Last updated: 16/10/2022

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If you are looking for a way to make purchases and payments that is practical, cheap and secure, today’s article is just for you. That’s because today, we’re going to explain everything about the prepaid card. This payment method has won over the Brazilians, either by its operation, which helps control the finances; either by the practicality of not needing to carry cash around. But as today there are many operators that offer the prepaid card, with rates and fees that vary widely, we explain in this article what you should consider to acquire the best among them.


  • The prepaid card frees you from interest and debt with installments.
  • However, this payment method is not free of fees and charges.
  • In this article, you will understand the advantages and disadvantages of prepaid card and how to choose the best one among the several available.

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Best Prepaid Card: Our Picks

Buying Guide: Everything you need to know about the prepaid card

Nowadays, making purchases and payments with a card is indeed the most practical and secure option. But the reality is that the card modalities have diversified. Today you will find the credit card, the debit card and the prepaid card. And the prepaid card is the most popular because of its multiple advantages. So much so that, according to the Brazilian Association of Credit Card and Service Companies (Abecs), prepaid card transactions totaled 3.5 billion in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of almost 59% compared to last year (1) For you to understand everything about the prepaid card, we have created this Buying Guide. Here we will show you how it works, what the advantages and disadvantages are and where and how to buy the best prepaid card.

Mulher mostrando o cartão, com notebook à frente.

The prepaid card is increasingly popular among Brazilians (Source: DigitalMarketingAgency/ )

What is the prepaid card and how does it work?

You must have heard of the prepaid mobile phone, one in which you pay in advance for credits that you will use to send messages, make calls and access the internet. The fact is that the prepaid card follows the same line of operation. When you purchase a prepaid card, you make a recharge with the amount you want. It is as if you made a deposit, but instead of the money falling into a bank account, it is available directly on the card. The big advantage is that, this way, you spend only what is available on the card, that is, it is not possible to split the purchase.

Mulher passando o cartão na maquinha.

The prepaid card is less bureaucratic and still helps control spending. (Source: Blake Wisz /

Another feature of the prepaid card is that, in general, it dispenses with some bureaucracy required for the acquisition, as occurs in the case of credit card, for example. In addition, you can use this type of card to buy in physical shops, withdraw cash from ATMs and, in many cases, even to buy online. It is also worth mentioning that, although the prepaid card has no annuity, in most cases there is a charge for membership fees and monthly fees. So, in general, although there are differences between the prepaid cards offered by operators, most of them work like this:

  • To make purchases, you need to have enough balance
  • Balance enquiries can be made through the prepaid card’s website or app
  • Itis not possible to pay in installments for a prepaid card purchase
  • Most of the time it is possible to buy online using the credit function

What is the difference between prepaid, credit and debit cards?

Before you opt for a prepaid card, it is important that you understand the differences between it and traditional cards such as credit and debit cards. All three types are accepted in physical shops and, in most cases, also in online shops. But the similarities stop there. Both credit and debit cards require you to have a bank account, unlike the prepaid card. The credit card is that one where you buy today, but only pay when the bill arrives.

The traditional credit card operators offer advantage programs for you to accumulate points and miles.

In other words, with a credit card you have a credit limit granted by the bank according to your consumer profile. Therefore, the credit card is more flexible, and even allows you to split payments. But that’s also why a traditional credit card usually comes with an annuity fee, as well as extra charges that vary depending on the transaction you perform. Not to mention the interest and penalties you’ll have to pay if you don’t pay in full.

Duas mulheres conversando e segurando sacolas de compras.

With the prepaid card you get rid of fines and interest. (Source: borevina /

Already the debit card is a modality that, despite debiting the value at the time of purchase or payment, can also bring harm if you spend more than you have and enter the overdraft. Moreover, banks often charge annual fees and maintenance fees on these cards too. Prepaid cards provide many of the benefits of credit and debit cards, including the security of not carrying cash. But the main advantage is that you generally don’t need a bank account and the fees charged are generally much lower.

Did you know that prepaid cards can be made for those under 18 years old? All you need is a valid CPF. In addition, some cards offer an application for parents to control and monitor their children’s spending

This way, the prepaid card is ideal for those who want to have greater control and discipline in spending. As for the traditional credit card, it is recommended for those who already have a greater control with their finances and know that they should only use it as a last resort. But for you to have a general idea about the main differences between the prepaid card, the credit card and the debit card, check out the table that we prepared for you.

Prepaid card Credit card Debit card
Bank account Does not need Need Need
Proof of income No Yes No
Limit Set by you Set by the bank Set by you and the bank
Can be paid in installments No Yes No
Fees Membership, monthly, withdrawal, reload and duplicate Annuity, interest and fine for late payment, withdrawal, emergency credit assessment, duplicate If the balance is insufficient, you can enter the overdraft with payment of interest

Who is a prepaid card recommended for?

Because of its benefits, the prepaid card can be used by anyone. But in fact it is the most indicated payment method for some special cases. Because it does not require credit approval nor does it need to be linked to a bank account, the prepaid card is the ideal option for people who have restrictions on their name, for example. Moreover, this type of card is the most recommended for those who cannot control their financial expenses and tend to spend more than they have. After all, with the prepaid card, you can only spend the amount of money you have deposited on the card.

Passageiros caminhando no aeroporto.

The prepaid card is ideal for those who are going to travel, whether in Brazil or abroad. (Source: Free-Photos/

Also, if you want to get rid of interest and debt, the prepaid card is your best alternative. Not to mention that the prepaid card can also be used as an allowance. With it, you can monitor everything on the app and your kids don’t have to walk around with cash. In this way, the prepaid card also becomes a way to promote financial education with your children.

Is the prepaid card ideal for my international trip?

Precisely because it is practical and safe, the prepaid card is, yes, the ideal form of payment for those who will travel, either in Brazil or abroad. After all, with it you won’t worry about carrying cash. But, especially for international trips, the prepaid card is even more advantageous. This is because, with it, you end up paying the exchange rate fixed on the day of the purchase of the currency of the country in question. With the credit card, on the contrary, you will only know the rate of the currency on the day your bill arrives.

Mulher sentada na grama, usando o cartão para comprar no notebook.

The prepaid card has many more advantages than disadvantages. (Source: Artem Beliaikin/

Is it worth having a prepaid card after all?

Yes, it is worth having a prepaid card. The great advantage of this payment method is that you do not need to have a link with a bank, that is, there is no need for credit approval, proof of income, nor the creation of a bank account.
The prepaid card offers more control, since you only spend what you have available.

Since you control your credit, the prepaid card offers more control, since you only spend what you have available. In addition, you do not have to worry about the invoice and interest, for example. In other words, another advantage of the prepaid card is that you avoid debt and increase your budgetary control. And, precisely for this reason, this type of card is excellent to use when travelling and to control your children’s spending. On the other hand, you must remember that there are also disadvantages with the prepaid card. Although there is no annuity, this type of card has other fees and rates, which will depend on the operator or the bank in question. In addition, unlike a credit card, the prepaid card does not allow you to make purchases in installments or ask the bank for credit loans. So, check out the table below which illustrates the main advantages and disadvantages of the prepaid card.

  • Simple and quick acquisition
  • Helps to control spending and avoid debt
  • Encourages financial education
  • You only spend what you have
  • Can be accepted for purchases at physical shops, online and / or services
  • Easy to recharge
  • Safer
  • No bank account required
  • Ideal for travel and payment of pocket money
  • Charging fees and rates
  • Cannot make purchases in installments
  • Does not offer loans

How to acquire a pre-paid card?

To acquire a prepaid card, the first thing you need to do is choose between the various operators and banks. Our recommendation is that you opt for an operator with tradition and renown in the financial market. Once this is done, you can purchase your prepaid card at the bank or even on the operator’s website or app. All you need to do is fill out a form with your personal data and information that will be printed on the card. Then, just wait for the prepaid card to arrive.

How to recharge the prepaid card?

With the prepaid card in hands it will also be very easy for you to make recharges whenever you need. For this, there are several ways that will vary according to the operator of your card. So before you purchase your prepaid card, check what is the recharge method of the operator to make sure that it is the ideal option for you. Also, check if there are any fees charged for topping up. But generally speaking, there are some standard ways to top up your prepaid card. These are

  • By the application or website of the card: You can generate a boleto with the desired amount and pay at any lottery, bank or online. You can also make a debit on account, since some banks offer this function.
  • Identified Deposit: Another recharge option is to make a deposit at the bank’s teller window.
  • Transfer DOC/TED: This type of transaction only works for the same holder, that is, the prepaid card holder must have a current account (with the same CPF) and make the transfer, either DOC or TED, from it.
  • Partner shops: Some commercial shops are partners of your prepaid card. With this, you can make a recharge at the cashier of these shops.

Purchase criteria: What to consider before purchasing a prepaid card

So far you have had access to important information about how the prepaid card works, what its advantages are and for whom it is recommended. You have also seen how simple it is to purchase such a card. But before you request a prepaid card, it is essential that you understand the differences between the options offered by different banks and operators. To help you, we have listed below the main factors you should take into account before applying for your prepaid card. They are

Below, we’ll explain how you should analyse each of these criteria and make sure you’re getting the ideal prepaid card for you.

Buying in a physical shop and online

The first factor you should check is whether the prepaid card can be used for purchases from physical and online shops. This is because, although most cards have this option, the fact is that not all operators that offer the prepaid card allow you to use it to shop at internet shops. So, if buying online is something you do not dispense, it is essential that you check whether the prepaid card chosen also guarantees this function.

Purpose of use

Another criterion that we recommend you analyse before acquiring a prepaid card is its purpose of use. After all, depending on the operator, you will find prepaid cards that are more advantageous for some situations over others. For you to have an idea of what we are talking about, check out the main types of prepaid cards that you will find according to the purpose of use.

  • National Prepaid Card: Be aware that some prepaid cards are only accepted in Brazil.
  • International prepaid card: Some operators offer cards that can also be used for shopping abroad at shops and websites.
  • Corporate prepaid card: This card is used to pay your employees or for exclusive purchases in your company.
  • Prepaid Gift Card: Here, you buy the card with a certain credit value and can gift it to one person.


Another criterion that is important for you to check is the coverage of the prepaid card. That is, you need to analyze where the card is accepted.

The flag is responsible for validating the establishments in which your card will be accepted.

For this, the most important question is to observe the flag of your prepaid card. this is because it is the flag that is responsible for validating the establishments in which your card will be accepted, through payment machines or online. Experts recommend that you always opt for the best known flags, since, in general, they are accepted in Brazil and in the world. Therefore, the main flags are Visa, Mastercard, Elo and American Express.

Fees and Tariffs

Next, take into account what fees and rates your prepaid card operator charges. As we have seen, one of the advantages of this type of card is that it does not have an annuity fee. But the fact is that not infrequently, the operators charge several other fees to compensate for the zero annuity and the absence of connection with a bank account.

Homem sacando dinheiro.

It is important to check the fees charged for prepaid cards. (Source: Nick Pampoukidis/

Most commonly you will find the prepaid card that charges card issuance fee, monthly maintenance fee and also withdrawal fee. However, the amounts and conditions of charging can vary greatly between one operator and another. Also, be aware that some operators waive some fees if you spend a certain amount per month using the prepaid card.

Load and withdrawal amount

Also note that some operators require you to do a minimum recharge to use the prepaid card. And in addition, some also limit the maximum load value, which can vary between 5,000 and 13,000. Also note that the daily withdrawal amount may have varying limits depending on the card operator. In general, this value varies between 1 thousand and 10 thousand per day.


The prepaid card is the ideal type of card if you want to control your spending, avoid interest and fines, and still want more security and not walk around with cash. Moreover, the prepaid card is less bureaucratic, since it does not require proof of income, credit, or the creation of a bank account. With it, you deposit the desired amount whenever you need it and use it in shops and for services. To choose the best prepaid card, you should analyse the rates and fees charged by the operator, as well as the conditions of use available in Brazil and/or abroad. (Source of the highlighted image: zhuwei06191973/

References (1)

1. Abecs. Balanço do Primeiro Trimestre de 2019.

Pesquisa Abecs
Abecs. Balanço do Primeiro Trimestre de 2019.
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