The Best Prepaid Cards

Updated: 4th November, 2019.

A prepaid card can be a great option if you’re building or rebuilding credit, have kids and want to give them a payment card, or are travelling abroad. We’ve looked through the top options on the market to find the best prepaid cards.

Credit card offers from our affiliate partners appear first and are ordered from highest rating to lowest, followed by other top-rated offers. You can read more about our ratings and page sort here. Offers from affiliate partners are marked with *

There are a handful of factors to consider when choosing among prepaid cards, and we’ve used those factors to determine our ratings. Here are MyWalletHero’s picks for the best credit cards.

Great for: Spending abroad with no extra fees
5 stars question mark

This card securely places itself among the top prepaid cards for currency exchange. Not only can you use the card to spend in 150 currencies, you can also transfer money in 29 currencies – and all at the interbank exchange rate (a flat mark-up at weekends and for certain currencies may apply). Add to that a supportive mobile app, easy application process and fee-free ATM withdrawals up to £200, and you have a competitive multi-currency prepaid card package.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Spend in 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate (a mark-up may apply at weekends and for certain currencies)
  • Money transfers in 29 currencies at the interbank exchange rate (a mark-up may apply at weekends and for certain currencies)
  • Standard option carries no monthly fee

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

what we like

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Spend in 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate (a mark-up may apply at weekends and for certain currencies)
  • Money transfers in 29 currencies at the interbank exchange rate (a mark-up may apply at weekends and for certain currencies)
  • Standard option carries no monthly fee
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    N/A
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 2/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • N/AAPR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Spend in 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate (a mark-up may apply at weekends and for certain currencies)
  • Money transfers in 29 currencies at the interbank exchange rate (a mark-up may apply at weekends and for certain currencies)
  • Standard option carries no monthly fee

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

Great for: Teaching children good money habits
4.5 stars question mark

This card is designed to support parents and children alike. It’s main benefits are built-in features which will help parents keep control of the account, such as real-time spend notifications, the ability to freeze and unfreeze the account and to decide whether the card can be used in store, online or at an ATM. Meanwhile, children can choose whether to save their money or unlock further funds by completing set tasks. The first month is free, but after that the card carries a £2.99 monthly fee.

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CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Parent account with up to four child accounts
  • Online and mobile app managament
  • One free monthly fund upload

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

what we like

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Parent account with up to four child accounts
  • Online and mobile app managament
  • One free monthly fund upload
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £35.88
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    N/A
  • INTRO OFFER:

KEY SCORES:

  • 3/5 Perks
  • 4.5/5Fees
  • N/AAPR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Parent account with up to four child accounts
  • Online and mobile app managament
  • One free monthly fund upload

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

Great for: Simple, low-cost prepaid card
4 stars question mark

This card is transparent in its pricing, with its regular monthly cost of 99p. For this fee, you have the ability to pay in your wages and benefits, make card purchases in store and online wherever Mastercard is accepted, and access the Pockit app. Keeping it simple, there is a cost of 99p for other services too, such as paying with cash or making UK ATM withdrawals. Extras, such as up to three additional cardholders and cashback on qualifying purchases, help to sweeten the deal.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Up to three additional cards
  • Up to 10% cashback with Pockit partners
  • Multiple fee-free options to top up the card, including bank transfer and salary/wages transfer

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

what we like

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Up to three additional cards
  • Up to 10% cashback with Pockit partners
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £11.88
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    N/A
  • INTRO OFFER:

KEY SCORES:

  • 3/5 Perks
  • 4/5Fees
  • N/AAPR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Up to three additional cards
  • Up to 10% cashback with Pockit partners
  • Multiple fee-free options to top up the card, including bank transfer and salary/wages transfer

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

Great for: Building or rebuilding credit
3 stars question mark
Apply Now!

On icount's Secure Website

* Affiliate partner

This card sells itself on its availability to all. It offers guaranteed approval for verified applicants and a credit rebuilder programme (only under the monthly fee option) which could improve your credit score and open up other financial opportunities. There are two payment tiers: a monthly fee of £9.95 or a pay as you go option of 2.5% per transaction. With easy account management and a mobile app, it all adds up to a fully supportive package.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Creditbuilder option could help you improve your credit score
  • Multiple fee-free options to top up the card

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

* This is an offer from one of our affiliate partners. Click here to learn more about why and how we work with partners.

**Refers to the £9.95 monthly payment option.

what we like

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Creditbuilder option could help you improve your credit score
  • Multiple fee-free options to top up the card, including bank transfer, salary/wages transfer, UK Post Office (up to £1,000/mo)
  • Purchase protection for purchases made with the card
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £119.40**
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    N/A
  • INTRO OFFER:

KEY SCORES:

  • 5/5 Perks
  • 2.5/5Fees
  • N/AAPR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Creditbuilder option could help you improve your credit score
  • Multiple fee-free options to top up the card

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

* This is an offer from one of our affiliate partners. Click here to learn more about why and how we work with partners.

**Refers to the £9.95 monthly payment option.

Great for: Building or rebuilding credit
2.5 stars question mark

The Deluxe version of this card offers a wide range of prepaid card features for a monthly account fee of £9.95. With this you can benefit from the credit rebuilder features, potentially qualify for an iDraft overdraft facility, and use the basic account features, such as those for making payments, transfers and direct debits. In addition to this, users can load their account with cash at any Post Office branch.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Creditbuilder option could help you improve your credit score (Deluxe version)
  • iDraft overdraft facility (subject to eligibility)

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

*Refers to the £9.95 monthly payment option.

what we like

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Creditbuilder option could help you improve your credit score (Deluxe version)
  • Fee-free option to top up the card at a UK Post Office (Deluxe version: up to £1,000/month, 0.25% fee applied to £1,000 to £5,000)
  • Purchase protection for purchases made with the card
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £119.40*
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    N/A
  • INTRO OFFER:

KEY SCORES:

  • 5/5 Perks
  • 2/5Fees
  • N/AAPR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Available regardless of your credit rating
  • Creditbuilder option could help you improve your credit score (Deluxe version)
  • iDraft overdraft facility (subject to eligibility)

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Not applicable. This is not a credit product.

*Refers to the £9.95 monthly payment option.


About prepaid cards

A prepaid card is a card that you load with cash. Once you’ve done that, you can then make purchases anywhere where debit or credit cards are accepted.

Prepaid cards typically do not offer any credit facility. That means that you cannot spend more than you have loaded onto the card. If you are looking to budget, prepaid cards can therefore be a useful financial tool.

As prepaid card providers do not require applicants to undergo a credit check, prepaid cards are also a good option if you currently have a poor credit score.

How we picked the winners

There are several factors that you need to take into account when choosing a prepaid card. Here are the key elements that we considered when making our shortlist.

  • Fees – Prepaid cards carry a range of fees, so we looked at card issuance fees, monthly/annual fees, fees to load funds, and fees for withdrawals and transactions
  • Loading the card – A prepaid card is much less useful if it’s complicated or difficult to top up the card. So we preferred cards that make it easy for you to add money.
  • Features and benefits – Many prepaid cards have benefits that make them particularly useful for certain people. For instance, some have credit rebuilder programmes that can help people build or rebuild their credit rating. Others offer parents the ability to provide payment cards to their children without the worries associated with a credit card.

How does it work?

Using a prepaid card is relatively simple.

First, you need to load it with funds. It depends on the card, but with most you can put money on via an online payment, with a bank transfer or by paying cash at a bank, Post Office or PayPoint store.

Once you have money on your card, you can start using the card as you would a debit card or credit card. Prepaid cards are usually either Visa or Mastercard, so are widely accepted.

The key difference with a prepaid card compared with a debit or a credit card is that you cannot spend more than the balance on the card, as there is no overdraft or credit facility. That means that with a prepaid card you don’t have to worry about building up a large debt and being charged interest.

What are the different types of prepaid card?

There are different varieties of prepaid card. It is worth considering what you plan to use the card for and therefore which type would best suit your needs.

  • Pounds sterling prepaid card – These are standard prepaid cards. They are cards that you can load with pounds sterling and then use for transactions and withdrawals in the UK. Some pounds sterling prepaid cards have credit rebuilder programmes as a feature, but not all do. So if that’s a feature that’s important to you, make sure that the prepaid card you’re considering explicitly states that it includes a credit rebuilder programme.
  • Cards for teenagers – Most prepaid cards require you to be above 18 year of age to qualify, but some are available to those under 18. It can often be useful for kids to have access to a payment card that’s accepted online and at shops and restaurants, but credit cards and bog-standard prepaid cards don’t provide the oversight and protections that many parents would like to have. Prepaid cards designed for under-18s can be a good fit here.
  • Currency cards – These cards have cheaper fees than other prepaid cards for using the card abroad. They typically come in the form of euro cards or dollar cards.
  • Cards for business – These are cards that are held in your business’s name and are used for company spending.

Why would you want a prepaid card?

There are several advantages of a prepaid card, especially if you are someone who fails to budget or if you have had financial difficulties and have a poor credit score.

One of the biggest advantages of prepaid cards is that providers do not require a credit check. Therefore, you would be able to take one out even if you have had a county court judgement (CCJ) in the past and be able to use it as you would a debit or credit card. Some cards also offer a credit rebuilder programme, which allows you to improve your credit score and therefore maybe access a wider range of financial products in the future.

Another positive aspect of a prepaid card is that it is a useful tool for budgeting. No borrowing facility is available, which means that you cannot be tempted to overspend, and therefore you can avoid high overdraft charges or interest rates on credit cards.

Certain prepaid cards are aimed at allowing parents to give their children a payment card, while putting certain controls in place. For instance, these cards can allow parents to track their kids’ spending, determine where the card can (and can’t!) be used, add spending limits and even block the card entirely. And of course, providing a child with a prepaid card ensures that she or he doesn’t overspend and incur debt.

Finally, prepaid cards are widely accepted. Being under the Visa or Mastercard banner means that they can be used for contactless or chip and PIN transactions, online payments or phone or mail order transactions. Some cards will even allow you to set up direct debits or standing orders for your account.

What’s the catch?

The main thing to be aware of with a prepaid card is the fees. The fees come in many different forms, so it is worth looking at how you will use the card and therefore where the majority of your costs are likely to lie.

Card issuance fee – This is an administrative fee that some cards carry for taking them out.

Monthly/annual fee – This is an ongoing cost, which you will either pay every month or every year.

Transaction and ATM fees – These are fees associated with using the card. Some cards charge a fee for each transaction (either a set amount or a percentage of the purchase) or for any ATM withdrawals made.

Inactivity fees – Some cards charge you a fee if your account becomes dormant for a period of time, for example if you have not used it for three months.

Additional card fees – It depends on which card you select, as some include complimentary additional cards whereas others will charge you a fee for anyone you add to the account.

Cancellation/redemption fees – You may be charged a fee if you want to receive the money remaining on the card when you close your account.

There are other drawbacks to a card like this. For example, you will not be able to use a prepaid for certain transactions, such as pre-paying for petrol at the pump or a hotel bill. This is because, for these transactions, you may not know the full amount when you hand your card over, so the bill may end up being more than the funds available on your card.

There are also limits in place specifying how much money you can load or spend on a card, although this will be down to the individual product.

Finally, there is less protection with a prepaid card than with a credit card. Prepaid cards are not covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, so the legislation will not apply if you have an issue with a purchase on a prepaid card and are struggling to get a refund.

Things to look at when choosing a prepaid card

Prepaid cards come with a range of different combinations of fees and features, so it is best to sit down and think about what you plan to use the card for and therefore which card would cost you the least. Here are some of the key features you should look at when comparing prepaid cards.

Fees – We’ve already talked a lot about the fees here, but it bears repeating. The more fees you pay, the less money you keep in your pocket. Certain features or benefits may only be available on cards that carry additional fees, so in those cases it can make sense to pay additional fees. But the best approach is to determine exactly which features are important to you and find the card that offers those features at the lowest cost possible. That way you’re not paying for features that aren’t important or useful to you.

Loading options – A prepaid card can be more or less useful depending on how easy it is to load new money onto it. Different cards have different options for topping up, so it’s good to look at a few cards to determine which method will be best for you. And the ‘best’ method is typically the easiest and lowest cost (ideally free!) method.

Overseas usage fees – This especially applies if you are thinking of a currency card. Look at whether the card carries a foreign transaction fee or whether a fee is attached to making ATM withdrawals while abroad.

Who can apply?

Most prepaid cards require you to be aged 18 or over in order to apply, although some are targeted at teenagers and therefore have a lower age limit.

You will need to be a UK resident and able to prove your identity. As mentioned previously, prepaid card providers do not carry out credit checks, but they do require you not to have been previously convicted of fraud.

Is a prepaid right for you?

A prepaid card can be useful in the right circumstances. If you are looking to budget a bit better, a prepaid card can allow you to do that as it does not allow you to overspend. You can load the card with the balance that you need to see you through the month and stick to it.

Prepaid cards are also useful if you have a poor credit history and are struggling to be approved for a credit card, as they do not conduct a credit check. However, do bear in mind that unless the card comes with a credit rebuilder programme, your credit score will not improve by using a prepaid card. If that is something you are looking at finding a card for, then it is worth considering a credit rebuilder credit card instead.

A prepaid card is also useful if you have teenagers. There are prepaid cards available to those under 18, or some cards allow you to add an under-18 as an additional cardmember on the account. The teenager could then use the card for their own purposes, but you would still be able to view their account activity online.

If you are planning to travel, a prepaid card may also be a good fit for you. It avoids you having to carry cash in the local currency, and prepaid currency cards often offer competitive exchange rates.

The key thing to consider before taking out a prepaid card is what it will cost you. Consider how you are going to use it and whether what you plan to use it for can be done instead with a debit or credit card in order to avoid prepaid card fees.

More ways to compare credit cards

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