Prepaid credit card and debit card options
Prepaid credit and debit cards are secure, convenient and less risky than carrying cash. Here’s how to find the right one for you.
What is a prepaid card?
A prepaid card gives you a way to load and spend your money in Australia, online and overseas. Although they're often referred to as prepaid credit cards, they don't offer any credit or ways to borrow money. They also don't charge interest or impact your credit history.
Instead, prepaid cards work in a similar way to debit cards. But because you can only spend what you load onto the card, they are also useful for keeping spending under control.
Types of prepaid cards in Australia include reloadable, multi-currency cards (designed for travelling), single-use Visa or Mastercard prepaid cards and prepaid cards for kids.
|Type||Description||Reloadable||Card cost||Where to buy|
|Visa or Mastercard gift cards||Designed to use in Australia. Pre-load funds and use anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted (online or in person).||Dependent on card||$0 - $10||Online and in-store at Coles, Woolworths and other major retailers|
|Travel money cards||Designed to use overseas. Pre-load foreign currency / currencies and use it like a debit card to make purchases or withdraw cash.||Yes||$0 - $5||Online and in-store at Australia Post|
|Kids cards||Pocket money management for parents and kids. No cash withdrawals but designed to make purchases wherever cards are accepted.||Yes||Fees for card and monthly membership fees||Online with ZAAP or Spriggy|
Prepaid credit card benefits and features
Every prepaid card is different, but some popular features and benefits include:
- The ability to load and top up your balance with cash
- Access to multiple currencies
- Lower fees and charges than credit cards
- No interest rates
- Usually available to people at least 16 years old
- Some earn rewards points
- Money-tracking tools
- Security against theft, loss and fraud
What types of prepaid cards are available in Australia?
- Everyday prepaid cards. These cards offer convenience for day-to-day spending and could include tap-and-go payments, balance-tracking features and fast, easy money loading options.
- Prepaid travel cards. You can use a prepaid travel card to pay for things when you're overseas and avoid the currency conversion fees charged by some other cards. You just load Australian dollars onto the prepaid card, then convert the money into supported foreign currencies at a locked-in exchange rate.
- Gift cards. Prepaid credit cards can be gifted and loaded with a nominated amount or purchased with a set amount already on the card. These gift cards are typically branded and can be used at specific stores.
- Money transfer cards. Money transfer cards allow multiple people in different countries to access the funds in a single account. These accounts come with 2 cards. A person deposits money in the account and someone with the other card in a different country can access the funds as soon as they clear in the account.
- Reward cards. Some prepaid cards are also linked to reward programs and earn points as you spend. For example, the Qantas Travel Money Card.
Are there any prepaid cards for teenagers?
While there are debit cards and bank accounts designed especially for teenagers and some for younger children, you could also consider a prepaid card to help a teenager learn how to manage their money on plastic by limiting the temptation to overspend.
A prepaid card could also be useful when they are travelling and to help keep online or gaming transactions in check. There are no specific prepaid cards for teens, but they could be eligible to apply for most options as the minimum age limit ranges from 14 to 16 years.
How to compare prepaid cards
Considering the following features will help you find a prepaid card that is right for you.
Preloaded vs. reloadable
Some prepaid cards such as gift cards have a fixed amount of money to use. Meanwhile, travel cards and other reloadable cards allow you to top up your balance.
Most reloadable prepaid cards are Mastercard or Visa cards that can be used in Australia and worldwide. Some places may not accept prepaid cards, such as hotels or ATMs. You can check with the card provider or businesses to find out if your card will be accepted, or have a back-up payment option with you (e.g. a credit card, debit card or cash).
Prepaid cards may have fees, including purchasing or set-up, loading and currency conversion fees. Other fees and costs could be for inactivity, card replacement, cancellation, declined transactions and ATM withdrawals.
Most prepaid travel cards in Australia support up to 10 international currencies. This may include USD, GBP, EUR, NZD and more. When you spend in a local currency supported by and loaded on your card, you can avoid foreign currency conversion fees. Check if the local currency you'll be spending in is supported by the travel card before you use it.
Prepaid cards usually have a maximum amount of money you can carry on the card at a time. Check these details before you apply to make sure these limits don't restrict the way you use the card.
If you want to reward your spending, consider using a frequent flyer travel card such as the Qantas Travel Money Mastercard.
Remember that every prepaid card is different. Checking individual details now will help you make a more informed decision when choosing the right option for you.
Compare prepaid credit and debit cards
|Provider and card||Type||Reloadable||Minimum and maximum load (AUD)||Issue fee||Where to get it|
|Australia Post Travel Platinum Mastercard||Mastercard||Yes||$100 – $100,000 (or foreign currency equivalent)||$0||Order online or in selected Post Offices|
|Australia Post Everyday Mastercard||Mastercard||Yes||$20 – $25,000 (or foreign currency equivalent)||$7.95||Order online or in selected Post Offices|
|CommBank Travel Money Card||Mastercard||Yes||$1 – $100,000||$0||Order online|
|Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard||Mastercard||Yes||$100 – $100,000||$0||Order online|
|Qantas Travel Money||Mastercard||Yes||$50 – $20,000||$0||Order online|
|Travelex Money Card||Mastercard||Yes||–||Order online|
|Westpac Worldwide Wallet||Mastercard||Yes||Maximum available balance of $50,000||$0||Online or in-branch|
How can I get a prepaid credit card?
You can buy or order most prepaid credit cards online, or at participating retailers and bank branches. Here are the common requirements to get a prepaid credit card:
- Age. Some prepaid credit cards have a minimum age requirement. For example, you must be at least 14 years old to get the CommBank Travel Money Card and at least 16 to get the Qantas Travel Money Card.
- Personal details. You may need to provide your full name, residential address, contact phone number, date of birth or other details to help verify your identity.
- Initial load amount. Some cards require you to load a minimum amount onto the card when you first get it.
- Card activation. You need to activate the card before you can use it. This may be done in person, over the phone or online.
- PIN. Prepaid credit cards may come with an assigned PIN, or require you to choose a PIN when you activate the card.
- Signing the card. You need to sign the prepaid card to validate the zero liability policy that helps protect you against any unauthorised transactions.
If you apply in person, you should receive your card and be able to use it straight away. If you apply online, you will have to wait for the card to arrive in the post, which takes up to 5–10 working days in most cases.
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