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CNBC Select reviewed dozens of prepaid cards and found the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is the best option for PayPal users since it easily integrates into your existing PayPal account.
You don't need a credit history to open a prepaid debit card, but you will miss out on the chance to build credit when you use the card.
Prepaid cards are a good option for parents who want to give their kids some spending power without the risk of them incurring overdraft fees, damaging their credit or spending more than a specific amount, though you will pay a monthly fee for the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard.
With the PayPal mobile app, you can check your account balance, load cash onto your prepaid debit card and review recent transactions.
Card opening fee
Up to $4.95 in stores, $0 online
Cash reload fee
Up to $4.95
ATM withdrawal fee
$2.50 per withdrawal, plus ATM operator fee
Foreign transaction fee
Mobile check deposit
You can load money onto your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard for free by using direct deposit (of your paycheck and/or government benefits), electronic bank transfer and/or transfers from your PayPal account (or through PayPal friends and family). If you reload cash on your card at the register of participating retailers, you'll get hit with a cash reload fee of up to $4.95.
The maximum balance you can load on the card is $15,000.
You may be eligible to receive special offers and Payback Rewards when you shop at qualifying stores with your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard. This program is automatic, but you can opt out at anytime.
With the Refer-A-Friend program, you and a friend could both receive a $20 credit after your friend orders a new card, verifies their identity and loads at least $40 to their account.
If you open a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard in-store, you'll pay a card opening fee of up to $4.95. You can sign up for the card for free online.
There is a $4.95 monthly fee to keep the card open and in use, and a cash reload fee of up to $4.95. Setting up direct deposit is free, but check deposit fees range from 0% to 5% of the total check amount (depending on how soon you want access to the funds).
If you want to withdraw cash from an ATM, you'll pay $2.50 per withdrawal, in addition to the ATM operator fee. Non-U.S. transactions incur a 4% fee.
The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, like many prepaid debt cards, comes with a lot of fees. But it can be worth it if you're trying to carefully monitor your spending, or your a parent who wants to keep tabs on their child's spending.
If you're looking for a card with lower fees, the Bluebird® by American Express has no card opening fee when you open an account online (otherwise it costs up to $5), no monthly fee and no foreign transaction fees. You can reload cash to the Bluebird card for free at any participating Walmart.
However, serious Walmart shoppers may prefer the Walmart MoneyCard, which offers users up to two days of early access to paychecks, a $1 card opening fee and rewards for Walmart purchases.
To determine the best prepaid cards on the market, CNBC Select analyzed and compared 11 cards that offer benefits to individuals and families who are looking for an alternative to credit cards and debit cards to manage their money.
When ranking the best prepaid cards, we focused on the following features:
- Card opening fee of $5 or less, but even better if you can get the card online for free
- Monthly fees under $10
- Variety of ways to add money
- Ease of use
- Perks, like rewards and free family accounts
- Mobile app
Keep in mind that while prepaid cards are an alternative to credit and debit, they won't help you build credit. In order to establish a credit history, you need to regularly use a credit card responsibly, paying your bills on time and in full every month. And if you want an easy way to deposit and withdraw money for daily transactions, consider opening a checking account with a linked debit card so you can avoid ATM charges.