The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, December 8, 2022

12 Prepaid Cards Without Bank Account Requirements

Prepaid Debit Cards Without Bank Account Requirements

credit card advice

Eric Bank

Written by: Eric Bank

Eric Bank

Eric Bank has been covering business and financial topics since 1985, specializing in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences. In addition to his work on CardRates.com, Eric has appeared regularly on Credible.com, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Get.com, Zacks, Chron and dozens of other outlets. A former software engineer, Eric holds an M.B.A. from New York University and an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull

With more than a decade of experience as a content manager and marketer, Ashley has specialized in finance coverage since 2015. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media campaigns. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among others.

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Advertiser Disclosure

According to recent data, 5% of American adults do not have a bank account. Five percent may not seem significant, but considering the US population was 329.5 million as of 2020, that’s still more than 16 million Americans who need access to alternative financial services, such as prepaid debit cards.

You can use a prepaid card to perform basic financial functions, including cashless purchases, money transfers, and withdrawing cash at an ATM. Prepaid cards work perfectly well without a bank account, and for many, provide a satisfactory substitute for credit cards. Moreover, prepaid cards will never hit you with a late fee or interest charges.

Best Prepaid Cards That Don’t Require a Bank Account

These prepaid cards provide convenient functionality, regardless of whether you have a bank account. Some even offer FDIC-insured savings accounts, direct deposit, and other bank-like features. If you have no use for banks or credit cards, one of these debit cards may ideally fit your lifestyle.

Brinks Prepaid Mastercard Review

at Republic Bank & Trust Company’ssecure website

  • 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 lets you choose between a regular monthly plan or pay-as-you-go. You can halve the monthly cost by setting up a minimum amount in direct deposits each month.

This prepaid debit Mastercard offers customers cash back rewards and a negative-balance purchase cushion. Cardholders can open a savings account that pays an annual percentage yield.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at The Bancorp Bank’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • 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

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® lets you transfer funds between the card and your PayPal account. As with several prepaid cards, this card accelerates access to direct deposits by up to two days.

Cardholders can obtain up to six virtual account numbers for enhanced security. The optional cash back rewards program provides statement credits for select purchases. 

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at NetSpend’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • 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

This version of the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card charges a flat monthly fee. But cardholders can qualify for a reduced monthly plan with qualifying direct deposits.

The card features mobile check load, Netspend Payback Rewards, and support for authorized users. You can load money onto this Visa debit card at nationwide Netspend Reload centers. 

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at NetSpend’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • 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 alternate version of the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card charges a small fee per transaction rather than a flat monthly fee. Otherwise, the two Netspend cards are identical, right down to the inactivity fee.

Card benefits include Netspend Payback Rewards, virtual accounts, and purchase cushion protection. You can choose among several basic designs for this Visa debit card or opt for your own custom graphics. 

Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • A reloadable prepaid debit account that can be used anywhere American Express® cards are accepted
  • 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
  • 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 Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account stands alone in waiving a monthly fee. You can load funds at Walmart stores or via mobile check capture, direct deposit, or debit card transfer.

This card enhances low costs by offering free bill payment, no foreign transaction fee, and withdrawals with no ATM fee. You can send money to other cardholders for free or to anyone via Bluebird2Walmart Money Transfer.

The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • 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

You can load money onto The Mango Prepaid Mastercard® via direct deposits, bank and PayPal transfers, and at participating Green Dot retailers. Its accompanying mobile app simplifies card management.

Cardholders who meet the card’s direct deposit requirement can earn a high APY on account balances via the optional Mango Savings Account. Any use of the card triggers automatic text alerts, a handy security feature.

Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Enjoy FREE withdrawals at over 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations nationwide.
  • 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

This version of the Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account optimizes savings by waiving monthly fees for cardholders who meet direct deposit requirements. 

You can pay U.S. individuals and merchants with the activated card once you’ve verified your email address. American Express Serve cardholders can schedule bill reminders and authorize recurring payments. 

Greenlight - Debit Card For Kids Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Greenlight is a debit card for kids, managed by parents
  • Parents set flexible controls and receive real-time alerts while kids monitor their balances, set goals, and learn how to manage money
  • Feel secure knowing Greenlight blocks unsafe spending categories
  • Receive Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection
  • Upload a photo of your choice to create a unique custom card
  • Debit cards are FDIC-insured up to $250,000
  • Easily turn your Greenlight card on or off and receive real-time spending notifications
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
See Pricing
Not applicable

The Greenlight – Debit Card For Kids helps children learn how to handle money. This family-friendly card allows parents to set limits on their children’s spending. Parents can exercise ATM withdrawal control (for instance, cash withdrawals on MoneyPass® ATMs).

The card offers kids cash back rewards and a high yield on savings balances. You can choose from three monthly plans based on the features you want, including the card’s core tools, access to investing (under parental supervision), and various protections. 

Walmart MoneyCard® Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Waive your monthly fee when you direct deposit $500+ in previous monthly period. Otherwise, $5.94 a month.*
  • Earn 3% cash back at Walmart.com, 2% cash back at Walmart fuel stations, & 1% cash back at Walmart stores, up to $75 each year.*
  • Get $20 this season when you make two new direct deposits of $500+ by 6/30/22.*
  • Earn 2% interest rate on up to $1,000 balance in your savings account. Plus, get chances to win cash prizes each month!*
  • Get peace of mind with three coverage levels, up to $200, for purchase transactions with opt-in & eligible direct deposit.*
    *Please see site for full terms and conditions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Additional Disclosure: Walmart MoneyCard® is a debit card offer.

The Walmart MoneyCard® is sure to grab the attention of the store’s loyal shoppers, thanks to its high cash back rewards for Walmart purchases. You can also withdraw cash from the card for free at Walmart MoneyCenters and customer service desks.

The card keeps fees low. For example, reloads cost nothing when you cash a check at a Walmart store. 

Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Get rewarded with unlimited 1% Cash Back when you spend money in stores or online. The funds are available to add to your account as soon as the transaction settles with us, so you don’t have to wait to enjoy the rewards.
  • Unlike many other reward programs, you can decide when you use your cash back. You can apply it to your Account every day you earn it or keep it aside to save it for later.
  • You can withdraw your money without a fee at over 30,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations nationwide.
  • Can’t find your Serve card? No need to worry – you can quickly freeze it while you look for it and unfreeze it when you find it. And for extra reassurance, know you won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges.
  • With Emergency Assistance, you can get select access to select emergency coordination and assistance services when you’re traveling more than 100 miles from home.
  • Amex Offers provide a range of offers – shopping, dining, and more – from places you love. It’s easy and free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Not applicable

This version of the Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account offers unlimited cash back rewards. You can spend your cash back as soon as the merchant settles the purchase transaction with Amex.

The card provides the standard American Express card membership benefits, including purchase protection, fraud protection, and emergency assistance. Registered accounts receive FDIC insurance from the American Express Serve card.

BusyKid Visa® Prepaid Spend Debit Card Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★

4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • Take your kid’s spending freedom to the next level with a BusyKid Visa® Prepaid Spend Debit Card. Now featuring ATM and Apple/Google Pay, the card eliminates concerns over having on-hand cash. It’s easy to use, secure, and it teaches your kids how to manage money they can’t see.
  • Every family subscription comes with up to five cards (one per child).
  • Cards are backed by the Visa® Zero liability policy and can be locked temporarily if misplaced.
  • Given it’s backed by the trusted name of Visa®, the BusyKid Spend Card is widely accepted in stores and online
  • BusyPay™ is an easy way for family or friends to instantly send money to a child’s BusyKid account
  • Choose from a variety of card designs to find which fits your busy kid best
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
See Pricing
None

The BusyKid Visa® Prepaid Spend Debit Card helps kids learn to save, spend, and invest their money. Cardowners can also donate a percentage of their income to charity.

The card works with the American Public Education Foundation (APEF) to advocate financial education in grades K through 12. Kids can invest in real stocks commission-free with as little as $10.

ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★

4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • Manage and control your money on one convenient reloadable prepaid card
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with direct deposit
  • Make up to $100 per day in cash withdrawals at participating ACE locations when you have regular direct deposit activity.
  • When you use your card for everyday purchases, you can earn offers to redeem for cash back rewards at select retailers.
  • Choose from 3 card designs
  • As a cardholder, you can open a Tiered Optional 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

The ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card offers three plans — pay as you go, monthly, and reduced monthly. The card participates in the Netspend Reload Network, with fees that approximate those for the Netspend twins. 

MetaBank issues this Visa card as well as the Netspend offerings. Residents of Vermont are ineligible to open this card account.

What Is a Prepaid Debit Card?

A prepaid debit card is a plastic rectangle closely resembling a credit card or bank debit card. However, the card is funded through cash deposits and online money transfers rather than a checking account or credit line.

In some ways, a prepaid debit card resembles a gift card in that you load both with cash. However, prepaid cards are reloadable; gift cards generally are not. 

Prepaid cards are less similar to credit cards. While you can use both for cashless purchasing, prepaid cards do not use credit to pay for the things you buy. They are pay-now, spend-later devices that will never put you into debt. 

Debit, Prepaid and Gift Card Comparison Chart.

The logo for Visa, Mastercard, or American Express adorns the front of prepaid debit cards. These are the payment networks (and, in the case of Amex, the issuer) associated with the card. Those logos also tell you which merchants accept the card.

Discover does not offer a prepaid card at this time. 

Prepaid cards radically depart from credit cards in another way: Your credit score is of no importance when applying for a prepaid card. It doesn’t matter if you have lousy credit, limited credit, or no credit at all – prepaid cards welcome everyone.

Company owners can purchase prepaid business credit cards to help them manage their finances. You can distribute the cards to employees to cover their work and travel expenses without risking overdraft fees.

Business prepaid cards also help companies and their employees by providing fraud liability protection against unauthorized use. Additionally, these cards deliver real-time purchase alerts and other valuable benefits to business owners.

Prepaid cards offer an attractive marketing angle for financial organizations. For example, the Brinks Prepaid Mastercard draws cardowners with its rewards program while simultaneously promoting the Brinks brand. 

Do I Need a Bank Account For a Prepaid Debit Card?

The funding source is the defining difference between prepaid and bank debit cards, and many prepaid card owners do not have a bank account. 

All debit cards use money already put aside, not credit that you must repay. Bank debit cards use the money in your checking account to pay for your purchases. Prepaid debit cards rely on the cash you load and maintain in the card account. 

True, the money in a prepaid card account probably resides in an FDIC-insured bank, but it’s the issuer’s bank, not yours. 

Prepaid cards put space between cardholders and banks, something that many folks find desirable for various reasons, including:

  • Overdrafts can be expensive: Even so-called free checking accounts come with all sorts of costs, the worst being the dreaded overdraft fee. If you attempt to spend more money with a check or a bank debit card than you have in your bank account, you’ll likely face an overdraft fee averaging around $30 for each occurrence. You’ll also tick off the payee. Prepaid cards can face overdrafts, but unless you have overdraft protection, the issuer will decline the transaction without necessarily charging the cardowner a fee. A few prepaid cards offer purchase cushions to cover small overdrafts. While you must repay the cushion, the feature is a fee-free courtesy to cardowners.
  • Free checking accounts aren’t so free: A so-called free checking account doesn’t charge a monthly fee. However, a free account may come with many strings that can make it costly. The free account concept is incompatible with minimum deposit requirements, fees for select services, transaction limits, and other costs. Of course, prepaid cards charge fees too. But certain prepaid cards, such as the Bluebird® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account, minimize expenses, which makes it a popular choice.
  • Banks discriminate against consumers with poor credit: If you have ever tried to get a bank loan with bad credit, you probably discovered first-hand the bank’s lack of interest. Similarly, the unsecured credit cards from big banks (e.g., Chase, Citi, etc.) do not accommodate consumers with subprime credit. Chase does not offer a secured card at all.
  • Ideological objections: Some folks don’t like banks. It may be partially a rejection of big institutions or disgust at the bailouts available to banks but not to the common guy. To be sure, banks fulfill an essential role in the economy through their deposit and lending operations. By lending out their deposits, banks help finance business growth. Many banks offer high-yield savings, low-cost life insurance, and other desirable financial products. 

Another reason why some folks use prepaid cards is that they object to credit. One study found that two in three millennials hate credit cards.

The reasoning for this credit card boycott includes:

  • The mountains of debt students carry after graduating college.
  • Bitter memories of the turmoil their parents experienced during the Great Recession, mainly due to the irresponsible loans made by the banks.
  • The Credit CARD Act of 2009 made it difficult for folks under 21 to get a credit card without a cosigner or substantial income. 

It’s OK for people to reject credit, but the consequence is that they may never receive a credit score. Without a score, a person will likely have trouble accessing a loan or qualifying for low-rate insurance. And the lack of a credit report can hamper a person’s ability to rent an apartment or land a job

Because prepaid cards don’t use credit, they do not report your payment activity to the major credit bureaus. Therefore, prepaid cards can do nothing to help you establish or build your credit.

For at least some prepaid card owners, that’s just jim-dandy.

How Do I Get a Prepaid Debit Card?

Prepaid cards are for sale at select retail locations and online. The purchase transaction is brief and straightforward. All you do is provide some essential identification data, pay an initial fee (if the purchase isn’t online), and load money onto the card account.

You can get help selecting which prepaid card to get through independent reviews like this one. By clicking on an APPLY HERE link, you can access more information about a card’s costs and benefits. If everything looks good, you can fill out the short application form and buy your card. 

Screenshot of the Netspend Application.
You can fill out a short form to request a free prepaid card online.

The purchase of a prepaid card does not require you to submit to a credit check or have a bank account. 

You must activate or register the card before you can use it. Failure to register your card may render some of its functions inoperative, and you won’t receive protection against loss or theft.

How Does a Prepaid Debit Card Work?

A prepaid card is easy to buy and use. The card’s account is not attached to a bank account but instead functions as an independent reservoir for the funds you deposit. 

Adding Money

You initially load your card at the time of purchase. After that, you can add money whenever you want, subject to the card’s maximum allowed balance. 

You can load money onto your card in several ways:

  • In person: You can deposit cash at any retail location that sells the card. For example, the Netspend Reload Network has more than 130,000 locations across the country that allow you to add funds to several different prepaid card brands. The typical reload fee is around $4. 
  • Direct deposit: Almost all prepaid cards accept direct deposits for free. A card may limit the eligible sources to employers and government agencies.
  • Mobile check deposits: This method allows you to scan checks with your cellphone and upload them to your card account. The service is usually free, but you will have to pay extra if you need expedited processing. 
  • Western Union Money Transfer: Most prepaid cards accept wire transfers from Western Union. There is a small fee for this service.
  • Account to account transfer: You can load your card via a funds transfer from another account. Details and costs vary by card.

Each prepaid card has rules governing how much money you can load. For example, Netspend allows you to add up to $2,500 per day. Its maximum card balance is $15,000, but at least one card brand has a higher limit.

Making Purchases

To purchase an item at a retail location, you insert, swipe, or tap your card at the checkout terminal, just as you would with a credit card. You’ll then face a somewhat confusing question: Debit or credit? 

Let’s be clear; the transaction is always a debit to your card account. A prepaid card is not a prepaid credit card. In fact, “prepaid credit card” best describes secured credit cards. 

The use of debit and credit have special meanings in this situation:

  • Debit: This is a PIN transaction in which you type in your secret three- or four-digit PIN. The system immediately verifies your entry, helping to secure the card against unauthorized use. 
  • Credit: In this type of transaction, you sign your name on the checkout terminal or paper receipt. Either the system or the clerk is supposed to verify your signature. Signature transactions are a much less secure payment method and the type preferred by card thieves. 

Unless the system rejects the card, the purchase amount immediately reduces the card’s balance. Your card can be rejected if it fails verification or if the account balance is insufficient. 

Some cards provide a purchase cushion in case your balance is less than your transaction total. At least one card offers up to $200 overdraft protection.

How to Use a Prepaid Debit Card

You can also use your prepaid debit card to make card-not-present (CNP) purchases (i.e., online, over the phone, and in-app). CNP transactions usually require you to provide the card’s security code, just as you would with a credit card.

Withdrawing Money

You can choose from several options when you want to withdraw money from your prepaid card:

  • ATM: Some cards offer free in-network ATM withdrawal (for example, on MoneyPass® ATMs), but in most cases, you’ll pay a small ATM fee.
  • Over the counter (OTC): You can withdraw funds at an authorized cash reload location or financial institution. The transaction fee is usually less than 3%.
  • Cash back at a retail store: Many stores, especially supermarkets, allow you to request cash back when you make a purchase using a PIN. This is an excellent way to withdraw money because it’s free.

Each card sets rules for how much you can withdraw from the card account. For example, Netspend permits a maximum ATM withdrawal of $325 per transaction and $940 per day. Otherwise, the maximum is $4,999.99 every 24 hours. The card allows up to six ATM withdrawals per day. 

How Does a Prepaid Card Affect My Credit?

Prepaid cards don’t extend credit, so they don’t report your payments to the major credit bureaus. That’s why prepaid cards cannot help you establish, build, or rebuild credit. On the other hand, prepaid cards won’t hurt your credit, either.

You may face some problems if you don’t have a credit history. For example, you will likely have trouble getting a low-interest loan or qualifying for low-rate insurance. And the lack of a credit history can interfere with your ability to land a job or rent an apartment.

What Fees Do Prepaid Cards Charge?

The following fee list illustrates the range of charges you’re likely to face with a prepaid debit card:

  • A fee for reloading a card at specified locations or via a mobile banking app
  • Account inactivity fee
  • Cash withdrawals from ATMs. The ATM fee may not apply to in-network machines.
  • Custom-design cards
  • Declined transaction fee
  • Low balance fee
  • Money transfers
  • Plan charges as a flat monthly fee (about $5 to $10 per month) or a pay-as-you-go fee of around $1.50 per transaction
  • Purchasing or activating a card at a retail location. Typically, this is a one-time fee of about $3.
  • Replacement cards

To review a complete list of charges, read the cardholder agreement and fee schedule available on the card’s website or through customer service.

Compare Prepaid Debit Cards Without Bank Account Requirements

Prepaid debit cards without bank account requirements extend the convenience of cashless purchasing to unbanked and underbanked consumers. These cards also allow folks with bank accounts to maintain separate cash accounts. For example, they may load a prepaid card with money for a vacation.

When selecting a prepaid card, pay close attention to its fee schedule. Some cards are more expensive than others for no apparent reason. You’ll also want to consider convenience factors, such as your proximity to a cash reload location and the availability of mobile check deposits.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.