This comparison includes featured prepaid cards.
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Cashplus prepaid MasterCard (Deluxe)
Card Fees
£4.95
then
£9.95/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
Free
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: free
Epay: £3
Free Direct Debits & online banking.
Representative Example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £100 you'll be charged £0.75 per day, capped at £10 per month plus an annual usage fee of £20 per year.
Osper Prepaid Card
Card Fees
£0
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
Free
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Order today in 2 minutes & get a 1 year free trial. The Osper Card & App gives young people financial freedom whilst allowing parents to monitor spending & pass on good habits.
Even Prepaid Card (Monthly Plan) (Non-Verified)
Card Fees
£5/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
Free
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: free
Load with GBP - Spend & withdraw in any foreign currency with no mark-ups, transaction, ATM, lost, reactivation & dormancy fees. See T&Cs.
Pockit Prepaid Card
Card Fees
99p
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
99p
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Bank Transfer: free
Paypoint: 99p
Quick and secure SMS payment available (£1.00). Delivery in just 3 - 5 days. Earn up to 10% cashback.
Must have a UK residential address where your name can be verified.
Cashplus Prepaid Gold (Freedom)
Card Fees
£4.95
then
£3.95/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
Free
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: free
Epay: £3
Fee Free for purchases and ATMs in the UK – with added extras like Direct Debit and Overdrafts giving control and flexibility.
Representative Example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £100 you'll be charged £0.75 per day, capped at £10 per month plus an annual usage fee of £20 per year.
WeSwap Prepaid MasterCard
Card Fees
£0
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
Free
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Bank Transfer: free
Free £10 when you load £100. New P2P approach offering mid-market exchange rates. Free ATM withdrawals over £200. (T&Cs may apply, see website)
goHenry Prepaid Account
Card Fees
£1.97/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
Free
Load Charges
Bank Transfer: free
Debit Card: 50p
Join today to get a 3 month free trial. goHenry, the Pre-paid Debit Card with parental controls combined with apps to help young people learn good money habits. Perfect for parents with children ages 8 - 18.
Tuxedo Pay As You Go Card
Card Fees
£9.95
UK Transactions
50p / 2.95%
UK ATM Withdrawals
1.5%
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: 99p
Paypoint: 3%
Guaranteed Acceptance Current Account - Alternative bank account with VISA Prepaid Card, free mobile app & Cash-back.
ClearCash iCount
Card Fees
£4.95
then
£9.95/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
50p
Load Charges
Post Office: free
Epay: £3
Option to add Creditbuilder (provided by Advanced Payment Solutions), your own account number and sort code, Direct Debit option, standing orders and much more.
TALK HOME Cash and Transfer Card
Card Fees
£5
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
£1
Load Charges
Paypoint: free
Tuxedo Pay Monthly Card
Card Fees
£9.95
then
£4.99/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
50p
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: 99p
Paypoint: 3%
Guaranteed Acceptance Current Account - Alternative bank account with VISA Prepaid Card, free mobile app & Cash-back.
Cashplus prepaid MasterCard (Flexiplus)
Card Fees
£0
UK Transactions
99p
UK ATM Withdrawals
£2
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: free
Epay: £3
Representative Example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £100 you'll be charged £0.75 per day, capped at £10 per month plus an annual usage fee of £20 per year.
CardOneBanking cardone
Card Fees
£12.50/month
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
£1.50
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: £1.50
ClearCash iCount PAYG
Card Fees
£4.95
UK Transactions
25p / 2.5%
UK ATM Withdrawals
75p
Load Charges
Post Office: 99p
Epay: £3
Newly enhanced card which comes embossed with the option of having additional cardholders! Also purchase protection and your own account number and sort code. Easy to apply!
Bread Prepaid Card
Card Fees
£7.50
UK Transactions
2%
UK ATM Withdrawals
£1.50
Load Charges
Debit Card: £1
Post Office: free
Paypoint: 3%
It's now much easier to get a Bread Card. Even if you cannot verify your details electronically as before.
Cashplus Business Account
Card Fees
£69 (annually)
UK Transactions
Free
UK ATM Withdrawals
£2
Load Charges
Debit Card: free
Post Office: free
Epay: £3
The secure and low cost way to centrally manage your business expenses. Just £49 per year and £4.95 per additional card.

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What are prepaid cards and how do they work?

We explain all you need to know about choosing and using prepaid cards.

What are prepaid cards?

Prepaid cards look just like regular credit and debit cards, with a card number, magnetic strip and chip. They can also be used to make purchases and withdraw cash just as you would with a regular credit or debit card too.

However, there is one major difference; as they aren't linked to a bank account or credit facility there is absolutely no risk that you can go overdrawn or run up any debt as you can only spend the balance you have available.

How do they work?

You top up your prepaid card with cash just as you would a pay-as-you-go mobile phone or prepaid gift card. Then, when you come to make a purchase or withdraw cash from an ATM the value of your transaction is automatically deducted from your card balance.  Once you've used up all the credit loaded on your card you won't be able to make any further purchases until you next top up.

What are the advantages?

Prepaid cards are becoming an increasingly popular means of spending and for good reason. Some of the benefits they provide are:

  • Convenience -
    Prepaid cards both look and can be used like normal credit and debit cards which makes them a convenient means of spending both on and offline. What's more, many are backed by major payment service providers such as Visa and MasterCard and so can be used anywhere these payment methods are accepted both in the UK and overseas.
  • No credit checks -
    There are no credit checks carried out when you apply for a prepaid card and this makes them particularly suitable for individuals who have a poor credit history or find it difficult to get a regular debit or credit card elsewhere.
  • No credit facility -
    Prepaid cards aren't linked to a bank account or credit facility so there is no risk that you will spend more money than you have available. This means that it's impossible to go overdrawn or run up large bills unlike more traditional spending cards. Once your card has run out of credit, you simply won't be able to make any more transactions until you top up.
  • Budgeting -
    Because you can only spend the money you have loaded onto your prepaid card they are particularly useful if you need to stick to a budget. Most providers offer online account management so you can keep an eye on your outstanding balance and purchase history too which makes keeping track of your finances simple.
  • Overseas spending -
    Many prepaid cards allow you to make purchases and withdrawals both in the UK and overseas so they can be a convenient and more secure alternative to carrying foreign currency when you travel abroad. There are a number of specially designed prepaid travel cards available and these tend to offer very competitive rates for spending and withdrawing cash overseas.
  • Sharing money -
    Most providers will be able to issue multiple cards for a single prepaid account and this makes for a convenient way to share money with friends and family without opening a joint bank account.  For example, prepaid cards can be used by couples and flatmates to jointly budget and pay bills, by parents to help teach their children the value of money and monitor their spending, or to securely send money to those travelling overseas.

What are the disadvantages?

The main disadvantage of using a prepaid card rather than a debit or credit card is that most providers levy a number of charges that can make these cards a more expensive option for spending.

Charges that you might face include a set up fee, monthly or annual services charges, top up fees, withdrawal fees, inactivity charges and a cancellation charge. For this reason, choosing a card that is going to provide you with value for money is a must.

Additionally, many prepaid card providers place restrictions on the way you can spend on your card.  In particular, many do not allow you to make pre-approved transactions such as those used by pay-at-the-pump petrol stations, car hire firms and during any other purchase for goods or services that requires an initial authorisation for funds to be made before the full value of the transaction is known.  As such it's important to familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of any card you're interested in before you apply so as to make sure that it can be used to make payment in the way you need it to.

Where can I use a prepaid card?

Most cards can be used to make purchases online, over the telephone, by mail order and in shops, basically anywhere you would usually spend with a credit or debit card. You can also use them to withdraw cash at ATMs.

How do I load cash on to a prepaid card?

This will differ depending on which provider supplies your card. However, most prepaid cards can be loaded with cash either directly from your back account using an online transfer or in person at a bank, Post Office or PayPoint retailer.

Are prepaid cards secure?

One of the distinct benefits of prepaid cards is that they are not linked to a bank account or credit facility. This means that should a fraudster get hold of your card details there is a finite amount of damage they can do as they can only withdraw the cash you have credited on to your card and nothing more. 

Additionally, most prepaid cards will be chip and pin enabled. This means that, just as with credit and debit cards, anyone using your card to make a purchase or withdraw cash will need to enter a secure code before the transaction is authorised, again making them a secure way to spend.

If you discover your card is missing you will simply need to contact your card provider and they will place a block on the card so that it can't be used by anyone else.  Some providers will also compensate you for any lost credit, although this isn't standard practice for all providers.

Can they improve your credit rating?

Most prepaid cards aren't in any way linked to your credit report so unfortunately it is not possible to improve your credit rating with careful spending and good financial practice, although this is of course a good idea anyway!

If you're looking to improve your credit rating there are a few prepaid cards that can be used to do this. You should compare the likely cost and availability with a credit building credit card to see which offers you the best credit building potential for the least cost.

Read our guide How to Choose the Best Prepaid Card to find out how to choose the best prepaid card for your circumstances.

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Related categories

Prepaid Card Issuers