PayPal Debit and Credit Cards

How to Get PayPal Cards

Debit Card in Phone
PayPal offers several payment cards to different types of customers. John Holcroft/Ikon Images/Getty Images

If you’re a big fan of PayPal, you might want to do more than just send and receive money online. PayPal also offers payment credit cards (for online and in-person purchases), but the offerings can be a bit confusing. So here’s an overview of how to get a PayPal debit or credit card, and how each product works.

PayPal has three different types of cards, which we’ll detail below:

  • The Prepaid MasterCard
  • The Debit MasterCard
  • The Extras MasterCard

PayPal Prepaid MasterCard

The PayPal Prepaid MasterCard is a PayPal-branded prepaid debit card. Like all prepaid debit cards, you’ll load funds onto the card and then spend the money you’ve loaded. The card is not like a standard debit card that pulls funds from your checking account, nor is it a credit card that lets you spend money you don’t have. Perhaps most importantly, the card does not pull funds from your PayPal account balance – you need to load funds onto the card before you use it.

Prepaid cards are great because they can help you control spending, and it’s impossible to rack up debt and overdraft charges. Almost anybody can get a prepaid card, even if you’ve never built up a credit history (or if you have bad credit). However, prepaid cards are notorious for fees, so you need to pay attention.

Cost: the PayPal Prepaid card costs $4.95 to buy at a retailer, but there’s no charge if you order a card from PayPal.

You’ll pay $4.95 per month to keep the card open – you might be able to do better with a different prepaid card, and it’s also worth finding out if you can open a free checking account (you’ll get a debit card with your checking account). If you don’t have a bank account, you could probably save a lot of time and money by opening one.

Good news: funds in your Prepaid MasterCard account are FDIC insured, and there is no credit check to open an account. Once you activate the card (by providing personal information like your Social Security Number), you can use bank-like features: pay bills online, and have your pay added to your account through direct deposit.

Your PayPal account: the card doesn’t pull funds from your PayPal balance, but you do need a PayPal account – either use your existing account or open an account if you don’t yet have one. Your PayPal account is used to view your card balance, pay bills online, and (if you have a bank account linked to your PayPal account) add funds to your card from your bank.

Bad news: note that if your PayPal account is frozen for any reason, online access to your prepaid card will also be shut down (online sellers sometimes experience this, so think twice if there’s any risk of a freeze). To get account information, you’ll need to use the automated phone system or an ATM (balance inquiries cost $0.50 at the ATM). You can also add funds to your account at certain retailers, such as convenience stores.

PayPal Debit Mastercard

The PayPal Debit Mastercard is a card that functions more like a standard bank account debit card.

Instead of “loading” funds onto your card, you spend from your PayPal account balance.

Spending money: to use the card, you’ll need to have funds in your PayPal account (from payments you’ve received or transfers you’ve made into the account, for example). If you don’t have funds in your account before you spend with the card, your purchase will be rejected – unless you set up a backup funding source, such as your bank account, which allows you to spend even if you don’t have any money in PayPal. You can only withdraw cash if you’ve got sufficient funds in your PayPal balance.

Business account: currently the PayPal Debit Mastercard is only available for certain business accounts. Individuals who do not run a business will have a hard time getting this card. You’ll need to have, open, or convert your existing account to a Premier or Business account.

If you convert your personal account to a business account, you might find that you have to pay fees to receive payments (which wasn’t the case with your personal account).

Good news: Rewards. The main benefit of this card is that you get 1% cash back on certain purchases that you make with the card (be sure to choose “credit” at checkout). What’s more, you have faster access to payments you’ve received from customers. If you need to buy more supplies, you can simply pay with the debit card instead of waiting to transfer the money to your bank account.  There are no monthly fees, but you might have to pay fees for transactions like ATM withdrawals and cash advances.

Be aware that PayPal will pull your credit (soft inquiry) when you apply for a Debit MasterCard. This is mainly to verify your identity and look for any major problems.

PayPal Extras Credit Card

If you’d prefer a credit card instead of a debit card, the PayPal Extras card is another option. This card allows you to borrow from PayPal, via Synchrony Bank (of course, it’s best to pay off your credit card balance in full every month – the best way to use this card is to earn points).

Good news: the main benefit of the Extras card is the ability to earn points as you spend. Certain purchases earn 1-3 points, which can be redeemed for gift cards, travel vouchers, or cash back to your PayPal account. There is no annual fee, but you’ll pay interest if you don’t pay the card off every month (and other fees might apply).

Be aware: to get the Extras card, you’ll need to qualify, just like you would with any loan or credit card. PayPal will check your credit and ask about income and employment.