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Prepaid Credit Cards

Prepaid credit cards are a good way to pay bills online, add money (including paycheck funds) via Direct Deposit, shop at retail outlets, use ATM machines, and build your credit. A prepaid credit card works similar to an online checking account, keeping your money safe instead of carrying tons of cash in your wallet. Like a checking account, your money is FDIC insured (in this case, up to $250,000.

The prepaid Visa credit card is a good way for younger credit users, those with a bad credit history or credit score, and the little-seen "credit ghosts" to build their credit history. All you have to do is sign up for a prepaid credit card through either Mastercard or Visa. Then you pay your bills using the credit card's free online bill pay option. This payment is reported to PRBC, a consumer credit reporting agency.

What Is PRBC?

Prepaid Credit CardsPRBC is an important credit building institution which you may not have heard about, because it's only been around since 2002. Like the more famous U.S. credit bureaus like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, PRBC is a national credit data repository compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA.

PRBC, which stands fro "Pay Rent, Build Credit", is different in several distinct ways, though. What PRBC Inc does is report positive credit file data that isn't always included in the reports of Transunion, Experian, Innovis, or Equifax. Also, PRBC allows its consumers to self-enroll, while reporting their own non-debt payment history.

Records kept including timely payment of bills that aren't always reported by the other FCRA credit reporting agencies, such as the payment of rent, utility bills, insurance payments, cable bills, and telephone bills. These are some of the most important payments many of us have every month, but few of us get credit for timely payment of such bills. That's why PRBC, which has been partnered with Fair Isaac since 2007, was created in the first place.

Prepaid Credit Card Reviews

Account Now Gold Visa Prepaid Credit Card - Has $0 monthly fee and a $10,000 balance limit. You also get free direct deposit and free bill pay, as well as an exclusive VIP customer servive with Direct Deposit.

Vision Premier Visa Prepaid Credit Card - Unlimited free purchases, free account alerts to your SMS, text service, or email address. You can use millions of ATMs worldwide, with low weekly fees (or free using direct deposit). Also has online bill pay.

Silver Prepaid Mastercard Card - The Mastercard options includes free account alerts to your text address, email address, or SMS. Unlimited free transactions (purchasing), free direct deposit. Perfect for government checks and benefits checks, because these transactions are free. Comparable to Vision Premier Visa cards.

Prepaid Visa RUSHCARD - Free credit builder to help your credit score, free account text alerts, a free interactive money management interface, along with free benefits checks, tax refund direct deposit, and paycheck deposit. Finally, this card is accepted at millions of locations worldwide.

The Silver Mastercard prepaid card is what I would recommend for seniors and retired folk, while I recommend the Prepaid Visa Rushcard for those trying to build up their credit rating.

Kids Prepaid Credit Cards

There are even prepaid credit cards for kids. The first one that comes to mind is the "Pay Jr Visa Buxx Prepaid Debit Card". You can tell it's for kids because it using the cool misspellings. While I'm normally against Netspeak words, this card is handy enough that I won't hold it against Visa in this case.

Pay Jr. has two version: for those 12-and-under and those 13-and-up. The "12 & Under" credit card is called "Payjr Chore & Allowance", which includes free enrollment, an online chore tracker, helpful reminders, and financial education for your child. This pre-paid credit card teaches kids responsibility by rewarding them for their work.

The Pay Jr Visa Buxx Card is when Visa gets serious about its credit cards for youths, and is marketed for the 13-and-up crowd. Visa Buxx is a reloadable prepaid card which lets teens shop online. Visa Buxx by Payjr has a budget and spending tracker and a unique card design. While it's touted as a credit card, it's actually a debit card. Tell your kid it's the one and see how long it takes him or her to figure out the difference.

No Fees Prepaid Credit Cards

When finding a prepaid credit card, it's most important that you find one with no fees or lower fees. If you get the wrong card, the fees end up ruining any chances of saving money with rewards, incentives, or lower interest rates. When you are searching through reviews of various cards, see the comparisons in their fees.

If you see the word "free" a lot, that's a really good thing. That's one reason I recommend the Prepaid Visa Rushcard for youthful card users, because so many of the features are free. The credit-building options also add an incentive for kids, teens, and young adults to use the cards (when available).

Below are some of the prominent prepaid debit and credit cards on the market, ranked according to the size of monthly fees. There might be hidden fees which change the ranking, so check to see if any of the top cards include hidden fees that could change your calculations.

  • AccountNow Prepaid Visa Card - $0 monthly
  • Upside Visa Prepaid Card - $2.99
  • Capital One Reloadable Prepaid Mastercard - $4.95
  • Green Dot Gold Prepaid Visa Card - $5.95 monthly
  • REACH Visa Prepaid Card - $8.95
  • Pink ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Card - $9.95
  • Prepaid Visa Purple Diamond RushCard - $9.95 monthly
  • BabyPhat Prepaid Visa Rushcard - $9.95 monthly
  • NetSpend MasterCard Prepaid Card - $9.95 monthly

Online Prepaid Credit Cards

Most of the prepaid credit cards I've discussed already work in brick-and-mortar retail stores, but they probably work best when used as an online prepaid credit card. That's because of the free electronic alerts and the free direct deposit options. Many are set up for a younger and more tech-savvy customer base.

Building up a positive credit history also lends itself to online prepaid credit cards, because the PRBC-friendly cards sometimes require you report your financial activity. Such reports are naturally going to be easier to file over the Internet, where a few types words and a few clicks become a PRBC report.

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