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Prepaid cards are an easy option for making purchases without opening a credit card or bank account, and each has a unique set of perks.
CNBC Select reviewed dozens of prepaid cards and found that the Walmart MoneyCard is the best choice for Walmart shoppers and families who want to take advantage of cash-back rewards on everyday goods and fuel.
There's also the option to earn 2% in annual interest on up to $1,000 in savings, making it an ideal card for those who do not have a savings account.
Card opening fee
$5.94; waived when you load $1,000 or more to your card in the previous monthly period
Cash reload fee
$0 at Walmart, up to $5.95 at other retailers
ATM withdrawal fee
$2.50 per withdrawal, plus ATM operator fee
Foreign transaction fee
Earn 3% cash back at Walmart.com and in the Walmart app, 2% cash back at Walmart fuel stations, and 1% cash back at Walmart stores, up to $75 each year.
Mobile check deposit
Load money onto your card for free by using mobile check deposits in the smartphone app or linking your paycheck direct deposits to your account. The same goes for transfers from an existing bank account.
As for cash, reload for free at Walmart stores using the MoneyCard app. Cash reload fees vary at other reload locations but can be up to $5.95. Checks cashed at Walmart stores are added to your account at no fee, however this service is not available in all stores.
Your account can have a maximum balance of up to $10,000.
Earn 3% cash back on eligible Walmart purchases at Walmart.com and in the Walmart app, 2% cash back at Walmart fuel stations, and 1% cash back at Walmart stores, up to $75 each year.
In addition, earn an annual interest of 2% on up to $1,000 in your savings account. Users also have a chance to win one of 1,000 different prizes each month by depositing money into their linked savings account.
This card also offers users the opportunity to get your paycheck up to two days before payday and your benefits up to four days before benefits arrive with the Walmart MoneyCard's ASAP Direct Deposit program (eligibility restrictions apply).
There is $1 fee to open a Walmart MoneyCard and a $5.94 monthly fee to keep the account open. The monthly fee is waived when you deposit $500 or more into your card each month, excluding person-to-person transfers.
If you use the card outside the U.S., you'll incur a 3% fee on the dollar amount of each transaction.
The card charges a $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee and a $0.50 ATM balance inquiry fee. There is also a $2.50 withdrawal fee when using participating banks. Users can withdraw cash from Walmart MoneyCenters and Customer Service desks at no extra charge.
This card does not charge any overdraft fees. If you order a pack of 12 checks, it will cost you a $5.95 fee.
The Walmart MoneyCard offers rewards that make it ideal for Walmart shoppers looking for the opportunity to earn cash back and rewards. The mobile app also allows users to monitor their spending and makes it easy for you to review your transactions and refill your card at no extra cost.
There are a few fees associated with the usage of this card, but by depositing sums larger than $1,000 each month and withdrawing cash at Walmart MoneyCenters and Customer Service desks you can avoid them.
Walmart shoppers should also consider the Bluebird® by American Express, which has no card opening fee when you open your card online, no monthly fees and no foreign transaction fees. You can reload the Bluebird card for free at any participating Walmart.
Users can get up to four Walmart MoneyCards for family members ages 13 and up, but if you want a prepaid card specifically designed for families, check out the FamZoo Prepaid Card. With the ability to control kids' spending, set up automatic recurring transfers, and lock/unlock cards, the FamZoo card is ideal for teaching kids about money.
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.