Prepaid cards and debit cards work the same in theory. With both options, your goal is to not spend more money than you have and end up paying fees.
But prepaid debit cards have an advantage over traditional debit cards. They’re one of the best tools you can use to avoid overspending.
Here’s a list of prepaid debit cards available in 2020.
Cool Debit Cards for Kids and Teens
Teach your children money management skills using a prepaid debit card. If your child gets a weekly allowance, a prepaid card gives them the option to spend money online just like a traditional debit card.
Here are a few prepaid debit cards that are perfect for kids and teens.
If your child can read, she’s ready to use the Greenlight MasterCard to manage weekly chores and allowance. The Greenlight MasterCard is a great option for teaching basic money management skills to children between the ages of 6 and 17.
The Greenlight app allows parents to fund the child’s MasterCard on an automatic schedule or manually depending on which chores the child finishes each week. There’s an option within the app for children to save money and earn interest on the balance.
The interest is paid through a parent’s bank account at a rate you can change whenever you want. One of the best features of Greenlight is the app that comes with the MasterCard.
It’s a hub where both you and the child can manage money, put money into savings, and donate money to charity. If you only want your child to spend money with a certain retailer, you can choose the retailer and amount they can spend blocking all other transactions.
Greenlight MasterCards are customizable allowing you to choose the design of the card. Customization is free unless you choose to add your child’s photo to the front of the card.
Greenlight MasterCards are $4.99 per month for prepaid MasterCards for up to 5 kids and do not charge a replacement fee for the first card, subsequent replacements will incur a $3.50 replacement fee per card. There’s a 30-day free trial available for new account holders.
FamZoo is another prepaid debit card option for kids and teens learning to earn their keep through household chores. The FamZoo app works like Greenlight in that you can lock and unlock the card to make sure no unauthorized purchases are made.
Money can be added to the cards by parents or teens to match weekly allowance or as a destination for occasional birthday money. There’s no fee to reload the card or for a recurring direct deposit.
Direct deposits through FamZoo don’t automatically get funded onto the child’s prepaid debit card. You can opt to leave a source of funds in the account in case you want to move money over to the FamZoo card instantly.
The first 3 prepaid debit cards are free and then the charge is $2 per card. There’s a $5.99 monthly fee per family for a FamZoo account and reload fees are applied to certain types of funding.
ATM withdrawals are free as long as it’s within the FamZoo network. Fees vary for out of network ATM transactions.
Mango Prepaid MasterCard
The Mango Prepaid MasterCard is all about savings. Parents won’t have to foot the bill for interest earned on a child’s savings account through Mango Prepaid MasterCard either.
The company pays 6 percent interest if you can make a minimum direct deposit of $800 per month. These direct deposits can be set up as an ACH transfer through your bank or using PayPal.
The savings account earns 6 percent APY until the balance reached $5,000. After that, your balance earns only 0.10% APY. To start saving with the prepaid card, simply transfer as little as $1 into your account as often as you want.
If you can’t meet this net direct deposit minimum, you’ll still get 2 percent interest on savings made through your Mango Prepaid MasterCard which is higher than most traditional banks. There’s a $3 monthly fee to maintain an account and a fee of $3 for ATM withdrawals.
Users won’t get access to a mobile app to manage funds, but the web portal created for Mango users is mobile friendly. There’s a daily cash load limit of $950 making it a bad choice if you want to finance the account to help your teen make a big purchase.
Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Travel
One of the best ways to stick to your family budget while traveling is using a prepaid debit card. With a prepaid debit card, you’re less likely to splurge on that once in a lifetime excursion or get caught in a gift shop vortex.
One major difference between a debit card from a bank and a prepaid debit card is the option for overdraft protection. Most bank debit cards offer some form of protection for a fee.
Prepaid debit cards usually don’t offer this same protection to cardholders, but some do. If you need overdraft protection to avoid your card declining at the wrong time while traveling abroad, here are some prepaid debit cards to consider.
Netspend Visa Prepaid Card
One of the biggest advantages of using the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card is the reload options. When you’re traveling abroad, you need easy ways to get money onto your card quickly.
The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card lets you add money in four ways. You can visit one of the card’s 130,000 reload locations, do a mobile check deposit, use direct deposit, or get money from another Netspend account holder.
The final option is one of the best in an emergency when you need money but don’t have access to any of your accounts. The Netspend mobile app works just like a banking app including options like viewing a list of recent transactions or setting up text alerts.
The text alerts help let you know when your balance is running low so there are no surprise card declines. Few prepaid cards offer a rewards program like the Payback Rewards offered by Netspend.
With this program, you get cashback offers and balance boosts when you refer friends. There’s even a savings account available where you can earn 5 percent on balances up to $1,000.
There’s zero fraud liability on purchases and if you want to shop online, Netspend allows you to create virtual card numbers.
The fees can quickly add up with this card though. If you don’t order it online, you’ll pay $3 to buy one in a store. There’s a $2 transaction fee every time you use the card unless you opt for the $9.95 monthly service fee instead.
It’s possible to reduce the monthly fee to $5 if you have at least $500 in direct deposits made on the card each month. There’s a fee of up to $3.95 to reload the card at a Netspend location and a $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee.
If you don’t use the card for more than three months, you get hit with a $5.95 penalty fee. Netspend allows you to overdraft your account if you’re enrolled in its overdraft protection program.
The program requires that you have a minimum of $200 direct deposit set up on your account.
Green Dot 5% Cashback Visa
The Green Dot 5% Cashback Visa offers a whopping 5 percent back on all purchases. That’s much higher than the average cash-back rewards credit card and with the added protection of not being able to spend beyond your means.
The card pays cashback until your rewards reach $250. This card is great for travel if you have a program called ASAP Direct Deposit setup. It allows you to get paid up to 2 days earlier depending on your employer.
You can deposit paper checks into your Green Dot account and even order checks of your own. These checks work just like checks from a traditional bank and come with your personal information printed on the front.
There’s a monthly fee of $7.95 to own the card, which is waived if you spend $1,000 or more in the previous monthly period and just $1.95 per transaction you make in-store. If you shop online, there’s no fee to use the card.
The fee to reload your card is $5.95 and just $3 to get cash from an out of network ATM, while there is no fee for getting cash from an in-network ATM. The major downside to the Green Dot card is that it does charge a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent.
If you lose the card, it’ll cost you $5 to replace it. This card is a great option if you’re planning to spend more than $5,000 in a year because you’ll max out your cashback rewards.
But if you only need a prepaid debit card for small purchases, the fees might outweigh the benefits of owning the card.
Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Low Fees
Prepaid debit cards let you bypass bank and credit card accounts but still get access to card transactions. Most cards charge hefty fees to account for the fact that cardholders can go months without using their cards and paying transaction fees.
Still, there are some prepaid cards available with competitive low fees.
Bluebird by American Express
Bluebird by American Express is a low-fee prepaid debit card that works similar to a checking account. It’s a good substitute for anyone looking to skip a traditional bank account but still wants access to the same services.
The card comes with money management tools to help you better track your family budget. It’s free to use the card if you open an account online or using a mobile device.
This is one of the few prepaid debit cards you can use and pay zero fees as long as you plan correctly. There are no inactivity fees and it’s free to add money to the card as long as you don’t do the same day mobile check deposit.
There are more than 24,000 in-network MoneyPass ATMs where you can withdraw money at no cost. The downside to using this card vs a traditional bank card is the Bluebird card can’t give you cash-back when making an in-store purchase.
The most you can withdraw at an ATM is $750 a day. If you need to take out more than that, you can go to Walmart through American Express’s Cash Pick Up Powered by Ria feature and take as much as $2,900 out of your account.
The fee to withdraw money at Walmart ranges between $3 and $9. Similar to an American Express credit card, Bluebird cardholders get access to emergency roadside assistance, purchase protection, shopping, and entertainment offers.
MOVO Virtual Prepaid Card
The MOVO Prepaid Card is offered through Metropolitan Commercial bank. You can get a new card by downloading the MOVO app and signing up for a new account.
Once you’re a cardholder, the prepaid card is fairly easy to use. The card gets delivered within 10 business days and isn’t available in stores.
You can deposit money through the app by linking your bank account or pay yourself using Venmo or Paypal. If you live near a Walgreens or Safeway, you can also deposit money to the card in person. There are no fees to maintain an account and you’re not charged inactivity fees if you don’t use the card.
There are more than 6,000 ATMs in the MOVO network where you can withdraw money for a $2 fee. The MOVO Virtual Prepaid Card is a simple option for anyone who wants to avoid transaction fees or doesn’t need to use their prepaid card often.
Choosing a Prepaid Debit Card
The best-prepaid debit cards help you keep your finances in check with low fees or substantial rewards programs to offset their cost. Choose a card that works for your lifestyle by making sure the reload options won’t mean driving 30 miles just to add money to your balance.
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