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8 Best Prepaid Debit Cards for “Bad Credit” (2020)

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More than 14 million American adults don’t have an active bank account. That means they have no place to deposit a paycheck, an account from which they can pay bills, or make necessary online purchases.

If you’re in that group, and you also have a damaged credit history, things can get even tougher. Check cashing fees can eat away at a paycheck, and sending money orders to pay bills adds an unnecessary expense. If you’re tired of these fees, a good prepaid debit card may be for you.

Debit Cards | Secured Cards | FAQs

Many people turn to prepaid debit cards as an alternative to a bank account. And although the number of unbanked Americans is at an all-time low, the number of prepaid debit cards in circulation continues to grow.

If you’re struggling with a bad credit score, and think you may not qualify for a credit card or bank account, a prepaid debit card could be a much easier way to manage your money. That’s because these cards run on major credit card networks, which allows you to use them wherever you would use a credit card.

But keep in mind that these cards will not help you repair your credit score. Since they work as a debit card product, they have no associated credit line and won’t work to build a positive payment history.

If you’re looking for more of a credit rebuilding product, check out the secured credit cards listed further down this page.

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.8

  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click “Get My Card” for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Variable Monthly Fee

Not applicable

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★

4.7

  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. Click “Get My Card ” for full details.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Up-to $9.95 monthly

Not applicable

PREPAID RATING

★★★★

4.4

  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.

N/A

N/A

N/A

Variable Monthly Fee

Not applicable

Prepaid debit cards allow you to directly deposit paychecks and government benefit checks, pay bills, and make online purchases just like traditional bank accounts and credit cards do, but some include much higher fees.

Before you sign up for a card, be certain to read the fine print and fee schedule associated with each option. By choosing a card with fewer fees and charges, you can maximize your spending power and save more of your hard-earned money.

Nothing in life is permanent — including a bad credit score. If credit card issuers won’t currently look your way, the best way to improve your score without spending a lot of money is by adding a secured credit card to your wallet.

You can use these cards in many of the same ways you use a prepaid debit card, but a secured credit card can actually improve your credit score with responsible usage. The only caveat is that secured cards require a refundable security deposit to open an account.

But since the card has an associated credit line, your issuer will report your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus. Some consumers have improved their credit scores in as little as 30 days with a secured credit card, though the time it takes for you will depend on your payment history and current credit situation.

SECURED RATING

★★★★

4.0

  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.

N/A

N/A

18.89% (variable)

$35

Poor

SECURED RATING

★★★★

3.9

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 — $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file

N/A

N/A

9.99% (V)

$49

Bad / No Credit

SECURED RATING

★★★★

3.8

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.

N/A

N/A

19.99% (V)

$29

Poor/Limited/No Credit

SECURED RATING

★★★★

3.8

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!

N/A

N/A

13.99% (V)

$39

Poor/Limited/No Credit

Much like prepaid debit cards, be sure to read the fine print and fee schedule of any card you apply for. Some secured credit cards include multiple fees that add to the cost of your credit line. But, if you’re looking to improve your credit score without paying a credit repair service, the fees may be worth it.

Free is a tricky word because it usually comes with strings attached. The closest thing to a truly fee-free prepaid debit card is the BlueBird Card from American Express. The card has no monthly or annual fees, no transaction or purchase fees, no bill pay fees, and no initial card fee if you order online.

But since the card operates on the American Express credit network, you won’t be able to use it in as many locations as you would a Visa or Mastercard.

Plus, some retail locations may charge you a fee for adding money to the card. While these fees and limitations may not make the card free, the American Express offering still ranks among the cheapest prepaid debit card options.

Hand Holding a Debit Card

Prepaid debit cards on the Visa and Mastercard networks are widely accepted and offer greater flexibility than other cards.

If you’re looking for wider acceptance and more card flexibility, you can check out prepaid cards on the Visa and Mastercard networks. These are among the most accepted cards on the planet and will almost certainly work with any merchant, bill, or service provider you need to pay.

But that flexibility comes with a price.

The Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard®, for example, charges a variable monthly fee, but provides a direct deposit feature that allows you to get your paycheck or government benefits check deposited up to two days faster than you would get them with a paper check.

The Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card also charges a variable monthly fee but has no late fees, no interest charges, and no minimum balances. Cardholders are also enrolled in the PayBack Rewards℠ program — a rare cash back opportunity in the prepaid space.

Some prepaid cards may charge fees based on how and when you load funds to the card, how much or how little you use the card to make purchases, or for other interactions — such as checking the prepaid card’s balance.

Before you sign up for a card, be certain to read the fee schedule to make sure you understand any charges you may incur.

In short, free products are great, but they can also limit your ability to spend and tie up your money in an account that you can only use at a few locations. A low-fee card could open up many doors that were otherwise closed.

Many people confuse banks with credit card networks. For example, Visa and Mastercard are credit card networks. Each company will allow a credit card’s issuing bank to conduct transactions on their network — for a fee.

When you have a card with a Visa logo, for example, you aren’t borrowing money from Visa when you use the credit line. Instead, the issuing bank fronts the money in your name and Visa conducts the transaction.

That’s why many banks can offer their own credit and prepaid debit cards to account holders. But some banks offer prepaid debit cards to consumers who don’t have accounts at the bank.

American Express, for instance, is both an issuing bank and credit network and offers prepaid cards to all consumers.

Bank Photo

Most major banks require a person to open an account before issuing a prepaid debit card.

Wells Fargo also offers prepaid debit card options, but limits cardholders to direct deposit, bank account transfers, and in-branch deposits to load funds onto cards.

Since major banks make money by adding bank accounts, they often try to incentivize you to open an account if you want their prepaid card — but that kind of negates the purpose of having a prepaid card in your wallet.

These banks may also try to convince you to go with their secured credit card option instead because the associated fees and security deposit makes the product more lucrative for them.

Instead, independent banks, such as Netspend, and even Paypal, have revolutionized the prepaid debit card space by partnering with national chain retail and convenience stores to allow cardholders to purchase and reload cards easier and faster.

These businesses often add a charge for the transaction, though, so check with the retailer before heading there to add money to your card.

This depends on your goals for the card.

Just about every card on the market will allow you to have your paycheck or government benefits check deposited directly into your account. Each card also links to a credit network that will allow you to make purchases, pay bills, and save funds for later.

But what separates the best cards from the pack are flexibility and fees. You can use cards that operate on the Visa or Mastercard network at almost every retail and online location that accepts credit cards. You may find fewer options with some issuers, including American Express.

Just expect to pay slightly higher fees for the convenience of the more popular network. If you plan to pay bills and make regular purchases at specific retailers, check with those businesses to determine which credit card networks they accept before signing up for a card.

Doing so could save you a lot of trouble.

If you want to improve your credit score over the long haul, you may be better served skipping the prepaid card and putting your money into a refundable deposit for a secured credit card instead. That’s because secured credit cards act just like a traditional credit card — and the issuing bank will report your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus.

With on-time payments, you could see a nice boost to your credit score. On the other hand, late or defaulted payments could pummel your score rather quickly.

In most cases, the answer is no — but there are exceptions.

You can buy the physical prepaid debit card at many locations. Most grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores sell them. You can typically purchase a prepaid card using a credit card. But you will likely run into problems if you try to load money on it using your credit card.

Hand Swiping Credit Card

Prepaid debit cards may be purchased with a credit card, but funds generally can’t be added via credit card.

Some retail locations still allow customers to purchase Visa or Mastercard reloadable debit cards using credit cards, but it’s rare. That’s because there’s a growing trend where fraudsters use stolen credit card numbers to purchase prepaid debit cards — essentially transferring stolen money over to a non-traceable payment method.

When that happens, the retail location that allowed the transaction has to pay for the lost money. As you may expect, most businesses don’t want to take that risk, so they no longer allow credit cards to reload prepaid debit cards.

But there are still a few retailers that do allow the transactions. Your best bet is to check with the store before attempting the purchase.

Your only other option to purchase a prepaid debit card with a credit card is to withdraw a cash advance from your credit card and use the funds to purchase the debit card. We highly advise against this method, though, because of the fees and instant interest charges that take place when you receive a cash advance.

And if your prepaid debit card charges fees for making deposits, you could find yourself paying cash advance and deposit fees, which would quickly deplete your balance before you even get access to the funds.

Prepaid debit cards offer a level of convenience that few other cards can match. Obtaining a card won’t require a credit check, and you won’t have the temptation of available credit that often leads to overspending and debt accumulation.

These lessons not only help adults, but many parents use prepaid debit cards to teach their children fiscal responsibility while giving them access to a payment method they can use just about anywhere.

And as the prepaid debit card market becomes more popular for consumers who can’t obtain a bank account, or don’t want to deal with a bank, the growing competition works to lower card fees and increase cardholder benefits.

With some smart shopping, you could find yourself with a prepaid debit card that not only minimizes your costs but also offers cash back options that typically only exist on traditional credit cards.

While these cards won’t help you repair or build your credit score, they can offer the flexibility you need when shopping and paying bills.



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Bad Credit

‘There is no new normal’: Worcester small business owner pivoted during COVID-19 and expects only more change after pandemic

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It took about eight minutes for the bank to reject Natalie Rodriguez’s application for a loan through the Small Business Administration.

Rodriguez opened Nuestra, a Puerto Rican inspired restaurant in Worcester, in January of 2020. When COVID-19 arrived months later she discovered Nuestra wasn’t eligible for the federal or state funding that thousands of other establishments received.

To qualify, restaurants were required to show payroll and salary for years before 2020. Those figures didn’t exist for a restaurant that weren’t open in 2019.

“[I was] determined and knew that ‘no’ is not an OK answer,” Rodriguez said. “A door may close but you may need to kick down another door.”

Rodriguez then applied for conventional loans only to be led to more closed doors. Less than 10 minutes after applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, she received notice that her poor credit score resulted in her application being denied.

Rodriguez used the dead end with the SBA to create a new path for herself and Nuestra.

She not only learned how to improve her credit but wanted to ensure others didn’t have to follow her journey as an entrepreneur.

Rodriguez extended the “Nuestra” brand to include financial advising. She started Nuestra Financial in April of 2020.

“Now I’m helping others. I’ve been able to restore my credit,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been able to help others restore their credit and be able to help them make a business themselves if they so choose. I’ve been able to survive.”

Without grants and other funding, Rodriguez managed to keep her restaurant open through funds generated from Nuestra Financial.

“I was very quiet about it in the beginning. I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh look at this girl, she just opened a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic,’ and talk smack,” Rodriguez said. “About a month or two later, a light bulb hit and I was like, nobody pays my bills but me. I needed to mind my own business and not worry about what other people thought.”

In creating Nuestra Financial, Rodriguez said she’s helped Worcester residents restore their credit and purchase new vehicles and homes.

Rodriguez said financial literacy is rarely taught to children in school and wasn’t something she learned. When a situation arises like a rejection notice for an economic disaster loan, many don’t know how to respond or where to find answers.

Rodriguez said she’s helped young and old people, along with those who have bad credit or no credit.

“We lack the confidence, including myself, because we weren’t taught,” Rodriguez said. “So if you don’t know something, you weren’t taught, you’re not going to be confident about it.”

Coming out of the pandemic, Rodriguez remains confident about both her businesses. Nuestra, the restaurant, while closed for daily service continues to provide catering services. Rodriguez is still preparing what the future holds for the restaurant but plans to announce an update soon.

As masks start to become less a part of daily routines, Rodriguez, as a small business owner, doesn’t envision many differences from this year to last.

So many aspects of life remain uncertain from rising food costs to a potential third booster for vaccines and whether the country will ever reach herd immunity for COVID-19.

The pandemic arrived with Rodriguez immediately pivoting. As it approaches its potential end, Rodriguez will continue to do what helped her to navigate it.

“I feel like there is no new normal just yet,” Rodriguez said. “I think we’re all just trying to adjust and pivot at the same time and getting creative. I think it’s where we all are.”

Related Content:

Owner of Worcester’s Nuestra restaurant, closing due to COVID impact, has something she’d like to say to Gov. Baker

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Columbus Mattress Wholesale moves to newer, larger Gahanna store

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More than four years back, Cathryn Clark’s boyfriend, Christopher Robbins, was on the hunt for a new mattress. He just couldn’t find one at an affordable  price. 

Clark, 29, and Robbins, 34, who are now engaged, were living in Franklinton, where they still live today.

They had no experience owning or operating a small business; Robbins worked as a retail assistant for SAS Retail Services while Clark worked as the communications director for two Methodist churches. 

But in 2017, Robbins, with Clark at his side, took the leap and opened Columbus Mattress Wholesale on the West Side, with the goal of  helping low-income consumers secure mattresses and other bedtime products.  

“We really wanted to bring a store to people that, you know, they weren’t paying an arm and leg, but they still could get a good night’s sleep,” Clark said.

Customers at Columbus Mattress Wholesale can pay cash or credit, for example, but the business also works with financing companies that serve people without credit scores, with bad credit or who are lower income. 

Last month, the business made a big move. It expanded from its original location on Harrisburg Pike to a store double the size at 435 Agler Road in Gahanna.

Clark said she and Robbins saw a need in the broader area, with many of their customers coming from outside the Hilltop, such as Linden.

Nestled between Dollar Tree and the Ohio BMV in Gahanna, the new storefront opened Memorial Day weekend and sells mattresses, bed bases, bed frames and pillows. Mattress prices range from under $100 to more than $1,000, depending on the size and brand, which includes some well-known names such as Serta, Beautyrest and Casper.

Clark said while she and Robbins originally sold solely Ohio-based brands, they’ve branched out to national brands as business has grown.

Columbus Mattress Wholesale also offers free same-day delivery on most orders from customers living in Columbus. 

Clark does a little bit of everything for the business, from running communications, to working on the sales floor, to managing the sales team, to ordering what they sell. 

She said a big mission for herself and Robbins, beyond doing business, is aiding the community.

“We’ve seen a lot of people struggle,” Clark said.

Clark said she and Robbins work to mentor other people who are hoping to open or currently own a small business. She added that the store starts employees at $17 per hour.

She and Robbins haven’t decided yet what they will do with the original location — which is currently closed — but said they might shift it into an accessory store.

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@SarahEDon

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A Guide to Getting Mobile Deals with Bad Credit History

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You’re interested in a new mobile deal but there’s only one thing that’s stopping; you’ve got a bad credit history. Does that mean that your hopes of getting a new phone contract are crushed? Well, not exactly. In this article, you will learn how to get a mobile phone with no credit check required and how you can navigate the issue to get a great deal even with bad credit history.

Why is a bad credit history a big deal?

When taking a new phone contract, it means you’re entering into a financial agreement that requires you to make payments in monthly installments. As such, many providers of the service will want to ensure that they’re entering into an agreement with someone who will pay the agreed amount without violating the terms.

The best way for them to have that assurance is by looking into the credit history of the client. But does it necessarily mean that if you’ve got a bad credit history you can’t honor your side of the bargain in a phone contract? Of course not; which is why this article gives you the options you can pursue to end up landing a pretty impressive deal.

Although you might not find a deal that includes the latest devices in the market, you’ll not lack a relatively cheaper but functional option. For instance, if you’re a great fan of the iPhone, you might end up landing the iPhone XR instead of the latest release of iPhone 12. When the deal is cheaper, you stand higher chances of success as opposed to one that just dropped in the market and so it’s in high demand.

Another alternative is to find a contract that comes with a used handset as such tend to be less strict in terms of credit history requirements. That means you’re likely to pass the test of a contract with an already used gadget as opposed to that of a brand new phone.

Another alternative could be to go for SIM only deals especially if you already have an alternative source for a handset. Most of the providers won’t require you to sign any contract and so they’ll not look into your previous credit history. SIM only deals tend to be intensive on minutes, texts and data offers.

Networks that favor people with bad credit

There are networks that are more lenient to people with bad credit history than others. Major networks including Vodafone, O2 and EE usually come with strict requirements that might only frustrate you. The following are the alternatives you could consider looking into:

Smarty:The company offers SIM only plans that don’t require you to sign any contract. If you have an alternative handset, this could be a great alternative to consider as they won’t do a credit check on you. Their services and offers run on a monthly rolling basis which means you can walk away at any time in case you’re dissatisfied with the quality of service you’re getting. Their deals start at 2GB of data and unlimited texts and calls at a cost of £5 to unlimited calls, texts and data for £16.

Giffgaff:You won’t be subjected to a credit test here as well during sign up for one of the packages that the network offers. You’ll be required to sign up for a monthly bundle of your choice that’s inclusive of calls, data and texts. You can proceed with the same plan or switch to a new one after the month is gone. Most of their deals start at £8 a month.

VOXI:The network has numerous offers that operate on a 30-day rolling basis. They also won’t bother performing a credit check on you as it has no use in the first place. A bonus with this network is that they won’t include the social sites you frequent in their data charges.

Mobile phone to go with a SIM only deal

The SIM only deals we’ve highlighted above means that you’ll need to have a separate handset. In case you don’t have one already, you can take a separate mobile phone contract to go with your preferred SIM only deal. The other alternative is to buy one outright. But in case you don’t have money to make the purchase, you can always save up and buy when you’ve accumulated enough.

Some great smartphones that are classic and yet won’t put a huge wall in your pocket. Coveted brands such as iPhone and Samsung have great devices such as the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G that goes for £349 and the iPhone SE valued at £399. As you can see, with some savings, you should be able to get your hands on these gadgets and many others out there. And if you feel that these cost on the higher side, you can opt for refurbished phones. Refurbished phones refer to those handsets that have been used but have undergone intensive testing to ensure they still have got higher functionality.

When do credit checks apply?

Credit history is required by providers that have a mobile phone that requires a payment plan spanning several months or years. In most cases, the major network providers including EE, O2 and Vodafone will do a background check on your credit check before allowing you to sign up for their deals. Some factors that might make you have a poor credit rating is when you’ve missed several months’ payments, made late payments or placed too many credit applications concurrently.

Want to improve your credit rating?

The following are several steps you could consider to help you improve your credit rating. Most of these revolve around efficient management of your money, bills and other forms of payments.

  • Have a proper and functional bank account
  • Pay all your outgoing bills on or before the due dates
  • Ensure you’re registered on the electoral roll
  • Don’t share your account with a person with poor credit rating

That’s how you can work out things to get mobile deals even if your credit history isn’t a good one. But going forward, the best action plan would be to work towards improving your credit rating so that you can take advantage of the opportunities that come up in future.

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