May 25, 2017
Updated on September 13, 2019
Prepaid cards are payment cards with a value stored on the card itself, unlike debit cards where an external account is maintained by a financial institution, or credit cards, which are subject to the credit limits set by the issuer. One of the essential benefits that prepaid cards provide is the segmentation of the spending by consumers for categories such as travel, online shopping, m-commerce, etc.
The growth of the prepaid card market has been fueled by a range of factors, among which are the opportunity to perform electronic payments for those excluded from the financial system, a cost-effective alternative to cash and checks for both businesses and governments, etc.
The global market for prepaid cards is projected to reach $3.1 trillion by 2022, driven by the growing need for financial inclusion of unbanked consumers, provision of innovative card features and services, increasing volumes of online transactions, and rising demand for cost-effective electronic payment solutions.
A 2016 study suggests that the US represents the largest market worldwide with its dominance supported by the significant adoption of gift cards, travel cards, reward cards, and general-purpose reloadable cards in major sectors such as government, enterprise, healthcare, transportation, and marketing. APAC ranks as the fastest-growing market, fueled by developments in IT infrastructure, growing penetration of electronic banking, advancements in banking infrastructure, improvements in usability and affordability of plastic money, growing base of the affluent middle-class population who value the convenience of alternative monies as a media of exchange.
A range of companies around the world has developed a convenient, secure, and easy-to-use prepaid card solutions offering the opportunity to limit personal spending and improve budgeting. Here are some of the most interesting virtual and plastic prepaid debit card providers that offer universally useful solutions for holiday seasons and cross-border use:
Acorn Account is a trading-style offering of Spectrum Card Services which is a registered agent of Spectrum Payment Services. It is an independent, FCA-authorized company that has been providing current accounts and payment services since 2007. The company provides accessible but highly functional current accounts not only for personal account customers but also for small businesses as well. Just like other payment cards, Acorn Account Prepaid Debit Mastercard comes with chip-and-PIN and requires a four-digit personal identification number (PIN) to confirm payments.
The BreadFX Card is a Euro Prepaid Mastercard, so when users load it with sterling, it converts the balance into euros. When used in a Eurozone country, users spend the euros which they have already paid for, so that they know in advance what exchange rate they are getting, with no hidden fees or surprises. Users can check their card’s euro balance at any time using the mobile phone or the internet, and top up the card 24 hours a day whenever they need to, and receive the current balance via SMS for the cost of a standard network message. The cards are valid for three years. BreadFX prepaid Mastercard card can be used at over 32 million worldwide locations.
The BREADFX Prepaid Mastercard is operated by Payment Card Solutions (UK) Ltd. The card is issued by Wirecard Card Solutions Ltd (“WDCS”), which is authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct electronic money service activities.
The ecoVirtualcard is a one-use payment card (expires after one use) that works directly with user’s ecoAccount so the owner can securely pay for goods online and over the phone, without displaying any personal or financial information. The ecoVirtualcard can be purchased instantly with no credit checks or bank account required. The card is available in three different currencies – Euro, GBP, and USD.
ecoPayz’s ecoCard is a prepaid card that can be used with an ecoAccount to spend online and in person, wherever Mastercard is accepted. Available in three currencies, it gives users control over personal finances as they can only spend what is available in the ecoAccount. The card is free, quick, and easy to apply for with no credit checks or bank account required. Users can access their ecoAccount funds instantly and top up the balance anytime, anywhere.
In May 2014, ecoPayz launched its app (free download), giving customers the freedom to use their account 24/7 whether on their iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
ecoPayz is a brand name of PSI-Pay Ltd. PSI-Pay Ltd and is authorized by the FCA under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (FCA Reference Number 900011) for the issuing of electronic money and facilitates its' services across the European Economic Area (EEA).
Launched in 2003, EntroPay offers a secure and convenient solution wherever Visa or MasterCard® payments are accepted online, or over the phone. EntroPay was developed with a goal to offer a payment method that eliminated the hassle associated with sending and receiving online payments. Being the first European virtual prepaid card, EntroPay encourages its use from those who might have previously been unwilling or unable to perform online transactions.
Users can shop online with EntroPay’s prepaid virtual Visa cards, create multiple cards in USD, EUR or GBP and manage or delete them with a click. They also can load funds from their bank accounts or other cards card onto the virtual card, and instantly start spending money whenever and wherever desired. EntroPay does not charge interest charges, over-limit fees, or late repayment fees. All credit cards exist in the cloud, giving users total control on how and where they make credit card payments.
EntroPay payments are widely accepted by millions of merchants worldwide, spanning a broad spectrum of industries and specialties. EntroPay is operated by Ixaris Systems, Ltd. Ixaris Systems Ltd is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Service Regulations 2009 for the provision of payment services. EntroPay Visa cards are issued by Bank of Valletta, pursuant to a license from Visa Europe.
FairFX card comes in options for Eurozone, US and Anywhere. FairFX Anywhere Card is a prepaid card that allows the transfer of ££ from debit/credit card to FairFX card. With a Euro Card or Dollar Card, the balance will appear in that currency. With an Everywhere Card, it stays in Sterling until users spend it. Cards can be used anywhere where Mastercard is accepted.
Users can check their balance anytime on the app or online. They can also use the app (or website) to top up funds anytime. Any spare currency can be spent in the UK, saved for the next trip or converted back into Sterling. It is free for use in shops and restaurants, while a fee of 1.4% applies when used at an ATM.
Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card offers a convenient, low-cost, and hassle-free way to manage personal funds. Whether a person is paid by check, cash, or electronically, the company makes it easy to load funds, use, and track them – all without charging exorbitant fees.
Users can just load the card and use it to pay bills, spend money, make deposits from the phone, check the balance, and even make charitable donations. And, just to keep things convenient, Kaiku automatically connects card users to over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs located in several countries.
The Mango Visa© Prepaid Card is a preloaded card that can be used anywhere Visa debit is accepted, including ATMs, retail stores, and online shopping. Plus users can track spending and manage their accounts online 24/7. Because it’s prepaid, there are no hidden fees and no interest charges. Mango Card provides access to a wide variety of offers and deals, including travel, food and wine, dining, shopping, sports, entertainment and more.
Once the Mango Card activated and loaded, the user can open a savings account with as little as $1 and get up to 6.00% Annual Percentage Yield. Users can enjoy up to six transfers out each month. A net direct deposit of $800 or more monthly and a minimum balance of $1.00 at the end of the month is needed to qualify for the 6.00%. Signup for a savings account is voluntary.
The Mango Money App allows managing the account from anywhere, securely checking the balance, transaction history, and sending money to friends and family. There is no fee to download the app.
Moneycorp’s multi-currency Mastercard is a prepaid card that allows customers to load multiple currencies onto one card. The card can be used to access travel money at millions of locations worldwide. “Users can use the Explorer card just like they would a debit card and in addition to withdrawing local currency whilst abroad. The card can also be used in shops and online.
The card can be loaded for free (up to £10,000 per day). Any left-over travel money can be transferred to any of the user's other currency wallets. International payments customers can transfer funds from their Moneycorp online account to their Explorer card in one or more of the available currencies at a time. No fees on card transactions outside of the UK. Red Explorer cardholders can also enjoy no fees on ATM withdrawals.
The MoneyPolo prepaid VISA and MasterCard work just like any other payment card. The variety of available options goes from disposable virtual cards to personalized embossed cards that will last years.
The company offers food products: MoneyPolo Multi-Currency Visa Card, MoneyPolo Virtual Visa Card, Virtual USD Mastercard, and USD Mastercard. Prepaid Visa allows users to move money to and from the user’s card balance, use the card balance in any of the 15 currencies available.
Prepaid from MoneyPolo is supported in 15 countries worldwide. It has no interest or unexpected bank fees, chip-and-PIN protection, and no link to the user’s bank account or bank credit line. MoneyPolo does not perform a credit check – it's open to everyone, offers budget control, and ensures there is no risk of overspending. The card is valid for three years.
mycard2go is a prepaid Visa card which is ready to use immediately. Whether users choose a virtual card or plastic card, mycard2go offers complete cost control and maximum flexibility: no application, register and top up online, and make cashless payments worldwide.
The plastic card combines the functionality of a classic Visa card with that of V PAY (debit card) and offers the freedom and flexibility of making payments throughout the world. Whether used every day or on travels, the mycard2go plastic card allows making cashless payments conveniently and securely at over 24 million acceptance points, online and offline.
The mywirecard Mastercard is a virtual or plastic card that can be used to pay on a prepaid credit basis on the Internet everywhere where Mastercard is accepted. At merchants, download providers, travel portals, and millions of other retailers worldwide. There is no annual fee for the service. Upon request, users can also receive a plastic card.
The NETELLER Account is an online stored-value account that millions of consumers in more than 200 countries have used to add, withdraw, and transfer funds to and from NETELLER merchants using the Net\+ prepaid card. The company claims that the Net\+ prepaid card has some of the highest acceptance rates at regulated gaming sites.
Net\+ prepaid cards can be used at regulated gaming sites, offering a host of security features to keep personal information secure. The card can be used/cash can be withdrawn from ATMs anywhere Discover® is accepted. Net\+ prepaid cards are issued by Sutton Bank MEMBER FDIC. Discover® and the Discover Acceptance Mark are service marks used by Sutton Bank under license from Discover Financial Services.
The NETELLER service is operated by Paysafe Financial Services Limited. Paysafe Financial Services Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Paysafe Group Plc is authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (900015) for the issuing of electronic money.
Netspend is a provider of Visa® Prepaid debit cards, Prepaid Debit Mastercard® cards, and commercial prepaid card solutions in the US. The company serves the estimated 68 million underbanked consumers who do not have a traditional bank account or who rely on alternative financial services.
Through Netspend’s nationwide network of more than 70,000 distribution locations and 130,000 reload points, consumers can purchase and reload Netspend Prepaid Cards at neighborhood retailers, check cashers, convenience stores, grocers, pharmacies, insurance providers, and tax preparers nationwide. Cards can be reloaded through direct deposits, money transfer, mobile check load, or reload locations. Signing up is simple because there’s no credit check, no activation fee, and no minimum balances.
In addition, it's direct distribution channel reaches consumers beyond store-based distributors. Netspend is also a provider of commercial payroll card solutions that help employers offer all employees a direct deposit option and reduce expenses associated with paper checks for employees and employers alike.
Netspend is a wholly-owned subsidiary of TSYS®.
OKPAY Card is a prepaid MasterCard® card. It means that OKPAY Card can be used in over a hundred countries — wherever you find a MasterCard Acceptance Mark. OKPAY Card allows cashless online and offline payments for goods and services such as ticket and hotel booking, car rental, and many more, ATM cash withdrawals.
OKPAY offers virtual and plastic cards. The virtual card can be used for internet-only payments, with the card information delivered to the user's email address. Users can start making online purchases immediately. OKPAY plastic card can be used for all kinds of payments and is delivered to the residential address. Users can buy online or in retail stores (POS), withdraw cash from an ATM, etc. OKPAY Card has daily cash withdrawal and purchase limits. These limits are set in accordance with the regulations of Mastercard and cannot be changed. Both virtual and plastic cards have a transparent fee matrix.
OKPAY also offers an e-payroll solution, which allows users to send payouts using options that are convenient for payees. Payouts can be sent to both OKPAY users and clients of third-party payment providers in a couple of clicks. The company offers a proprietary API that allows to send mass payouts to affiliates, freelancers, and employees, or to arrange withdrawals to credit cards as well as other payment systems. Funds can be sent to the cards issued by any bank or to specially ordered OKPAY payment card, which is accepted at all ATMs and online/offline stores in the world that work with Visa or Mastercard.
The Payoneer Prepaid Mastercard aims to transform the way people make payouts. Fully integrated with the company’s payout services and supported in more than 200 countries, personal payouts are promised to be available for use by the payee within two hours. Once funds are available, payees can make purchases online, in stores and at ATMs worldwide – wherever Mastercard is accepted.
Thousands of leading corporations, including Airbnb, Amazon, Getty Images, Google, and Upwork, rely on Payoneer’s mass payout services to send funds to their beneficiaries. When companies initiate a payment with Payoneer, funds land directly in the beneficiary’s Payoneer account and are stored there securely. From their Payoneer account, users are given the flexibility of choosing how to receive their funds, by the method that best suits them – either withdrawing funds to their local bank account using a prepaid Mastercard in stores, online and at ATMs, or by making a payment for free to another Payoneer customer.
As an added value, Payoneer clients can leverage the Payoneer ecosystem to gain access to millions of professionals and businesses worldwide through exposure at local events and other local marketing initiatives.
As part of Payoneer’s feature-rich mass payment platform, companies are guaranteed that all of their payee disbursements are made through a fully compliant, secure and tightly audited payments platform that is recognized and valued by financial regulators all around the world. Furthermore, Payoneer’s automated Tax Form service further simplifies management of cross-border payments by collecting W-8/9 from and issuing the 1099 and 1042 forms.
Pleo is an out-of-the-box business spending solution that offers smart payment cards for employees. Pleo offers on-demand prepaid Mastercard virtual cards (for online purchases) and plastic cards (for in-store purchases) connected to a desktop and mobile app for both employees and managers to track and manage all company expenses in real time.
The plastic Pleo cards can be used for in-store payments, including contactless transactions and they also have a chip-and-PIN pin facility. Meanwhile, the virtual Pleo cards can be used to make any work-related online purchases.
The READYdebit Visa Prepaid Card is issued by MetaBank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa USA Inc. and can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. READYdebit Visa Prepaid Card provides the following features:
The mobile account access and alerts with the READYdebit Visa Prepaid Card allow convenient access to personal bank accounts on the phone. The mobile account allows to check the balance, view card account balance anywhere at any time, initiate bill payments, pay anyone, anywhere, right from the phone, see bank statement, and review your recent card account activity.
With text alerts, users can set up alerts for added funds, receive alerts when money is added to the card account, low balance, get notified when funds are low (users can set the amount), card status change, find out instantly when the card account status changes.
Prepaid Visa RushCard is issued by MetaBank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa USA Inc. Products include Midnight RushCard, Carbon RushCard, Gloss RushCard, 24k RushCard, Suede KLS RushCard, Sequin KLS RushCard, Edge RushCard.
RushCard offers flexible plans that can accommodate personal needs: unlimited or pay as you go. No minimum balance is required for the card. Some RushCard features provided at no additional cost no matter which prepaid card plan customers choose, include:
SpectroCard aims to remove the dependency on banks and the time required to obtain a payment card to be able to pay. That reduces many barriers for unbanked, traveling, and other people to be a part of a convenient payment system as SpectroCard is accepted at more than 30 million places around the globe.
SpectroCard is also a solution for small and medium enterprises who are willing to issue temporary or permanent payment cards to their employees, business partners, or clients. The company believes that the flexibility of SpectroCard can help SMEs to develop new innovative products to benefit everyone.
SpectroCard allows funding prepaid virtual MasterCard® with cash, bank transfers, debit and credit cards, PaySafeCard, SOFORT, PerfectMoney, OKPay, Payeer, and other payment methods. The SpectroCard virtual prepaid card takes less than a minute to set up. There is no paperwork or complicated verification involved. Users can also order multiple payment cards. The prepaid card works everywhere where Mastercard® is accepted, including Amazon, Aliexpress, and other websites.
T24 offers various solutions varying from white label prepaid cards, to quick and easy of the shelf programs for prepaid payroll cards/payout solutions and co-branded prepaid cards. All programs are available on the VISA network providing worldwide ATM and retail access for usage of the cards.
The T24 Black Card is the world’s first prepaid program to offer complimentary Priority Pass membership connected directly to a Visa Prepaid Card. This allows the cardholder access to over 600 airport lounges worldwide. The card itself is tailored towards the high net worth market, offering a load limit of 50,000 USD.
T24 Virtual prepaid cards are non-reloadable, non-rechargeable cards that work just like any other regular credit or debit card to make purchases online, by phone, or anywhere else a card purchase can be made without the need for a physical card. By being able to preload virtual cards, users have better, more direct control over businesses spending, making it easier to manage company finances more efficiently. Virtual prepaid cards are accepted worldwide and can be issued in a number of major currencies.
The benefits of Virtual Prepaid Cards include:
US Unlocked Prepaid Visa Account has been established by Metropolitan Commercial Bank (Member FDIC) pursuant to a license from Visa. The US Unlocked Card enables users to make purchases on US websites where an American credit card or a card with a US billing address is required. A full fee schedule is available on its pricing page. Users should be aware – it is not possible to transfer partial funds out of the card.
Users can add funds to their Virtual Card Account at any time. Absent special approval, the maximum combined value of funds in Virtual Card Account(s) may not exceed $3,500 at any time.
Depending on the country, US Unlocked offers local bank transfers, Webmoney, Cashu, Ideal, Sofort, Webmoney, Yandex, Boleto, and Alipay. To find out what payment methods are offered for a particular country, read more here.
VCpay is a mobile application by ZAZOO, a business unit of Net 1 UEPS Technologies, that uses ZAZOO’s patented Mobile Virtual Card (MVC) technology, enabling mobile devices to generate virtual Mastercard payment cards. Users can activate VCpay by following a simple registration process and linking the application to any number of funding options, such as credit cards, EFTs, direct top-ups, cash, and more.
VCPay does not charge transaction fees. To get a VCpay account, users need to download it from their app store (Android, Apple, Windows) and complete the in-app registration in a couple of simple steps. To start shopping with VCpay, users need to have funds in their account (EFT from a bank account, deposit cash at the local supermarket, link credit or check card). Once the funds have been loaded to the account, users can create a VCpay Virtual Mastercard® in seconds.
Worldcore global payment service makes sending and receiving local and international wire transfers available to any business without limitation but in compliance with international regulations. Worldcore’s account security is designed in such a way that all outgoing payments require additional one-time code authorization that can be completed by SMS or by e-mail.
Worldcore also provides a prepaid debit card within 24 hours of submitting the required documents. The card has the ability to load funds from any bank account instantaneously and can be used as a payout solution for wages, incentives, salaries, etc. A Worldcore account allows a user to get paid through bank wire, load any Visa/Mastercard credit or debit card, make online payments, make withdrawals to the Worldcore prepaid debit card and pay bills or buy any goods. It’s an absolute advantage that Worldcore cards’ daily ATM withdrawal limit is 4,000 euros, and the monthly limit is 120,000 euros.
The company promises to work round-the-clock to provide the fastest possible turnaround time for people signing up for the payment account via the website. For individual accounts or debit cards, the verification process requires digital copies of the individual’s passport and address proof. The company utilizes Thomson Reuters World-Check for financial institutions as the back-end verification tool.
Bluebird prepaid card and The Chase Liquid prepaid cards target teenagers and youngsters by offering a non-expensive, convenient system for withdrawals and cash transactions. Teenagers make a good target audience, as parents usually don’t want to place the fiscal responsibility of a credit card on their children, but would still like a way to track how their cash is being spent. In addition to these two cards, there are several other cards, each of which has its own winning strategy. American Express Serve card variant charges no reloading fees thereby enabling cost-effective reloads from over 45000 locations and any bank account. Another American Express Serve card variant provides reward points for each dollar spent so that the monthly fees for the card can be recovered through these points. Netspend has introduced a card which allows faster direct deposits than most other cards. Akimbo has introduced a facility where one can create a separate prepaid card for each type of spend so that one can budget for different activities where money is spent.
The list of virtual and plastic prepaid debit cards is certainly not exhaustive. We invite relevant companies to contact the LTP Team for consideration for further listings. Find out more about prepaid cards providers here.