The 5 Best and Worst Prepaid Cards

Expert picks to guide you to the right piece of prepaid plastic.

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Wired Plastic Visa Prepaid Card. The activation and monthly fees are $57 in the first year. "That's still a lot to me," says Bill Hardekopf of LowCards.com, but it's cheaper than other cards. You'll also get points for every dollar you spend on purchases. "A rewards program with a prepaid card is attractive," he says.

The Worst

RushCards. "You can really spend a lot for fees on these cards," Harzog says. Although New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez endorses them, don't be fooled: You can pay up to $14.95 just for a particular RushCard design. "These cards are marketed as cool cards, but I'd rather save money," says Harzog. The Baby Phat RushCard Pay Monthly is particularly costly: a $14.95 activation fee, $9.95 monthly fee, $1 per PIN transaction, and a $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee (2 free per month).

AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card. It's a hefty $9.95 a month to use this card, unless you load $2,500 onto it each month. ATM withdrawals are $2.50 per transaction. There's also a $1 fee to call a customer service agent if you're not using direct deposit. "I really think you should be able to access customer service without having to pay for it," Harzog says.

NetSpend Card. This card offers three plans. Opt for pay-as-you-go, and you'll get slapped with a $1 fee for every purchase. The other two plans don't charge per purchase, but you'll have to pay a monthly fee, which is $5 for the premier plan. "It would be nice if direct deposit could get rid of that monthly fee for you like it does on some prepaid cards, but here, it doesn't," Harzog says. The cash withdrawal fee is an additional $2.50 a month. Added up, the fees on this card just aren't worth it.

Young Money Prepaid Card. Yes, this is the Lil Wayne card, but don't be lured in by the celebrity endorsement. The monthly maintenance fee is $3.95. And the reload fee is $4.95—"that's high," says Harzog. There's also a one-time purchase fee of $6.95, and ATM withdrawals are $2 per transaction. That's a lot of fees for one card.

Vision Preferred. Sekar says consumers should steer clear of this pay-as-you-go card. It charges a $9.95 activation fee, plus $1 per signature or PIN transaction. You'll also get hit with a $2.50 ATM fee.

Twitter: @DanielBortz

Corrected 04/27/2012: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed an online bill-pay fee for the Baby Phat RushCard. Online bill pay is free for this card.