The American Express prepaid debit card receives our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award because it comes with reasonable fees, outstanding card options and a great team of customer support. This is the only prepaid debit card we reviewed that does not charge a monthly service fee. It comes with excellent customer benefits, such as Purchase Protection and Roadside Assistance at no additional cost. Additionally, American Express offers 24/7 telephone support.
We are impressed with this prepaid debit card, as it is the only card that does not charge additional fees beyond a basic ATM withdrawal fee. You get one free withdrawal every month, and after that, you will pay $2 per transaction. Note: The ATM may charge an additional fee on top of the American Express $2 charge. If you are traveling outside of the country, you will not pay any additional ATM fees or a conversion fee.
Keep in mind that you will not receive a copy of your monthly statement in the mail. However, once you set up your account online you can view all of your spending habits and, if need be, print out a copy of your monthly statement. Viewing your spending will give you the chance to see where you can improve and begin saving money.
There are fees and charges with any prepaid debit card, but with the American Express card, you have fewer fees than with others. Plus, you will not be charged annual fees, monthly fees, overdraft fees, customer service fees or transaction fees. And because this is a prepaid card, you will never pay interest, and credit is not required for qualification.
If your card is lost or stolen, don't worry: You can call American Express Customer Service to report the card lost, stolen or damaged. They will immediately transfer the remaining funds from your prepaid debit card to a new card, limiting the chance of fraudulent activity.
You are able to have up to three cards in your name, which is a great way to keep track of your expenses. For example, you can have one card dedicated to online purchases, one dedicated to transactions made in the store and one just for paying bills. You are also able to give the cards away to family members over the age of 13. We love this feature, as it means you could provide your college student with a card they can use for books, rent and groceries. You can track the spending on these cards and deactivate the ATM cash withdrawal feature, which would ensure your college student is using the card only for necessary purchases.
Many credit or debit companies offer a few features they deem worthy of a prepaid card, and exclude some of their more enticing credit features. This is not the case with American Express. This company is already successful with their cash back rewards cards and other lines of credit. So, we are pleased to see that they have extended their generous reach and fantastic features to customers unable to qualify for their credit card.
Some of the main features available to you include:
Purchase Protection – If you purchase an eligible item with your prepaid debit card, and that item sustains damage or is stolen, American Express will reimburse you for up to 90 days from the initial date of purchase. This reimbursement includes "up to $1,000 for any one Covered Incident and up to $50,000 for all Covered Incidents during a calendar year," according to the Cardholder Agreement. For a list of eligible items, you can refer to the Cardholder Agreement.
Roadside Assistance – During the life of your card, you can use the Roadside Assistance program five times for a "self-propelled, four-wheel vehicle," according to the Cardholder Agreement. During these five occurrences, you will receive basic service, including: towing your vehicle to the closest repair shop, jumpstarting the car if the battery is dead, delivering up to two gallons of gas if you run out, providing a locksmith if you locked your keys in the car, and changing your tire if you have an useable spare. Note that although American Express provides these services, they are not covered by American Express. All expenses incurred will be your responsibility.
Entertainment Access – This feature is definitely a huge bonus for prepaid debit cardholders. This credit company has an Entertainment Access site that allows you to purchase tickets for sports games, Broadway plays, fashion shows, concerts and more at discounted prices. This feature is only valid in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York tri-state area, Northern California, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
American Express Selects – The offers available through this prepaid debit card just keep getting better and better. With the prepaid card, you can definitely spend money easily, but with the American Express Selects program, you can also save money easily. The Selects program offers discounts and special offers on:
Global Assist – For all you frequent flyers out there, this is the feature for you. Business or pleasure, if you are traveling over 100 miles away from your home, you can use Global Assist, which will help you plan your trip and also offer emergency assistance. According to the American Express website: "Global Assist can provide emergency translation services, prescription replacement assistance, referrals to physicians and lawyers, help with lost passports and assist with urgent message relay if you need to reach someone back home."
In addition to these bonus features, cardholders are able to manage their account online. Once you have registered your card, you can::
The one thing you cannot do, which we really, really wish that you could, is pay bills online.
"Load. Spend. Repeat." This American Express tagline perfectly sums up the ease of this prepaid debit card. You can load your card by phone, online, from your bank account or with "cash" like MoneyPak. There are thousands of U.S. locations where you can purchase a MoneyPak card, which will typically cost you $4.95. You must load a minimum of $25 on the card, but only a maximum of $500 a day is allowed on the MoneyPak card. No matter how you load money onto your prepaid debit card, the total cannot exceed $2,500. Unfortunately, you cannot load money via PayPal.
Contacting American Express is simple and efficient. Because this is a credit card company, they have seven different phone numbers that you can contact for information regarding American Express, including a customer support number dedicated to your prepaid card needs. This technical support phone number is available 24/7 for your convenience. You also have the option to email a secure message to customer support, but you must have an American Express account, as you have to log in to your account for email admittance. If you are socially connected, this credit company also has a Twitter account – AskAmex – where you can Tweet your questions anytime.
For immediate answers to some general questions, you may opt out of direct contact and access the FAQs section. Here, you will find detailed answers to questions such as "Can the American Express Prepaid Card be used abroad?" and "What if the American Express Prepaid Card is lost or stolen?"
Although the American Express prepaid debit card has a few drawbacks, such as the lack of a dedicated online bill pay service and only three loading options, we still herald this credit company for creating a prepaid card that customers can use. Although prepaid cards sometimes have a stigma as only being used by those who do not qualify for a real credit card, American Express made every effort to offer their customers a plethora of features and options.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
American Express does not charge a monthly service fee to use its prepaid debit card.
It does not mail out monthly statements; however, you can view them online.
With few fees, excellent customer service and useful bonus features like Purchase Protection and Roadside Assistance, the American Express prepaid card one of the best.