What Are Prepaid Debit Cards?

Trying to avoid credit cards or don’t have a checking account? Comparing Prepaid debit cards (also known as reloadable debit cards) vs. regular debit cards? Read this guide to learn how a prepaid debit card allows you to enjoy the ease of digital payments without affecting your budget.

What are prepaid debit cards?

A prepaid card isn’t linked to a credit card company. Instead, think of it as a reloadable debit card. You can load money onto it and spend that amount wherever debit cards are accepted. When you’ve used up the money on the card, or if your balance is getting low, just load more funds for future purchases.

How do I get a prepaid debit card?

Several places offer prepaid cards. You can apply for the ACE Elite® Visa® Prepaid Debit Card, for example, at any of our stores or online, Using the card is subject to card activation and ID verification.1

Where can I load money on my prepaid debit card?

Load money onto your prepaid card at our ACE Cash Express stores,2 through a bank transfer,3 or by loading checks through Mobile Check Load4 on our ACE Elite mobile app.5 You can also enjoy no-fee cash withdrawals6 using your card when you have qualifying direct deposit activity.

What should you look for in a prepaid debit card?

When you want to get a prepaid card, it’s important to find one to make your life easier. Some of the top features you should look for include:

  • Convenient reloading - Adding funds to your reloadable debit card should be convenient. ACE, for example, has a network of over 850 stores, so you won’t have to travel far to reload your card. You can also load checks through the mobile app,5 bank transfers,3 or direct deposits. You can also add funds by bringing in a paper check to any of our locations and cashing it.
  • Multiple plans - Look for a prepaid debit card that offers multiple fee plans to find the plan that works for you. The ACE Elite Card, for example, offers different fee plans to fit your financial needs including, Pay-As-You-Go fee plan,7 Monthly fee plan,8 and a reduced monthly fee plan.
  • Mobile app options - Taking control of your money means knowing what is happening with it. Besides offering Mobile Check Load,4 your ACE Elite® Visa® Prepaid Debit Card includes an easy-to-use mobile app, online account access through your browser, and AnyTime Alerts.5 You can use these features to stay on top of your money and catch any problems quickly.
  • Account extras - Many prepaid card issuers include extra perks with their cards. With ACE Elite Card, for instance, you can also enroll in an optional savings account,9 enjoy cash back rewards10 when you use your Card at select merchants, and use FlashPay2 to send and receive money from friends and family who also have an ACE Elite Card, Flare Account or Netspend card.
  • Security- when looking for a financial service, you want to know that your money is safe. Upon activation of your ACE Elite card, your funds are FDIC insured up to the current coverage limit through Pathward, N.A., 11 leaving you with one less thing to worry about.
  • Withdrawal fees- Many prepaid card issuers allow ATM withdrawals with no cost for in-work transactions. When looking for a prepaid card, it may be best to find one that offers low ATM withdrawal for out-of-network transactions. With ACE, we offer a network of stores across the United States that act as ATMs for all ACE Elite cardholders, limiting the frequency in which you may pay out-of-network transaction fees.6
  • Direct deposit options- Look for a Prepaid card that offers direct deposit features. You may have to opt-in to this feature, but having it available will make for a better experience. With the ACE Elite Card, when you set up a direct deposit of $500 or more, you’ll get access to the $5 Reduced Monthly Plan that offers Unlimited purchase transactions, with no signature or PIN transaction fees.8

How do prepaid debit cards work?

You can get a prepaid card simply by signing up; there is no need to worry about credit scores. For example, with the ACE Elite Card, there are no credit checks.1 Once you’ve loaded money onto the card and activated it, you can use it anywhere debit cards are accepted.1 Just swipe it in-store or enter the card info online.

What are the benefits of a prepaid debit card?

There are many benefits to using a debit card, including:

  • It’s a convenient alternative to a banking account - If you can’t open a checking account due to poor banking history or want to avoid credit cards, a prepaid card may be the right choice for you. With the ACE Elite Card, you won’t have to carry cash or miss out on online payments and your balances are FDIC insured.11
  • You can use direct deposits - From paychecks to refunds on tax returns, getting access to your money without having to cash checks is essential. Our ACE Elite® Visa® Prepaid Debit Card can help you get paid up to two days faster12 when you enroll in direct deposit.
  • It can help you stick to your budget - With credit cards, you may be tempted by consumerism and overspend or go over your budget. A prepaid debit card can help you limit your spending and keep you on track for the future.
  • No credit check1- Don’t let having a low credit score keep you from a prepaid card. Many prepaid card issuers do not check your credit history when you signup.

Ready to enjoy all of these benefits and more? Sign up for our ACE Elite® Visa® Prepaid Debit Card!


1. IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR OPENING A CARD ACCOUNT: To help the federal government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, the USA PATRIOT Act requires us to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens a Card Account. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: When you open a Card Account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and your government ID number. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying information. Card activation and identity verification required before you can use the Card Account. If your identity is partially verified, full use of the Card Account will be restricted, but you may be able to use the Card for in-store purchase transactions. Restrictions include: no ATM withdrawals, international transactions, account-to-account transfers and additional loads. Use of Card Account also subject to fraud prevention restrictions at any time, with or without notice. Residents of Vermont are ineligible to open a Card Account.

2. The ACE Elite Card uses the Netspend Network, which is provided by Netspend Corporation. Netspend is a licensed provider of money transfer services (NMLS ID: 932678). Netspend’s licenses and related information may be found at www.netspend.com/licenses. Fees, limits, and other restrictions may be imposed by Netspend and other third parties in connection with use of the Netspend Network.

3. Fees for bank transfers are determined by the transferor’s bank and may be charged to the transferor’s bank account by the service provider or originating bank. No cost for online or mobile Account-to-Account transfers between Netspend Accounts; a $4.95 fee applies to each such transfer conducted through a Netspend Customer Service agent.

4. Mobile Check Load is a service provided by First Century Bank, N.A. and Ingo Money, Inc., subject to the First Century Bank and Ingo Money Terms and Conditions, and Privacy Policy. Approval review usually takes 3 to 5 minutes but can take up to one hour. All checks are subject to approval for funding in Ingo Money’s sole discretion. Fees apply for approved Money in Minutes transactions funded to your card. Unapproved checks will not be funded to your card. Ingo Money reserves the right to recover losses resulting from illegal or fraudulent use of the Ingo Money Service. Your wireless carrier may charge a fee for message and data usage. Additional transaction fees, costs, terms and conditions may be associated with the funding and use of your card. See your Cardholder Agreement for details. Mobile Check Load service is not available for use within the state of New York.

5. No charge for this service, but your wireless carrier may charge for messages or data.

6. Make up to $100 in no fee cash withdrawals per day using the ACE Elite card at participating ACE Cash Express locations; $100 total is calculated based on all withdrawals performed at all ACE Cash Express locations visited in a day. Card must have been obtained at a participating ACE store or www.acecashexpress.com and a direct deposit (no dollar minimum) made to the card within the immediately preceding 35 days is required. See store for details. Although this feature is available at no additional charge with qualifying direct deposit, certain other transaction fees and costs, terms, and conditions are associated with the use of this Card. Offer subject to change. This optional offer is not a Pathward, National Association, or Visa product or service nor does Pathward, N.A., or Visa endorse this offer.

7. The Pay-As-You-Go Plan (“PAYGO”) is automatically effective at the time of Card activation, unless the Cardholder chooses the optional Monthly Plan. These plans include only domestic purchase transaction fees and do not include ATM fees or any other fees associated with the use and reloading of the Card Account. See your Cardholder Agreement in your Account Center for details.

8. The Pay-As-You-Go Plan is the default Plan Fee on the Card Account. Cardholder may enroll in the Monthly Plan to pay a flat fee of $9.95 per month instead of paying a fee for every purchase transaction under the Pay-As-You-Go Plan. Neither Plan Fee option includes any other fees. If cardholder receives $500 in payroll or government benefit direct deposits in 1 calendar month, cardholder will qualify for the Reduced Monthly Plan. After qualifying, Monthly Plan Cardholders will receive the Reduced Monthly Plan Fee of $5 on their next Plan Fee assessment date. Pay-As-You-Go Cardholders must enroll in the Reduced Monthly Plan to receive it.

9. The optional Savings Account is made available to Cardholders through Pathward, National Association; Member FDIC. To participate in the Savings Account program, Cardholder must consent to and continue receiving communications from us in electronic form. If Cardholder is subject to Internal Revenue Service backup withholding at the time of the request to open a Savings Account, the request will be declined. Interest is calculated on the Average Daily Balance(s) of the Savings Account and is paid quarterly.

  • If the Average Daily Balance is $1,000.00 or less, the interest rate paid on the entire balance will be 4.91% with an annual percentage yield (APY) of 5.00%.
  • If the Average Daily Balance is more than $1,000.00, the interest rate paid on the portion of the Average Daily Balance which exceeds $1,000.00 will be 0.49% with an APY of 0.50%, and the interest paid on the portion of the Average Daily Balance which is $1,000.00 or less will be 4.91%. The APY for this tier will range from 5.00% to 0.54%, depending on the balance in the account.

The interest rates and APYs of each tier may change. The APYs were accurate as of 8/24/2022. These are promotional rates and may change without notice pursuant to applicable law. No minimum balance necessary to open Savings Account or obtain the yield(s). Because Savings Account funds are withdrawn through the Card Account (maximum 6 such transfers per calendar month), Card Account transaction fees could reduce the interest earned on the Savings Account. Card Account and Savings Account funds are FDIC-insured upon verification of Cardholder’s identity. For purposes of FDIC coverage limit, all funds held on deposit by the Cardholder at Pathward, National Association, will be aggregated up to the coverage limit, currently $250,000.00.

10. Payback Rewards is an optional program. You may opt-out at any time by visiting the Payback Rewards page in your Online Account Center. Reward offers are based on individual shopping habits. Cash back rewards are credited to your Account and are not available in the form of a check or other direct payment method. See the program FAQs and Terms and Conditions in your Online Account Center for additional details about how and when you get rewarded. Program sponsor: Netspend Corporation. Pathward, National Association, and Visa are not affiliated in any way with this program and do not endorse or sponsor this program.

11. Upon Successful activation and registration of the Account, funds on deposit at Pathward, National Association, Member FDIC, are insured up to the standard maximum deposit insurance limit. Coverage limit is subject to aggregation of all of Accountholder’s funds held on deposit at Pathward, National Association.

12. Faster funding claim is based on a comparison of our policy of making funds available upon receipt of payment instruction versus the typical banking practice of posting funds at settlement. Fraud prevention restrictions may delay availability of funds with or without notice. Early availability of funds requires payor’s support of direct deposit and is subject to the timing of payor’s payment instruction.

The ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card is issued by Pathward, National Association, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Netspend is a registered agent of Pathward, National Association. Card may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Certain products and services may be licensed under U.S. Patent Nos. 6,000,608 and 6,189,787. Use of the Card Account is subject to activation, ID verification, and funds availability. Transaction fees, terms, and conditions apply to the use and reloading of the Card Account. See the Cardholder Agreement for details.

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