The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, June 15, 2024

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

See full bio »

Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

See full bio »

Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. 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. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

See full bio »
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

Rated 3.8 /5.0 ★★★★

As a child of the 1960s, I understand why many folks harbor a healthy skepticism toward authority figures. Relevant to this article, those targets of suspicion may include some banks and credit bureaus. For reasons practical or philosophical, a significant segment of consumers don’t have a bank account and/or credit rating. Happily, the unbanked have access to a financial solution — the prepaid debit card — that can liberate them from cash-only spending.

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is one of the best options in the prepaid debit card category. I’ll review it and three competitors that can help you avoid carrying around a roll of cash or relying on money orders to pay for purchases.

Main Points and Observations

      • You can use the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® to spend money without needing a bank account or credit history.

      • The card lets you earn Payback Rewards and access special offers.

      • It allows you to avoid late fees, bounced checks, and interest charges since you can only spend money you’ve already deposited.

      • The card has various fees that, although individually small, may add up to a significant amount over a month.

      • Merchants accept this debit card wherever you see the Mastercard® logo.

    The card has one unique superpower: You can transfer funds from an optional PayPal Balance Account if you have one. That’s important, as many workers receive payments via PayPal because some clients don’t offer direct deposits — and some recipients are unbanked.

    Therefore, many folks (including gig workers, consultants, contractors, self-employed individuals, part-timers, and your humble writer) rely on PayPal to get paid rather than waiting for a check to arrive in the mail. Under those circumstances, owning a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is a natural extension of your relationship with PayPal.

    How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

    You can buy a temporary prepaid card at a wide range of stores that belong to the Netspend Reload Network, including supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, convenience stores, dollar stores, Walmart stores, and Western Union Reload+ locations. But you can get the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for free by requesting one online. You can do so through the issuing bank’s website by clicking on the Apply Now button below:

    Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

    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.

    PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

    at The Bancorp Bank'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★

    3.8

    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

    Any US resident or resident alien over 18 years of age with a valid Social Security number and a verifiable physical US street address may qualify to sign up for or purchase the card.

    The application process requires your name, email address, home address, government-issued ID, and date of birth. You can also specify the card design, optional direct deposit source, and whether you intend to transfer balances with the prepaid card.

    You must register the permanent card when it arrives by logging into your account and navigating to the Activate Your Card Account page on the PayPal website. There, you enter the 16-digit card number, CVC number, PIN, and any missing account information, such as your Social Security number. You can start using the card immediately once you add funds to it.

    Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

    It’s important to look at the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®’s good and not-so-good aspects to ensure it fits your financial needs — and to avoid any surprises concerning its fees. Here is some information to consider when deciding whether the card can help you manage your money better.

    Benefits

      • Payback Rewards: This card offers rewards on certain purchases

      • Direct link to a PayPal Balance Account: The link allows you to easily move money from your PayPal Balance Account (if you have one) to your card, making it simple to access your funds.

      • No credit check required: Getting the card does not involve a credit check, so it’s available even if you have a poor or no credit history.

      • Wide usage: You can use the card for both online and in-store purchases anywhere that accepts Mastercard®.

      • Manage through an app: The card comes with an app that helps you monitor spending, view your balance, and find ATMs from your mobile device.

      • High-yield savings account option: Cardholders can open a high-yield savings account that offers an interest rate higher than those from traditional savings accounts.

    Drawbacks

      • Monthly fee: The card’s monthly maintenance fee can add up over time and reduce your balance. It also offers no pay-as-you-go transaction fee option.

      • ATM withdrawal fees: Withdrawing cash from ATMs results in a fee, making it costly to access your own money in cash form. PayPal doesn’t offer a fee-free ATM network.

      • Loading fees: Adding money to the card at certain locations or using certain vendors incurs fees, which limits how and where you can reload the card for free.

      • Limited reward categories: Payback Rewards are only available for specific purchases, covering only some types of spending and reducing the overall benefit.

      • Transfers limited to $300 per day: You can only transfer up to $300 per day from your PayPal account to the Card.

      • Online services are available only when you link to an optional PayPal Balance Account: To use the card for online services or transactions, you must link it to a separate PayPal Balance Account.

    The Bancorp Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, issues the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® pursuant to a license by Mastercard® International Incorporated. Netspend is an authorized representative of The Bancorp Bank, N.A.

    Other Cards Worth a Look

    Comparing the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® with leading competitors is crucial because it helps you find the best benefits, lowest fees, and most suitable features for your financial situation. The following trio includes some of the best prepaid debit cards — and none of them require a credit check or a minimum balance.

    Discover® Cashback Debit Review

    at the issuer'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★★
    4.6

    OVERALL RATING

    • Cashback – Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
    • No. Fees. Period. That means you won’t be charged an account fee on our Cashback Debit account.
    • Early Pay – Get your paycheck up to two days early with no charge
    • No Credit Impact - You can apply without affecting your credit score.
    • Fraud Protection - You’re never responsible for unauthorized debit card purchases. If you suspect someone else has used your debit card without your permission, let us know.
    • Member FDIC
    • Fee-free overdraft protection
    • No minimum opening deposit and no minimum balance
    • Add cash into your account at Walmart stores nationwide
    • Cash access at over 60,000 no-fee ATMs nationwide
    • 100% US-based customer service available 24/7
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    $0
    No Credit Needed

    The Discover® Cashback Debit card is different from the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® because it is part of an online checking account. It lets you earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in purchases every month. Also, the Discover® Cashback Debit card doesn’t charge a monthly or transaction fee, does not require a minimum balance, and lets you use over 60,000 ATMs without extra charges.

    The Discover® Cashback Debit card provides free overdraft protection. As with the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, you can arrange direct deposits for faster payments, add cash at selected stores, and receive fraud protection against unauthorized debit card purchases.

    Brink’s Armored™ Account Review

    at Netspend'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.1

    OVERALL RATING

    • Brink’s knows Security! 24/7 access to a suite of security benefits to help keep your account armored.
    • Get access to over 100,000 Brink’s Money ATMs.
    • Get paid faster than a paper check with direct deposit.
    • Add funds to your Brink’s Armored Account and use Brinks Armored debit card anywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
    • Account opening is subject to registration and ID verification. Terms & fees Apply. Deposit Account is established by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    Variable Monthly Fees
    Not applicable

    The Brink’s Armored™ Account focuses on security and budgeting features, befitting Brink’s reputation for safety. The card offers PayBack Points that let you earn rewards for shopping at certain stores, but it doesn’t directly provide cash back on purchases.

    The Brink’s Armored™ Account card waives its monthly fee when you deposit at least $500 each month. It doesn’t charge for reloads or in-network ATM withdrawals. The optional overdraft service charges a fee per transaction (with a limit of five per calendar month). The card is also a member of the Netspend Reload Network.

    NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

    at NetSpend'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    3.8

    OVERALL RATING

    • With 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 Netspend Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text messages or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
    • Card use is subject to activation and ID verification. Terms and Costs apply.
    • Card issued by Pathward N.A., Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa debit card is accepted.
    • 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 doesn’t directly link to a PayPal account, so you don’t need one to use or manage your funds. The card offers Pay-As-You-Go as an alternative to its monthly flat fee, which means you could reduce your monthly cost if you’re smart about how you use it.

    The card offers an optional Payback Rewards program that lets you earn cash back on selected purchases. It also provides direct deposits for faster payments, a mobile check load, optional savings account, and a $10 cushion if you fall short on a purchase.

    Cardholder Reviews Around the Web

    Online user reviews give you real-world insights into how well a product actually works, highlighting both its strengths and potential issues from the perspective of people who have used it. The remarks concerning the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® are rarely positive, especially concerning customer service, but here’s some love from Laura:

    “I have had this card for about three months now. My tax return was deposited on it, and I deposit cash daily because I have a small business. No problems at all. Being a small business owner, having this card is very handy for daily deposits, and there is no line waiting like at banks.”

    Mitchellbros suggests you get a different PayPal card:

    The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is not a scam, but it’s a useless card for several reasons. 1) There’s a monthly fee 2)You can’t add money to your PayPal Balance Account when you reload it. 3) You can’t transfer money from your Prepaid Card to your PayPal Balance Account. Solution: Get a PayPal Debit Card directly from PayPal. It will do all of the above with no problems.”

    A little later, I will provide a detailed comparison between the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® and the PayPal Debit Card.

    FAQs: How Do I Add Money to the Card?

    You can add money to your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® in several ways. For example, you can transfer money directly from your PayPal Balance Account, which is great if you already use PayPal for online transactions.

    Suppose you prefer dealing with cash or checks. In that case, you can add money at more than 130,000 Netspend Reload Network locations nationwide, although fees may apply.

    Direct deposit is another option, allowing you to receive your paycheck or government benefits directly on your card without any fees. Additionally, anyone with a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® can easily transfer funds to your card. Finally, you can add money via a mobile check deposit.

    In What Ways Can I Use the Card?

    The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® performs many of the same functions as a full-fledged checking account but without the typical bank hassles and fees. With this card, you can:

      • Make purchases: Use the card anywhere that accepts Mastercard®, including online, in stores, in-app, and for purchases by phone.

      • Withdraw cash: You can get cash from ATMs worldwide (for a fee) and opt for free cash back when you check out at select retail locations.

      • Pay bills: Conveniently pay your bills online or over the phone through customer service using your card.

      • Transfer money: Send funds from your card to another cardholder’s account easily.

      • Direct deposit: Receive your paycheck or government benefits directly for quicker access to funds.

    The card’s capabilities enable versatile money management without the need for a bank account or credit score.

    What Are the Card’s Fees?

    Prepaid debit card fees are an important consideration because they directly affect how much you can spend and save when using the card. High fees for transactions, reloading, or monthly maintenance can quickly eat into your balance, making it more expensive to use the card for purchases or cash withdrawals.

    The following chart summarizes the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®’s fee schedule from its cardholder agreement.

    FEE NAME DESCRIPTION AMOUNT
    Card Purchase Fee Fee charged for purchasing the Card at retail locations Up to $4.95
    Monthly Fee Fixed monthly maintenance fee $4.95
    ATM Withdrawal Fee (Domestic) Fee for withdrawing cash at ATMs within the country $2.50 with no charge for international but a 4% surcharge
    Cash Reload Fee for adding cash to the card at Netspend Reload Network locations Up to $3.95
    Mobile Check Load (Government and Payroll Checks) Fee for loading government and payroll checks via mobile check load 2% or $5, whichever is higher
    Mobile Check Load (Other Checks) Fee for loading other types of checks via mobile check load 5% or $5, whichever is higher
    Transaction Declined Fee Fee for declined transactions, both ATM and ACH or preauthorized payment transactions ATM: $1 (Domestic or International), ACH/Preauthorized: $0
    Add or Replace a Card Fee for adding a card or replacing a card Additional Card: $0, Replacement Card: $5.95
    Checking Your Balance Options for checking your card balance No fee for online access, Anytime Alerts SMS service, or calling (866) 753-6440
    ATM Balance Inquiry Fee Fee for checking your balance at an ATM $0.50 per inquiry plus possible ATM operator fee
    Expedited Card Delivery Fee for expedited card delivery options 3 Business Days: $20.00, 1-2 Business Days: $25.00
    Check Request Fee Fee for processing and mailing a return of funds check at card account closure $5.95

    By carefully considering the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®’s fees, you can compare them to those of competitors and identify which one offers you the best value.

    How Does It Compare to the PayPal Debit Card?

    Unlike the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, the PayPal Debit Card provides direct access to your PayPal Balance Account, allowing you to make purchases, withdraw cash from ATMs, and earn rewards on eligible purchases without a monthly fee.

    Here’s a comparison of the two cards:

    Feature PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® PayPal Debit Card
    Link to PayPal Account Yes, it allows transfer to the card Directly linked
    Rewards Payback Rewards are limited to certain offers 1% cash back on eligible purchases
    Monthly Fees Yes No
    ATM Withdrawal Fees Yes, fees apply None when using MoneyPass ATMs
    Direct Deposit Yes, with no fee for direct deposit Not applicable (linked to PayPal balance)
    Card Type Prepaid account card, distinct from your main PayPal account (if any) Debit card, linked directly to your PayPal balance, providing immediate access to your money
    Credit Check No No
    Use Where Accepted Anywhere Mastercard® is accepted Anywhere Mastercard® is accepted
    Transfers Manual transfers from optional PayPal account Direct access to PayPal balance; no manual transfers needed

    I recommend you get the PayPal Debit Card because it delivers more value than the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®. However, if you insist on maintaining a minimal relationship with PayPal, the prepaid card is a better choice.

    This Card May Be For You If…

      • You frequently use PayPal: If you regularly conduct transactions through PayPal, this card seamlessly integrates with your Balance Account, allowing you to accept transfers easily.

      • You’re looking for a prepaid option with rewards: The card lets you earn money-saving offers on qualifying purchases.

      • You want multiple reloading options: The card may meet your needs if you plan to reload it in several ways, including direct deposit, cash at retail locations, remote check deposit, or from another cardholder.

    I like the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®’s range of convenient features, especially for users who frequently use PayPal for their transactions. It integrates smoothly with an optional PayPal Balance Account, providing a straightforward way to transfer funds and manage money.

    However, I’m less happy with the card’s fees, which are higher than those of a few equally competent prepaid cards. While the card’s benefits are clear, you should carefully consider these fees when deciding if the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is the best option for your financial requirements.

    About the Author

    Eric Bank
    Eric Bank Finance Expert

    Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

    Share the Knowledge!

    Eric Bank