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Discover the ease and convenience of prepaid cards.  If you have no credit history and are looking for a way to tap into the convenience of cashless shopping, a prepaid card might be the right choice for you. These cards don't require a credit check or a hefty deposit. Keep reading to learn whether prepaid cards are the solution you've been looking for.  When comparing prepaid cards it is important to pay close attention to the fees.

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More about Prepaid cards

  • What is it?
  • Who should get it?
  • Will it help me rebuild my credit?
  • What to consider?

Prepaid cards are cards without a line of credit. In other words, you make a deposit into an account and then use your card to shop anywhere - online or offline - where credit cards are accepted. However, you can only spend the amount of money you deposited.

Many people use prepaid cards as an alternative to expensive checking accounts. While you generally have to pay an activation fee and some may also have monthly maintenance fees, there is no risk of overdraft charges or bounced checks.

Prepaid cards are ideal for those with no credit history or very poor credit history. They also appeal to those who want the convenience of shopping online but want to avoid credit card debt. In particular, parents find that prepaid cards are an excellent, risk-free way to help their teenagers learn how to manage money. Instead of handing over a card with a high credit limit, they give their teen a prepaid card.

Generally, no. Since prepaid cards are not offering a line of credit, there are no monthly required minimum payments to be reported to the credit bureaus. For those trying to rebuild credit after a bankruptcy or financial crisis, a secured credit card might be a better option.

Be aware that some prepaid cards will offer to report your purchasing history to credit bureaus for a monthly fee. Before agreeing to this service, keep in mind that most creditors rely only on credit reports from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax and not other credit bureaus.

Before you apply for a prepaid card, consider the following five questions:

  1. Is there a card application fee or activation fee?
  2. Am I charged monthly maintenance fees if my balance falls below a certain level?
  3. Can I access my money from nearby ATMs?
  4. How do I deposit money into the account? Is direct deposit available?
  5. Is there a limit on the number of transactions I can make?

At CardRatings.com, we've compiled information on some of the top prepaid cards. Before making your selection, read our expert card reviews to help you decide if you are getting the right prepaid card for you.

About Our Ratings ×

Our editors rate credit cards objectively based on the features the credit card offers consumers, the fees and interest rates, and how a credit card compares with other cards in its category. Ratings vary by category, and the same card may receive a certain number of stars in one category and a higher or lower number in another.

The ratings are the expert opinion of our editors, and not influenced by any remuneration this site may receive from card issuers.

Advertisers in our database are highlighted, and advertisements include an option to apply using links on our site. CardRatings.com may be compensated by companies mentioned on the site when a user's application is accepted or approved by such companies.