The best prepaid cards of 2019

Young girls shopping with one of the best prepaid cards Young girls shopping with one of the best prepaid cards Image:

In a Nutshell

The best prepaid card options include cards that offer rewards, sky-high interest rates on your savings and low fees.

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This offer is no longer available on our site: American Express Serve® Cash Back

Whether you can’t qualify for a credit card or you simply don’t want one, a prepaid debit card can help you manage your money without sacrificing the convenience that plastic has to offer. The best prepaid cards offer valuable benefits and low fees. Here are our top picks.

Best for cash back: American Express Serve® Cash Back

Here’s why: A prepaid debit card that offers rewards on everyday purchases is a rare find. According to American Express, the American Express Serve® Cash Back is the only prepaid card that offers an unlimited 1% cash back on purchases.

Cash back is a major benefit for the card, but the American Express Serve® Cash Back also has some cons in the form of fees — although there are some ways to get around them. The card charges a monthly fee of $5.95 in most states, which you can make up for in cash back if you spend at least $595 on the card each month.

If you want to load cash onto the card, it’ll cost you up to $3.95, but you can add money to the account via direct deposit or a bank transfer for free. Check with your bank for origination fees that may apply. Also, there’s no fee on ATM withdrawals within the MoneyPass ATM network, which boasts more than 32,000 locations nationwide. Unfortunately, there is a $2.50 American Express Serve® fee for transactions at non-MoneyPass ATMs. ATM-operator fees may also apply.

If you want, you can create subaccounts for a partner or other family members at no extra cost. Just keep in mind that their purchases won’t generate cash back rewards like yours will.

To learn more about the American Express Serve® Cash Back, read our editorial review of all three Serve® cards.

Best for low fees: Bluebird® by American Express®

Here’s why: The Bluebird® by American Express® charges no monthly fee and no fee for cash and debit card reloads at Walmart — but you will have to pay fees if you reload your card somewhere other than Walmart. There are also no ATM fees at MoneyPass ATMs, but transactions at non-MoneyPass ATMs come with a $2.50 American Express fee. ATM-operator fees may also apply.

You can also add money to your card for free via direct deposit, online debit card transfers or mobile check deposit using Ingo® Money with a 10-day waiting period.

The card allows you to create up to four family accounts and a SetAside Account where you can save money for future purchases. Although it doesn’t offer a rewards program, you’ll get access to the Amex Offers program, which gives you savings for shopping at certain retailers and restaurants based on which offers you add to your card.

Best for free reloads: Chase Liquid® Card

Here’s why: The card offers five fee-free ways to load money onto your card, giving you more flexibility to add money the way you want to.

Free-reload options include direct deposit, cash reloads (up to $4,000 per calendar month) at Chase branches and ATMs, transfers from a checking or savings account, transfers from another Chase Liquid® Card and certain check deposits.

You can also withdraw cash from your account for free at any of Chase’s 5,100 branches or 16,000 ATMs in the U.S. But heads up: There is a $2.50 fee for non-Chase ATM withdrawals. ATM-operator fees apply. And the card charges a $4.95 monthly fee, but you can get it waived if you link the card to a qualifying Chase checking account.

Best for online shopping: Movo® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card

Here’s why: The Movo® Digital Prepaid Visa® Card helps keep your card information secure when shopping online by allowing you to create temporary digital cards on your phone to use anywhere Visa is accepted.

You’ll also get a physical card you can use for in-store shopping. The card doesn’t have a monthly fee, and you can add money to your card for free via direct deposit or from your bank account. Movo doesn’t charge for cash reloads at retail locations, but keep in mind that the retailer may charge a fee of its own.

If you need cash, you can withdraw it for free at 6,000 ATMs in the VisaPlus Alliance network. As with the other cards on this list, you should watch out for the $2 fee to use other ATMs, plus any ATM-operator fees. An interesting perk of this particular card is that Movo can act as an intermediary to transfer your bitcoin or bitcoin cash to someone else, though you’ll have to pay a fee.

Best for saving money: Mango Prepaid Mastercard®

Here’s why: The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® has a savings account attached to the card that offers up to a 6% annual percentage yield, or APY, on balances up to $2,500. You’ll earn a 0.10% APY on balances beyond that threshold.

There are some things that you should keep in mind before running out to sign up for this card. To qualify for the 6% APY, you’ll need to have a balance of at least $25 in your savings account plus make a hefty $1,500 or more in purchases that require a signature instead of a PIN each month.

The card also offers a $10 bonus for every friend you refer who enrolls, activates a card and receives a recurring direct deposit. Check the terms and conditions to make sure you qualify.

This card is a little more fee-heavy than others on our list. The card charges a monthly fee of $5, and you’ll pay a $3 fee for ATM withdrawals in the U.S., plus any additional fees that the machine’s operator may charge. You can add money to the card for free via direct deposit, bank transfers and PayPal. Your bank may charge a fee for transfers.

How we picked these cards

Prepaid debit cards can be great budgeting tools, but it’s not always easy to find a card that’s light on fees and heavy on features.

Prepaid debit cards can be great budgeting tools, but it’s not always easy to find a card that’s light on fees and heavy on features. To compile our list, we considered several factors, including fees, extra benefits, free reload options and ways to get money back.

For example, while the American Express Serve® Cash Back isn’t the only cash back prepaid card on the market, it doesn’t restrict where you can earn cash back or how much.

We also tried to highlight cards with unique benefits, including a high-rate savings account and the ability to create virtual card numbers for online shopping.

How to make the most of prepaid debit cards

Prepaid debit cards don’t give you the opportunity to build credit as credit cards do, but they can help you budget your money. Since you can only spend what you load onto the card, you can set your budget for the week or month.

If you’re planning on adding subaccounts for family members, some prepaid cards allow you to set spending limits to better manage their spending as well.

Learn more: Credit Karma Guide to Prepaid Debit Cards