Top 5 Prepaid Debit Cards in 2023

Prepaid debit cards are a must-have for anyone looking to spend money internationally.

Whatever you need it for, we’ve drawn up a list of the best prepaid debit cards available in the USA in 2023:

  • Wise
  • Netspend
  • Revolut
  • Serve Card (by Amex)
  • Chime

Wise - best all-round prepaid card

  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies with the mid-market exchange rate and no hidden fees
  • Autoconvert feature means you can wait for the best exchange rate before converting your USD to other currencies
  • Send payments to 70+ countries and get paid easily from 30+ countries with a Wise account

Find out more about the Wise card.

Read our review of Wise.

Netspend - best for depositing cash and checks

  • 130,000+ physical reload locations, plus options to add funds electronically
  • Earn cash back and rewards on spending
  • Some cards offer a purchase cushion of up to $10 if you run low on funds in your account

Find out more about the Netspend card.

Revolut - best exchange rate

  • Hold 25+ currencies, and exchange with the mid-market rate up to your plan limits
  • No-fees applied to ATM withdrawals at 55,000+ in network ATMs
  • 10 no-fee international transfers per month

Find out more about the Revolut Card.

Read our review of Revolut.

Serve - best for instant pick-up

  • Get your card online or pick up at a participating retailer for no mailing delays
  • Top up at a physical location or using a digital method if you’d prefer
  • Different card plans which have their own features and fees, some including cash back options

Find out more about the Serve card.

Chime - best for low foreign transaction fees

  • No monthly fee, and no foreign transaction fee when you spend with your Chime card overseas
  • Fee free ATM withdrawals at 60,000+ locations
  • Checking, saving and credit building account options also available

Find out more about the Chime card.

What is a prepaid debit card?

A prepaid debit card can be used for spending and withdrawals, much like a regular debit card would be.

However, in most cases, a prepaid card is linked to an account you can’t overdraw - so there’s no risk of extra fees if you run short of funds.

International prepaid debit cards can be used to spend in foreign currencies - and often come with extra perks, lower international costs or better exchange rates.

Someone making a payment with a prepaid Visa card

How do I get a prepaid debit card?

The process to sign up for a prepaid travel card varies by provider, but usually you can choose:

  • To apply online and have your card delivered to your home address
  • To pick up a card in a physical location and complete verification there

In most cases you’ll have to show or upload proof of your identity for verification, and then load an initial amount onto the card. The good news is that it’s usually more straightforward to sign up for a prepaid card than a credit card as there are no credit checks to complete.

Fees and charges

The costs associated with an international prepaid debit card can vary widely based on the provider and card you pick. Have a look at your card’s terms and conditions, and cardholder agreement document to make sure you’re familiar with all the fees, which can include:

  • Monthly maintenance fees
  • Cash and check reload fees
  • Transaction fees
  • Foreign exchange fees
  • ATM withdrawal fees
  • ATM inquiry fees
  • Inactivity fees
  • Replacement card fees

Check out the Wise card, Chime card, or a standard Revolut account and card if you’re interested in prepaid international debit cards with no ongoing fees and options for currency exchange with no foreign transaction fee.

Are prepaid travel cards safe?

Prepaid travel cards are usually considered safe to use as long as you take normal security precautions - like keeping your account details and card PIN secret.

If your prepaid travel card is stolen you’ll usually be able to freeze or cancel it in an app - and it’s not linked to your main bank account, which can also offer peace of mind. Some providers like Revolut also offer "disposable" virtual cards which can add an extra layer of security when spending with new merchants.

Illustration of a safe with coins

How are deposits on prepaid debit cards protected?

In the US, most reputable prepaid debit card providers offer customers protection under the FDIC insurance scheme, either through their own banking licenses and FDIC membership, or through working with partner banks which are themselves FDIC insured.

If your funds are held by a provider which offers FDIC insurance your funds are usually protected up to $250,000. All of the providers we picked out above do offer customer protections either through safeguarding funds by placing customer money with partner banks, which have FDIC protections in place.

Loading money on to a prepaid debit card

How you add funds to your international prepaid card can vary depending on the details of the card. You’ll usually be able to choose from one or more of the following options:

  • Have direct deposit payments - such as your salary or government benefits deposited to your account
  • Transfer in money yourself from a checking account
  • Add money in cash or checks at a physical location - some cards also let you add checks electronically with your phone

Prepaid debit cards: best MasterCard alternatives

Most of the cards we’ve looked at so far are issued on the Visa network. Visa is one of the card networks with the broadest global coverage - and most merchants and ATMs which offer Visa also allow Mastercard transactions.

It’s useful to have cards on several different networks, just in case there’s a problem with one card or network. Some networks which are commonly used here in the US aren’t as popular in some other regions - such as Discover and American Express. That makes it handy to carry one or more Visa or Mastercard card options alongside your normal cards if they’re on these networks.

In case you’d rather have a Mastercard, we’ve picked out a few top Mastercard prepaid international debit cards as well:

Monzo - best overall

  • Range of account functions, to support budgeting, saving and more
  • No foreign transaction fees, no ATM fees, no monthly maintenance fees
  • Cards are Apple Pay and Google Pay compatible

Find out more about the Monzo card.

PayPal Prepaid Card - best for cash reload

  • Add money from your bank, by direct deposit or in person at a physical location
  • Earn cash back and rewards with PayPal partner merchants
  • 4% foreign transaction fee applies to international spending

Learn more about the PayPal prepaid card.

Ally Bank card - best for everyday use

  • FDIC insured with broad range of services including savings, investments and IRA plans
  • Manage your money on the move with easy online and mobile banking
  • International fees, including a foreign transaction fee when making ATM withdrawals, may apply

Learn more about Ally Bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best prepaid debit card for use abroad?

There’s no single best prepaid debit card. It’ll depend on what’s important to you, and how you’ll use the card once you have it.

For example, if you’re looking for a card with the Google exchange rate with no markup you might want to take a look at Wise. If being able to add funds at a physical location is most important , check out Netspend instead.

There are lots of providers out there - so you’ll  be able to find the best prepaid travel card for you with a bit of research.


Are prepaid debit cards anonymous?

Prepaid debit cards are still covered by similar financial rules to banks - both here and internationally. That means you’ll usually be asked to show ID when you get a card, for verification.

All of the cards we have profiled here require customers to provide ID to comply with financial legislation, and to keep customers and their money safe. That means they’re not truly anonymous - even though they’re not linked usually to your normal bank account in any way.


Are prepaid debit cards worth it?

Prepaid debit cards are more secure and convenient than carrying lots of foreign currency cash. And if you pick the right provider for your needs you could also find you get a better exchange rate and lower overall costs for your international spending.

Freddie Larkins
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Last updated
July 15th, 2023