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Updated on Sunday, January 27, 2019
The strength of the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard lies in its connection with its parent company, PayPal. One of the innovators in online money transfers, PayPal’s prepaid card can link up directly with a PayPal account to provide instant access to funds.
Beyond that feature, which can be a huge benefit to PayPal account holders, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is somewhat run-of-the-mill. As a prepaid card, it does offer access to cash and allows you to make purchases, at least up to the amount you’ve got on deposit. Additionally, you can avoid the overdraft charges you’ll find with most checking or savings accounts and the interest charges that come with credit card accounts.
Like some other prepaid cards, however, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard has a host of fees and expenses that can add up in a hurry and overwhelm the benefits of using the card. In addition to paying fees just to own the card, you can expect that any transactions you make will cost you money. You might even run into some unexpected fees for activities or transactions that you might expect to come free of charge.
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard features
Instantaneous transfers from your PayPal balance. Without question, the primary benefit of the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is the ability to transfer funds from your PayPal balance directly to your card free-of-charge and instantaneously.
Early access to funds. Using the no-fee direct deposit feature, you can have access to your funds up to two days faster than with a traditional bank.
No credit check required. Because the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is a prepaid debit card, not a credit card, there’s no credit check required at the time of application.
Spend or shop anywhere Mastercard is accepted. You can use the PayPal prepaid card to make purchases anywhere that debit cards are accepted, including online.
Savings account option. With an optional connected savings account, you can earn up to a 5% APY on balances of up to $1,000.
High card limit. You can have up to $15,000 on your card at any time.
High ATM withdrawal limit. The daily limit on ATM withdrawals is $940, although no single ATM transaction can exceed $325.
Free mobile app. Access your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard account 24/7. Use the mobile app to check your balance, review transactions, receive real-time activity alerts, and more.
Perks: You can opt-in to receive special offers and cash back rewards with certain merchants when using the PayPal prepaid card. Additionally, if you refer a friend who activates and loads at least $10 onto their card, you’ll each earn a $5 bonus.
PayPal Prepaid Mastercard fees and fine print
The PayPal prepaid card has a whole host of fees that can take some time to read through and absorb. The most noteworthy are the common fees that one can expect while using a prepaid card, such as monthly plan fees and ATM fees.
Most of the other fees listed by the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard are for less-common scenarios, like if you need to request checks or a replacement card. However, the long list of charges can make it feel as though you’ll get dinged with a fee for doing just about anything.
|PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Fees|
|Card purchase fee||Up to $4.95||Buy the card online from PayPal to avoid the card purchase fee.|
|Plan fee||$4.95 per month||N/A|
|Over-the-counter cash withdrawal fee||$2.50||Select “debit” and use your PIN to get cash back at various retailers, including grocers, to avoid having to go into a branch and pay a fee to access your cash.|
|Over-the-counter cash withdrawal fee from a Netspend reload network location||Varying fee will be assessed by the network operator, not by PayPal||N/A|
|ATM cash withdrawal fee (domestic)||$1.95, plus ATM owner surcharge, if any||Avoid surcharge fees by using an Allpoint ATM|
|ATM cash withdrawal fee (international)||$1.95, plus ATM owner surcharge, if any, plus foreign transaction surcharge||Included in transaction fee|
|ATM transaction decline fee (domestic)||$1||Avoid fees by only withdrawing the amount you have in your account; There’s no fee to check your balance online, by email or phone|
|ATM transaction decline fee (international)||$1|
|Mobile check load fee||$0 for 10-day processing; to get money in minutes, 1% for payroll and government checks and 5% for all other checks|
|Balance inquiry fee (domestic ATM)||$0.50 plus ATM owner fee, if any||Check your balance online or via email or phone for free|
|Balance inquiry fee (international ATM)||$0.50 plus ATM owner fee, if any||Check your balance online or via email or phone for free|
|Foreign transaction surcharge||2.5% of transaction|
|Check request fee||$5.95 each|
|Additional statement mailing fee||$5.95 each|
|Additional card fee||$0|
|Replacement card fee||$5.95|
|Card delivery fee (7-10 business days)||$0|
|Card delivery fee (3 business days)||$20|
|Card delivery fee (1-2 business days)||$25|
|Account maintenance fee||$0|
|Custom card fee||$3.95|
In a nutshell, you can expect to pay a $4.95 monthly fee for using the card, which amounts to $59.40 per year. This fee includes all of your PIN and signature-required transactions. You’ll also face ATM fees of $1.95 per transaction, plus any surcharges from terminal operators or from the foreign transaction surcharge.
In the prepaid card world, a monthly fee is to be expected, and $4.95 is in the middle of the road when it comes to competitor cards. Although some prepaid cards don’t charge any monthly fee, others charge $9.95 per month. The fact that this monthly fee includes transaction expenses is a benefit, as some cards charge both monthly fees and individual transaction fees. The ATM fee is also a bit below the $2.50 commonly charged by prepaid card issuers.
When it comes to reloading your card, PayPal doesn’t charge any fees at all, which is refreshing. However, you will still face charges from individual retailers if you reload via any other method than direct deposit or via your PayPal account.
As long as you don’t stray outside the lines of typical debit card usage, you won’t face a ton of additional fees with the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard. But you should expect to pay for nearly any other additional service, from ordering checks to making foreign transactions.
Using the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard app
The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard app allows you to access your account 24/7, much like with a regular bank account. You can review your recent transactions, check your current balance, find a nearby reload location, receive real-time activity alerts and load checks using your smartphone.You can use the mobile check deposit option in the app to get cash in minutes. However, you’ll have to pay for this privilege. For payroll and government checks with a pre-printed signature, the standard fee to get your money in minutes is 1% of the amount of the check. For all other accepted checks, the fee jumps up to 5% of the amount of the check.
You can, however, avoid mobile check deposit fees if you’re willing to wait 10 days for your cash to become available.
Opening a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard account
You can get a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard online at https://www.paypal-prepaid.com/. To start the process, you’ll need to enter your name, address, and email address. You’ll also choose if you want to sign up for direct deposit, and the card design that you would like.
The next step in the process is to validate your ID by providing your date of birth and some type of government identification, such as your driver’s license. You’ll also need to provide your Social Security number, to help prevent the card from being used for illegal purposes.
Because the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is a prepaid debit card, not a credit card, there’s no credit check required at the time of application. In fact, when you apply for the card, you’re only subject to identity verification, although you must also activate the card before you can use it. Once you open your account, you’ll receive your card in about 7 to 10 business days.
One interesting thing to note is that this card is not available to residents of Vermont.
How to reload your Paypal Prepaid Mastercard
The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard offers two ways to reload the card free of charge: direct deposit and PayPal balance transfers. PayPal balance transfers offer the additional benefit of being real-time, meaning you can access your cash as soon as you transfer it.
You can also use one of more than 130,000 Netspend reload locations to deposit cash or checks to your PayPal Prepaid Visa Card. A fee will apply that varies depending on the individual retailer. You can use the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard website to find the nearest reload location.
Cash reloads have a daily limit of $2,500; the limit for ACH/bank transfers is $7,500. The maximum value you can have on the card at any time is $15,000.
Who could benefit from the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard?
Prepaid cards aren’t usually the option of choice for banking customers, and the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is no exception. Although it has some traditional banking features, it also has a host of fees and expenses for the most basic banking services.
On the plus side, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard offers important basic features, including ATM access, purchase capability, and the ability to transfer funds. The true highlight of the card for PayPal customers is the ability to instantaneously transfer money to the card from your PayPal balance, free of charge.
However, you’ll have to pay just to open the card, and if you want to access your cash, that will cost you money as well.
Overall, you should understand that even fees that seem low add up over time. Although not the highest in the industry, the $4.95 monthly fee takes nearly $60 out of your pocket every year. Even if you sign up for the PayPal 5% APY savings account and deposit $1,000, the $50 you’d earn won’t even cover your annual fee on the card.
The lower-than-normal $1.95 ATM fee can also easily eat up hundreds of dollars per year in charges, simply for accessing your money.
In a world full of banks that charge no monthly or ATM fees, using the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard as your primary banking option is less than ideal. However, if you’re forced to use a prepaid card for whatever reason, this card might have some appeal, particularly if you are already a PayPal customer.