If you want to avoid the cost of check cashing services and be able to pay bills online as well as make other purchases by electronic payment, we recommend you apply for a free checking account first. This is your lowest cost banking option. If you are denied, choose from this list of low cost prepaid debit cards. Then you can take advantage of direct deposit, pay bills online, make electronic purchases at your local store or online.
The cards we selected are free to enroll, do not require a credit check, have no overdraft fees, provide free direct deposit, and when you use direct deposit the monthly fee drops to zero, and in one case is reduced to $0.99 per month when you deposit $500 or more in the month. Please see the card website for full details and terms for each card. Services and fees for each card may vary.
American Express Prepaid Card – No annual fees, monthly fees, customer service fees, or transaction fees. Purchase protection for accidentally damaged or stolen items within 90 days of purchase. Certain purchases are not covered (see card agreement). Withdraw cash from an ATM for $2 (ATM owner fees may apply). Roadside assistance included with your card. Load funds by direct deposit for free or through a retailer in the Vanilla Reload Network for $3.95 or with MoneyPak for $4.95 charged by store.The Card is intended for use by those willing and able to receive all notices and communications exclusively via electronic means (e.g. via e-mail, mobile message or our Website). With an online account, you can check your balance, view transaction history, add funds to the Card, set up automatic reloads and sign up for alerts. If the Card is lost or stolen you won’t be responsible for fraudulent charges and American Express will replace the funds. Funds are not FDIC insured.
UPside Visa Prepaid Card – Monthly fee $4.95 when you deposit less than $500, or $0.99 when you deposit $500 or more in a month. This card provides free cash back at point of sale, $1.95 when you withdraw cash from an ATM (ATM owner fees may apply), and rewards program. Load funds by direct deposit for free or with MoneyPak for $4.95 charged by store. From the UPside online account, you can pay certain bills directly for free, write checks for $2, add minutes to a prepaid cell phone, check your cash back points balance and more. FDIC insured.
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard – Monthly fee $4.95. Link card to your PayPal account for account balance, transaction history, and online bill pay (fees apply for some services), ideal for those who use PayPal. Withdraw cash from an ATM for $1.95 (ATM owner fees may apply). Load funds by direct deposit for fee or at any NetSpend Reload Network locations. FDIC insured.
Capital One Prepaid MasterCard – Monthly fee $4.95 when you deposit less than $500, or free when you deposit $500 or more in a month. Withdraw cash from an ATM for $1.95 (ATM owner fees may apply). Load funds by direct deposit for fee or at Western Union store for $4.50. Call the Customer Service number shown on your Card to obtain the current balance on your Card and to access certain transaction history information. Our voice response unit is available 24 hours a day free of charge. You may also view your Card transaction information online free of charge. Zero liability if card is lost or stolen (see terms). FDIC insured.
Western Union Prepaid MasterCard – Choose from MoneyWise or Gold Card options. No monthly fees or transaction fees. Withdraw cash from an ATM for $1.95 (ATM owner fees may apply). Load funds by direct deposit for free or from any Western Union location for $4.95. Interactive Voice Response calls and balance Inquiries are free, live customer service free, online electronic statements free, manage your account online or over the phone.