Best Prepaid Cards

Read on to learn all about prepaid cards.

Updated: April 5, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

 

Prepaid cards are a fantastic budgeting tool that can help you to stay on top of your finances.

You can use a prepaid card to stick to a tight budget, which is ideal if you're saving up or looking to improve your spending habits. Or, you can use it to avoid debt and not worry about harming your credit report.

Even if you're not looking for a budgeting tool but simply an alternative to a debit or credit card, a prepaid card could be exactly what you're looking for.

In this article, I'll look in a little more detail at prepaid cards and their pros and cons, and introduce you to the best prepaid cards on the market.

ServiceScoreRegister
1. Suits Me Essential Prepaid Debit Card★★★★★Click Here
2. Revolut Standard Account★★★★★Click Here
3. Tesco Clubcard Pay+★★★★Click Here
4. HyperJar Card★★★★Click Here
5. The Wise Card★★★★Click Here
6. FairFX Prepaid Currency Card★★★★★Click Here
7. NatWest Rooster Money Prepaid Card★★★★★Click Here

What is a prepaid card?

A prepaid card works the same way as a debit or credit card in terms of spending, you can use a prepaid card to shop online, shop in person, and use it as your regular card.

The key difference is they aren't linked to a bank account. You have to preload money onto the card to use it, and you can only spend the amount on the card.

You may see prepaid cards under a different name, like prepaid debit cards, but they're the same thing. However, a prepaid credit card isn't the same as a prepaid card.

The most desirable factors of a prepaid card are that it's not tied to a current account or a bank account and allows the user spending freedom without worrying about credit checks, credit rating or spending money they don't have.

Prepaid card pros and cons

Before I introduce you to the best prepaid cards on the market, here are a few of the pros and cons of prepaid cards.

Pros

✔️ No credit checks: unlike a credit card, you don't need a credit check, so you don't need to worry about having an adverse credit history

✔️ Safer than carrying cash: having your money on a card can be safer than carrying cash

✔️ There is no risk of getting into debt: you can only use the amount on the card, and as prepaid cards aren't attached to a bank account, there is no overdraft option or chance of spending money you don't have

✔️ No bank account, no problem: unlike credit and debit cards, you don't need a bank account to have a prepaid card

✔️ Quick and easy application: you can make most applications online or through an app, so it's a quick process and doesn't require many documents to apply

✔️ App-based management: you can manage your prepaid card via an app on your smartphone, so you'll have access to your account on the go

✔️ Other benefits: some prepaid card providers offer additional benefits on top of the card, such as cashback rewards and budgeting tools to help you save money

✔️ Ideal for travelling: some prepaid cards charge you for foreign transactions, but not all of them

Cons

❌️ No protection: most prepaid cards are not protected under the Consumer Credit Act so, if something happens to your funds, you may be unable to recover them

❌️ No pre-authorised transactions: some prepaid cards don't allow pre-authorised transactions; for example, if you pre-book a hotel for the money to come out later, the transaction may not work

❌️ Fees usually apply: although some free prepaid cards are on the market, not all are free

❌️ Usage limits: some prepaid cards only allow you to make so many monthly withdrawals, and some don't allow you to withdraw money

❌️ Top-ups aren't always accessible: some prepaid cards only allow you to top up and access the account via an app, which isn't ideal for non-smartphone users

The best prepaid cards

Now, I'll walk you through my pick of the top prepaid cards.

1. Suits Me Essential Prepaid Debit Card

Suits Me Essential Prepaid Debit Card

Suits Me Essential Prepaid Debit Card
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • No credit checks.
  • Cashback rewards.
  • Access to lots of great features.

Suits Me® is a happy midway point between a basic prepaid card and a high street bank account.

  • Minimum top-up: £20
  • Monthly fees: none
  • ATM withdrawals: maximum daily £200 cash withdrawal with £1 charge

You can open a Suits Me account in under three minutes and receive a contactless prepaid Mastercard card in five business days. This prepaid card lets you make direct debits, standing orders, and transfers. You'll have an online money account and access to the mobile app to manage your finances.

A benefit of the Suits Me prepaid card is that you'll gain access to bonus Suits Me features such as cashback rewards. Unlike a traditional debit card, you can get a prepaid card with no credit check or proof of address, and you'll need one form of ID, a selfie, and less than three minutes of spare time.

You can add money to your prepaid via bank transfer or at over 28,000 UK PayPoint locations. Additionally, you can get your wages paid in automatically and receive UK transfers. You can use this card to pay in-store, online or over the phone. Add your card to Google or Samsung Pay for contactless mobile payments, and you can make ATM withdrawals.

2. Revolut Standard Account

Revolut Standard Account

Revolut Standard Account
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • Open a free account in minutes.
  • Save as you spend with Rewards.
  • Send and receive money in 25+ currencies with no hidden fees.

Join the millions of people on Revolut and transform the way you send, spend, save and invest everyday.

  • Minimum top-up: no
  • Monthly fees: none
  • ATM withdrawals: up to five free withdrawals monthly or a maximum withdrawal of £200

With Revolut Standard Account, you get a fee-free prepaid card for use within the UK. You can top up your prepaid card via bank transfer for free. You can use the card to spend and cash withdrawals. You get up to five free cash withdrawals per calendar month or a maximum of £200.

You can only apply for and manage this card via Revolut's app. However, there is a wide range of add-on features, such as free instant transfers between Revolut accounts, discounts in shopping at select brands, and budgeting tools to help you take control of your finances.

On their app, once you've got your account, you can access Revolut Experiences where you can book attractions, tours, and activities. You can earn up to 10% cashback for booking experiences through the Revolut app.

There may be a charge for card delivery.

3. Tesco Clubcard Pay+

Tesco Clubcard Pay+

Tesco Clubcard Pay+
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • Collect 1 Clubcard point for every £1 spent in Tesco.
  • Round up your purchases to the nearest pound and add the difference into a savings pot.
  • Free ATM withdrawals.

Get the power of Clubcard Pay+. Pay, save, and pick up extra points, wherever you shop.

  • Minimum top-up: no
  • Monthly fees: none
  • ATM withdrawals: free

The Tesco Clubcard Pay+ prepaid card has no monthly or annual fees, loading fees, cash withdrawals, transaction fees, or inactivity fees. The only requirement to apply for this prepaid card is a Tesco Clubcard; getting a Clubcard is usually quick, easy, and you can sign up online for free.

The Clubcard Pay+ allows you to earn extra points when you use it in Tesco stores; you'll earn one point for every £1 you spend in-store and on Tesco Fuel. Additionally, you'll get a welcome bonus of double points on all spending in Tesco in the first three months of opening the account.

Even when you use your prepaid card in other stores, you can earn one point for every £8 spent outside of Tesco. This card also helps you with saving. When you pay with this prepaid card, you can round up purchases to the nearest pound and add the difference into a savings pot.

You can only manage this prepaid card via the Tesco bank app. The money on this card is protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

4. HyperJar Card

HyperJar Card

HyperJar Card
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • Shared Jars for family spending.
  • Send and request money easily with messaging in the app.
  • Zero fees for spending abroad.

Designed to empower everyone to track and manage their budget without overspending.

  • Minimum top-up: no
  • Monthly fees: none
  • ATM withdrawals: no cash withdrawals are allowed

There are no fees involved with the HyperJar prepaid card, including using it abroad, making it the ideal card for travelling. You can't make cash withdrawals from this prepaid card, but you can control it from an app that helps you budget and manage your finances. On the app, you can set up saving and spending jars.

This card is family-friendly as ideal if you're trying to teach younger family members to save, budget and spend pocket money wisely, and you can use it to budget family spending. The HyperJar prepaid card is a safe way to pay for everyone.

Cards are available for kids, teens, couples, and families. If you want to spend time with your loved ones, you can set goals and tasks to earn money. You can request and send money to individual cards. These cards are a great way to improve spending budgeting.

This card is entirely app operated, but once you've got a card and account, you can add it to your Apple or Google Pay. This prepaid card isn't FSCS protected. However, customer funds are ring-fenced.

5. The Wise Card

The Wise Card

The Wise Card
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • Spend abroad with the real exchange rate.
  • No markups, no sneaky transaction fees.
  • Take out up to £200 in cash a month for free.

The most international debit card in the world.

  • Minimum top-up: no
  • Monthly fees: none
  • ATM withdrawals: two free monthly withdrawals up to £200 each time

The Wise card multi-currency prepaid debit card that you seamlessly use to spend abroad with live exchange rates and no transaction fees. You can make two free withdrawals a month up to the amount of £200 each time; every time after, there is a 1.75% +50p charge.

You can open a free account in minutes, but there is a one-time fee of £7 for card delivery, but you can start spending with a digital card that you can add your Google or Apple Pay or use on your laptop.

This card is ideal for travellers, as you can make purchases from 175 different countries, transfer money to and from international bank accounts, and receive money from overseas in your currency using local bank account details with no fees.

There is no FSCS protection for this card.

6. FairFX Prepaid Currency Card

FairFX Prepaid Currency Card

FairFX Prepaid Currency Card
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • Lock in great rates for 15 major currencies.
  • Spend in over 190 countries around the world.
  • Earn up to 3.5% cashback at top UK retailers.

Simplify your personal spending at home or abroad with a prepaid multi-currency card from FairFX.

  • Minimum top-up: no
  • Monthly fees: none
  • ATM withdrawals: £1 charge per withdrawal (UK and international)

The FairFX Prepaid Currency Card allows you to lock in great rates for 15 major currencies, and you can use the card to spend in over 190 countries worldwide. On top of no fees, you can earn cashback up to 3.5% when you spend at selected top UK retailers. You can control this prepaid card on FairFX's mobile app and online platform.

This prepaid card is ideal for anyone who enjoys travelling, you can top up the card in the currency you need, and if you've got any leftover cash at the end of your trip, you can switch it to a different currency for your next trip.

All transactions for a select 15 currencies are free. There will be a 1.75% charge for any currency outside the list. You can use this card to make purchases anywhere that accepts Mastercard. If you wish to make ATM withdrawals, there is a standard £1 charge.

With this currency card, you can add Linked Cards, which is ideal if you're holidaying with friends or family and must send each other funds. The select 15 currencies include but are not limited to GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, JPY, AUD and more.

7. NatWest Rooster Money Prepaid Card

NatWest Rooster Money Prepaid Card

NatWest Rooster Money Prepaid Card
Credit Limit
None
Representative % APR (variable)
None
  • Manage all pocket money in one place.
  • A child-friendly interface that empowers and encourages kids to engage with their money.
  • Build good money habits.

A head start with money.

  • Minimum top-up: unknown
  • Monthly fees: £1.99, or you can pay an annual fee
  • ATM withdrawals: free

If you're a parent looking to teach your child about money, the NatWest Rooster Money kids' prepaid debit card comes with a pocket money app. Although this card is the only one on our list with a monthly fee, it's a small price for teaching children how to manage money better from a younger age.

You can participate in a one-month free trial to see if this prepaid card works for your family. Young children aged 6-17 can use the Rooster app and card.

The app and card are easy for parents to set up and fun for kids. You can create a star chart via the chore manager to help build good habits early and reward your child for making good choices.

This prepaid card has a virtual money tracker to oversee pocket money and spending. Parents can only top the card 3 times a day/ 10 a month for free, and spending on the card abroad is free up to £50 a month, then there's a 3% transaction fee.

If you're worried about your child losing the card, you can freeze the card at any time via the app.

How to Choose the Best Prepaid Cards

Before you start applying for one a prepaid card, you should consider the following factors:

  • Fees: prepaid cards charge fees, so read all the fine print so you know how much you'll pay
  • How to top up: you can top up some prepaid cards in-store or on an app
  • Minimum and maximum amount: some prepaid cards require a minimum deposit to open an account. Also, if you're looking for somewhere to store and spend a large sum of cash, you'll need to check your chosen prepaid card's maximum deposit and holding amount.
  • Can you make ATM withdrawals: not all cards will enable you to withdraw cash; you may be charged a fee if they do
  • Other benefits: if you're looking to make the most from a prepaid card, you may want to look at features including cashback rewards, shopping discounts or free subscriptions

How do prepaid cards work?

Prepaid cards are straightforward, you apply for one online, and it's delivered to your chosen address. Once you’ve got your card or an online version, you can top it up and use it like a debit or credit card. Only there's no credit option. You can only spend the amount that's on the card.

Prepaid cards are a great way to avoid debt, and you don't need a good or bad credit rating to get one. So, even if you've got a poor credit score, it won't matter. All you need to get a prepaid card is:

  • Identification: you may need proof of identification, such as a birth certificate, passport, driver's licence or provisional
  • Address: you don't need proof of address, just somewhere you can deliver your card
  • You need to be 18: most prepaid cards require a minimum age of 18 and above. However, providers allow you to have a card from age 13 with your parent's permission. You can get kid-friendly prepaid cards with parental control to help children learn about money in a controlled environment.

You can spend prepaid cards in any store that allows Mastercard payments. You can also use your prepaid card to make online purchases too.

How to top up a prepaid card

You can choose to top up a prepaid card in several different ways:

  • Online: most prepaid cards allow you to add money via an online platform or smartphone app; this is ideal, especially if you're on the go and need a quick top-up.
  • Bank transfers: some prepaid cards you can top via bank transfer, so if you use the card details and information, you or someone else can transfer money from a current account to your prepaid card account.
  • Paying in money: some prepaid cards allow you to add money via the PayPoint location. There are over 20,000 PayPoint locations around the UK. This top-up method is ideal if you're not an online user or simply looking to deposit cash directly into your prepaid card account.

You may not be able to top up all prepaid cards the same way, so always check with the card issuer before you try to top up to find out how to load your prepaid card.

With most prepaid cards, you have complete control over how much you put into the account and how often, so you can pay monthly, weekly or even daily.

There are pay monthly prepaid cards with a set amount you deposit into each month, but most prepaid cards allow you to deposit money whenever necessary. Some prepaid cards have a maximum amount you can hold in the account, so that's something to watch out for.

Potential fees

Although most cards on our best list have next to no or low fees, other prepaid cards on the market differ. To help you avoid hidden fees, we've compiled a list of all the potential expenses you could incur with a prepaid card.

  • Monthly fee: most prepaid cards don't have a monthly fee. However, some do have a small monthly fee that you have to pay.
  • ATM Withdrawal fee: most cards will charge you a fee for withdrawing cash. Most of the time, it's a set rate or a percentage of what you're taking out. Equally, some cards may charge different fees for UK and international withdrawals.
  • Setup fee: most cards don't require a setup fee, but some might
  • Inactivity fees: some prepaid cards will charge you if you're not using them
  • Foreign transaction fee: you may have foreign transaction fees when using your prepaid card abroad. However, most prepaid cards are designed for use for travelling.
  • Replacement card fee: if you misplace your initial prepaid card, you may have to pay extra for a replacement one

How can prepaid cards be used?

Now you know how a prepaid card works and how to top one up, it's time to learn how to start using the balance of your prepaid card.

As mentioned, you can use a prepaid card like a debit or credit card. However, there may be some limitations, so we've listed how you can spend your prepaid card balance.

  • Spending abroad: as long as the place you're shopping at allows Visa and Mastercard, you should be good to use your prepaid card
  • Pay your bills: some prepaid cards allow wages to be paid into them, and you can even pay bills via your prepaid card
  • Online shops: you don't even need to leave your home to use your prepaid card if you don't want to. You can easily use your card to make online purchases
  • Restaurants and entertainment: you can use your prepaid card to cover the cost of a meal with your friends or pay for a pint down the pub. Anywhere that runs the Mastercard network payment system should accept your prepaid card.
  • Save money: if you're looking for a place to store cash to save for a security deposit or put cash aside for a rainy day, you can deposit money onto a prepaid card. However, ensure no inactivity fees are involved in eating away at your savings.

So, when can you not use your card? There are only a couple of occasions when you can't use your prepaid card when paying back debt or making credit card payments and car payments. Besides those two cases, you can use your prepaid card balance whenever and wherever.

Final thoughts…

A prepaid card has many positives, from helping you to budget your finances better to avoiding getting into debt. It's also a great option if you don't have a good credit score, as most cards can be opened without a credit check.

There aren't many downsides to having a prepaid card, apart from the potential fees, and they're ideal for controlled spending, so you can stick to a budget and have to worry about getting into debt.

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