What's the difference between a credit card and a prepaid card? A credit card is a powerful financial tool which basically lets you get an instant loan and pay most of the loan off whenever you choose to. Using a credit card also helps you to build your credit history, and offers many other benefits. A prepaid card on the other hand does not let you spend money on credit, you have to add money into your card account and the money you add is what you use to make payments.

What is a prepaid card good for? If you prefer not to live on credit, then a prepaid card is the obvious choice. You get the benefits of a credit card like easy cashless payments, limited liability and often even rewards, but without spending someone else's money.

The prepaid card also wins if you don't want your spending behavior to affect your credit history. Since prepaid cards do not actually give you credit (you are using your own money) your spending and payments behavior is not normally reported to the credit bureaus. You also won't have to show proof of income or have a credit history in order to get one.

If you want to use a prepaid card to build your credit score, there are a few prepaid cards on the market that include credit reporting as an extra feature (some READYdebit prepaid cards include these features). However, if building credit is your goal, you will accomplish that a lot faster using a secured credit card. Like a prepaid card, you can get a secured card without any credit history just by putting down a deposit, but a secured card actually gives you credit, and reports your spending and repayment behavior to credit bureaus.

If you have bad credit but can't afford to put down a deposit for a secured credit card, then a prepaid card is your key to enjoying the perks of a credit card without tying up your cash in a deposit.

What's the difference between a prepaid card and a debit card? Because a debit card is linked to your bank account, if your card information is stolen then a criminal may be able to access your account. By using a debit card to make payments at retailers you may be putting your bank account at risk. A prepaid card provides a much safer alternative because it isn't linked to your checking or savings account, and nobody can steal more money than what you load onto your card.

On the other hand, if your credit card is stolen, the guilty party could spend your entire line of credit if you don't notify the bank quickly. You will have a maximum of $50 liability for fraudulent transactions when you report the credit card theft promptly (proving this can be difficult if the thief is a roommate or family member). Although many credit cards offer $0 liability. A prepaid card is also a safe option as far as cards go, as you get the same $50 liability for fraudulent transactions that you get with a normal credit card (many issuers offer $0 liability) and you get to choose how much money you keep on your card at any time.

Is a prepaid card a better option than a credit card? A prepaid card is a great stop-gap tool if you just need a card to make payments with. Many prepaid cards offer similar benefits to what you find on basic credit cards, while letting you make your payments up front and avoid debt. However, if you have good to excellent credit and are prepared to diligently pay your balance in full every month, you may find a credit card much more rewarding. Good credit cards offer much higher rewards or cash back than you will find on any prepaid card, and come with perks and benefits that can save you a lot of money.

Here are some of my favorite rewards credit cards:

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least likeCredit RequiredRelated links
Chase Freedom<sup>®</sup>

Chase Freedom®

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic.
Excellent/Good
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

17.49% - 24.49% Variable

$95

Why we like it
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa<sup>®</sup> card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

APPLY NOWAt Wells Fargo's secure website
  • Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions
APPLY NOWAt Wells Fargo's secure website

0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

13.99% - 25.99% (Variable)

$0

Excellent/Good
Blue Cash Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months

12.99%-23.99% Variable

$95

Excellent, Good
Chase Freedom Unlimited<sup>®</sup>

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Excellent/Good
Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website

0% intro APR for 18 months on Balance Transfers

13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Introductory APR offer.
Excellent, Good
Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

N/A

15.74%-24.74% Variable

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn 5X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
Excellent/Good
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass<sup>®</sup> Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Earn 12X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio.
  • Earn 6X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases on your Card at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Spend $40,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn Hilton Honors Diamond status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

15.74%-24.74% Variable

$95

Good, Excellent
American Express Cash Magnet<sup>®</sup> Card

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%.
  • 0% introductory plan fee on each purchase moved into a plan during the first 15 months from the date of account opening with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee. After that, your plan fee will be up to 1.17% of each purchase moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase.
  • Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your Card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

12.99%-23.99% Variable

$0

Excellent/Good
American Express<sup>®</sup> Green Card

American Express® Green Card

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

See Rates & Fees

$150

Excellent/Good