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Saturday, June 22, 2024

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

Choncé Maddox

By: Choncé Maddox

Choncé Maddox
Choncé Maddox

Choncé is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and a nationally recognized personal finance and budgeting expert. She's paid off $50,000+ of personal debt and her debt story has been highlighted in Essence Magazine and on "Good Morning America" as part of its 2020 Debt-Free Decade series. Her work has been featured on sites, including Business Insider, LendingTree, Credit Sesame, Barclaycard, and The New York Post. Choncé was named one of the top financial experts to follow on Instagram by Black Enterprise.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

Rated 3.8 /5.0 ★★★★

If you’re looking for a secure and flexible payment solution that doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles (or fees) of traditional banking, prepaid cards can be a great option. The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card, in particular, garners attention for its practicality and accessibility.

Netspend has been around since 1999 and has become an industry leader by providing prepaid debit cards for budget-conscious consumers. In this in-depth review, I will guide you through the ins and outs of the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card, offer some viable alternatives, and share experiences from current cardholders.

Main Facts About the Card

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card has a lot of attractive perks, including no credit check, no activation fee, and no minimum balance requirements. This reloadable prepaid card is also accepted wherever Visa card payments are accepted. Here are some additional key features to consider:

    • Several ways to load funds: These include direct deposit, mobile check deposit, or cash at partner reload locations.

    • Various account options: These vary depending on how you want to manage your funds.

    • Direct deposit: You can receive your paycheck up to two days earlier by setting up direct deposit.

    • Savings account: If you want to set aside money in a separate account, Netspend offers a savings account with an APY of up to 5%. You can make transfers between your Netspend Savings Account and your Netspend card account or even set up automatic transfers.

    • Anytime alerts: Cardholders also have access to receive text alerts about transactions.

    • Mobile app: Use the app to check your balance and see updated transaction information.

    • Purchase cushion: If approved transactions result in a negative balance, Netspend may temporarily cover up to a $10 negative balance. Cardholders are responsible for repaying the negative balance at their earliest convenience.

    • Online account center: Netspend’s online account center has budgeting features that allow you to set spending limits and get reminders when you’re close to reaching them.

    • Payback rewards. This feature helps you earn cash back and personalized offers just for using your card. You just need to log into your account and visit your rewards page to see customized offers based on your spending habits. Then, you can activate the offers you want and use your card at those retailers.

How to Qualify and Apply

One of the biggest benefits of using a prepaid card is often ease of access, and the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card is no exception. To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid government-issued ID, and be a US resident.

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

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NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at NetSpend'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★

3.8

OVERALL RATING

  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Netspend Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text messages or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card use is subject to activation and ID verification. Terms and Costs apply.
  • Card issued by Pathward N.A., Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa debit card is accepted.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Up-to $9.95 monthly
Not applicable

Applying is simple with these steps:

  1. Visit the Netspend website or a participating location to request a card. It has no credit checks or upfront fees.
  2. Provide the necessary identification and information (such as your ID or driver’s license and proof of address).
  3. Once approved, you’ll receive your personalized card in the mail, typically within 7 to 10 business days.

To start using the card, you must activate it by following the printed activation and verification steps included in the materials that arrive with your card.

How to Use the Card

Once your prepaid card is loaded, it works just like a regular debit card. You can use it to make everyday purchases at retail stores or online, as well as to pay bills through the Netspend website or app. You can also withdraw cash from an ATM if needed.

Managing your account responsibly and staying up-to-date with transactions are the key ways to make the most of this prepaid debit card. You can manage the card via the online account center or through the mobile app — available on both iOS and Android.

You can also set up text alerts to stay informed about your funds if you have trouble finding the time to check your account regularly. And, if you’re looking to save money, the optional savings account is a great feature to help you reach your financial goals

Netspend also has two fee plans for its prepaid debit cards that you should keep in mind.

    • The monthly plan provides unlimited transactions for one low fee, and you can set up direct deposit. This option is ideal for people who plan to use their NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card regularly or make daily purchases

    • The pay-as-you-go plan has no monthly fee, but you’re responsible for covering any transaction fees. This option is better for someone who is unsure how often they’ll use their card each month.

In addition to transaction fees and the monthly plan fee, you should also be mindful of out-of-network ATM fees.

Benefits and Drawbacks to Consider

Nothing is perfect — and that includes financial products. Here are a few benefits and drawbacks to consider with this card.

Benefits

    • No credit or banking history check: This card is great for people who have difficulty opening a traditional bank account since there are no ChexSystems or credit checks.

    • Direct deposit: You can get paid faster by setting up direct deposit for your work paycheck, government benefits, or tax refund.

    • Mobile check deposit: This feature makes it easy to deposit paper checks, especially since prepaid cards aren’t tied to a traditional bank account.

    • Account alerts: Card users can easily set up account alerts to avoid surprises and manage their accounts on the go via the mobile app.

    • Rewards: The card offers rewards based on your personal spending habits, and cash back is awarded as a statement credit.

Drawbacks

    • Some account and transaction fees: Depending on the type of account you choose, you may encounter fees, including a monthly fee and a transaction fee.

    • Reload locations may charge fees: Reloading your card may cost you if you use one of Netspend’s partner reload locations. This card may not be the best option for someone who does not want to set up direct deposit through their employer, which would be a free way to load funds onto your card.

    • Spending limits: Netspend cardholders must comply with certain daily spending and ATM withdrawal limits, which restricts your access to large amounts of money within a 24-hour period.

    • Card replacement fee: If you lose your card, Netspend charges a replacement fee of around $10 to reorder.

Alternatives to the Card

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card has a few benefits, but it may not fit your needs or financial situation. If the card doesn’t seem right for you, here are a few of alternatives to consider.

Discover® Cashback Debit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Cashback – Earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month
  • No. Fees. Period. That means you won’t be charged an account fee on our Cashback Debit account.
  • Early Pay – Get your paycheck up to two days early with no charge
  • No Credit Impact - You can apply without affecting your credit score.
  • Fraud Protection - You’re never responsible for unauthorized debit card purchases. If you suspect someone else has used your debit card without your permission, let us know.
  • Member FDIC
  • Fee-free overdraft protection
  • No minimum opening deposit and no minimum balance
  • Add cash into your account at Walmart stores nationwide
  • Cash access at over 60,000 no-fee ATMs nationwide
  • 100% US-based customer service available 24/7
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
$0
No Credit Needed

The Discover® Cashback Debit is not a prepaid card, but applying for this card does not require a credit check. This card also has no monthly fees and no card replacement fee. You earn 1% cashback on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.

While this card may include some fees for loading cash, you can load money onto the Discover® Cashback Debit at any Walmart in the US for free. These deposits are also FDIC-insured, and this card would be ideal for someone looking for a fee-free banking experience.

Brink’s Armored™ Account Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
4.1

OVERALL RATING

  • Brink’s knows Security! 24/7 access to a suite of security benefits to help keep your account armored.
  • Get access to over 100,000 Brink’s Money ATMs.
  • Get paid faster than a paper check with direct deposit.
  • Add funds to your Brink’s Armored Account and use Brinks Armored debit card anywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Account opening is subject to registration and ID verification. Terms & fees Apply. Deposit Account is established by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable

The Brink’s Armored™ Account is a member of the Netspend Money Program, so the two cards have very similar features. These include direct deposit, mobile check deposit, a mobile app, optional coverage for a negative balance up to $10, and an optional savings account. But residents in the state of Vermont cannot open an account.

This Mastercard® also offers ID theft expense reimbursement and purchase assurance on damaged or stolen items. Unfortunately, this card also has the same account fees as the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card.

Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
3.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Enjoy FREE withdrawals at over 37,000 MoneyPass® ATM locations nationwide.
  • Get access to your money up to 2 days faster with early Direct Deposit
  • No monthly fee when you direct deposit $500 or more within a statement period
  • Use Online Bill Pay to help you save time and help you avoid late fees. Terms apply.
  • Check your balance and recent transactions, pay bills on the go, get SMS text alerts, and send money to family or friends who have a Serve Account
  • No credit check, no hidden fees
  • Seamlessly transfer funds between Serve Accounts in no time and without a fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Not applicable

This Serve® American Express® Prepaid Debit Account is a reloadable prepaid card that offers benefits such as free ATM withdrawals, mobile check deposit, purchase protection, and fraud protection. It also offers a variety of account options to suit different financial needs.

This card has a lower monthly fee compared to other prepaid cards and no monthly fee for cardholders in Texas, New York, and Vermont. If you don’t live in any of these states, you can waive the monthly fee by setting up direct deposit and receiving deposits totaling a minimum of $500 each month.

Managing your account is easy with access to a variety of online tools and spending insights. This card is best for people looking for a prepaid card that has low fees and several convenient money management features.

Cardholder Reviews

I enjoy highlighting cardholder reviews that give you a first-person look at using this card and dealing with customer service. Here’s what some cardholders had to say in online testimonials.

One Reddit user wrote:

“Netspend cards are fun to use and are a super simple way to have a debit card bank account without actually signing up for a bank account at a bank. My fiancé and I have used Netspend for years. Once you buy the card and put the money on the card at the store, it stays on your card. Don’t worry, your money has not disappeared. You need to call to activate/set up the account. You’ll need your social, birthday, address, etc. You’ll need to give all the same info that you would if you were setting up a bank account. Netspend is not a gift card and wasn’t created for a one time use kind of thing.”

Another user commented:

“I used to have a Netspend card for traveling, online purchases, and anything else where I didn’t want to use my real debit card. The only fees I incurred were ATM fees. The rest of their fees didn’t start until something like 6 months of inactivity. Of the prepaid debit cards, they’re actually not bad. Just use it like any other debit card.”

On Trustpilot, Linda wrote:

“I’ve used Netspend for over a year. If I’ve had an unauthorized purchase they took care of it. If I lost my card they replaced it, the best feature is that they give you access to your account and routing number which you need if you’re paying certain bills online with it.”

Another Trustpilot reviewer countered:

“When I became a member I didn’t realize you charge for every transaction I think that ought to be in extra large print so it won’t be missed so I feel $13 to $15 lost after every transaction it’s not cool it’s more like you’re stealing so not happy about that.”

FAQs: Is the Card Legit?

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card is a legitimate financial product that has been in the market for over 20 years. It is issued by MetaBank, a federally chartered institution, and it is protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The card also offers fraud protection and other security measures to ensure user funds are safe.

How Do I Reload My Card?

Adding money to your NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card is easy and convenient. You can reload it in the following ways:

    • Direct deposit: If you have a regular source of income, like a paycheck or government benefits, you can set up direct deposit to load funds onto your card.

    • Mobile check load: With the Netspend mobile app, you can easily add funds to your card by taking a picture of a check and submitting it for approval.

    • Cash reload: You can reload your card at more than 130,000 locations nationwide, including participating retailers such as Walmart, CVS, and 7-Eleven.

    • Bank transfer: If you have another bank account, you can transfer money from that account to your NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card.

Can You Avoid Any of This Card’s Fees?

While certain fees associated with the NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card are unavoidable, you can also minimize or even eliminate some of those fees. The card charges an inactivity fee after 90 days, so you’ll want to use your card by making at least one transaction or cash withdrawal every few months to avoid this fee.

You can also avoid the card delivery fee by opting to receive your card in seven to 10 business days instead of one to three days. Finally, if you receive at least $500 in direct deposit funds each month, you’ll qualify for the reduced monthly plan instead of the standard monthly plan, which charges a fee.

What’s the Difference Between a Prepaid Card and a Debit Card?

While both prepaid cards and debit cards link to a user’s personal funds, the two have some key differences. Consider these when deciding which version would be better for your financial situation.

    1. Funding source: A prepaid card is typically loaded with a specific amount of money by the user, whereas a debit card is linked directly to the user’s bank account.
    2. Credit check: Prepaid cards do not require a credit check, making them accessible to individuals with no or poor credit history. Some debit cards, on the other hand, may require a credit check before being issued.
    3. Overdraft fees: Most prepaid cards do not allow users to spend more than the available balance, so there are no overdraft fees. Debit cards, on the other hand, may include overdraft fees if the user spends more than their available account balance.

Overall, prepaid cards offer convenience and security by limiting spending to available funds. On the other hand, debit cards provide access to bank accounts and potential credit-building opportunities.

This Card May Be For You If …

    • You’re looking for an alternative to traditional banking that still offers the convenience and security of a debit card.

    • You need features such as direct deposit and mobile check load, and widespread acceptance

    • If you’re looking to better manage your finances and want a way to cap your spending to what you can afford.

As with any financial product, it’s important to carefully consider all the features and potential drawbacks before making a decision. This card has several fees that you should watch out for, including a monthly fee or transaction, that you should know about.

About the Author

Choncé Maddox
Choncé Maddox Finance Expert

Choncé is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and a nationally recognized personal finance and budgeting expert. She's paid off $50,000+ of personal debt and her debt story has been highlighted in Essence Magazine and on "Good Morning America" as part of its 2020 Debt-Free Decade series. Her work has been featured on sites, including Business Insider, LendingTree, Credit Sesame, Barclaycard, and The New York Post. Choncé was named one of the top financial experts to follow on Instagram by Black Enterprise.

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