Prepaid Debit Cards

Find out how prepaid debit cards work and how they compare to standard debit cards here with Savvy.  

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, updated on September 13th, 2023       

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Compare debit cards

If you are looking for a debit card, use our table to compare Australia's best debit card offers with $0 monthly fees, free ATM withdrawals, cashback offers, budgeting apps, security features and much more. Start your debit card search with us now.

site-logos Up Everyday Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Osko,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 0%
Go to site

Use invite code SAVVY10 for $10 upon successful sign-up. (Refer to offer T&Cs on Up website)

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site-logos ING Orange Everyday
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
Read review

Rebates on ATM fees anywhere in Oz. No ING international transaction fees. Zero monthly fees.

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site-logos NAB Classic Banking Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0.01%
Read review

No monthly account fees ever, with no conditions. Free use at over 7,000 ATMs around Australia. No overdrawn fees if you happen to go over your account balance. Open an account in less than 7 minutes.

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site-logos St.George Complete Freedom Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
Read review

Get $40 with a new Complete Freedom everyday bank account.

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site-logos Westpac Choice
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $5
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 $0
Read review

Westpac Choice for easy day-to-day banking

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Disclaimer: Savvy is not advising or recommending any particular product to you. We provide general information on products for the purposes of comparison, but your personal situation or goals are not considered here. Although we try to make our comparisons as thorough as possible, we do not have information on all products on the market on our site.

You should always consult a given offer's PDS or further documentation in the process of deciding on which loan to choose, as well as seeking independent, professional advice. If you decide to apply with one of the lenders listed above via our website, you will not be dealing with Savvy; any applications or enquiries will be conducted directly with the lender offering that product.

Prepaid debit cards explained

Prepaid debit cards are becoming more common and widely available across Australia. Whether you’re looking to give one to your child or take one out for your next holiday, you can find out about what prepaid or reloadable debit cards have to offer here with Savvy. Compare a range of debit card options with us to help you find which one suits your spending needs today.  

What are prepaid debit cards and how do they work?

Prepaid debit cards require you to load funds onto them from a separate card or account. Unlike debit cards, they aren’t linked to a transaction account directly, instead being available through non-bank companies and card providers. 

Aside from this, though, they work in much the same way as a standard debit card. They can be used at tap-and-go EFTPOS terminals to pay for shopping and inserted into ATMs to withdraw cash. They can also be used online to buy goods or to pay bills; in fact, they can be used anywhere you see the Visa or Mastercard signs.  

When a prepaid Mastercard gets low on funds, it can be recharged or reloaded with funds and can be used repeatedly. Recharging a prepaid virtual Visa or Mastercard can be done using an online or mobile app that transfers funds onto your prepaid card either directly from your bank account or another standard card. 

In addition, prepaid travel debit cards can also be purchased which enable you to preload foreign currencies onto the card to spend overseas. This enables you to exchange Aussie dollars into the currency you need at an exchange rate you’re comfortable with and store the funds on the prepaid card until you need to use them during your holiday. 

When should I take out a prepaid debit card?

Prepaid debit cards can be useful to people who wish to go shopping or access money in many different circumstances, such as: 

  • to give to children or teens who don’t yet have a bank account, so they can spend their pocket money in shops and online without having access to all of their savings 
  • as a gift for hard-to-buy-for students or young people who may be thinking of travelling abroad 
  • for people who have budgeting or credit issues who wish to restrict their spending to a set amount 
  • to pay for one-off subscriptions where you wish to ensure multiple payments aren’t made in future months 
  • to buy goods at an online store where you’d prefer not to reveal your standard credit or debit card details 
  • if you’re travelling to a high-risk area of the world where pickpockets and thieves are known to be active to reduce the risk of your main debit or credit cards being stolen 

However, although these advantages of prepaid cards can be very useful in particular circumstances, there are disadvantages too. Prepaid debit cards and prepaid travel cards can come with a range of fees and spending and cash withdrawal limits. There can also be fees charged for using an ATM to withdraw cash over a set amount per month. 

Some average costs you can expect to pay to use a prepaid debit card include: 

  • an initial card purchase fee of around $5 to $10 
  • activation fee of $4 to $6 
  • a monthly account fee ranging from $5 to $20 a month 
  • ATM withdrawal fee of 1% to 2% if you withdraw more than $350 per month from overseas ATMs 
  • recharge fees of between $2.50 and $5 for each recharge 

What are the alternatives to a prepaid debit card?

There are many alternatives to prepaid debit cards. Some of these include: 

Standard debit card 

A standard debit card linked to your bank account may be a cheaper option than a prepaid card, as there will be no recharge or account-keeping fees involved.  Debit cards are easy to apply for, are usually fee-free and can be issued to children as young as nine years old. They also allow you to access the funds in your bank account without the bother of having to recharge your card.   

Credit card 

A credit card can be used to spend in much the same way as a debit card, although they’re generally used for larger purchases where the funds aren’t available in your account. However, they are a more expensive proposition, as there may be account fees on a credit card and they often come with a very high rate of interest if the full balance is not paid off at the end of the month.  


Carrying cash poses the inherent risk of it being lost or stolen and, unlike a debit card, there’s no locking cash to stop thieves from spending it. In addition, there’s no theft or extended warranty protection available if you carry cash, which there can be with a debit card. 

Why compare debit cards with Savvy?

The pros and cons of prepaid debit cards


Suitable for kids 

As a first debit card, a prepaid card can give a child their first taste of independent spending with fewer risks than those associated with a card linked to a bank account. 

No credit check required 

A prepaid debit card can be bought online or at many stores with no credit check required. Prepaid Mastercards are also widely available for purchase at post offices in Australia. 

Additional protection against theft 

Prepaid cards only give access to a set pool of money, not all the funds available in a bank account. They can also be locked as soon as you realise the card has been stolen to prevent further loss of money.  



There can be recharge fees associated with prepaid debit cards, as well as monthly account fees, making them a more expensive option than a standard debit card. 

No interest earned 

The money you put onto a prepaid card sits there and doesn't earn interest for you, so if you’ve taken the money out of a savings account to load up the prepaid card, you may miss out on interest. 

Regular recharges required  

However careful you are with your spending, a prepaid card will regularly require reloading with more funds, for which you’ll have to pay a recharge fee, making it more expensive and less convenient. 

More of your questions about prepaid debit cards

Can I earn rewards points or frequent flyer points on a prepaid debit card?

Yes – prepaid debit cards do come with cashback offers, rewards points and frequent flyer points, so it’s possible to build up your points without having a linked bank account. 

Is there any difference between a Visa and a Mastercard prepaid debit card?

Not really – both companies offer a variety of Mastercard and Visa debit cards, including prepaid debit cards, so there is no standard difference between the two rival brands. The differences between prepaid debit cards often come down to the bank or financial institution offering the card, rather than conditions imposed by Mastercard or Visa themselves.  

Can I add a prepaid debit card to my digital wallet?

Yes – prepaid debit cards can be added to a digital wallet in the same way that standard debit cards and credit cards can. There’s no difference in the way you add a prepaid debit card to a wallet so that it can be used as a virtual debit card

Can I use a prepaid travel card in Australia as well as overseas?

Yes – while you can use debit cards overseas, including prepaid debit cards, you can also use them in Australia. However, they’re designed especially for use overseas to save money on overseas ATM, foreign transaction and currency conversion fees, so they’re unlikely to be the best card for you to use in Australia. 

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