You have more options if you’d prefer to deposit the deposit into your checking account. No matter how you withdraw cash from your rechargeable card, we don’t think you have to pay a fee.
After all, you already pay a monthly or per-use transaction fee, and many prepaid debit cards charge you when you top up. Unfortunately, in the prepaid card market, charging customers a fee to top up and withdraw money is standard procedure.
A prepaid debit card at least avoids overdraft fees. However, some cards offer optional overdraft protection, and overdraft fees may apply if the difference is not corrected quickly.
1. Select Prepaid Visa Card
There are many prepaid Visa cards to choose from. We ranked them in the top three based on their cost and convenience.
We limit our scope to prepaid debit cards issued under the Visa brand. This does not include gift cards (including Visa gift cards), which are prepaid but non-reloadable and difficult to convert to cash. We also omitted other types of debit cards, including stimulus debit cards or EIP cards.
This NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card is the pay-as-you-go program fee version. This means that instead of paying a flat monthly fee, you pay a small transaction fee with each purchase.
There is a fee to reload cash or money order (as opposed to direct deposit and standard mobile check loading) to the Netspend card, and a separate fee to withdraw cash. Withdrawal fees vary by method (financial institution, Netspend Reload Network, or ATM), amount, and location.
This is the version of the NetSpend® Visa® prepaid card that charges a monthly plan fee instead of a pay-per-use. After purchasing a Netspend card, you can apply for a monthly plan option instead of the default pay-as-you-go plan. In all other respects, the Netspend cards are identical.
You can cut maintenance costs in half by qualifying for a reduced monthly plan. To qualify for a reduced fee, you must authorize the direct deposit of $500 or more in salary or government benefits in a calendar month.
The ACE Elite™ Visa Prepaid Debit Card allows you to choose between a pay-as-you-go plan, a monthly plan, or a reduced monthly plan. The fees for adding and withdrawing cash are the same or slightly higher than the Netspend twins.
The similarity between this card and the Netspend card is not surprising, as both are Visa prepaid card products issued by MetaBank® and both offer cash pickup at Netspend Reload Network locations across the country.
2. Get a PIN to use at the ATM
Most prepaid debit cards allow you to assign a four-digit PIN to the card when you activate it. You can use your PIN to provide security when you withdraw cash from ATMs and make PIN purchases on the store keypad.
You usually choose your card’s PIN during your first transaction. You need a PIN that is easy to remember but not entirely obvious. Avoid using PINs like 1111 or 1234, which are likely to be the first attempts by card thieves.
Once you have a PIN, you can insert your prepaid card into a compatible ATM, enter the PIN, and withdraw up to the balance on the card or the daily maximum set by the card issuer or ATM owner, whichever is less.
Don’t forget to include the card fee when calculating the maximum amount you can withdraw. Most prepaid cards charge a fee even when the ATM is in-network, and you can expect additional fees for out-of-network ATM withdrawals.
3. Withdraw cash through a bank teller
Any participating financial institution that accepts Visa cards allows you to withdraw cash from Visa Prepaid Cards. When withdrawing money over the counter, you must show the cashier some form of acceptable identification, such as your driver’s license.
Teller withdrawals typically cost between $2.50 and $9.95. Some cards charge a fixed amount, while others charge a percentage of the amount withdrawn, with a maximum fee.
4. Get cash back at the cash register at checkout
One of the benefits of a debit card is the ability to earn cashback on in-store purchases. The store sets a maximum amount you are allowed to withdraw through this method.
The process is simple: you insert, tap or swipe your prepaid debit card at the card reader, and ask for cashback. Some card terminals will ask you directly, but you may need to tell the cashier that you want cashback.
If you’re part of a pay-as-you-go program, you’ll be charged a fee per purchase when you get cashback this way. If you go with a monthly plan, there will be no added cost.
5. Withdraw cash at designated top-up locations
Some prepaid debit cards use a network of top-up locations that allow you to add or withdraw cash. For example, all three vetted cards can be used for off-site withdrawals from Netspend Reload Network locations, and reload fees typically do not exceed $4.
The Walmart MoneyCard allows you to withdraw cash at any Walmart store for no fee, but because it operates on the Mastercard network, it is not included in this review.
How does a prepaid debit card work?
A prepaid debit card works a little differently than the debit card you receive when you open a checking or savings account at a bank or other financial institution. Prepaid cards are popular among consumers with low credit scores who cannot get a credit card.
You can sign up for a prepaid debit card online from the issuer, or buy one for a small fee from a store that sells the card. Prepaid debit cards are similar to gift cards, except you can’t always reload gift cards. You don’t need a good credit score to get a prepaid debit card.
Like credit cards, prepaid debit cards can be used on payment networks – MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. A fourth payment network, Discover, offers debit cards with online checking and savings accounts, but no reloadable prepaid cards.
Here’s how to shop with a prepaid debit card:
Generally speaking, PIN transactions are cheaper than signed transactions, mainly because it is more secure. Verifying signatures on checkout lines can be hit or miss, opening the door to card theft.
In some ways, secured credit cards are similar to prepaid debit cards in that both are backed by cash deposits. However, spending with a secured credit card is based on your credit limit, whereas spending with a debit card is paid for with cash in the card account.
What can be confusing is that sometimes prepaid debit cards are incorrectly called prepaid credit cards because they are accepted as credit cards by merchants. However, prepaid credit cards do not use credit.
You can deposit funds to your prepaid debit card in several ways. Many accept direct deposits from your employer, the Internal Revenue Service, or government benefit providers such as the Social Security Administration. Compared to checks, you can receive a direct deposit in up to two days.
A great feature of direct deposits is that they are a free way to add money to your card. Also, some cards lower your monthly plan fee if you load up a certain amount of direct deposit in a calendar month.
You can add cash (in the form of currency or money order) to your card at designated top-up locations, including Netspend Reload Network, Green Dot Reload, Western Union, MoneyGram, and Walmart’s Rapid Reload. The fee is usually between $3 and $5.
Another way to increase your card balance is by moving the check load, your phone takes a picture of the check and transmits it to the card issuer. There is no charge for standard inspection loads but may take up to 10 days to complete. You can reduce the time by paying about $5 for express loading.
How much cash can I withdraw from my prepaid card?
The maximum amount you can withdraw from a prepaid card is the balance in the card account. Typically, the issuer of a prepaid debit card will limit the balance, but the maximum balance can be as high as $15,000 to $20,000.
The maximum amount you can withdraw or spend with your prepaid card account may be limited by your card issuer.
For example, the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card has a daily spending limit of $4,999 and an ATM withdrawal limit of $940 per day. The card allows you to add up to $7,500 per day for a total of $15,000.
The ACE Elite™ Visa Prepaid Debit Card has similar limitations. In addition, however, you can withdraw $5,000 per day from an ACE Cash Express location.
Is there a fee to get cash from a prepaid card?
Fees for withdrawing cash from prepaid cards vary by card issuer and method. For example, the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card charges three different fees for cash withdrawals. Withdrawals come from ATMs, Netspend Reload Network locations, and financial institutions, in ascending order of fees.
Generally speaking, getting cash back at the store checkout is free, unless you’re on a fee-per-transaction plan.
If you don’t need cash on-site, there are other ways to get money from a prepaid card. For example, some cards allow you to transfer funds to a bank or credit union account.
The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard allows you to transfer funds to and from your PayPal account online or through its app. Alternatively, you can use money transfer apps like Venmo that accept prepaid card transfers.
Can prepaid cards be used at ATMs?
Many prepaid cards can be used at ATMs. Fees vary by card and ATM network such as the MoneyPass ATM network.
You may be charged a card fee and any additional fees charged by the ATM operator for each ATM withdrawal. The cards reviewed here charge $2.50 per withdrawal.
You may prefer to get cash from your prepaid card with cashback on in-store purchases. This method is usually free, but you must have a PIN and select “Debit Card” at the time of purchase.
Where can I cash my prepaid card?
You can get cash from a reloadable prepaid card in the following ways:
Cashback on in-store purchases
Withdraw money over the counter of a financial institution
Withdraw money from the designated recharge location counter
Different rules apply to gift cards. Specifically, you cannot withdraw funds from Visa gift cards through ATMs or over-the-counter withdrawals.
However, you can sell gift cards for cash on various websites set up for this purpose. You can also use gift cards to transfer money via PayPal, Venmo, or other similar cash apps.
It’s easy to get cash from your prepaid Visa debit card
Now that we’ve shown you how to withdraw cash from a prepaid Visa debit card, you should have a better idea of how competing cards compare. Most of these cards have a common set of features but charge differently.
This type of debit card offers several ways to withdraw funds from your account. With a little planning, you should be able to get cash without paying a fee. Be sure to read all the fine print before signing the cardholder agreement for your prepaid debit card.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author alone, not affiliated with any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.