Reloadable pay cards are all the same, right? Your direct deposit charges the card with money, you use that card like cash, and then repeat, right? Well, not so fast…
In fact, different pay cards offer different benefits (and different fees) beyond just serving as a debit card. Plus, using a pay card/debit card can help you curb spending and avoid credit card interest and check cashing fees. Depending on the issuer and the terms of the card, the pay card you choose can even help you earn money. And, if you want your pay card to work as hard as you do, we’ve compiled some information on some of the different card offerings, so you can get the best deal from your card.
BlueBird by American Express
Want a card with no fees and no fuss? The American Express BlueBird card is for you. The BlueBird card comes with no annual or monthly fees, no transaction or purchase fees, no bill pay fees and, if you order it online, there’s not even an initial card fee. And, if you need cash, use one of the 25,000 MoneyPass ATM locations nationwide and there’s no ATM fee. Plus, the BlueBird also includes American Express’ Insight app to help you keep track of, and limit, your spending while giving you the access to monitor and manage your account wherever you go.
The Mango Visa card offers a 6% annual percentage yield (APY) on deposits up to $5,000, meaning your debit card can also work like a savings account. However, while it’s free to sign up, there is a downside to that interest rate. The Mango card also charges a $3 monthly fee and $2 every time you use it at an ATM. Plus, it requires direct deposits of at least $800 every month and you must keep a minimum of a dollar in the account at all times. Put it all together and the Mango Visa card offers a nice combination of savings account and debit card features but, to balance out the fees, you may need to keep the balance up and limit your ATM withdrawals.
AccountNow Prepaid Visa
With no fees for direct deposit and no monthly fees, the AccountNow Prepaid Visa offers all the convenience of a checking account, without the hassle of writing checks. And, if you use your pay card to pay your bills, the AccountNow card makes it easier than ever with its own Bill Pay system to electronically pay recurring bills automatically. Plus, there’s no sign up fee, no credit check and reloading the AccountNow card is easy via Paypal or at Western Union, MoneyGram, and Visa ReadyLink locations across the country.
Pink Netspend Visa Prepaid Card
Want to get paid faster? Then use a Pink Netspend Visa Prepaid Card and you can receive your paycheck and/or benefits payment up to two days sooner than waiting for a check. Plus, you can use the Pink netspend card everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, including ATMs, grocery stores, online, and bill-paying. In addition to getting paid sooner, the Pink Netspend card also boasts no late fees, no interest charges, no minimum balance and, with the Netspend Mobile app, you can manage your account, and get text messages or email alerts, anywhere you go.
Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard
The biggest perk of the Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard is its PayBack Rewards Program, which lets you earn cash back on many of your everyday purchases. Use it wherever Mastercard debit cards are accepted, such as the grocery store, gas station or coffee shop, and you get the convenience of using a debit card and the cash back benefits of a credit card. Plus with Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than with a paper check and, with the Brink’s Money Prepaid mobile app, you can manage your account anywhere, anytime.
American Express Serve
Though it charges a monthly fee of $5.95, the American Express Serve card also offers 1% unlimited cash back for every dollar you spend, online or in the real world. Plus, the Serve card offers free bill paying, no ATM fees, and your cashback rewards are available as soon as you earn them. While the $5.95 monthly fee can be a drawback to some, using your pay card for just about every purchase you make combined with cash back feature means you can still make money every time you spend.
NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card
If you want flexibility, the NetSpend Visa Prepaid offers three different usage plan options. However, that flexibility comes with a price, too. While NetSpend’s Pay-As-You-Go plan offers no monthly fees, you do pay a purchase fee every time you use it and you pay $2.50 every time you make an ATM withdrawal. If you just want a prepaid card for convenience, but don’t plan to use it much, the NetSpend NetSpend FeesAdvantage and Premier FeesAdvantage plans don’t charge transaction fees. However, those plans do charge monthly fees of $9.95 and $5.00, respectively, which some might consider a high price for convenience and flexibility.
If you’re a frequent Walmart shopper, the Walmart MoneyCard may be for you… if you don’t mind the fees. Available as both a MasterCard or Visa, which you can use wherever those card are accepted, the Walmart MoneyCard has three different levels, each with different features, purchase prices, and monthly fees. The most affordable MoneyCard, the Basic card, can only be used to make purchases. The Plus card costs more, but it can also be used for paying bills online or to transfer money online. The most expensive level is the Preferred card, which offers free reloads (at Walmart stores only) as well as an option to “store” in Walmart’s “Online Vault.” The company pays no interest on any money you “save” in their “vault,” however. Finally, depending on how and where you reload it, you may be charged another fee every time you reload it. One upside of the Walmart MoneyCard is that you can earn cash back on your purchases at Walmart.com, Walmart stores and and Walmart gas station locations, but you are limited to $75 cash back per year and, yes, fees may apply.