The 5 Best Prepaid Business Debit Cards
- Bento for Business Visa® Debit Card: Best for small businesses across the board
- Dash Prepaid Mastercard: Best for companies using contractors
- Emburse Prefunded Mastercard: Best for companies with distributed workers
- PEX Prepaid Visa: Best for medium-sized businesses
- NetSpend Small Business Prepaid Mastercard: Best if you need ATM access
- BONUS: Capital One Secured Mastercard: Best complement to a prepaid business debit card
A prepaid business debit card is not the same as the prepaid debit card your parents gave you as a teenager. Business owners use prepaid business cards to control employee spending, reduce financial risks, and to skip tedious business credit card applications (especially if you suffer less-than-stellar credit).
Prepaid business debit cards are gaining popularity because their fees have lowered in recent years. Also, they’re straightforward to use—preload the amount you want, and moments later, your employees can access the capital they need.
Bento for Business Visa® Debit Card
Best for small businesses.
The Bento for Business Visa® Debit Card is the standout among the best prepaid business debit cards for small business owners. Especially if you’re a new business, startup, or in early growing stages, Bento allows you a lot of runway as your small business is evolving.
You’ll be charged a flat fee per account on a sliding scale, rather than per card. That means that the more of these prepaid business debit cards you have attached to your account, the lower the price per card.
For a Bento prepaid business debit card account, you’ll pay the following rates:
- $29 a month for up to 10 attached cards
- $69 a month for up to 25 attached cards
- $149 a month for up to 100 attached cards
- For more than 100 cards, contact their support team
Bento will waive these fees if your business spends more than $40,000 a month on your prepaid business debit card account. Additionally, there won’t be a credit limit on this corporate prepaid card—other than, of course, the amount of capital you preload onto your account and the limits your set for your employees.
Although, Bento will limit your daily load and card transaction volume up at $25,000 daily per card. For many small businesses, this shouldn’t be a burden. But it’s worth knowing that limit exists. If you’ll be spending that much money on a card daily, and you know you have the funds to back it up (which you must, since this is a prepaid account), you’ll want to be looking at a business credit card that’ll give you rewards for your big spending—like cash back or travel rewards.
One of the best parts of the Bento for Business Visa® Debit Card is its integration into business accounting software. First, there’s a mobile app and a spending dashboard to help business owners to see where their allocated funds are going—and to allow card users to upload related documentation. But Bento will allow data export and integration into accounting software like QuickBooks to help make your life even easier come tax time. This will also help you get an even better hold on your spending as a small business owner, especially when it’s time to graduate to a business credit card.
Dash Prepaid Mastercard
Best for companies using contractors.
Another free prepaid business debit card is Dash. With Dash, you’ll add funds to your account via bank transfer into what Dash calls a company vault. From there, Dash will allow you to disburse funds as necessary to employees. Your team will then have their own cards to use towards business expenses.
One of Dash’s strongest features is its robust mobile app. Through Dash’s system, employees can request funds for their prepaid business debit cards by providing an amount and a description of their expenses. You’ll then get to approve or reject it. If you approve an employee’s request, the money will be immediately available in the employee’s Dash account.
With Dash employee cards, you can set different limits or even suspend a card. Dash also provides the option to automatically approve employee requests, as long as each request is within the limit you set. Dash will provide a record of the request, and your team can make the necessary purchases more efficiently. You can also freeze and suspend a card remotely if you need to. This is convenient if you work with contractors or gig workers, and you’re not entirely sure how long they’ll be with you, or you don’t have a solid relationship with them yet.
There are limits to how much you can load onto this prepaid business debit card, though. You can only have a maximum of $100,000 in your account within one calendar month, and a maximum of $10,000 when transferring from the company vault to an employee card. Dash also forbids using their accounts for payroll expenses.
You can’t use this corporate prepaid card at the ATM. Dash aims to function as a business credit card. However, if you prefer to use a Dash prepaid business debit card as a business bank debit card, you’ll need to set a PIN in the mobile app beforehand.
Emburse Prepaid Mastercard
Best prefunded card for distributed employees.
Working with a remote team has its challenges. Other than syncing calendars and timezones, few issues are more complex across distributed organizations than payment. The Emburse prefunded employee credit card looks to address this with virtual cards. Simple, but perfect.
First, let’s address the nuance of the name difference here: “prefunded credit card” versus “prepaid debit card.” Although this might seem like a nuance, Emburse’s Roger Gu told Fundera that the company has recently reclassified their cards as a credit to avoid fewer declines as debit within the popular Travel and Entertainment categories. So, a merchant will see this card as a credit card on the back end—not a debit—even though you’ll still preload it like a prepaid debit card.
To set up employee cards off of the main account, Emburse uses just an employee’s name and email address and creates a prefunded credit card account. You can spend on these just like other cards, plus set spending limits, toggle them on and off, set restrictions, and more.
But here, everything is virtual—since there’s never a physical card, you don’t have to worry about taking a card to the mail and risk it getting lost or stolen during transit. Plus, once you issue your employee’s Emburse card, it’s active. These virtual cards also have the same protection and security as any other type of prepaid debit Mastercard.
Emburse also offers a dashboard with a spending breakdown so you’ll be able to see where the money is going and integrate into your bookkeeping software and get instant receipts for each transaction.
For Emburse pricing, you’re looking at:
- $45 a month for up to five active cards
- $10 a month for up to 15 active cards
- $150 a month for up to 30 active cards
- $225 a month for up to 30 active cards
And they also offer pricing for their API, so larger organizations can create custom solutions and issue their own cards. That’s $0.25 per card with a $500 monthly minimum. If this is interesting to you, check out all of their offerings—the employee prepaid card is only one type of their prepaid business debit card offerings.
PEX Prepaid Visa
Best for larger businesses.
The PEX business prepaid card is a great option for those who run larger businesses or who know that their company is on the cusp of explosive growth.
For one, the PEX prepaid business debit card won’t cap the number of transactions that your team can perform in a day. Plus, PEX won’t impose limits on how much you can spend, unlike the other corporate prepaid cards on this list.
Each time you preload capital onto your PEX account, you can load up to $25,000 with no minimum balance amount. This prepaid business debit card will also allow you to attach up to 100 employee cards to your prepaid business debit card account, which will be ideal if you need to give your team access to cash.
When you sign up for the PEX prepaid business debit card, you don’t need a personal credit check or a guarantee from the business owner. The approval process is simple and can take anywhere from one to three business days and then seven to 10 to receive your first card.
All that said, the fees attached to the PEX prepaid business debit card tend to be on the more expensive side—starting at $75 per month for a 20-card account along with the $49 one-time setup fee. You don’t get ATM access with this business prepaid debit card, which is inconvenient if your team needs to access cash frequently.
PEX will waive all of these fees for every month your business spends more than $50,000 on its prepaid business debit card. But unless you need a lot of capital or know you’ll be making a large number of transactions on your prepaid business credit card account, you may want to consider passing on this business prepaid debit card.
It’s worth noting, though, that PEX is very robust on the tech side of things. Not only does it have the app and reporting functionalities that Bento does, but it allows a high level of customizability for large businesses with development teams. The PEX API will allow your business to create a custom finance system with an emphasis on real-time data that works specifically for your company if you’re interested in making the investment. That’s pretty cool.
NetSpend Small Business Prepaid Mastercard
Best if you also need ATM access.
The Netspend Small Business Prepaid Mastercard is a great choice for those who want more options with their corporate prepaid card. It’s great for businesses are who are still small or those who are looking to grow their team. You can load up to $25,000 per day to your account, and employees can spend up to $5,000 daily. One of the best perks of this card is that you’ll get instant approval, and your card should arrive within seven to 10 business days.
Loading funds is easy, as you can do it via check, ACH transfer, direct deposit, or even through a physical reload station. It takes two to three days to load funds initially. There’s also a mobile app you or your employees can use to make deposits, and the money could be available within minutes.
Once you activate and verify your ID, you can create up to 10 sub-accounts. You’re able to keep track of these accounts via your online and even have the ability to download your transactions to QuickBooks in a snap for tax season.
Although that’s not bad for a base fee, the additional fees that can add up. Netspend charges you $2.50 for every ATM withdrawal and $0.50 for balance inquiries at the ATM. If your transaction gets declined, you’ll be charged $1 each time. So, although this card does allow you ATM access, you’ll need to make sure you use it judiciously.
Capital One Secured Mastercard
Best complement to prepaid business debit cards.
Sure, the Capital One Secured Mastercard isn’t technically a prepaid small business debit card. In fact, this credit card is neither a business card nor a prepaid card at all—it’s actually a personal secured credit card.
Regardless, this card is a great step toward building your personal credit history, which is crucial if you want your business to eventually graduate beyond prepaid business credit cards and into unsecured business credit cards. If you have bad credit or no credit at all, then a secured credit card will be your best friend in building or rebuilding your personal credit. And this, in turn, will allow you to access unsecured credit for your business.
With the Capital One Secured Mastercard, you’ll need to provide a security deposit for your line of credit. That means you can only spend the amount you deposit. In a way, this option acts much like a prepaid debit card, except it allows you to build credit. So, if you have the funds to back up a prepaid debit card, you might want to use a secured credit card to get a little extra out of it.
There’s no annual fee, so the Secured Mastercard can be the perfect, credit-building complement to your prepaid business debit card. You can also consider putting all of your business expenses on this card. (Just don’t mix business and personal spending.)
Advantages of Prepaid Business Debit Cards
There are many reasons why a small business owner would opt for a prepaid business debit card. It could serve as your primary business credit card or supplement a main business credit card to help manage spending. Prepaid business credit cards come with their own unique set of advantages that might be right for your small business:
- Oversee employee spending: Because prepaid business debit cards require business owners to preload funds before you can use them, this makes them perfect for keeping a close eye on employee spending (or even your own). Stick to a tight budget and make sure you don’t go over by only allowing so much onto each card.
- Integrate with accounting software: Some prepaid debit cards for business also include the option to export transaction history directly into accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks Online, and more. This is great for bookkeepers and to help small business owners get a detailed accounting on spending categories and business expenses.
- Allow card access for a spectrum of businesses: New businesses with little or no credit history will have a hard time securing small business financing—business credit cards included. Although a corporate prepaid card doesn’t allow for a line of credit, it does give businesses access to spend with a card and give out cards to multiple employees as they build up time in business and business credit history.
- No credit check: Most—if not all—prepaid business debit cards are issued without a credit check. Issuers just usually need you to show some specific identification, but they won’t need to know anything about your credit history. On the flip side, you can’t build credit with these cards, but at least you can access a card if you’re worried about your credit.
Prepaid Business Debit Cards vs. Business Checking Account Debit Cards
A prepaid business debit card is different from the debit card attached to your business checking account. There’s a limit on both—but with a prepaid business debit card, you’re loading a balance onto the card that you determine from your bank account, and the cardholder can only spend up to that amount.
That’s unlike a business bank account debit card, which is drawing against any balance you have in your account. Although technically there is a limit on that card, too, it doesn’t come from the card itself—it’s determined by the balance of the bank account. In other words, there’s no limit on what you can spend on that kind of debit card, as long as you have the funds in your account for the purchase. Since it’s not a line of credit, of course, you can’t spend beyond it.
Prepaid Business Debit Cards vs. Business Credit Cards
With a prepaid business debit card, you can only spend what’s on the balance of the card. This is money you’ve already provided upfront.
Unlike other types of business credit cards, there’s no revolving line of credit—aka credit you can use again once your balance is paid off. With prepaid business debit cards, you can spend only the money you preloaded. You can think of credit cards as borrowing money, which is different.
There is a similarity, though: Prepaid business debit cards often also have a card network logo on them like American Express, Mastercard, or Visa. That means they can be used like a business credit card at any place that accepts these types of cards—but, again, you can only spend up to what’s preloaded on the card.
Alternatives to Small Business Prepaid Cards
There are many benefits of prepaid business debit cards; however, you should also be aware of their drawbacks:
- If you’re the kind of business owner who thrives on getting cash back rewards or travel miles from purchases, you won’t earn them here
- You won’t be able to build your credit history or improve your credit score by paying off your bills on time
- Fees, including monthly maintenance, ATM, and account fees
Some business credit cards—including ones from American Express and Bank of America®—allow you to set employee spending limits on cards attached to your account. So, if you end up opting for an unsecured business credit card, make sure that you set clear rules with your employees on card usage. This could include employees providing itemized receipts or filling out expense reports. You could even go so far as to outline the consequences for unapproved purchases and that any rewards earned are for the business.
If you’re not keen on paying monthly or even transaction fees, there are many free business checking accounts that will also provide you with free business debit cards. Some business checking accounts will let you earn interest and may even provide free checks, saving you some cash.
No matter whether you decide to use a regular business checking debit card, or a prepaid business debit card, you’ll need a great business checking account for both. Make sure you’re set up with the right one for your small business.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Bottom Line
A prepaid business debit card can offer several advantages and conveniences for your business. Even if you have a regular business credit card, or you need to find a way to help your employees or contractors spend in a supervised manner, there’s likely some way to use a prepaid business debit card to spend smarter.
Whether you want to track your category spending habits more closely, stick tighter to a budget, integrate into your accounting software, or give your employees a little more freedom, a prepaid business debit card is a fit for many businesses. Give one a try and find out.
Meredith Turits is a contributing writer for Fundera.
Meredith has worked as a writer and editor for more than a decade. Drawing on her background in small business and startups, she writes on lending, business finance, and entrepreneurship for Fundera. Her writing has also appeared in the New Republic, BBC, Time Inc, The Paris Review Daily, JPMorgan Chase, and more.