From travel money to everyday spending, prepaid credit cards give you secure and convenient access to your own cash when you need it. Find out more about them and compare prepaid credit cards here.
Prepaid cards give you another way to pay for things without the potential cost of interest charges associated with regular credit cards.
This guide outlines the different features of prepaid credit cards, how to compare them and where you can get one so that you can decide if a prepaid credit card is right for you.
What is a prepaid credit card?
A prepaid credit card is a type of card where you load and use your own money, rather than drawing on your credit limit and paying off the balance as you would with a normal credit card. Some of the features and benefits of prepaid credit cards include:
- More control over the balance or amount of money on the card
- An alternative to a credit card for someone under 18
- Access to multiple currencies through the one card
- Lower fees and charges than other credit cards
- No interest rate
- Reward points
- Money tracking tools
- Security against theft, loss and fraud
These features vary from card to card, so it’s important to make sure you compare prepaid credit cards and find options that are suited to your specific needs.
Different types of prepaid credit cards
Just as there are different types of regular credit cards, there is a range of prepaid cards designed to suit specific needs, including:
- Everyday prepaid credit 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 prepaid travel cards to load Australian dollars and convert them into a number of supported foreign currencies at a locked-in exchange rate. This means that you can access your own funds overseas without the cost of a currency conversion fee.
- Gift cards. Prepaid credit cards can make great gifts as an alternative to cash, and can be loaded with a nominated amount or purchased with a set amount already on the card. These cards may be designed to be used at specific shops or businesses, such as Westfield or the Woolworths Group stores, and usually can be re-loaded once the balance is spent.
- Money transfer cards. Money transfer cards allow multiple people in different countries to access the funds in one account. These accounts come with two cards; one person deposits money in the account, and the other person, who has the card in a different country, can access the funds as soon as they clear in the account.
- Prepaid reward cards. Some prepaid cards are also linked to reward programs and earn you points for your spending. The Coles Reloadable Prepaid MasterCard, Qantas Cash card and Velocity Global Wallet are all examples of cards that you can preload and earn points with.
How to compare prepaid credit cards
Considering the following features will help you find a prepaid credit card that is right for you.
- Pre-loaded vs. reloadable. Some prepaid cards come with a fixed amount of money to use, while others allow you to load money on an ongoing basis. If you’re planning to use the card more than once, consider a reloadable card.
- Purchasing or set up fee. Prepaid cards may come with a one-off fee when you buy them, usually ranging from $5 to $11. Some cards don’t charge a fee or will waive it for existing customers, like the ANZ Travel Card.
- Loading fees. Some prepaid credit cards charge an initial loading fee, and others may charge a fee every time you add more money to the card. Others don’t charge anything, so make sure to read the terms and conditions to confirm how much you could pay.
- Inactivity fee. This fee usually applies if you get a reloadable prepaid card and don’t use it for 12 months. Inactivity fees can be as little as $1 to $5 per month, so keeping this in mind when you compare prepaid cards could help you avoid this charge.
- Currency conversion fees. A fee of around 3% could be applied for any currency conversions associated with the prepaid card. If you’re spending in a supported currency, you can usually avoid this fee with a travel card.
- Rewards. If you’ll be using the card regularly, consider whether you can earn rewards on your purchases and what you can redeem them for.
- Other fees. Prepaid debit cards can include a number of other fees including card replacement fees, cancellation fees, declined transaction fees and ATM withdrawal fees. Check these charges before you apply to find an affordable prepaid card for your needs.
- Load limits. Prepaid cards usually have a maximum amount of money you can carry on the card at one time, ranging from $30 to $10,000 or more. Check these details before you apply to make sure these limits don't restrict the way you use the card.
Remember, every prepaid credit card is different, so checking individual details now will help you make a more informed decision when choosing the right option for you.
Compare travel money cards
|Provider and card||MasterCard/Visa/AMEX||Reloadable?||Min/max load (AUD)||Issue fee||Where to get it|
|ANZ prepaid credit cards|
|ANZ Pacific Money Transfer Card||Visa||Yes||$0 / $500 (up to $2,500 per month)||$24.95||Order online|
|ANZ Travel Card||Visa||Yes||$200 / $80,000||$11||Order online|
|American Express prepaid credit cards|
*Only available in USD, British Sterling Pounds or Euros
|American Express||Yes||Maximums for eligible currencies: US$30,000|
|Up to AUD$15||Order online|
|Australia Post prepaid credit cards|
|Load&Go Reloadable Visa Card||Visa||Yes||$20 / $999||$6.95||Order online or in selected stores|
|Load&Go Travel Card||Visa||Yes||$100 / $10,000||$0||Online or in selected stores|
|Load&Go Gift Card||Visa||No||$20 / $500||$5.95||Order online or in selected stores|
|Commonwealth Bank prepaid credit cards|
|Commonwealth Bank Prepaid MasterCard Gift Card||MasterCard||No||$25 / $500||5,400 to 100,000 Awards points||Only available through the Commonwealth Bank Awards program|
|Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card||MasterCard||Yes||$1 / $100,000||$15||Order online|
|Coles prepaid credit cards|
|Coles Reloadable MasterCard||MasterCard||Yes||$10 / $10,000||$10||Order online|
|Coles Gift MasterCard||MasterCard||No||$10 / $1,000||$5||Order online|
|Coles Online MasterCard||MasterCard (virtual only)||No||$10 / $1,000||$5||Order online|
|Heritage Building Society prepaid credit cards|
|Cash Passport MasterCard||MasterCard||Yes||$100 / $100,000||$0||Order online|
|Universal Gift Cards||Visa||No||$25 / $100||$9.95 (postage and handling)||Order online|
|NAB prepaid credit card|
|NAB Traveller Card||MasterCard||Yes||$50 / $45,000||$0||Order online|
|Qantas prepaid credit card|
|Qantas Cash||MasterCard||Yes||$50 / $20,000||$0||Order online|
|Travelex prepaid credit card|
|Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport||MasterCard||Yes||$100 / 100,000||$15||Order online|
|Virgin Australia Velocity prepaid credit card|
|Velocity Global Wallet||Visa||Yes||$1 / $25,000||$0||Order online|
|Westpac prepaid credit card|
|Global Currency Card||Visa||Yes||$100 / 100,000||$0||Order online|
|Woolworths prepaid credit card|
|MasterCard Prepaid Gift Card||MasterCard||No||$20 / $500||$5.50||Selected stores|
|Visa Prepaid Gift Card||Visa||No||$20 / $500||$5.50||Selected stores|
|Woolworths WISH Gift Card||N/A#||No||$10 / $500||$0||Order online or in selected stores|
#The Woolworths WISH Gift Card is only available to be used at participating Woolworths Group stores
How can I get a prepaid credit card?
Prepaid credit cards are available both online and in outlets around Australia.
Depending on the prepaid credit card you choose, you will be able to apply online or in person at participating retailers and bank branches. While each application varies, the following list outlines common requirements you need to meet to get a prepaid credit card:
- Age. Some prepaid credit cards specify a minimum age for cardholders or will limit the available balance if a person is under a certain age. For example, the Coles Reloadable MasterCard requires you to be at least 18 years of age if you want to increase your card limit. Similarly, the Velocity Global Wallet card requires you to be “over 18 years of age” to use it.
- Personal details. You may need to provide personal details such as your full name, residential address, contact phone number and date of birth to help verify your identity.
- Initial load amount. Some cards may require you to load a minimum amount onto the card when you first get it.
- Card activation. You will need to activate the card before you can use it. This can be done in person, over the phone or online depending on the card.
- 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. Make sure you sign the card once you receive and activate it. This step is necessary to validate the zero liability policy that helps protect you against any unauthorised transactions.
Making sure you are prepared to meet these requirements will help you get your card as quickly as possible. If you apply in person, you’ll be able to get and use your card straight away. If you apply online you will have to wait to receive the card in the post, which takes up to 5-10 working days in most cases. You can also check with the prepaid credit card provider to find out about specific card requirements before you apply.
Prepaid credit cards combine flexibility and affordability by letting you load and spend your own money in a range of different ways. With so many different prepaid cards available, learning more about them and comparing prepaid options will help you get the most out of these cards whenever you choose to use them.