The worst prepaid cards charge more than $100 in fees annually, but the best charge hardly any fees at all. The cards that made our Best Prepaid Cards list don’t charge high monthly fees and don’t nickel and dime you on every transaction.
Capital One’s prepaid card is practically fee-free. It doesn’t charge an activation or initial purchase fee, and its relatively modest $4.95 monthly fee is easily avoided if you load more than $500 a month to the card. Direct deposit is free, and you can direct deposit your pay or benefits check up to $7,500 a month.
The first ATM withdrawal each month is free; after that the fee is a relatively low $1.95. It doesn’t charge for cash reloads. Even customer service is free – many prepaid card companies charge you if you have a question or problem and want to speak to them.
Electronic bill payment is free, too, although Cap One does charge $0.95 per transaction if you want to send a paper check.
While some other cards charge monthly fees of $10 or more, this card charges less than a dollar if you direct deposit at least $500 a month, $2.99 if you don’t.
You can get cash at the point-of-sale for free. ATM withdrawals cost $1.70, one of the lowest rates among prepaid cards.
The UPside card even has a rewards program. You earn up to 15% cash back on purchases at UPside’s online mall, 500 points when you activate your card online, 1,000 points when you sign up for direct deposit, and five points per dollar to refill a prepaid cell phone. You get a $20 credit when you earn 2,000 points.
The biggest drawback to the card is that it doesn’t offer online bill payment. But it does offer a limited online check writing service.
The Mango MasterCard has some of the lowest fees of all prepaid cards even better, it lets you open a savings account that pays one of the highest deposit rates in the banking industry.
There’s no signup or activation fee, and direct deposit is free. There is a monthly $5.00 fee, but that is easily avoided if you load at least $500 to the card each month. ATM withdrawals cost $2.00, and balance inquiries cost 50 cents each.
The most unique feature is the no-fee savings account, which pays a whopping introductory annual percentage yield of 5.1 percent; the standard rate is 3.00 percent. The funds are FDIC insured.
The only downside is that there's no online bill pay option.
Walmart offers one of the best values in the prepaid card arena. It’s not the cheapest card, but its fees are low and the convenience of Walmart stores makes it easy to reload with cash.
The card is free if you get it online, $3.00 if you get it in a Walmart store. There’s a $3.00 monthly fee, one of the lowest around, and reloads at Walmart stores also cost $3.00. Direct deposit of your paycheck is free, and there’s no reload fee if you deposit your pay check onto the card at a Walmart store, although there is a $3.00 check-cashing fee. The $2.00 ATM fee is reasonable compared to other cards.
Walmart even offers a cash-back rewards program. Through December 31, you get 1% back on gasoline purchases paid for with the card.
This card carries a lot of fees, but a lot of them are avoidable. For example, the $5.95 monthly fee is waived in any month in which you load at least $1,000 or make at least 30 purchases. That’s certainly doable if you have direct deposit with your job.
Reloading with direct deposit is free, but costs up to $4.95 at retail locations. ATM fees cost $2.50, but not if you use one of the more than 15,000 in-network cash machines.
You also get a $10 bonus on your first direct deposit of $250 or more.