ACE Flare™ Account by MetaBank® Review
The ACE Flare account has a couple of stand-out features–its high-interest (6% APY) savings account and its free cash withdrawals. But most of the benefits require some form of direct deposit and there are some catches. Here are the details.
ACE Flare Account Overview
The ACE Flare Account is a bank account among the growing number of online-only accounts. Most transactions to and from the account are completed online or through ACE Flare’s mobile app or through the use of the Visa debit card that comes with the account. So, the account can be funded through direct deposit or depositing checks through the app.
The ACE Flare’s headline feature is its savings account. It offers a generous 6% APY, well higher than traditional bank savings accounts. It even edges out some other high-interest offers, like the 5% APY offered by the Brink's Prepaid Mastercard® or the Netspend card. Although it caps the offer at a $2,000 savings balance, that’s twice as much as the $1,000 cap set by Brink’s and Netspend. Savings account balances over the $2,000 still earn interest, but at a lower .49% APY.
The ACE Flare account has one other benefit of note–free cash withdrawals. Cardholders can withdraw up to $400 cash per day with no fees at ACE Cash Express locations.
Both the savings account and free cash withdrawals require qualifying direct deposits. Cardholders with direct deposit also qualify for lower fees. For that reason, if you intend to use direct deposit with your ACE Flare account, it’s worth a closer look. But if you don’t, check out other alternatives.
Although the ACE Flare Account isn’t a prepaid card, it’s virtually indistinguishable. It shares many of the features that many prepaid cards have, like free direct deposit allowing you to get your paycheck up to 2 days faster and email/text alerts.
And the account comes with a Visa debit card, allowing you to make purchases virtually anywhere Visa is accepted.
It also includes the following features.
High-Interest Savings. If you have an ACE Flare Account, then you are qualified to open a savings account that will pay 6.00% annual percentage yield on balances up to $2,000–far higher than a typical checking or savings account. But the higher rate is limited to $2,000. Balances over that amount have an APY of .50%. To open the savings account, you have to make a direct deposit to your account of at least $500 during one calendar month.
Easy Money Transfers. You can transfer money from your account to another ACE Flare account holder for free.
No-Fee Cash Withdrawals. You can withdraw cash from your account at no-cost at ACE stores. The fee-free withdrawals are limited to $400 per day and the withdrawal must be made at an ACE store. There are over 950 ACE stores in 23 states. Certainly not as convenient as ATMs, but it’s a way to keep costs low for those near an ACE store. You can find all ACE Cash Express locations here. Like most benefits with the ACE Flare Account, direct deposit is required.
Purchase Cushion. Like some prepaid cards, the ACE Flare Account may cover up to $10 over your account balance if you’re caught a little short on funds. There is no fee for the purchase cushion; the amount will just be deducted the next time you add money to your card.
The ACE Flare Account has no account application or purchase fee if the account is opened online. The account charges a monthly fee $9.95, but lowers that fee to $5 if you make at least one direct deposit over $500. Ongoing direct deposit is not required to qualify for this lower fee.
The ACE Flare Account doesn’t offer a free ATM network. The card charges a fee of $2.50 per ATM withdrawal, in addition to any fees charged by the ATM operator. That leaves only two ways to get cash from the card for free–going to one of the 950 ACE Cash Express stores or getting cash back at the register when making a debit or PIN transaction.
There are some other potential gotcha fees:
Optional Overdraft – Although an opt-in feature, overdraft protection is available on the ACE Flare Account Card–along with the overdraft fees that come with it. If you elect to get the coverage, you’ll be charged a fee of $20 if you overdraw your card by more than $10.00. You can be charged up to 5 overdraft fees per month. This is a “just say no” feature.
Return Balance Fee – If you cancel your card and request the balance by check, ACE Flare will deduct a fee of $15 to issue a check to you for the remaining balance. Better to transfer the money to a different account should you decide to cancel.
Limits of the ACE Flare Account
Like prepaid cards, the ACE Flare Account has spending and cash load limits. Daily spending can be up to $5,000, higher than the typical prepaid card. The daily cash load limit is $7,500, also higher than most other prepaid cards. (That limit doesn’t apply to direct deposits or transfers).
Depositing Money to the ACE Flare Account
You have four options to add money to your ACE Elite Visa.
Direct Deposit. You can set up paychecks and government benefits to be loaded onto the card via direct deposit. It is free to use direct deposit. If you have $500 or more direct deposited, then you will qualify for the lower monthly fee. Direct deposit also allows you to obtain the free cash withdrawals at ACE Cash Express stores and the option to open the high-interest savings account.
Online Transfers. You can transfer money online from a PayPal or bank account. There is no fee for account transfers.
Mobile Check Deposit. With the ACE Flare mobile app, account holders can deposit checks directly to their account with no fee. It will take about 10 days for the funds to clear. Quicker options are available for a fee charged by the third-party processor.
Cash. You can reload your card with cash at any of 130,000 retailers in the NetSpend’s Reload Network including CVS and 7-Eleven. ACE Elite doesn’t charge a cash reload fee, but the reload network does– $2.00 to 3.95, determined by the retailer.
In addition to features offered by most online accounts and prepaid cards, the ACE Flare Account has a couple of extras. But nearly all benefits require direct deposit. And without direct deposit, the fees are too high to consider the account compared to other online accounts and prepaid card options. For those that intend to use direct deposit and can take advantage of the high-interest savings account, it’s worth consideration.
Best For: Prepaid card users that use direct deposit and are near ACE Cash Express stores.
Not So Good For: Prepaid card users who don’t have direct deposit; those making frequent ATM withdrawals.