Find a prepaid card that can help you stay in control of your money by only letting you spend what's loaded onto the card.
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Use our prepaid card table to find one that offers all the features you need that will cost the least in fees.
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A prepaid card works like a debit card for spending, but you have to add cash to it rather than the money simply coming out of your bank account. You pre-load it before using it and top it up when the funds run out.
A prepaid card – or prepaid debit card as it is sometimes called – can be used to make purchases online or in person.
You might hear it being called a "prepaid credit card" but this isn't strictly right because you don't get access to credit. Once the balance reaches £0, you can't use it again until it's reloaded. This makes them very helpful if you're trying to stick to a budget. Some people also call them "cash cards".
Prepaid cards are designed for everyday spending, so there's usually a limit on how much you can load. The limit varies depending on where you buy the prepaid card.
If you've had trouble getting a card because of your credit history, a credit-building prepaid cash card can help you improve this. Anyone can get a credit-building card, but you have to opt in to get the service.
A credit-building prepaid cash card lends you a year's worth of monthly payments, which range from £5 to £10. You are then supposed to repay the amount over a 12-month period. If you keep making the repayments, your credit score will improve.
A pay-as-you-go prepaid card is a good way to help teenagers and students to become more financially responsible. These cards might also be useful for parents who want to keep a better track of their teen's spending.
While these don't have monthly fees, they're not free prepaid cards because may be charged for making higher-value transactions or withdrawing money.
There are a few types of prepaid currency cards available. Which type is the best prepaid currency card for you will depend on how you plan to use it.
Single-currency prepaid cards: You load up these cards with Euros for use when you're abroad. These cards let you save money on the currency conversion fees that most banks charge on debit and credit cards.
Multi-currency prepaid cards: These prepaid cards let you make purchases abroad without paying fees. You can load any currency onto the card for use in any country. The transactions are automatically converted into the local currency.
The best prepaid cards are those that are the cheapest and easiest to use.
Here are some of the features and costs to look for when trying to find the best prepaid cards:
Application fees: Many prepaid cash cards charge a fee when you first open your account, but this is sometimes waived if you add more than a certain amount to your card.
Monthly fees: Most cards charge a monthly fee. This is likely to cost between £2 and £5.
Renewal fees: Just like your debit card, prepaid cash cards expire after three years and there may be a renewal fee to get a new prepaid cash card. Once again, whether this fee is charged often depends on how much money you load onto the card.
Transaction/withdrawal fees: There's often a fee for each transaction you make with a prepaid card. With ATM withdrawals, the fee is either a set amount, such as £2, or a percentage of the transaction.
By reviewing these costs, you should be able to find the best prepaid debit card for you.
This table uses representative examples of some of the fees, but check with your provider for full details.
|Card||Admin fee||ATM withdrawal fee||Load fee|
|Suits Me Premium Card||£9.97 (then £4.97 a month)||£1.25||Paypoint: £0.99 + 2.6%|
|thinkmoney Prepaid Card||£10 a month||£0||Check with provider|
|Cashplus prepaid MasterCard (Deluxe)||£5.95 (then £9.95 a month)||£0||Post office: 0.3%|
|Pockit Prepaid Card||£1.99 a month||£0.99||Paypoint: £1.49|
|CardOneMoney cardone||£12.50 a month||£1.50||Post office: £1|
|Rooster Money Prepaid Card For Parents And Kids||£1.99 a month||£0||Check with provider|
There are several ways to top up your MasterCard or Visa prepaid card. Popular options include:
Digital platforms: you can add money to your prepaid card by logging on to the provider’s website or app
PayPoints: if you prefer to add cash to your card you can use a PayPoint. These are located in banks and retailers
Bank transfer: with some cards, you can top up your card by transferring funds directly from a current account. You need the card's sort code and account number to do this
Using a bank transfer is the cheapest way to add money to your prepaid card. You have to pay a fee if you use a PayPoint or add money at a Post Office; these charges will quickly add up – as you can see from the graph.
The chart shows the cost of topping up a prepaid card by £10 each week for a year. The lower line shows how much less you'll have on your card after 12 months if you pay a £1.50 fee each time.
A £1.50 charge might not seem like much at first, but cumulatively over a year, it can have a big impact on the amount of money you have available to spend. Using a card with no loading fee or topping up your card by an alternate means should help you overcome this drain on your funds.
Prepaid cards can be more expensive than spending on a debit or credit card because they come with fees.
Many credit cards don't come with fees, though it can be easy to get into debt if you don't repay your balance in full every month.
Spending on your current account debit card is also unlikely to incur fees, though you may be charged for spending abroad.
Prepaid cards can be a great tool to keep your spending in check, build your credit score or learn how to budget. But certain features, especially access to credit, might make a credit card or current account a better option."”Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor
You can use a prepaid card to spend in foreign countries and currencies as an alternative to using cash, your credit card or your debit card.
You load money on as you would with a standard prepaid card - by using your debit card, a bank transfer or adding cash in person.
When spending abroad you can withdraw money from cash machines and spend on the card in shops and restaurants.
Prepaid cards do not let you borrow money, so you can only spend the money you have already added to your balance. Otherwise, you can use it in the same way as a credit or debit card.
Make sure to compare prepaid cards so that you get the best deal on exchange rates and transaction fees.
You can find out more about travel prepaid cards here.
No, they do not let you borrow money in any way. You can only spend what you have already added to the card.
Yes, some let you take out additional cards for other people, e.g. family or friends. They can only spend the money added to their own card.
18 for some cards, but younger people could get a card with parental permission. Some providers issue cards to anyone over 6 years old.
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