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Best Prepaid Cards For Tax Refunds in 2021

Best Prepaid Cards For Tax Refunds

credit card advice

Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Posted: April 7, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

The best prepaid cards for tax refunds are prepaid cards that accept direct deposits. This allows the government to deposit your federal tax refund directly onto the card, which helps you receive your money faster and more efficiently than through snail mail.

Once your tax return is deposited, you can use the card to spend the money just as you would with any other debit or credit card. These cards all work on the Visa, Mastercard, or American Express payment networks, and can be used everywhere those cards are accepted.

Best Overall | More Top-Rated Prepaid Cards | FAQs

Best Overall Prepaid Card For Tax Refunds

Our top-rated prepaid card is the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®. This card is especially handy if you have a PayPal account because you can transfer funds directly from your PayPal account to the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable

If you choose to have other income streams deposited to your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, such as employment income or government benefits checks, you’ll receive payment up to two days faster. If you need to load cash onto the card, you can do so at more than 130,000 nationwide reload locations.

Any funds loaded onto this card are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000, so you need not worry about anyone else getting their hands on your refund.

More Top-Rated Prepaid Cards For Tax Refunds

While we highly recommend the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, other prepaid cards are available that may provide you with just what you need — a means to receive your refund electronically. All of the following prepaid debit cards are direct deposit compatible and free to apply for online.

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.5/5.0
  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click "Get My Card" for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable
Our next card, the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card, is another great choice for consumers who don’t have a bank account and need a way to safely receive their refund. This Netspend prepaid card offers Payback Rewards for many everyday purchases and a free mobile app where cardholders can see their balance and transaction history. This NetSpend card charges a monthly fee or per-transaction fee based on the plan you opt in to.
Brinks Prepaid Mastercard Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster* than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • *Card issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Mastercard Debit cards are accepted. “Apply Now” for full details.
  • See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable

The Brinks Prepaid Mastercard allows for mobile check deposit, so even if you were to receive your tax return in the mail, you could deposit the funds to your Brinks Mastercard via the card’s mobile app. You can personalize your card with a family photo or other unique image, or choose from one of the four card images offered.

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

3.6/5.0
  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click "Get My Card " for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Up-to $9.95 monthly
Not applicable

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card is similar to the NetSpend Prepaid Visa Card in the number two position. You can choose your card design, earn Payback Rewards, and receive account alerts, among other features. As with any prepaid or credit card you agree to, review the cardholder agreement and fees associated with the account so you’re not surprised when you go to look at your transaction history.

Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Enjoy FREE withdrawals at over 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations nationwide. You can also use non MoneyPass® ATMs, but fees may apply
  • Get access to your money up to 2 days faster with early Direct Deposit
  • No monthly fee when you direct deposit $500 or more within a statement period
  • Use Online Bill Pay to help you save time and help you avoid late fees. Terms apply.
  • Check your balance and recent transactions, pay bills on the go, get SMS text alerts, and send money to family or friends who have a Serve Account
  • No credit check, no hidden fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Not applicable

Our first prepaid card from American Express, the Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account is refreshing in that it doesn’t charge many of the fees other prepaid cards on this list charge. If you’re worried about acceptance, rest assured knowing that American Express is accepted at 99% of places that take credit cards.

Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Get your paycheck up to 2 days faster with free direct deposit
  • Shop with added confidence and Purchase Protection, which can help protect eligible purchases made with the card against accidental damage and theft for up to 120 days from the date of purchase
  • Get free ATM access at over 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations. It's free to add cash at Walmart, and free to transfer money to other Bluebird Accountholders.
  • With Roadside Assistance, you can call us in case of emergency for coordination and assistance services to help you get on your way
  • You’ll have 24/7 access to world-class American Express Customer Service
  • Pay no monthly fees or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Not applicable

The next Amex card on this list, the Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account is a great bank account alternative. You’ll enjoy free ATM withdrawals, free online bill pay, and 24/7 customer service with a live agent, among other valuable features you’d expect from one of the world’s largest banks. In addition to accepting your refund check, this card can serve as an EIP card — which means you can receive economic impact payments on it as well.

The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Mango is a safe and convenient way to manage and access your money when and where you need it
  • The Mango Card is a prepaid card account and there are no hidden fees or interest charges. See your Cardholder Agreement for fees and details.
  • You can use your Mango Card everywhere debit Mastercard is accepted
  • Manage your account anywhere you are. Securely check your balance, transaction history, and send money to friends and family.
  • Once you activate and load your Mango Card, you can open a Savings Account with as little as $25 and get up to 6.00% Annual Percentage Yield with up to 6 transfers out each month
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Not applicable

If you plan to save your tax refund, this is the card for you. What differentiates the The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® from the other prepaid cards on this list is its ridiculous savings account that lets cardholders earn up to 6.00% APY. The maximum allowable savings account balance is $5,000, which makes sense because paying out all that interest would get expensive!

ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

3.2/5.0
  • Manage and control your money on one convenient reloadable prepaid card
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with direct deposit
  • No-fee cash withdraws of up to $100  per day at participating ACE locations when you have regular direct deposit activity
  • Payback RewardsSM pays you back for many of your everyday purchases - the more you use your card, the more offers at select retailers and restaurants you are eligible to redeem
  • Choose from 3 card designs
  • As a cardholder, you can open an Optional Tiered Rate Savings Account. Balances up to $1,000.00 currently earn up to 5.00% annual percentage yield. No minimum balance required.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Not applicable

And in our final spot, we have the ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card, a perfectly fine option for anyone who wants to receive their refund check electronically. Similar to the The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® above, this card offers a tiered savings account that pays an APY of up to 5.00%.

Can You Recieve Your Tax Refund On a Prepaid Card?

For the 5.4% of unbanked U.S. households, a prepaid debit card is a perfect solution for quickly and safely receiving their tax refund. Any prepaid debit card that is direct deposit compatible can accept an electronic tax refund transfer.

Every prepaid card that accepts direct deposits has a routing number and an account number — just like a bank account. When you file your taxes, one of the last steps is to indicate how you’d like to receive your money. Enter your prepaid card account number and routing number into the appropriate fields and choose “checking” as the account type to receive your refund to your card.

You can log in to your online prepaid card account to find your routing number. If you have a NetSpend card, you can also text DIRECT to 22622 to have your routing number texted to you.

What Fees Do Prepaid Cards Charge?

Unfortunately, prepaid cards charge several fees, which can make them an expensive way to access your money. Here’s a list of fees that some prepaid cards charge:

  • monthly fee
  • per-transaction fee (each time you use the card to pay)
  • ATM withdrawal fee
  • ATM balance inquiry fee
  • Cash reload fee
  • monthly inactivity fee (usually after 90 days with no transactions)
  • card purchase fee (if purchased in a store)
  • expedited mobile check load fee
  • foreign transaction fee
  • declined transaction fee
  • card replacement fee
  • custom card fee
  • expedited card delivery fee

The silver lining: Not all prepaid cards charge these fees. The Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account skips many of these fees — you won’t pay an ATM fee or any of the other charges that just seem unfair. Alas, charging fees is how many prepaid card companies stay in business, considering they don’t charge interest like a credit card issuer does.

The bottom line is that having a bank account is the cheapest way to receive your refund quickly and affordably, but a prepaid card will still get the job done. Be sure to read over the cardholder agreement and understand its fee structure before signing up for any prepaid card.

Can I Get My Stimulus Check on a Prepaid Card?

Yes, just as you can get your paycheck and tax refund deposited onto a prepaid card, you can also get your stimulus payment deposited onto a prepaid card. This gets a little tricky, however, as the government has taken this method of payment into its own hands and issued Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Cards to many unbanked Americans.

EIP Screenshot

The EIP Card is a Visa debit card issued by the government.

These EIP Cards generally take the form of a Visa prepaid card that is mailed to you with funds loaded onto the card and ready for immediate use. To activate your EIP Card account, you’ll need to create a 4-digit PIN and get your balance by calling 1-800-240-8100 and providing some identifying information.

You cannot tell the government you want your stimulus payment on a prepaid card, however.

“You can’t choose to receive a prepaid debit card. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which works with the IRS to handle distribution of the stimulus payments, decides who will receive a debit card,” according to Kiplinger.

Can You Get an Advance On Your Tax Return?

Yes, there are two ways to get an advance on your federal tax refund.

A tax refund loan, not to be confused with a refund advance offered by some tax preparation services, is offered by small lending companies that usually charge a flat fee to give you a loan you repay when your tax refund arrives. The terms of a tax refund loan are not unlike a payday loan and can be very expensive.

But a tax preparation service like Intuit TurboTax, Jackson Hewitt, and H&R Block, among others, can usually give you access to part of your refund (based on the amount of your refund) via a tax refund card. TurboTax issues its Turbo® Visa debit card to provide its customers with an advance on their return once their return is accepted by the IRS.

TurboTax Advance Screenshot

Tax services like TurboTax can provide you with an advance on your federal tax refund.

We recommend avoiding tax return loans, but if you’re working with a reputable tax filer, it may be worth asking your tax preparer if they offer refund advance options. Most do these days.

Compare the Best Prepaid Cards For Tax Refunds Online

We’ve shown you eight options that are all a good fit for anyone needing a way to receive their tax refund. Whether you don’t have a bank account or just want to keep your refund separate from your personal checking account, one of these cards will serve you well.

If you’re a PayPal account holder, check out the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®. If you plan to save your refund for a rainy day, check out the The Mango Prepaid Mastercard®. If you plan to use the card for regular spending, check out the fee-free Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account that has many of the same features as a bank account from a financial institution.

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