PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review: Is It Worth It?

Written by Kim PinnelliUpdated: 29th Sep 2021
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If you have a PayPal account but don’t have a checking account, it’s tricky to get your funds to use them where you shop and play.

But with the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard, you don’t need a checking account, and you can access your funds just like you could if you had a checking account.

Is the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard worth it? Find out in my review below.

PayPal Mastercard Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Free access to your PayPal funds
  • Early access to your Direct Deposits
  • Earn cash back rewards from partner retailers
  • No credit check
  • No overdraft fees
  • Safer than carrying cash or your checkbook
  • Easy to load funds
  • Easy to keep track of your account

Cons:

  • There’s a monthly fee that you can’t waive
  • If you don’t have a PayPal account, it doesn’t make sense to pay the fee

What Is the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard?

If you’re looking for a way to transfer your PayPal funds to a bank account, but you don’t have one, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is the next best thing. The prepaid Mastercard works just like a bank account, but without the bank.

You can load your funds on your prepaid card, use it at retail, restaurant, and online locations, and even withdraw cash at network (or non-network for a fee) ATMs.

How Does a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Work?

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is a reloadable debit card that allows you to transfer funds from PayPal, direct deposit, or by reloading it at one of the 130,000 Netspend reloading locations. It’s easy to load funds, and then you can use the card wherever Mastercard is accepted.

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard also offers special cashback offers when you shop at select stores, and you could also receive a $20 credit for referring friends and family to the program.

The PayPal mobile app makes it easy to monitor your card on the go, and you can set up real-time text alerts if you want to stay updated on your card’s activity.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Review

  • Monthly Fee: $4.95
  • Card Limit: $15,000

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Features and Benefits

Easy to Use & Set-Up

You can buy a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard at any retail location for a fee (varies by store) or online for free. It’s easy to activate and transfer money to, especially if you already have a PayPal account.

If you don’t have a PayPal account or want to transfer money other ways, you can set up Direct Deposit or visit a retail location to reload it.

Mobile Check Load

If you have a paper check that you want deposited right away, you can use the Mobile Check Load feature. It takes 3 to 5 minutes to load the check (if approved) onto your prepaid card.

Direct Deposit

Get access up to 2 days early from your paycheck or any government pay you receive by setting up Direct Deposit to your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard.

Reload Locations

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is part of the Netspend network, which has over 130,000 locations where you can reload your card for free.

Anytime Alerts

Find out in real-time if someone accessed your card and made purchases. With real-time alerts, you can shut the card off immediately if someone has access to it, or you’ll know your balance in real-time, so you don’t go over.

Purchase Cushion

If you sign up for Direct Deposit, you’ll get a purchase cushion of $10. This means if your total goes over by $10, PayPal will approve it.

This isn’t a loan or a credit card, so you’ll have to bring your account current fast. We don’t recommend using this as it creates bad spending habits, but it’s nice to know it’s there just in case.

Manage from Your Phone

Having access to your account 24/7 on your phone is a great feature. You can check your balance before making a purchase to look for a transaction or any other account maintenance tasks you need to do, but you can do them from anywhere.

Additional Savings Account

All cardholders are eligible for a free savings account. The tiered rate savings accounts pay you higher interest the larger your balance gets.

Virtual Card Numbers

If you shop online and have a PayPal account, you can use the PayPal Virtual Card Number. This enables you to shop online without divulging your card account number, special code, and expiration date. This is in an effort to prevent fraudulent activity on your card.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Rewards

  • Payback Rewards: PayPal partners with certain retail locations and services. Anytime you use your PayPal Prepaid Mastercard at the locations, you’ll earn a portion of your purchase back in cash.
  • Refer a Friend: If you refer a friend or family member and they open a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard and loads at least $40 on it, you and your friend receive a $20 credit.

How Does the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Compare?

#1. PayPal Prepaid Mastercard vs. Netspend Prepaid Visa Card

The Netspend Prepaid Visa Card is another prepaid debit card that you can use anywhere Visa is accepted.

It’s on the same network as the PayPal card, so you get the same network of 130,000 reloadable locations. You also have a chance to earn cash back on your purchases by using your card at participating locations.

Netspend offers a fixed monthly fee package or a pay-as-you-go plan, both of which are comparable in fees to the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard.

#2. Western Union Prepaid Mastercard vs. PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

If you use Western Union more than PayPal, the Western Union Prepaid Mastercard offers the same features but can make unlimited transfers (send and receive) using Western Union.

All features are identical, except for the fees charged since Western Union charges different fees.

#3. Bluebird by American Express vs. PayPal Prepaid Mastercard

The Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Cardhas no monthly fees, free in-network ATM withdrawals, free cash deposits at Walmart locations, and free access to your paycheck with Direct Deposit.

Unlike Mastercard, however, American Express isn’t accepted everywhere, so make sure you shop where American Express is accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PayPal Prepaid Mastercard a Credit Card?

No, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is a debit card. It’s accepted everywhere Mastercard is accepted, but you can only spend the funds that are loaded on the card. You aren’t borrowing money and accruing interest charges like you would with a credit card.

How Do You Reload the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard?

The easiest way to reload a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard is to transfer your PayPal funds to it (no charge).

You can also set up Direct Deposit with your paycheck or government checks, have your tax refund deposited on it, or reload it at one of the 130,000 reloadable locations.

Does the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Build Credit?

No, the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard isn’t a credit card. PayPal doesn’t report the account to the credit bureaus, so it doesn’t help or hurt your credit.

Do I Have to Be a U.S. Citizen to Get the PayPal Debit Card?

If you are a permanent resident and over the age of 18 years old, you can get a PayPal debit card.

How Do I Get the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard?

You can buy a PayPal Prepaid Mastercard at any retail location or order one online. If you buy it in the store, there’s a fee. If you order it online, it’s free, but it takes 7 – 10 days to arrive.

Do I Have to Have a PayPal Account to Get the PayPal Debit Card?

You don’t have to have a PayPal account to get the PayPal debit card, but you should have one if you want to get the most out of it.

A PayPal account is free, and it will make it a lot easier to manage your card and see the transactions in real-time if you have an account.

Bottom Line: PayPal Prepaid Mastercard Review

If you have a PayPal account and use it often, you’ll benefit from the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard. There is a monthly fee, so make sure you’ll get use out of the card before ordering one, but there are many features to enjoy if you don’t have a bank account but need a debit card that acts like one.

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Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli

Kim Pinnelli is a Senior Writer, Editor, & Product Analyst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been a professional financial writer for over 15 years, and has appeared in a myriad of industry leading financial media outlets. Leveraging her personal experience, Kim is committed to helping people take charge of their personal finances and make simple financial decisions.