Choose a pay as you go debit card that only lets you spend the credit you've loaded, and could help you manage your money better.
You'll only find results from genuine companies. Our data experts check each company before we add them to our comparisons.
Use our prepaid card table to find one that offers all the features you need that will cost the least in fees.
Check the eligibility
Make sure you fit the eligibility criteria for your chosen card, and have proof of ID.
Apply for the card you want
Click 'view deal' and fill out the application form on the provider's website with your personal details.
A pay as you go credit card, or pay as you go debit card, are just alternative names for a prepaid card. These are also often known as top-up credit cards.
Although these are often referred to as ‘credit cards’, they're not credit cards in the traditional sense. They’re actually prepaid cards. You can use these cards to spend money that you've loaded onto them. They don’t offer credit so you can’t build up debts or owe money to the card provider.
When you run out of money, you can simply top up your card by loading more money onto it – like you would with a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. You do this using a debit card or through a bank transfer.
You can use a PAYG (pay as you go) card to buy things online or in shops using either chip and pin or contactless. You do this in exactly the same way that you’d buy things with any other bank card.
The best PAYG credit card for you is the one offers the benefits you want at the lowest cost.
You can use our comparison to find the right card for you.
When it comes to fees you might have to pay, look out for:
Administration fees: This is the cost of having your card. It can either be a one-off charge or a monthly fee. Not all pay as you go cards charge an admin fee.
Loading fees: This is the cost of adding money to your card. It usually varies depending on how you load your funds to your account. For example, if may cost more to add money using a debit card than using a bank transfer.
Transaction fees: This is how much you pay per transaction. Most pay as you go cards offer free UK transactions, but not all do, so check before you apply.
Cash withdrawal fees: This is the cost of withdrawing cash from your card from an ATM.
Application fees. This is a small fee that some card providers charge to open the account.
Renewal fees. After three years, your card won’t be valid anymore, so you might have to pay a renewal fee to carry on using it.
Inactivity fees. Some card providers charge a monthly fee if you don’t use the card for any transactions at all.
Redemption fees. If you want to get money that you’ve uploaded back of the card, you may pay a redemption fee.
You can then work out how much each card will cost based on how you plan to use it.
Different prepaid cards come with different features. The advantages of using a prepaid card can include:
Easy access. Unlike credit cards, top up cards don't require a credit check or an eligibility assessment. Anyone who can verify their identity can get a pay as you go debit card.
Safer spending. With a top up card, you don't have you worry about over spending and getting into debt. It only allows you to spend the money you load on to it, so you it's a useful tool keep yourself in check. It's also safer than using cash, as a lost or stolen card can be cancelled and replaced. But if you lose cash, it's gone for good.
Online security. Online shopping has become the norm for so many people these days. But the internet is also rife with people trying to scam you by stealing your credit or debit card details. Top up cards aren't linked to your bank account, so they're useful for shopping online.
No credit checks. This makes the application process quick and simple.
Can be good for children. If you want to keep an eye on your child’s spending, a prepaid card can be a helpful way to make sure they can’t spend more than they have.
Access to Visa and Mastercard’s chargeback schemes. These mean you can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your card if you buy faulty goods.
Cashback and discounts when spending with well-known retailers. This will depend on which card you choose.
Can be useful abroad. Some cards can be used abroad which can be handy in terms of security so that you don’t overspend. A specialist card offering free or cheap overseas transactions is ideal in this scenario.
There are some features of prepaid bank cards that may not be ideal for you.
You don’t get Section 75 protection. Section 75 protection comes with credit cards. It means your credit provider has to take the same responsibility as the retailer if something goes wrong with your purchase.
You might not be able to use them everywhere. For example, you might not be able to use your prepaid card for putting down a security deposit or for pre-authorisation. This could be a problem if you need to use a card for car hire or a hotel room.
The fees can mount up. That’s why it’s important to find the card with the lowest fees.
Yes. A pay as you go credit card doesn't require a credit check. That means these are useful for people with bad credit who have trouble getting a credit card, or even a current account.
As they don’t require a credit check, they can also be good for people who’ve just moved to the UK.
No, because you are not borrowing the money, instead you have to add the money to the card before you spend it.
No, they do not let you borrow money in any way. You can only spend what you have already added to the card.
Our comparison tables include providers we have commercial arrangements with. The number of listings in our tables can vary depending on the terms of those arrangements, as well as other market developments. They are all from providers either directly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or providers that are partnered with a company regulated by the FCA. Here is more information about how our website works.
We have commercial agreements with some of the companies in this comparison and get paid commission if we help you take out one of their products or services. Find out more here.
You do not pay any extra and the deal you get is not affected.
Comparing prepaid cards could save you money. Our multiple award-winning comparison service makes sure you get the lowest fees and rates possible based on your individual circumstances. Our aim is to provide you with the most up-to-date information, as well as useful tools and calculators so to help you make life's most important decisions and take control of your money.
We have always aimed to provide the best possible services to bridge the gap between our users and our clients. Over the years, we have been thrilled to be recognised by various prestigious bodies and organisations for those efforts.
Last updated: 22 February, 2022