly fee and offers one free ATM withdrawal per month. This will help give your child the discipline not to go to the ATM too frequently.
3. Check Cashing Tool: The Chase Liquid Card is good for this role because for a $4.95 monthly you can load as many checks as you want for free at Chase branches and ATMs.
June 14 at 7:56pm
Joe Weider: Wow, it seems like the number of prepaid cards available on the market is growing by the day! I guess everyone who predicted that the Durbin Amendment’s cap on debit card swipe fees would spark a migration to prepaid cards, which are unregulated and offer nearly all of the same services as checking accounts, was spot on. I remember reading articles about this at the time the Durbin Amendment was passed, and now it almost seems like they were looking into a crystal ball. Basically, capping debit card swipe fees cost banks a lot of money, and since credit cards and prepaid cards were not regulated, industry people predicted that banks would increase checking account fees, decrease debit card rewards, and push customers to credit cards and prepaid cards. All of that has happened. In fact, prepaid cards are pretty much the new checking account.
June 14 at 6:31pm
Jim Shanahan: Prepaid cards not regulated? On what planet? CARD Act, Durbin, FinCen etc etc.
June 19 at 12:49pm
Card Hub: What Joe means is prepaid card swipe fees are not regulated in the same manner as debit card swipe fees; banks can still set their own prices for the former. It’s also important to note that all financial products are regulated in one way or another, as they’re overseen by state and federal agencies that perform a number of duties, such as preventing predatory practices and other forms of consumer abuse.
As far as the CARD Act, Durbin Amendment, and FinCen (the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) are concerned, none of them really directly affects prepaid cards. The CARD Act primary made changes to the credit card market, while revamping consumer rights, the Durbin Amendment gave the Federal Reserve the power to regulate debit card swipe fees, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s main purpose is to combat money laundering. As such, it will obviously regulate prepaid cards to prevent criminals from using them to transfer illegal funds, but that’s about the extent of things.
June 19 at 6:19pm