Posted December 5, 2013 by Chris Warren in Prepaid Cards

Top Five Prepaid Debit Cards

Looking for the best of the best prepaid debit cards? Look no further. evaluated 70 prepaid card programs before arriving at its five best.

“We did exhaustive research to compile this list and we boiled it down to the best cards for today’s consumers,” says Shane Tripcony, co-founder of “We used a standard scoring system to calculate average annual fees.”

The survey compared the costs of making: four ATM withdrawals per month, four ATM balance inquiries per month, five signature transactions per month, five PIN transactions per month, two cash reloads per month, one customer service call per year and two bank teller cash withdrawals per year.

Although the Bluebird Card from American Express is not technically a prepaid debit card, it is mentioned in this slideshow because it functions in much the same way and has low annual costs and fees, Tripcony says.


Here are the five best prepaid debit card deals for consumers, according to


Serve from American Express – Average Annual Fees: $0

Topping the list as the most affordable prepaid debit card for consumers is Serve from American Express.

This card brands itself as a digital prepaid account and it lives up to its name.  You can send money by email, text and Facebook. And you can set up sub-accounts to pay a teen’s allowance or your family’s babysitter.

There is no credit check, no minimum balance and no activation fee.  And with $0 average annual fee according to our survey, the cost of using Serve from American Express is tough to beat.

The cost of the card will be going up after December 3rd, when a $1 monthly fee begins. (This fee is a waived for customers who load at least $500 per month and it is not charged to customers who are residents of New York, Texas or Vermont).


U.S. Bank Convenient Cash Card – Average Annual Fees: $47

Coming in second is the U.S. Bank Convenient Cash Card.

This Visa-branded card boasts free ATM withdrawals, free ATM declines and free ATM balance inquiries at all U.S. Bank locations.  Direct deposit and bill pay are free and can be set up online with ease.  The monthly fee is just $3. And there is a one-time activation fee of $3 upon opening the account.

You are allowed two free calls per month to customer service and any funds you load on the card are FDIC-insured.  PIN and signature transactions made with the U.S. Bank Convenient Cash Card are all free and so are mobile text alerts.


Chase Liquid – Average Annual Fees: $59.40

This Visa-branded card from Chase can be reloaded at 5,500 Chase branches nationwide.  There is no fee to open the card, reload the value on the card, request an additional card or withdraw cash from a Chase ATM.

You can open the card with an initial load of just $25. Its monthly fee is $4.95.

Funds loaded on Chase Liquid are FDIC-insured and there may be zero liability for unauthorized use of the card.  Bill payment and direct deposit are both free.

Mobile apps and free text alerts make checking your balance easy. And you can sign up for cash back offers on Facebook.


PNC SmartAccess Prepaid – Average Annual Fees: $60

With the PNC SmartAccess Prepaid Visa card, bill pay, direct deposit and mobile text alerts are all free.  ATM balance inquiries and all ATM withdrawals are also free when you use PNC Bank ATMs.

There are no reload fees, except for those imposed by ReadyLink.  And you can make free cash deposits at more than 2,900 PNC Branch locations. The PNC SmartAccess Prepaid card charges a $5 monthly fee.

All funds loaded on the PNC SmartAccess Prepaid card are FDIC-insured.  There are no maintenance or inactivity fees associated with the account and you can request an additional card for free.


BB&T Money Account – Average Annual Fees:  $62.95

The BB&T Money Account Visa card has a monthly fee of $5 per month that can be reduced to $3 if you deposit at least $1,000 onto the card in a month. And you can share joint accounts with a spouse, teen, relative or friend. Additional cards are free.

There are unlimited fund transfers between BB&T accounts and all

ATM balance inquiries and cash withdrawals are free at more than 2,400 BB&T ATMs.

You can deposit cash and checks onto the card at more than 1,800 financial BB&T financial centers.  There is no separate bank account or minimum balance required to open the account.

The funds loaded on a BB&T Money Account card are FDIC-insured. Bill pay and mobile text alerts are both free.

Chris Warren