A payroll card is a prepaid card you can use to transfer your employees’ wages electronically every pay period, making paydays more convenient and cost-effective for you and your staff. Employees can use the payroll card as a debit card, to purchase goods, and to withdraw their pay using a preferred ATM or bank cashier. The best payroll card providers have programs that are simple to set up, give access to funds quickly, and have low withdrawal fees. Some pay cards even offer employees a range of benefits such as cash back and discounts.
In this guide, we evaluated eight payroll card providers and narrowed it down to our top four recommendations.
- Skylight ONE (Netspend): Best overall payroll card for small business users
- PaychekPLUS! by FSV Payment Systems: Best for budget-conscious companies
- FlexWage: Best for restaurants and retail stores hiring contract and part-time workers
- rapid! PayCard: Best for robust pay card fraud prevention tools
Best Payroll Card Providers Compared
Need help deciding?
Read our guide on payroll cards and how they work to learn more about the features you should look for.
Skylight ONE (Netspend): Best Overall Payroll Card Provider
Skylight ONE has over 15 years of experience helping companies in different industries streamline salary payouts by offering pay cards that employees can use to receive wages, withdraw funds, and even pay bills online. While it topped our list of best pay cards for employees, some of its fees are higher than the other payroll cards we reviewed. However, the steep pricing offers extra benefits, such as discounts and money management tools.
In our evaluation, Skylight ONE scored 4.39 out of 5, with perfect marks in ease of use and pay card functionalities. It would have received a higher overall rating if not for the high cost of some of its transaction fees, including its paid subscription option and the fees for signature- and PIN-required purchases. None of the providers we reviewed have a paid monthly plan and charge per-purchase transaction fees.
Skylight ONE (Netspend) Key Features
Skylight ONE (Netspend) helps with setup, marketing, training, and compliance. It also offers a “Corporate Portal” you can use to add employees either through SFTP file transfers or integrated API call requests.
Aside from employee enrollments, its “Corporate Portal” comes with inventory management tools so you can easily track card inventory. It also has a suite of reports to help with your auditing requirements. If you want to integrate the card enrollment process into your new hire onboarding, Skylight ONE offers flexible integration options—allowing it to connect with any system.
You can fund employee payroll cards either through wire transfers or automated clearing house (ACH) deposits (note that ACH deposits are free). You can also deposit government payments/tax refunds into the Skylight ONE (Netspend) card. Note that none of the pay card providers in this guide have this functionality.
It even allows you to make one-off payments should you need it. Plus, with its up to two days direct deposits, you don’t have to worry about preparing and distributing paychecks to employees—provided you get its Monthly Plan. This is unlike FlexWage and rapid! PayCard, which offer instant payouts.
Skylight ONE’s pay cards are FDIC-insured to protect you from potential fraud.
Your employees can contact Skylight ONE’s support team or log in to the “Online Account Center” to request a card replacement. However, you have to pay $9.95 per card.
Aside from cashback rewards from Skylight ONE’s partner merchants, cardholders can also opt to open a savings account with 5% APY if they subscribe to its Monthly Plan. Your employees can also apply for tuition assistance through the Netspend Scholarship Program. None of the providers in this guide have a similar feature.
With Netspend’s mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, Skylight ONE cardholders can reload cash, send money, and check their balance and transaction history even while on the go.
Its “Corporate Portal” has a messaging system, but you can also contact its support team via phone from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, and from Saturday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT.
FSV PaychekPLUS!: Best for Budget-conscious Companies
FSV Payment Systems has provided payroll card solutions since 1996 and has implemented thousands of pay card programs in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and staffing industries. Its scalable proprietary platform is built to support prepaid cards from the ground up, unburdening employers from additional IT costs during payroll. With its PaychekPLUS! payroll card solution, business owners can save on paycheck costs—plus, its fees are among the best for employees.
In our evaluation, PaychekPLUS! scored 4.31 out of 5. Its low transaction fees, coupled with its flexible pay card that can even be used to pay online bills, contributed to its 4 and up ratings in pricing and pay card functionalities. However, the occasional mobile app glitches and login issues prevented it from ranking higher on our list.
FSV PaychekPLUS! Key Features
Implementation assistance is provided to new clients. You are also granted access to compliance resources and its custom-built platform for prepaid debit programs.
Its platform is designed to easily integrate with payroll software. It also has a team of knowledgeable experts to help guide you through the integration process. However, if you’re looking to integrate pay card enrollments into your new hire onboarding processes, consider Skylight ONE instead, as its platform can integrate with any onboarding solution.
Employees can contact customer service to have the card replaced. Unlike Skylight ONE, standard card replacements are free with PaychekPLUS!.
Employees can use the card anywhere Visa Debit is accepted. In addition to accessing payroll funds, your staff can use it to pay bills, transfer funds, and make purchases either in-store or online. What’s also great about PaychekPLUS! include its competitive rates, charging low rates for ATM withdrawals (for out-of-network ATMs), and zero fees for cash loading transactions, fund transfers, and lost card replacements. The other payroll card providers in this guide charge fees for cash reloading, transferring funds, and/or replacing lost pay cards.
While PaychekPLUS! offers low transaction fees, there are limits to transaction amounts and the number of transactions per day. You can, however, contact customer support to ask for assistance if you have a large transaction.
Maximum Amount per Transaction
Total Maximum Amount per Day
Maximum Number of Transactions Per Day
Teller-Assisted Cash Withdrawals
Transfers to a Card or Bank Account
Purchase Transactions (via POS)
Apart from it being FDIC insured, PaychekPLUS! is covered by Visa’s zero liability policy. This policy guarantees that you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your account.
Aside from cashback rewards, bonuses, and a savings account, employees can also get rebates from USPS money orders with PaychekPLUS!. Employees get an automatic rebate of the money order fee—provided it is their first USPS money order transaction for each pay period. None of the pay cards we reviewed have this feature.
Your employees can check their balance, transfer funds, and find ATM machines via this provider’s “Prepaid CardConnect” app.
FlexWage: Best for Restaurants & Retail Stores That Hire Contract, Part-time & Unbanked Employees
The FlexWage Visa Pay Card is a reloadable debit card that gives immediate access to employees’ wages, tips, commissions, and bonuses—making it best for restaurants and retail stores. Funds are easily accessible from ATMs and employees can even track their finances as well as save up for the future. Plus, its transaction fees for employees are reasonable, charging fees only if you withdraw from out-of-network ATMs and if you transfer funds more than once a day. This is unlike PaychekPLUS!, which offers free fund transfers and charges a minimal fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals (only $1.75 per withdrawal vs FlexWage’s fee of $3 per withdrawal).
FlexWage scored 4.09 out of 5 in our evaluation. Its solid payroll card features, which include instant access to funds via ATMs and banks, contributed to its perfect rating in pay card functionalities. However, it lost points due to its inconsistent customer support and occasional mobile app glitches.
FlexWage Key Features
It has a web-based pay card system that integrates well with any payroll program. However, Skylight ONE (Netspend) has a more flexible program as it can also integrate with employee onboarding systems.
Unlike Skylight ONE, FlexWage allows employees to access their funds anytime—even instantly. It is loaded the same as a direct deposit and is available via ATM or cost-free at banks. Employees can also use the card wherever Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
FlexWage’s pay card for employees is FDIC insured and covered by Visa’s zero liability policy.
Aside from instant access to funds, FlexWage has an on-demand pay feature, providing employees early access to earned wages. Cardholders can also use the card to shop and pay for services—provided the merchant access Visa and Mastercard. However, it lacks the tuition assistance that Skylight ONE via Netspend’s scholarship program. It also doesn’t have cashback rewards that the other providers in this guide offers.
With FlexWage apps available for Android and iOS devices, your employees can check their balances, view the transaction history, transfer funds, and analyze spending.
Support is available via phone from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time. It also offers email support and a 24/7 hotline for lost or stolen cards.
rapid! PayCard: Best for Businesses That Require Robust Pay Card Fraud Prevention Tools
rapid! PayCard offers a reasonably priced payroll card program with minimal fees for fund transfers and out-of-network ATM withdrawals. Implementation is easy and employee training is free. Plus, it can help detect fraud through its spending behavior learning tool—a solution that none of the other payroll card providers we reviewed offer.
In our evaluation, rapid! PayCard score of 4.03 out of 5. It posted high marks (4 and up) in pay card functionality due to its employee rewards, instant payouts, and fraud protection tools. However, it lost points due to the less than ideal quality of its customer support and its transaction fees, which include charges for bill payments—among all the pay cards for employees that we reviewed, only rapid! charges fees for this transaction.
rapid! PayCard Key Features
With its comprehensive APIs, you can easily integrate payroll systems into its system. It even has an easy-to-use do-it-yourself API integration tool—although, rapid! can also do it for you.
Aside from instant payouts to debit cards, your employees can access their funds by 10 a.m. Eastern time on their paydays. Its pay card can also be used in shops where Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit are accepted. For 99 cents per transaction, you may even use it to pay your bills.
Just like the other pay cards in this guide, rapid! is FDIC insured. It’s also covered by the Mastercard zero liability (which means Mastercard won’t hold you accountable for unauthorized transactions using your account) and has a spending behavior learning tool to spot fraud.
Similar to Skylight ONE and PaychekPLUS!, employees get cashback rewards from partner merchants. rapid! also offers an interest-bearing savings account.
The “rapid!Access” mobile app for Android and iOS devices lets employees view their balance and recent transactions. It also has fund transfer capabilities and an ATM locator.
You can reach rapid! PayCard by phone or online contact form. It also has a simple FAQ page that cardholders can access online.
How We Evaluated the Best Payroll Card Providers
We evaluated each system based on pricing (including fund transfer and ATM withdrawal fees) and general features (such as pay card capabilities). We also looked at ease of use, customer support, and user reviews.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria.
35% of Overall Score
We determined if the payroll card providers offer free signup or if they have affordable subscription pricing. We also looked into additional fees that could be charged if an employee transfers funds or withdraws from an ATM. PaychekPLUS! scored the highest here.
35% of Overall Score
We required each provider to have a lost card replacement system. We also confirmed if they are FDIC insured and if a mobile application is available for its cardholders. Card capabilities such as bill payment, including transfer and card balance, were also checked. Payroll cards with on-demand access and rewards like discounts and cashback or creating savings accounts were also given high ratings. Flex Wage and Skylight ONE earned perfect marks in this criterion.
30% of Overall Score
Aside from a smooth implementation, we also gave pay card providers plus points if they have 24/7 customer support. Additional points were given if the pay card system integrates well with the employer’s existing payroll system or bank. Points were also awarded for systems with positive user reviews. Skylight ONE (Netspend) received perfect marks here.
Payroll cards are a better alternative to paper checks, especially when paying unbanked employees. They are cheaper, often costing nothing to implement, and save employees money by not charging them to pay fees to cash a paper check. Some payroll cards even provide a savings account and budgeting tools. However, employees should also be educated about the fees associated with the card’s use.
Check with your payroll provider to see if they offer a pay card option. Gusto and Paychex, for example, are highly rated payroll providers that also offer card services to customers. If you don’t have a payroll system offering cards, we found Skylight ONE (Netspend) to be the best overall payroll card service. It’s free to implement and has some of the best benefits for employees.