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
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 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.74% - 25.74% 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

15.74% - 25.74% (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

17.49% - 26.49% 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

17.49% - 26.49% Variable

$95

Good, Excellent
Offer expires 10/30/2019
Platinum Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Credit Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Offer expires 10/30/2019
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 10/30/2019.
  • In addition, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases. Miles don’t expire.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights – that’s a savings of up to $240.
  • Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on your Delta flights, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • Enjoy 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit with the American Express Delta Card.
  • $195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020).
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

N/A

17.49% to 26.49% Variable

$195 Annual Fee ($250 if application is received on or after 1/30/2020)

Why we like it
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer Expires 10/30/2019.
Excellent/Good
Costco Anywhere Visa<sup>®</sup> Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website
  • Discover one of Citi’s best cash back rewards cards designed exclusively for Costco members
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee with your paid Costco membership* and enjoy no foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Receive an annual credit card reward certificate, which is redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco warehouses, including Puerto Rico
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.99%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
APPLY NOWAt Citi's secure website

N/A

16.99%* (Variable)

$0*

Why we like it
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter.
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com.
Excellent
Offer expires 10/30/2019
Gold Delta SkyMiles<sup>®</sup> Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Offer expires 10/30/2019
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases within your first 3 months and a $50 Statement Credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 10/30/2019.
  • Earn 2 miles on every eligible dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on Delta flights – that’s a savings of up to $240.
  • Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on your Delta flights, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

N/A

17.49% - 26.49% Variable

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.

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

American Express® Gold Card

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

N/A

See Rates & Fees

$250

Excellent/Good
Capital One<sup>®</sup> Quicksilver<sup>®</sup> Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees

0% intro on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
Excellent, Good
Capital One<sup>®</sup> VentureOne<sup>®</sup> Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74% - 23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

0% intro on purchases for 12 months

13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel.
Excellent, Good
The Platinum Card<sup>®</sup> from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
APPLY NOWAt American Express' secure website

N/A

N/A

$550

Why we like it
  • Rewards program.
  • Platinum benefits.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
We least like
  • Annual fee.
Excellent/Good