Top 5 Prepaid Debit Cards: Winter 2014

1. American Express Bluebird


This prepaid debit card (specifically the version that allows direct deposit) ranked No. 1 on a report conducted by Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. With no to low fees, this card might be a good option for consumers looking to enter the prepaid market. There are no annual, monthly, or overdraft fees -- nor is a minimum balance required. There are also no foreign exchange, inactivity or card replacement fees. And you can add all or part of your paycheck with the direct deposit option -- as well as add cash at most Walmarts. Loading money into the card with the usual options is also free. You can withdraw money without a surcharge from one of the 23,000 MoneyPass ATMs. If you don’t use direct deposit or use an out-of-network ATM, though, you’ll be charged a $2 withdrawal fee.

Learn more here.

Notable Benefits:

  • Add checks with the Bluebird Mobile App on your Android device or iPhone
  • Add cash at virtually any Walmart checkout register
  • Make payments at or on the go with the Bluebird Mobile App

2. H&R Block Prepaid Emerald Prepaid MasterCard


Like other good prepaid debit cards, there is no setup fee, no monthly activity fee, no overdraft fee, no fees on purchases, or customer service calls. This card, which Consumers Union ranked second in its report, also offers rewards for making everyday purchases. The card can be used at any MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro ATM. H&R Block Bank will charge an additional fee of $2.50 per domestic and international transaction when using the Emerald Card. Also, depending on the retailer, you might have to pay up to $4.95 to reload your card.

Learn more here.

Notable Benefits:

  • Increase the available balance on your card by reloading it at thousands of Walmart Rapid Reload, MoneyGram, Green Dot or Western Union agent locations
  • Get cash back with purchases at many merchants, generally without a fee, including grocery, drug and discount stores
  • Get instant cash rewards at your favorite stores by shopping with your card

3. Green Dot Card

Green Dot Prepaid card

Like other cards on the list, the Green Dot Card has no overdraft or penalty fees, no credit check or minimum balance. Their explanation of fees is clear and uncomplicated. You can withdraw money at the nearly 23,000 MoneyPass ATMs and shop everywhere MasterCard or Visa debit cards are accepted for free. There’s a $2.50 charge for out-of-network ATMs. Green Dot charges a $5.95 fee monthly, but you can get it waived if you load at least $1,000 or have at least 30 qualifying purchases posted to your account. The card is also recommended by Consumer Reports.

Learn more here.

Notable Benefits: 

  • Free direct deposit reloads
  • Quickly request and receive your account information and more via text
  • Automatically get balance alerts, direct deposit updates and more via text or email

4. Approved Prepaid MasterCard from Suze Orman


Named as one of the best prepaid cards by US News & World Report in April 2012 and as the best card for teenagers’ allowance by Card Hub in 2012, the Approved Card can be used everywhere that the debit MasterCard is accepted. If your Approved Card is lost or stolen, your money can be replaced under the MasterCard Zero Liability policy. Note: There is a $3 monthly account maintenance fee. Be sure to pay attention to other fees for things like replacing a card and paying by check.

Learn more here.

Notable Benefits: 

  • Free text and online tools to help keep track of your spending
  • Set up three separate cards under your Approved Card account for your family members or friends with no additional monthly fee.
  • Send money to any of your friends and family members who have the Approved Card for free.

5. American Express® Serve


With no credit check, minimum balance or overdraft fees, this prepaid debit card is one of your best bets if you’re looking to enter the market. The $1 monthly fee is waived if you use direct deposit or add $500 during your monthly statement period and there are a host of notable benefits. Plus, cardholders can link their card with a bank account and add money to their prepaid card by email or text free of charge.

Learn more here.

Notable Benefits: 

  • Free cash loading at the register across 15,000 CVS stores and participating 7-Eleven locations
  • Quick online bill pay
  • Subaccounts for your family and Reserve to put money away for a large purchase or vacation
  • SomeCdnGuy

    Funny, I have one prepaid visa card that is the best Ive ever seen. I search for others but they are all about the same. ZoomPass Visa. The only reason I came across it was from a customer service call about a card I was trying to load, buddy said try this one, its our “partner” card.

    • SomeCdnGuy

      Another one I use, is PIVOT Visa, from PetroCanada, the same usual pricing structure as the rest. $10 card, no name on it, I think you can pay extra for a name on the card, looks more “legit”, $2 loads ($50, $100 and $250’s I think), $0.50 purchases, buy those crazy load cards at the store, not all stores sell them. ZoomPass Visa as mentioned before has my name on it. Its good that ZoomPass Visa, takes a bit for others to load “Bill Payment” so takes a day or more. Mobile phone app, still have no clue what that is, new age craziness!!!!

      • I believe that the card that you’ve pointed out are catered towards the Canadian population. The cards listed in the article focuses on U.S. consumers.