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The Best Debit Credit Cards

Monday, September 26th

What Are the Best Debit Cards?

Besides the typical debit card you get with your savings or checking account, prepaid debit cards are a popular option for people with no credit - or bad credit. These cards represent a great way to get the flexibility of a credit card with the security of a debit card, and often give you the same perks and rewards as a traditional credit card.

What are Debit Cards?

Most of us are well-acquainted with debit cards. Attached to a savings or checking account, these cards typically have the flexibility of a credit card - swipe anywhere a traditional credit card could be used - with the benefit of helping to control spending. In other words, if you don't have the money in the bank, your purchase won't go through. That makes debit cards popular for people who are trying to establish (or reestablish) good money management habits, or who just don't like the idea of having an open line of credit out there.

But, there's a second type of debit card that can also be a great tool for managing spending, as well as gift-giving and other situations. Sometimes referred to as a prepaid card, this credit card often comes with a lot of perks - sign-up bonuses, rewards points, and more - while still limiting the amount of money available to spend at any given time. Like a traditional debit card, if you don't deposit funds to this type of debit card, no purchases can be made.

For that reason, this kind of debit card is ideal for people who have bad or no credit. Because you have to deposit money to the card in order to use it, the credit card company doesn't care about your credit history: you're backing your own purchases with your money.

Prepaid Debit Cards: What To Look For

If you've decided that a prepaid debit card is what you need, there are a few ins and outs to keep in mind.

  • Fees: many debit cards charge a one-time fee to open the card, and some have monthly maintenance fees for as long as you keep the card active (usually around $5/month). Those costs can add up over time, so make sure you know what you're getting.
  • Card Brand: for maximum flexibility, you may want to choose a credit card that can be used in more places. For example, most places accept Visa and MasterCard, while some retailers and merchants will not take AmEx or Discover.
  • Rewards: make sure you know what points, cash back, or other rewards are offered with the card you choose. It won't help you to have a card that gives you extra points for dining out if you never go to a restaurant, for instance.

TopConsumerReviews.com has partnered with Lending Tree to help you find the best Debit Cards currently available. We hope this information will give you all the tools you need to choose the right debit card for you!

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FAQ

Most of the time when people refer to a debit card, they're talking about what you get from your bank. Tied to your savings or checking account, these cards immediately deduct money from your balance every time you use them. This is different from a credit card, where you buy today and pay later: if you don't have the money in your account, your debit card purchase will be declined.
Some debit cards are actually prepaid cards: you fund them in advance and then spend the money as you like, but in the same way you would use a credit card. It's not directly tied to your banking accounts, so once you spend the deposit you'll have to add more.
That depends. If it's coming from your bank and tied to your account(s) there, no. If it's a credit card that you fund in advance, yes!
Some of the most common fees with a non-bank issued debit card (i.e. a prepaid card) are one-time charges to "open" the card, as well as monthly maintenance fees for using it (e.g. $5/month). Those fees can really add up, so be sure to read the fine print and understand how your debit card works before you sign up.
Yes, especially if you get one that's a Visa or MasterCard. You can get debit cards issued by American Express or Discover too, but they tend to be accepted by fewer merchants.
Yes! Many of the popular rewards programs you'll find with traditional credit cards - cash back at restaurants, airline miles for purchases, etc. - are available with debit cards too.
A prepaid debit card is a smart way to manage spending: you literally can't make purchases that exceed your deposit! It's also a good gift-giving option, when you don't want to hand someone cash but want them to have flexibility to spend the money wherever they like.
Definitely not! Prepaid debit cards are funded with your money, which poses no risk to the card issuers. You can get a debit card with limited credit, no credit, or bad credit - no problem!
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