Applying for a prepaid visa card can often make sense. In principle, we would advise you to apply for a conventional card in our credit card comparison. But a prepaid visa card can also be attractive – at least under certain conditions. In this guide, we, therefore, want to clarify the most important questions about prepaid visa cards for you and how it is different from a credit card.

What is a prepaid visa card?

If you have not dealt with the topic of prepaid visa card so far, we first want to briefly explain what a prepaid visa card is. Basically, it is a credit card on a prepaid basis, which has to be topped up first and can only be used afterwards. In contrast to normal credit cards, a prepaid visa card does not have a credit or credit line (despite the name). Rather, you can only spend as much money as you previously loaded onto your card. Accordingly, there is no risk for the bank when issuing a rechargeable credit card, which is why you can apply for a prepaid visa card as a pupil, student, unemployed person, or generally, if you have a poor credit rating.

Special types of cards are incorrectly referred to as prepaid visa cards. With direct banks, for example, there are some credit cards that are debited directly from the checking account. These are incorrectly referred to as prepaid visa cards, although they do not need to be topped up before paying. In this case, the debit is always made directly from the checking account. Accordingly, you can only pay with your card if there is still credit in the bank account. Sometimes such a credit card also works in combination with the overdraft facility of your checking account. However, this always depends on the specific conditions.

What is the difference between a prepaid visa card and a conventional credit card?

If you look around in our credit card comparison, you will quickly notice that normal credit cards and the corresponding prepaid versions look very similar at first. Apart from the “prepaid” imprint, you will probably not see any difference on the outside – in some cases the same credit card is offered in both variants. But the “inner values” of a prepaid visa card are very different from a conventional credit card with a limit. Above all, that’s because you don’t get a loan. The actual purpose of a credit card is somewhat undermined.

With a prepaid visa card, you have to top up money before paying, with a conventional credit card you pay first. With a rechargeable credit card, you also have a significantly less financial scope. There are also other disadvantages associated with this lack of functionality. For example, you cannot usually use a prepaid visa card to make hotel reservations or provide a guarantee for a rental car. In principle, a conventional credit card is, therefore, more recommendable, although a prepaid visa card makes sense in some circumstances.

Where can I get a prepaid visa card?

You can apply for a prepaid visa card in many ways. If you want to get a card securely and comfortably, it is recommended to apply in our credit card comparison.

We would advise against buying from a supermarket or a petrol station. Because sometimes you get “only” virtual credit cards that you can only use on the Internet. In addition, some of these credit cards can only be topped up once and are then worthless. It should also be noted that the conditions for prepaid visa cards bought in the supermarket or at the petrol station are usually significantly worse. For example, charges are incurred if not used.

However, applying to a house bank can make sense. Although you can get a better overview of the various providers and their services in our prepaid visa card comparison, there is nothing to be said against the application to your house bank. In this case, you will usually have to cope with somewhat worse conditions. You will be given personal advice when making your decision.

Which credit card issuers produce prepaid visa cards?

In principle, you can apply for credit cards from various banks. In addition, several vendors advertise your favour in supermarkets or petrol stations. Basically, you should choose a product from a reputable bank. Many large banks offer this type of offer and offer you a prepaid visa card as an alternative to conventional models. Our comparison also gives you a good overview of the various alternatives from well-known banks.

Basically, you can choose between a Visa or a Mastercard credit card. Most banks offer you either a Visa or Mastercard card as a prepaid model, rarely there are cards from both issuers as a prepaid visa card. American Express does not generally offer prepaid visa cards. You should also consider that you can apply for a credit card – not even a prepaid visa card – directly from Visa or Mastercard.

Do I need a reference account for a prepaid visa card?

You have to create a reference account for every normal Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card. This is due to the fact that a credit card is then debited directly from the bank account. There are, however, two exceptions: on the one hand, there are some banks where a linked reference account is required (e.g. with direct banks), and on the other hand, there is sometimes no conventional debit. With the Fees Mastercard Gold, you have to pay the credit card bill, for example, by bank transfer. A reference account is accordingly not absolutely necessary here.

Things are also complicated with prepaid visa cards. In theory, a reference account would not be necessary here, since you have to top up the credit anyway before you can make a payment. Nevertheless, many providers require the deposit of a reference account as security. Most of the time, when you apply for or purchase a prepaid visa card, you will be advised whether you need to create a reference account or not. Normally, this doesn’t make a difference for you either, as there are no direct debits from the credit card provider. The only exception to this is credit cards where, for example, a monthly fee is debited by direct debit.


In principle, a prepaid visa card can be used for three services. Basically, with a prepaid visa card, it is possible to pay in the store either conventionally with verification by PIN or signature. However, the latter is only possible with newer cards that already have an NFC chip. In addition, it is necessary that the readers are also able to process payment via NFC.

Compared to a conventional credit card, there are hardly any other relevant differences with a prepaid visa card. However, you should note that there are some virtual prepaid visa cards. These can only be used for payments on the Internet and not for withdrawals or in shops. However, this is clearly indicated when applying or purchasing.

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