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5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards with Direct Deposit

Best Prepaid Debit Cards With Direct Deposit

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: February 12, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

Approximately 14.1 million American adults don’t have a checking or savings account. If this describes you, obtaining one of the best prepaid debit cards with direct deposit can make your financial life a whole lot easier.

These cards allow you to directly deposit checks into your prepaid card account to keep your money safe and allow you to spend it as you would with a credit or bank debit card.

That means you can pay bills, rent a car, or conduct card-based transactions without having to pay annoying money order fees or other charges — which saves you money in the long run.

Cards | FAQs

Cards that Facilitate Direct Deposits Up to 2 Days Faster

A card that accepts direct deposits allows you to receive your money faster than if you were to deposit a paper check — as much as two days faster in some cases. Plus, you won’t have to pay any check-cashing fees or worry about storing your money in a safe place.

Even better, some of the cards listed below will eliminate some (or all) of your monthly maintenance fees if you receive consistent direct deposits into your account.

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

  • 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

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card ranks among our favorite prepaid cards for its flexibility and low fees.

Netspend posts any direct deposits to your account as soon as the check arrives. Many banks and credit unions wait until the check clears before posting the funds to your account. This helps you get access to your money faster.

And Netspend’s direct deposit terms aren’t just for paychecks. You can also directly deposit tax refund checks, government benefits checks, and other forms of recurring payments into your account.

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

This version of the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card looks and acts very much like its sibling card listed at No. 1. But one key difference separates the two.

This card has one flat maintenance fee — which tops out at $9.95 every month. If you don’t regularly use your card, but still want access to the direct deposit feature, this could be your best option.

The other option has a variable monthly fee based on how often you use the card. The more you swipe, the less you pay each month. If you plan to use your Netspend card as your regular form of payment, you’re better served with the card atop this list. If not, this card is likely your best option.

Either way, you’ll still gain access to the full portfolio of direct deposit options, as well as the ability to use your funds at any merchant or service provider that accepts Visa — which is just about everywhere.

3. Brinks Prepaid Mastercard

This card is currently not available.

Prepaid Rating

★★★★★
N/A

OVERALL RATING

N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

You may recognize the Brink’s name from those large armored trucks that transport money from businesses to banks (and vice versa). The company, which recently celebrated its 160th birthday, puts just as much security into its Brinks Prepaid Mastercard.

Not only does this card accept direct deposits of your paychecks, tax refund checks, and government benefits checks, but you can also tap into the card’s mobile application to take a photo of the front and back of any paper check you receive and digitally deposit the funds into your card’s account.

The app also allows you to check your card’s balance, see transaction history, and receive real-time text message alerts whenever you use your card or receive funds into your account.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.6/5.0
  • 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

PayPal is the foremost name in the online payment space, and the company’s PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® lets you easily move your funds between the digital and real worlds.

You can transfer money back and forth between your PayPal account and your card account in real time — with no waiting for the funds to clear before you can use them. You can also use the card account to receive direct deposits of your paychecks, government benefits checks, or tax refund checks.

But what really sets this card apart is the ability it gives you to earn cash back rewards through PayPal. This optional program gives you cash back on qualifying purchases, while also taking advantage of valuable offers from PayPal and its partners. Similar programs are virtually impossible to find in the prepaid space.

5. Bluebird from American Express

Bluebird® from American Express gives you all the benefits of a bank account without signing up with a bank or credit union. This includes a full range of direct deposit features for any checks you receive as well as payment options at any merchant or service provider that accepts American Express.

Bluebird Card

  • Receive your funds up to two days faster with direct deposit
  • More than 30,000 free MoneyPass® ATM locations
  • Add or withdraw funds from your card at any Walmart location for free or at several other partnered locations for a $3.95 fee

The family accounts feature allows you to give up to four linked cards to anyone you choose. You’ll also have the power to set limits on spending, ATM access, and other security features for each cardholder.

What is the Best Prepaid Card for Direct Deposit?

Every card listed above accepts direct deposit of paychecks, government benefits checks, and tax refund checks into your card account. Most will give you access to your funds as soon as the check arrives.

Since each card has the same features for direct deposit, you must look at other perks to decide which is truly the best prepaid card for direct deposit. Depending on your needs, here are our verdicts.

  • Best for Regular Use: Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
  • Best Mobile Experience: Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard
  • Best for Online Payments & Cash Back: PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®
  • Best for No Fees: Bluebird from American Express

Let’s look at why each card is the best in their respective categories.

Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Cards: Best for Regular Use

The No. 1 and No. 2 cards on our list share the same name and issuer but have a few specific differences. To find out which card best suits your needs, you must estimate how often you’ll use your card.

The No. 2 card charges a flat monthly fee that tops out at $9.95 every month. The No. 1 card offers a variable monthly fee that’s based on how often you use your card. The more you use it, the lower the fee.

On the flip side, if you don’t use your card very much, you could end up paying more than you would for the same features with the No. 2 card.

Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard: Best Mobile Experience

Brink’s knows all about security. So, it’s only natural that the company’s mobile application would offer robust features while keeping your data safe from unwanted eyes.

The Brink’s Prepaid Mobile App allows you to check your balance, transfer money, or find the nearest reload location from your mobile phone. Best of all, Brink’s offers this service for free (mobile data charges may apply).

You can also digitally deposit checks, receive real-time account alerts, and view all of your transaction history.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®: Best for Online Payments & Cash Back

Very few companies can compete with PayPal in the digital payments space. Since its inception as an eBay-affiliated company, PayPal remains the most popular way to send money, pay bills, or make payments online.

With the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, you can transfer money in real time between your PayPal and card accounts. You can also use the card at any location that accepts Mastercard, while potentially earning cash back rewards for eligible purchases.

You can access your funds up to two days faster with direct deposits and make online payments as soon as your check arrives.

Bluebird from American Express: Best Prepaid Card with No Fees

Bluebird gives you many of the same features you’d expect from a traditional bank account — but with far fewer fees than you’d typically find with a prepaid card. You can withdraw money for free at more than 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations. You can also withdraw or add money within your account for free at any Walmart checkout line.

Most surprisingly, this card features no monthly fee. But it isn’t completely fee-free. If you decide to add money at a non-Walmart location, that business may charge you up to $3.95 to process the funds.

What is the Best Prepaid Card with No Fees?

As discussed above, the Bluebird® from American Express is a virtually fee-free card that allows you to receive direct deposits, withdraw and add funds, and use your card at millions of merchants without paying for the convenience.

Bluebird® by American Express

Bluebird from American Express is one of the only fee-free prepaid cards available.

You may have to pay up to a $3.95 fee if you decide to add money to your card at a location other than Walmart. American Express does not directly charge this fee. Instead, it comes from the location that processes your transaction.

Otherwise, you can use Cash Pickup Powered by Ria® to add or remove funds from your account at more than 4,500 Walmart locations. You also have access to more than 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations.

Another popular (and still free) benefit of this card is the family program. As the main cardholder, you can issue up to four cards to anyone you choose. Additional users initially have all the same privileges as the primary cardholder, but you can choose to limit individual spending or ATM access however you wish.

This allows you to share funds within a household or give a child access to money or an allowance without the temptation to overspend. Not only does this card provide most of the perks you’d expect from a traditional bank account, but it also provides a way for younger family members to learn how to budget and spend — without having to pay heavy fees for the lessons.

Do Banks Have Prepaid Debit Cards?

Just about every bank or credit union will offer debit cards to account holders, but they aren’t the same product as the cards listed above. While prepaid cards and bank-issued debit cards act in many of the same ways, a few significant differences separate the two:

Secured Credit Card vs Debit Card vs Prepaid Card

Bank cards require an account: You can’t just go into a bank or credit union and open a prepaid debit card account. You must first open a checking account that links to your debit card.

If you aren’t eligible for a bank account, don’t have a bank near you, don’t have the means to maintain minimum balances, or you simply don’t trust banks, then this option may not work for you.

Prepaid debit cards only require you to create an account in which you can add funds to use with your card, either online or at a retail location. Most cards partner with retailers all over the country for you to add cash to your account easily.

Some bank cards expire: Many bank and credit union debit cards feature an expiration date in which you can no longer use the card. Most banks will issue you a new card just before the expiration date, but it’s still something you have to keep track of.

Prepaid debit cards rarely include expiration dates and allow you to use your card for as long as you maintain your account.

Many bank cards have intraday spending limits: As a form of fraud protection, most banks and credit unions limit how much you can spend using your debit card on any given day. If you’re looking to make a big purchase — or several purchases — this can become annoying.

Prepaid debit cards rarely feature such limits — though you can add them to your card if you so choose.

Are Prepaid Cards Safe?

Prepaid debit cards remain just as safe as any other credit or debit card on the market. That’s because nearly all of these cards run on the same processing networks.

Graphic of How Prepaid Debit Cards Work

So, while you don’t have to worry about the safety of your transactions, each card issuer does have varying degrees of security surrounding its mobile applications and desktop interfaces. Still, the cards listed above have no long-standing security issues or records of data breaches.

Besides, it’s hard to argue with the security of a card when it’s issued by a company such as Brink’s — which has provided secure money transfers for banks and other financial institutions for more than 160 years.

If you’re unsure about your card issuer’s cyber safety, the first step you can take is to look at your browser’s address bar when you’re visiting the company’s website. If you see a little padlock icon to the left of the website’s URL, you’ll know that the site uses the most current SSL security and encryption standards, which makes it far more difficult for malicious hackers to access your information.

If you don’t see the padlock, you can visit a site such as Why No Padlock and type in the website’s address to get a full report of its security flaws.

You can also search for the security history of any card issuer with whom you’re considering opening an account. News travels fast on the internet, and if there are any breaches or other security flaws, you’ll most certainly find out about them through a brief search.

The best way to maximize your card’s security is to only access your account on trusted WiFi networks — never through public WiFi channels — and only use approved and supported mobile applications.

Manage Your Money Easily with a Prepaid Card

If you’re one of the 14.1 million U.S. adults without a bank account, you may find a prepaid debit card is the easiest way to manage your money while still maintaining access to a credit card network.

That’s because the cards listed above provide a safe environment to directly deposit your paychecks, government benefits checks, or tax refund checks while allowing you quick access to your money — both electronically and as cash.

And, with the best prepaid debit cards with direct deposit, you won’t find yourself stuck paying enormous fees to use your money. That gives you more cash to use on the things you want in life.

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