Debit Cards & Prepaid Cards

Strict about your budget? Prepaid and debit cards can help you control your spending by setting your balance up front. Note that prepaid and debit cards are not the same as credit cards. If you're looking for a credit card but are concerned about a low credit score, check out these card offers from our partners.

See offers from our partners below.

AccountNow® Prepaid Visa® Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
No Credit Check
  • $0 Monthly Fee Pay As You Go Plan (See Cardholder Agreement on site)
  • No Credit Check. No Overdraft Fees, ever.
  • Free† direct deposit and online bill payment
  • Use it Everywhere Visa Debit Card Accepted in the U.S.
  • Easy Online/Mobile Account Access
  • Perfect for Occasional Usage
Apply Now at AccountNow's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
No Credit Check

READYdebit® Visa Latte Control Prepaid Card

Apply Now Credit Needed
No Credit Check
  • $0 Monthly Fee Pay As You Go Plan (See Cardholder Agreement on site)
  • No Credit Check or ChexSystems Checks
  • No Risk of Overdraft Fees
  • No Bounced Checks - Ever!
  • Free† Direct Deposit
  • Easy Cash Reloading at 50,000 + Retail Locations
  • Send Checks with Easy Online Bill Pay
Apply Now at READYdebit's
secure site
Purchases Intro APR
N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Needed
No Credit Check

Comparing Prepaid Card Offers

Updated: January 25, 2018

A prepaid card is a great tool for someone who needs a little help budgeting, doesn’t have the best of credit or prefers the convenience of not always pulling out cash. But they aren’t the same as credit cards and they don’t enjoy credit cards’ greatest advantage – the ability to build your credit. That said, there are plenty of reasons to get a prepaid card. Here we look at:

  • Favorite places to buy prepaid cards
  • Why should I have a prepaid card?
  • Who should use a prepaid card?
  • Are prepaid cards safe?
  • How does a prepaid card work?
  • Is a prepaid card a bank account?

We look at who can benefit from a prepaid card, how they work and what they aren’t.

Favorite places to buy prepaid cards

Most common locations to buy prepaid cards

Source: Synergistics

Why should I have a prepaid card?

Top 4 reasons why Americans have prepaid cards:

  1. Buy things online
  2. Avoid credit card debt
  3. Avoid spending more money than they have
  4. Avoid overdrafts

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

Who should use a prepaid card?

People who use prepaid cards:

  • Some 5% of adults use the cards at least once a month.
  • Some 7 of 8 have or have had a checking account.
  • Some 2 in 3 have or have had a credit card.
  • The average household income is about $30,000.
  • Some 2 in 5 have closed or lost an account due to overdraft fees.

Are prepaid cards safe?

Prepaid cards are not credit cards, but they still have protections. For example, they usually enjoy federal deposit insurance because the accounts are frequently held by a bank or credit union, according to the CFPB. Also, prepaid cards in a payment network such as Mastercard or Visa might enjoy zero liability protections.

How does a prepaid card work?

  • It’s not a credit card. A prepaid card is more like a debit card – once you’ve spent the money on the card, you’re done. With a credit card, you are essentially borrowing money that you will pay back later.
  • It’s not tied to a bank account. Unlike a debit card, a prepaid card isn’t tied to a checking or savings account. However, it can have routing and account numbers that you can use to auto-debit or deposit funds.
  • A prepaid card has protections. Although it’s not a credit card, as part of a payment network, it has some protections similar to a credit card.
  • You can buy it at a variety of places. From grocery stores to minute markets, there are a variety of locations where you can buy a prepaid card. Simply load it with the amount of cash you want, and you’re ready to go!
  • It can be used for budgeting. You can load it for a specific type or purchase, such as groceries. Then, when your card runs out of money, you simply stop spending on that item.
  • Watch out for fees. There are sometimes hidden fees in a prepaid card, unlike a credit card, which must clearly display fees, so watch out.
  • You can’t build credit with a prepaid card. For that, you’ll need a credit card. Start with a secured credit card or an unsecured card for someone with bad or no credit.

Is a prepaid card a bank account?

No. A prepaid card is a standalone financial product that you load with money, then it eventually runs out of money unless you reload more. A bank account’s card is called a debit card – it operates in a similar way, but it is tied to the account’s funds. Neither is a credit card, which basically provides short-term loans to the cardholder. A prepaid card can have similar features to a bank account, however. For example, you can use it to deposit your paycheck or auto-debit bills. This is because routing and account numbers can be assigned to the card.

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