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Banking

Prepaid cards - a worthy alternative to your current account?

Robyn Hamilton

Robyn Hamilton

Content Marketing Specialist

In this article we compare the best prepaid money card options on the market - some of which are now offering financial services to rival those of your traditional current account.

As Ireland moves more and more towards a cashless society, where making payments is as easy as touching your phone off a terminal and we’re only going to see more innovation in the banking sector thanks to things like PSD2; traditional banking and its many associated fees is becoming a less and less desirable option. The question is, are there any alternatives to a traditional current account?

There are loads of prepaid card options on the market right now, to the point that it seems like every other day a new fintech pops up offering more new and varied ways to manage your money - and all from the convenience of your smartphone.

To make things simpler, we’ve broken down the following prepaid card options into three different categories to match three broad customer profiles; basic prepaid cards that are great for gift giving, mid-range prepaid cards that are handy for online shopping and budgeting and finally, a few cards that have so many features they could rival your current account!

Let’s kick things off with the basics.

 The basics - prepaid cards great for gift giving

With increasing numbers among us turning to the internet to carry out our retail therapy, the need for online-friendly payments is growing.

Prepaid cards are a great, budget-friendly option for online spending. With a predetermined limit, decided by you, there’s only so much you can spend - unlike with debit or credit cards!

The following three cards are the best basic options for online spending and are probably best suited as one-off gift cards as they don’t offer the best rates for reloading the card with cash but will make perfect cash alternative gifts for those who might have no other options for online spending - children and teenagers for example.   

Prepaid Card

ATM Cash withdrawal fee

Top-up methods

Foreign Exchange rate

Maximum single top up

Price per month

Chip & Pin

Loading fee

Extra features

Vplus

n/a

One4All voucher

2.0%

€100

FREE

No

€3.00 for amounts between €10 - €30

€6.00 for amounts between €30 - €70

€8.00 for amounts between €70 - €100

n/a

Swirl Mastercard

€1.50 per ATM withdrawal

Bank transfer, Debit card

5.0%

€2,500

FREE

Yes

Top up Swirl card online instantly using Visa debit card for €0.99.

Top up charges for Payzone Outlets (maximum single load €500):

€2.99  for amounts between  €10 & €350

€3.99  for amounts between  €351 & €500

n/a

Perfectcard

€2.00 per ATM withdrawal

Bank transfer, Debit card

2.75%

€8,500

FREE

Yes

Load fee 2.75%

n/a


Mid-range - prepaid cards great for budgeting

The following cards offer much the same functionality as the more basic prepaid cards, with a few extra features that make them into a more permanent, rechargeable prepaid card options for day-to-day spending and budgeting.

Get access to apps that help you to keep track of your spending and savings as well as offering a convenient way to top-up your card on the go. Skrill even offers Apple Pay compatibility for extra-handy spending.

It is worth noting however, that all of these options charge a monthly or annual fee to use.   

Prepaid Card

ATM Cash withdrawal fee

Top-up methods

Foreign Exchange rate

Maximum single top up

Price per month

Chip & Pin

Loading fee

Extra features

Skrill

€5.50 per ATM withdrawal

Bank transfer, Debit card, Credit card

3.99%

Unlimited

€10 (annual fee)

Yes

Bank transfer: FREE

Debit card: 1.9%

Credit cards: 2.25%

Apple Pay, send and receive money

3 mobile Money Virtual Card

€2 per ATM withdrawal


1% of transaction value for contactless payments

Bank transfer, Debit card

2.95%

€350 (increase limit by providing proof of ID and address)

€1.25

No

€1.00 charge if you top up from €0.01 to €59.99

€2.00  for amounts between  €60 & €159.99

€3.50 for amounts between €160 & €500

App, track your spending, save money with wallets.

3 mobile Money Card

€2 per ATM withdrawal


1% of transaction value for contactless payments

Bank transfer, Debit card,

Payzone  & Three stores.

2.95%

€350 (increase limit by providing proof of ID and address)

€1.25

Yes

€1.00  for amounts between €0.01 & €59.99

€2.00  for amounts between  €60 & €159.99

€3.50  for amounts between  €160 & €500

Buying a top up code in Payzone and Three stores

€2.00  for amounts between  €20 & €59.99

€3.00  for amounts between  €60 & €159.99

€4.50  for amounts between  €160 & €350

App, track your spending, save money with wallets.


Our prepaid card winners - worthy alternatives to your traditional bank account?

As previously mentioned, prepaid cards are great for online spending as well as day-to-day budgeting but did you ever think you’d see the day that an app on your phone could offer a better banking experience than your traditional current account?

If you’re fed up with expensive day-to-day banking fees, outdated apps and annoying finicky card readers when it comes to transferring money, we think you’ll love the following prepaid card options.

Both Revolut and N26 offer online banking alternatives to your current account, accessible via intuitive, user-friendly apps on your phone.

What makes them such a great option? Well, in addition to features you’re used to using such as contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay; how does zero transaction fees and a 0.0% foreign exchange rate sound? (Spend abroad to your heart’s content!)

How about no-fuss money transfer with the touch of a button? (No more frantic searching in old drawers for that damn card reader!)

How about innovative, up-to-the-minute push notifications and analytics that break down your spend for you on a daily basis?

How about ingenious quick money-saving features, such as Revolut’s spare change round-up vaults?

These are just some of the features that come with this new generation of mobile banking options that no doubt have come about in part because of measures like PSD2 and we have to say, it’s a welcome change.

Check out the complete list of features below:

Prepaid Card

ATM Cash withdrawal fee

Top-up methods

Foreign Exchange rate

Maximum single top up

Price per month

Chip & Pin

Loading fee

Extra features

Revolut Prepaid Mastercard

€200 worth of free ATM withdrawals per month

Bank transfer, Debit card, Credit card, Cheque

0.0%

€30,000

FREE

Yes

FREE except credit card top-ups charged at 1%

Savings Vaults, Cryptocurrency savings, Direct debit and recurring payments, Analytics and budgeting

Revolut Prepaid Premium Mastercard

€400 worth of free ATM withdrawals per month

Bank transfer, Debit card, Credit card, Cheque

0.0%

€30,000

£6.99

Yes

FREE except credit card to- ups charged at 1%

Exclusive Premium cards, Free overseas medical insurance, Priority 24/7 customer support, Savings Vaults, Cryptocurrency savings, Direct debit and recurring payments, Analytics and budgeting

N26 Mastercard

5 free withdrawals p/m then €2,00 per additional withdrawal

Bank transfer, Debit card, Cheque

1.7%

Unlimited

FREE

Yes

FREE

Apple Pay, Google Pay, Fingerprint Login, Push Notifications

N26 Black Mastercard

5 free withdrawals p/m, then €2,00 per additional withdrawal

Bank transfer, Debit card, Cheque

1.7%

Unlimited

€9.90

Yes

FREE

Mobile phone theft protection, travel insurance, ATM theft protection, Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, Apple Pay Google Pay, Fingerprint Login, Push Notifications

Which prepaid card is best for me?

The best prepaid card for you will, of course, come down to your own spending/budgeting/saving preferences as well as the type of functionality you’re seeking, which is why we have endeavoured to split the above options into three broad categories.

One thing is for sure, however, if traditional banks hope to keep pace with the more agile and rapidly growing financial technology companies we’re seeing making their mark in the financial services world, they’re certainly going to have to step up their game!

Even a quick glance at the key features of Ireland’s biggest current accounts shows that there’s been little innovation by traditional banks in comparison to these newer ways to bank for the last while.

Companies like Revolut and N26 in particular are making a big splash in offering novel services such as savings vaults, purchase protection and cryptocurrency savings to name but a few. It will be interesting to see how the big banks respond in the coming months and years.

Ready to get your prepaid card?  

Compare all prepaid card options now.     

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