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Looking for ways to transfer money to a prepaid debit card? Here's how to use your bank account and some other options for reloading a prepaid card.
Many consumers use prepaid debit cards to help them manage some of their expenses. It’s also possible to use these cards to give allowance to children in a way that helps them understand how to use plastic and send money to relatives living far away.

At some point, though, you need to reload your prepaid debit card. Using a bank transfer to add money can be one way to make it happen. Here’s what you need to know to transfer money from a bank account to a prepaid debit card.

Get the Account and Routing Numbers for the Prepaid Debit Card

Even though it’s a prepaid debit card, a financial institution issued it. So you’ll have to get the information associated with your prepaid debit card. Sometimes, the account number that identifies your debit card differs from the card number. You’ll also need the routing number of the card’s issuing bank.

To get this information, you have two options:

  1. Log into your account: Can you log into your prepaid debit card account online? Most times, you set up an account when activating a card. This allows you to see your balance and manage other aspects of your prepaid debit card. Look for a menu item that allows you to transfer money to your card. This is where you are likely to find the routing and account numbers you need.
  2. Call the prepaid debit card customer service: You can also get the information by calling the customer service number. Make sure you are clear that you want to add money to the debit card through a bank transfer. They should be able to tell you how to do that–or tell you where to find this information in your online account.

Once you have it, you’ll be able to set up direct deposit and accomplish other tasks besides adding money via bank transfer.

Add the Prepaid Debit Card to Your Regular Bank Account

Many bank accounts allow you to connect outside accounts. Most likely, you’ll be able to set this up under a navigation item that allows you to transfer money.

It’s fairly easy to transfer money between multiple accounts you have at one bank. However, you’ll have to look for an “external” account on your bank’s website if you want to transfer money outside the bank.

The good news is that once you get an external account set up, it’s usually saved. So, each time you need to transfer money, you can just click on the prepaid debit card details and move forward without the need to re-enter the account information.

Keep in mind that before you can move your money, your bank will probably send test deposits. These are usually deposits of less than a dollar, and many banks send two of them. This is to verify that the information you provided is correct.

Before you can proceed, you will need to check your prepaid account to see that the deposits were made, and then enter them into your bank’s website in the required spot. It can take between three and five business days to set up a prepaid debit card as an external account with your bank, so make sure you allow for this.

Transfer the Money

After you have the prepaid debit card set up as an external account with your bank, you’re good to transfer the money. Just head over to the transfer page, select the account and get started.

Depending on the bank, you might be able to set up a recurring transfer. This can make sense if you want to move money from your bank account to the prepaid debit card.

This is especially useful when using a prepaid card for an allowance or sending a living stipend to a child attending college. Choose a regular day of the month or week to move the money and you don’t have to remember that it’s time to make the transfer.

Understand, though, that many bank transfers take between three and five business days, so the money may not get there quickly. Plan ahead so you aren’t in a time-sensitive situation.

You can send money faster by using a bank wire transfer, but this may cost you. Many banks charge $20 or more to complete wire transfers.

Keep in mind that this method can take a few hours, and if you don’t make the daily cut-off time, the wire transfer might not go through until the following day. Determine whether that fee is worth paying before you use a wire transfer.

Alternatives to Transfer Funds to a Prepaid Debit Card

There are other ways to get money on your prepaid debit card beyond a bank transfer. With so many unique financial products and services, you can try different options to add money to your prepaid debit card without having to go through a traditional bank.

Direct Deposit

One way is to use direct deposit. You can set up direct deposit through your employer. You’ll need routing and account number information associated with your prepaid debit card, but once you have it set up, you can have a portion–or all–of your paycheck sent to your prepaid debit card.

PayPal

Another way to add money to your prepaid debit card is through PayPal. PayPal now allows you to add a debit card to your account and transfer money to it. You just need the debit card number, expiration date and security code.

This allows PayPal to move money sitting in your account to your debit card. The transfer usually happens within 10 to 30 minutes. The fee is 1% with a cap of $10, so it’s cheaper than many wire transfers from traditional banks.

P2P Payments

You can also connect your prepaid debit card to your person-to-person payment app. Venmo is a good example. Add your prepaid debit card information to the Venmo app so when people send you money, you can transfer it to your debit card. This happens quickly and comes with a flat fee of less than a dollar.

Bottom Line

If you use a prepaid debit card as part of your financial management, you need to be able to transfer money to the debit card. When you know your options, it’s possible to reload your card using a bank transfer or one of several other options.

Related: Why are Millennials Using Prepaid Credit Cards?

Carefully research your options, their costs, and figure out what will be most beneficial to you in the long run.

Article comments

1 comment
Bill Dwight says:

Be sure to check with your prepaid card provider before attempting to send a wire transfer to your card – many card processors do not accept wire transfers as an expedited alternative to ACH transfers.