Table of Contents
- The Criteria Used to Find The Best Prepaid Cards
- Prepaid Card With Little-to-No Fees
- Prepaid Card Ease of Use
- Prepaid Card Perks
- Best Prepaid Cards of 2021
Our best prepaid card of 2021 is based on a few assumptions. We assume individuals searching for a prepaid card are looking for cards that have minimal fees including low to now monthly fees, no inactivity fee, low-to-no signature & pin transaction fees, low-to-no balance ATM inquiry fees, and low ATM withdrawal fees (many cards can use surcharge free ATM machines that will not charge them). The fees are one of the biggest drawbacks to many people but there are other things to consider when searching for the best prepaid cards.
The ease of use is an important factor to consider. Some prepaid cards may charge minimal fees but the user constantly encounters errors with the company's website, mobile application or prepaid card itself. We looked at which prepaid card provider offer a user-friendly experience.
The final and last consideration we take into account is what perks does the prepaid card provider offer? We really look for something distinguishable. Many prepaid card providers selling point is that if the user load their card via direct deposit they can "Get Your Paycheck 2 Days Earlier!". This may have been a perk a long time ago but as of 2021 the vast majority of prepaid cards all offer this. A real perk would be APY percentage on your savings, because not all prepaid cards offer this.
There are other websites that have done their "Best Prepaid Cards" review but users should be skeptical with some of these sites because those websites receive incentives when you sign up through their referral link. We can firmly state that their is no such category as "Best Prepaid Card for Direct Deposit" because almost all prepaid cards offer this along with receiving your funds two days faster.
So we bypass all of the fluff that prepaid companies and other websites are trying to sell users to make them think they are getting value. We get straight to the bottom line.
Disclaimer: We believe transparency is everything, therefore we are not being paid to manipulate where in the list these prepaid cards are placed or which prepaid cards we've chosen. We believe that would be a disservice to our readers and they would not get the full benefit of this article. The prepaid cards listed below are the best overall prepaid cards. We did not categorize them such as "best for reloads", "best for direct deposits", or "best for shopping at...". Free direct deposits are available for most prepaid cards so that would make categories as "best for direct deposit or reloads" obsolete.
Coming in at #1 as the best prepaid card in 2021, is the American Express Bluebird prepaid card. The Bluebird card has virtually no fees except the $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee (the company has to make money some way right?) . However, users can cut that fee in half by using a surcharge free ATM like MoneyPass or AllPoint Network. So instead of paying Bluebird fee $2.50 and the average fee ATMs charge of $2.50, which comes out to $5 you'll only pay $2.50.
Bluebird cardholders generally love this prepaid card and recommend it to their friends and family, especially because of the low fees. The Bluebird prepaid card also has a friendly user interface. It's not difficult to login and view important information such as remaining balances, direct deposit information and transaction history. The Bluebird app has over 1 million downloads on Android and 19,000+ reviews with a rating of 4.1. (Bluebird recent update of its app has left users upset and unable to use the app. This can explain why the app went from a 4.1 rating to a 2.2 rating)
Chime is technically not a prepaid card, it's an online bank that provides users with a debit card. We had to throw this debit card in the listing simply because it's easy to apply for and get accepted because Chime does not use the Chexsystems. The Chexsystems prevents many unbanked Americans from getting a new bank account because of their history with banks. Chime is also very comparable to the Bluebird card because they charge little to no fee as well and offer 1% APY on your savings account.
Walmart MoneyCard offers so many perks that it would have been our #1 best prepaid card but it does come with more fees than both Bluebird. Considering Walmart products are priced cheaper than the competitors already, with the Walmart MoneyCard cardholders get even more of a deal with 3% cashback rewards when shopping at Walmart.com. Walmart is the best prepaid card for users that care more about cash back. Cardholders can also load their paychecks with Walmart checking service and get the reload fee waived when adding money to their Walmart MoneyCard. Although the card does have a monthly fee it's among the lowest fee in the industry at $3.00 per month which can be waived.
The reloadable card that didn't make the list, although a great card is Serve. Although we've had a stellar experience with the Serve card other cardholders experience was not-so-great. There is supposed to be a $0 monthly maintenance fee to cardholders living in New York, Vermont & Texas. However, from firsthand experience, I can say this is untrue. Serve charge $1 to New York residents. It's nothing to get angry over but it is a transparency issue. We've never paid the monthly fee because our direct deposit of more than $500 per month waived the monthly fee. Serve cards with its several sub accounts, reserve account and multiple ways to fund the card is also a great perk and throughout the 3 years we have had no problems whatsoever. However, many cardholders have had a negative experience with the Serve card and have had issues with customer support & have even been locked out of their account when they've received $1,000+ in direct deposit.
4. American Express Serve Card
The American Express Serve card is also one of the best prepaid cards you can get. We've used this prepaid card as our primary card for 3 years and never had any serious issues. For those users who are living in New York, Texas or Vermont the monthly fee is $0. For other users you can waive the $6.95 monthly fee if you load $500 or more per month. This load amount is lower than other prepaid cards that require $1,000 to qualify for a monthly fee waiver. Serve is also pretty transparent allowing users to see how much fees they've accrued for the month and year and gives you access your monthly statements in a friendly interface. We also like the fact that we can disable ATM withdrawals for the Serve card in the event that the card gets lost or stolen.
Final Thoughts on the Best Prepaid Cards
In a nutshell, the Bluebird prepaid card is the best far as no monthly fees. If you will be loading more than $1,000 per month then Walmart MoneyCard becomes the better option because the $3 per month fee is waived and the prepaid card comes with several cash back options.
Chime is great if you want to upgrade from a prepaid card and move onto a mobile bank account that charges $0 in monthly fees and overdraft and their Spot Me features allow you to spend $10-100 more than whats available in your account.
Serve card is great for those living in New York, Vermont or Texas and for those users who plan to load more than $500 per month waiving the $7 monthly fee. Serve can be used as a prepaid card with no fees if used correctly. We still encourage users to do their own due diligence and come to a final decision as to what is the best prepaid card for them.
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