Best prepaid debit cards of 2024

Debit cards make it easy to make purchases, shop online, and pull cash out of an ATM. But to use one, you need a checking account—and not everyone has one. 

If you’re a part of  the “unbanked” community, meaning you don’t use or have access to mainstream financial services such as checking or savings accounts, you aren’t out of luck. Prepaid debit cards are designed

The Fortune RecommendsTM team evaluated the top prepaid debit cards available today and ranked them based on factors such as fees, rewards, and more. Read on to see our top picks.

See our full methodology here.

Note: All interest rates, terms, and fees are accurate at time of publication, but are subject to change.

Best prepaid debit cards

  • Best overall prepaid debit card: Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard
  • Best for receiving federal benefits: Direct Express Prepaid Debit Mastercard
  • Best for no fees: Cash App Card
  • Best for credit card-like perks: Bluebird by American Express
  • Best for online security: MOVO Digital Cash Card
  • Best for family money management: FamZoo Prepaid Card
  • Best for Walmart shoppers: Walmart MoneyCard
  • Best for overdraft protection: Netspend Prepaid Card
  • Best for giving back: ONE VIP Visa Prepaid Card
  • Best for Paypal users: PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

Best overall prepaid debit card: Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard

Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard

Our take

With low fees and cash back rewards, the Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard is a valuable tool for parents and kids alike. 

Monthly fee  $4.99
ATM fee $0
Cash reload fee $0
Transaction fee $0


Why we like this card 

The Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard is specifically designed for families and offers unique features that promote financial education for kids while giving parents control and oversight. For example, parents have the ability to monitor and control where and how much their children can spend, including setting specific store-level spend controls. It also allows parents to pay allowances, set spending limits, and categorize these allowances for saving, spending, and giving. The card supports real-time notifications of each transaction, so parents can stay up-to-date on card usage. 

Though there is a monthly fee that starts at $4.95, the Greenlight prepaid card doesn’t charge any fees for transactions, ATM usage, adding funds, or checking your balance. Additionally, certain membership levels earn 1% cash back, which is deposited to savings (and savings accounts earn up to 5%). 

Best for receiving federal benefits: Direct Express Prepaid Debit Mastercard

Direct Express Prepaid Debit Mastercard

Our take

The Direct Express® Prepaid Debit Mastercard® offers a convenient but bare-bones solution for federal benefit recipients without a bank account.

Monthly fee $0
ATM fee $0.85
Cash reload fee $0
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

Issued by Comerica Bank for the U.S. Treasury, the Direct Express prepaid card allows for automatic deposit of federal benefits directly to the card. You can use it wherever Mastercard is accepted, including for purchases, bill payments, and ATM cash withdrawals. 

The Direct Express card is free of most fees, including monthly fees, transaction fees, and cash reload fees. Users also receive one free ATM withdrawal with each deposit to the card. Additionally, the card includes federal protections against unauthorized transactions, further bolstered by Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection, making it a secure and practical option for managing federal benefits.

Cardholders can also participate in the PayPerks program, which offers the opportunity to learn about financial management through educational modules. By participating in these modules and taking quizzes, cardholders can earn chances to win cash prizes in monthly sweepstakes.

Best for no fees: Cash App Card

Cash App card

Our take

This free, customizable prepaid debit card connects to your Cash App account so you can spend your balance with ease with no hidden fees. 

Monthly fee $2.50
ATM fee $0
Cash reload fee $0
Transaction fee $0


Why we like this card 

Issued by Sutton Bank, the Cash App card is a Visa debit card linked to the user’s Cash App balance, offering a convenient way to access funds for purchases anywhere Visa is accepted. It comes with zero monthly fees, transaction fees, and cash reload fees. Plus, in-network ATM fees can be avoided if you receive at least $300 in direct deposits monthly. Its integration with Cash App’s broader financial services, including money transfers, stock investments, and Bitcoin trading, making it a robust financial tool.

The card also features instant discounts at certain merchants like coffee shops and restaurants. Users can also enroll in round-ups to help grow their savings. Security-wise, it offers helpful features like the ability to pause the card instantly via the app and PIN or fingerprint locks.

Best for credit card-like perks: Bluebird by American Express

Bluebird by American Express

Our take

The Bluebird by American Express card is well suited for those looking for a simple, cost-effective banking solution with the added benefits of Amex services.

Monthly fee $0
ATM fee $0
Cash reload fee $3.95
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

The Bluebird by American Express is a prepaid debit card created in partnership with Walmart. It stands out for its lack of monthly, transaction, and activation fees. Users can benefit from features like direct deposit and online bill payments. It also offers a robust mobile app for account management, including mobile check deposit and money transfers. 

As an American Express product, it includes perks such as purchase protection, fraud protection, and roadside assistance. Free ATM withdrawals are available at MoneyPass ATMs, and cash can be easily reloaded for free at Walmart. Additional features include the ability to create subaccounts for precise budget management and 24/7 customer service with emergency assistance.

Best for online security: MOVO Digital Cash Card

Movo Digital Cash Card

Our take

The Movo Digital Cash Card is a prepaid card that allows users to keep their account safe by generating one-time digital debit card numbers.

Monthly fee $0
ATM fee $2.00
Cash reload fee $0
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

The MOVO Digital Cash Card is a prepaid, reloadable debit card that emphasizes a digital-first banking experience. A standout feature is the ability for users to create temporary, disposable digital card numbers for secure online transactions, which goes a long way toward preventing fraud. But if you prefer in-person shopping, don’t worry: users also receive a physical Mastercard debit card that can be used in stores, online, and at ATMs. The card also facilitates free person-to-person transfers within its network.

Best for family money management: FamZoo Prepaid Card

FamZoo Prepaid Card

Our take

With its customizable controls and educational focus, FamZoo is an excellent tool for parents seeking to instill sound financial habits in their children from an early age.

Monthly fee $5.99
ATM fee $0
Cash reload fee $4.95
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

Similar to Greenlight, the FamZoo Prepaid Card is a family-friendly debit card designed to teach children and teenagers about money management in a practical, hands-on way. A standout feature of FamZoo is its ability to create multiple cards under one family account, allowing parents to allocate funds and oversee the spending of each child individually. Parents can set up automatic allowances, assign chores, and reward kids for good financial behavior. FamZoo also allows for parent-to-child and sibling-to-sibling money transfers. 

There are no fees for standard card activities like purchases or ATM use within the network, though a monthly subscription fee applies. 

Best for Walmart shoppers: Walmart MoneyCard

Walmart MoneyCard

Our take

The Walmart MoneyCard is designed for frequent Walmart customers who can fully take advantage of the card’s features.

Monthly fee $5.94
ATM fee $2.50
Cash reload fee $3.00
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

The Walmart MoneyCard, issued by Green Dot Bank, offers up to 3% cash back on purchases, 2% at Walmart fuel stations, and 1% in Walmart stores (total annual cash back limit is capped at $75). The card also offers a savings account option with a 2% interest rate on balances up to $1,000 and opportunities to win cash prizes. 

There’s a monthly fee of $5.94, which can be waived with a minimum of $500 loaded onto the card in the previous month. The card provides free cash withdrawals at Walmart stores and ATMs in the MoneyPass network. Meanwhile, the Walmart MoneyCard app provides features such as depositing checks and managing funds. Family accounts are also available for members aged 13 and above. 

Best for overdraft protection: Netspend Prepaid Card

Netspend Prepaid Card

Our take

The Netspend Prepaid Card gives users peace of mind that they won’t be turned down at the register for going over their balance by a few bucks.

Monthly fee $5.00
ATM fee $0
Cash reload fee $3.95
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

NetSpend caters to a range of financial needs by offering multiple card plans, each with its own fee structure. With the monthly plan, you can pay a reduced monthly fee of $5.00 as long as you receive at least $500 in direct deposits each month. There are no transaction fees under this plan.

A key feature of this card is it’s “purchase cushion.” If you perform a transaction that exceeds your available balance by $10 or less, Netspend may choose to approve the purchase anyway without charging you an overdraft fee. You’ll need to make up for any negative balance though. Enrollment is required for this program.

Another perk of the Netspend prepaid card is that it earns rewards. Simply visit your Rewards page to see which customized offers are available, and click to activate the offers you want.

You can then use your card at those retailers to redeem your offers.

Best for giving back: ONE VIP Visa Prepaid Card

ONE VIP Visa Prepaid Card

Our take

This initiative by Urban One aims to enhance financial literacy and freedom within the Black community.

Monthly fee $7.95
ATM fee $2.95
Cash reload fee $0
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

Issued through Stride Bank, N.A., the ONE VIP Visa Debit Card is a prepaid card focused on supporting the Black community, offering a rewards program that earns up to 1.5% cash back on purchases, particularly at select Black-owned businesses. Cash back can be applied to your account, or you can choose to make a charitable donation to a cause benefiting communities of color.

The card is accompanied by a mobile app for managing funds, viewing transactions, and depositing checks. It charges a monthly fee of $7.95 but avoids hidden fees, minimum balance requirements, and overdraft fees. 

Best for Paypal users: Paypal Prepaid Mastercard

Paypal Prepaid Mastercard

Our take

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard integrates seamlessly with PayPal accounts, offering a range of features that cater to both online and offline transactions. 

Monthly fee $4.95
ATM fee $2.50
Cash reload fee $3.95
Transaction fee $0

Why we like this card 

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is a versatile prepaid debit card that offers easy integration with your PayPal account. It enables users to transfer funds from their PayPal balance directly onto the card. Additionally, the card can be loaded through direct deposit of paychecks, tax refunds, or government benefits, as well as cash additions at retail locations, including more than 130,000 NetSpend Reload Network locations nationwide. 

While the card is associated with some fees, such as monthly charges, ATM withdrawal fees, and reload fees at certain retail outlets, it does offer special offers and Payback Rewards when you shop at qualifying stores. This optional program awards cash back to your account.

What is a prepaid debit card?

A prepaid debit card is a reloadable payment card that is pre-funded by the user. Unlike traditional debit cards that are linked to a bank account, a prepaid card’s spending limit is set by the amount of money loaded onto it, so there’s no need to have a bank account at all. 

These cards are accepted in most places where regular debit or credit cards are used, including online retailers. However, they often come with various fees, such as monthly maintenance and reloading fees. Additionally, they don’t influence credit scores, since card activity is not reported to the credit bureaus.

How much do prepaid debit cards cost? 

Prepaid debit cards are notorious for their fees, though the exact cost depends on the issuer and how you use the card. Common fees include the initial card purchase cost, monthly maintenance fees, cash reload fees, and ATM withdrawal fees. While less common, some cards charge per-transaction fees. And using the card internationally can incur foreign transaction fees of around 1% to 3%. Cards might also have inactivity fees if not used regularly, fees for customer service access or paper statements, charges for card replacement, and fees for closing the account. 

That said, the best prepaid cards will charge minimal fees and offer ways for users to keep costs down. That’s why it’s crucial to evaluate multiple prepaid card options and review their terms and conditions to understand all potential fees before opening an account.

Who needs a prepaid debit card? 

Prepaid debit cards are primarily designed for people who don’t have traditional bank accounts, since they provide a convenient alternative for managing daily transactions and receiving direct deposits. These cards can also be helpful to those who need help controlling their spending, since they’re limited to the preloaded amount, thus avoiding overdrafts and debt accumulation. Parents may also find prepaid cards useful for teaching financial responsibility to teenagers and young adults since they can set spending limits and get real-time transaction alerts. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I get a prepaid debit card?

You can purchase prepaid cards online, at some retailers, and from certain banks and credit unions. 

What is the disadvantage of a prepaid card?

Though they can be convenient for some people, prepaid cards do have some notable drawbacks. For one, they are often laden with fees, which can erode the card’s balance over time. Also, unlike credit cards, prepaid cards don’t contribute to building or improving your credit. Prepaid cards typically offer limited consumer protections as well; in cases of loss or theft, you might not receive the same level of security against unauthorized transactions as offered by traditional bank cards. 

Where can you not use a prepaid card?

Most prepaid debit cards belong to a certain network, as indicated by the logo (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover) and can be used anywhere that brand is accepted. However, there are certain types of transactions that aren’t allowed with prepaid debit cards, including credit card or loan payments. 

Our methodology 

To bring you our top picks for the best prepaid debit cards, the Fortune Recommends team compared the top cards currently available from major issuers that are accessible nationwide. 

We ranked each account in these eight core categories: 

  • Retail/physical card price (5%): Some cards may charge a one-time fee for obtaining a physical card. 
  • Transaction fee (25%): In some cases, there is a fee associated with each transaction you perform with the prepaid card. We docked cards significantly for charging transaction fees.
  • Monthly fee (25%): It’s common for prepaid cards to charge a monthly service or administrative fee, though not all do. We prioritized cards with no monthly fees in our rankings.
  • Cash reload fee (10%): You may be charged a fee for adding funds to your card in person at select retailers. Cards that charge for this service received lower scores.
  • In-network ATM fee (10%): Some prepaid cards allow users to make withdrawals for free at ATMs that are within the selected network. However, others charge per ATM withdrawal, regardless of the ATM’s network, in which case they were penalized in our rankings. 
  • ATM balance inquiry fee (10%): Cards that charge a fee to check your balance at an ATM were also penalized.
  • Foreign transaction fee (5%): Some cards may charge a fee for performing transactions abroad. We prioritized cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees. 
  • Rewards (10%): Cards that also provide rewards (such as cash back or points) on spending were given a boost in our rankings.

Keep in mind that the fee structures and other features associated with the cards mentioned are subject to change. 

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

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