Anyone who is just starting out may have a hard time getting a regular credit card. Additionally, some people find that they cannot control themselves with a regular credit or debit card. A pre-paid credit or debit card may be the answer. With this type of card, you pay ahead of time for the card. You then have that set amount of money to spend on purchases. You do not have to meet income qualification rules to get this type of card. In addition, you cannot spend more than you have, because the card will be rejected if the money is not available in the account.

 

Prepaid credit and debit cards can be an excellent way to save money and stay safe when shopping without exposing your personal assets, but determining the best card to go with can be difficult. With so many options on the market, you have to look at the cards with the lowest transaction fees, the ease of loading, and a number of other factors. This list has narrowed down all of the possible prepaid credit and debit card options to our top five choices.

1. Bluebird by American Express

This ubiquitous prepaid card is one of the most well-known mainly because it can be purchased at Wal-Mart. The card is ideal for use as a personal budgeting tool because it carries no transaction fees when used inside of a store, and you can withdraw cash from more than 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs. However, using an out-of-network ATM will result in a $2.50 fee on top of the cost of the withdrawal.

Money can be loaded onto the card through the mobile Bluebird app, at Wal-Mart stores, and several other ways. The card also includes benefits such as free bill payment, fraud protection, and a sort of family plan where a master account can be linked to four ‘family’ accounts. It’s a great option for parents who want to provide their kids with a debit card without actually giving them a debit card.

There are no monthly fees and no credit check required to sign up for the Bluebird card. It can be purchased for $5 at nearly any Wal-Mart, or gotten for free by signing up online.

2. Chase Liquid

When it comes to prepaid cards, few offer the features of the Chase Liquid. Of course, these features come at a price — the card requires a credit check upon signup and approval is not guaranteed. In addition, anyone who wants to sign up has to visit a Chase branch. In addition, there is a service fee of $4.95 each month. Obtaining the card is difficult, but the benefits tend to outweigh the downsides.

The Chase Liquid card carries no overdraft fees. If you lack the funds in the account to make a payment, it simply declines. There is also a $3,000 daily spending limit, far more than most prepaid cards will allow. The card can be loading through cash deposits, checks, money transfers from an existing Chase account, and through direct deposit. Built-in fraud protection makes this card ideal for online shopping, online bill pay, and more. Those with a more stable financial history will find it easier to obtain a Chase Liquid card than others.

3. American Express Serve

Frequent shoppers may want to take advantage of this prepaid card for one primary reason: cash back bonuses. For every purchase made online or in-store with the American Express Serve, it grants 1% cash back. It’s one of the only prepaid cards offering this perk. If you set up online bill pay, you can receive the cash back bonus for paying your bills. Like many other prepaid cards, it comes with fraud protection and mobile deposits.

However, there are downsides. The card carries a monthly fee of $5.95, and depositing cash has a fee of $3.95. The best way to put funds on this card is through a checking account in order to avoid the fees. While the monthly fee may be pricy, if you shop often enough the cash back bonus can be well worth it.

4. Kaiku Visa Prepaid

You’ve probably never heard of Kaiku, and that’s no surprise. It’s a relative newcomer to the prepaid credit and debit card market, but it has quite a bit to offer. Boasting some of the lowest fees of any card, the Kaiku Visa Prepaid offers multiple benefits, including fraud protection, online bill pay, and easy deposits through the Kaiku mobile app.

There are more than 55,000 in-network ATMs through the Allpoint network. When using these ATMs, cardholders pay no fees. There are also no maintenance fees associated with the Kaiku Visa Prepaid as long as at least $750 is deposited each month into the account. While the card hasn’t existed long enough to form solid connections with many major banks, it does offer a number of benefits that can be useful to someone with a more limited budget.

5. Mango Money Card

For those looking to save money with a prepaid card, the Mango Money is your best bet. This card offers up to 6% APY, but the actual amount can differ. Those with less than $5,000 and direct deposit enabled will receive the highest rates. However, even if you don’t qualify for Mango Money’s highest APY rates, the base rate of 2% is more than many major savings accounts offer.

The $3 monthly fee can be avoided by depositing at least $500 onto the card each month. Unfortunately, there are few if any in-network ATMs, but the ATM fee isn’t unreasonable. You’re also able to check your card’s balance online for free, and there is no signup or activation fee, no credit check, and no fees associated with loading money onto the card.

Investing in a Mango Money card and putting funds into the account each month can be a great way to save up for a luxury expense.

These five prepaid credit and debit cards offer some of the best benefits on the market. Despite some carrying monthly fees, the benefits these cards offer outweigh many major bank cards and credit card companies. Even if you already have access to a credit or debit card, investing in one of these cards can be a great way to set a personal budget or save money on specific items. Take the time to evaluate all of the options available and choose the one that best fits your needs.