Netspend Visa Prepaid Card Review
The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card offers features similar to a traditional bank account. With high-interest savings and mobile check deposit, the Netspend card is one of the best prepaid card offerings. In this review, we cover the card’s features, fees, and card limits and ways to avoid most of the fees by making smart use of the card.
Netspend Visa Prepaid Card Overview
The Netspend prepaid card is available on the Visa network and can be used anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Netspend offers a savings account that includes a high promotional rate of 5.00% APY on deposits up to $1,000.
Netspend charges fees based on how you use the card and which fee plan is selected. Users can choose between a fee plan that charges based on the number of purchases or a fixed monthly fee. The Pay-As-You-Go plan charges no monthly fee but charges a transaction fee of $1.00 for signature (or credit) purchases and $2.00 for PIN (or debit) purchases. The FeeAdvantage plan has no transaction fees but charges a $9.95 monthly fee. For those with direct deposit of $500 or more each month, Netspend lowers the monthly fee to $5–referred to as the Netspend Premier plan.
You can load your Netspend card for free via direct deposit, bank transfer, or PayPal transfer. Mobile check deposits are also free but take 10 days to clear. If you want to load cash, it’s easy to find a reload location near you, but each location charges its own fee, with rates up to $3.95 per transaction.
You can get cash from your Netspend Visa card at any ATM, but ATM withdrawals come with a fee of $2.50. As discussed below, you can avoid this fee by getting cash back on purchases at many retailers.
The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card includes the core features of most prepaid cards, such as direct deposit. It also offers some additional unique features:
Savings Account: Netspend Visa cards have a connected savings account. Users can transfer money into their Netspend Savings Account to earn up to a 5.00% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on deposits up to $1,000, with a 0.50% APY on balances over $1,000.
Cash Back: In the Netspend Online Portal, you can access rotating cash back offers at different retailers. You can opt-in to rewards for locations where you regularly shop to earn cash back, added automatically to your account.
Mobile App: Netspend has a mobile app to give users up-to-date information about their account. Users can send and receive money, find the nearest reload location, see associated fees, load checks, and monitor transactions.
Text Alerts: Netspend offers Anytime Alerts that users can customize to their needs. Alerts can be sent daily, weekly, or with each transaction for individual transaction details, received deposits, budget notifications, and declined transactions. Users can also get on-demand alerts by texting the Netspend SMS number any time.
Purchase Cushion: Netspend may cover a purchase if your account is short of funds, up to $10.
Online Account Center: You can create an online budget and track your spending against the budget throughout the month.
Refer-a-Friend: When you refer a friend who activates their new Netspend Prepaid Card and loads at least $40, you both get a $20 credit.
Virtual Card Numbers: Create a temporary card number for use in online transactions.
You can have up to a $15,000 balance on the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card – higher than most prepaid cards. The maximum daily spending limit for the card is $4,999, again higher than most prepaid cards. The ATM limit is $940 a day, nearly double the average for prepaid cards.
The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card offers three fee plans–Pay-As-You-Go, FeeAdvantage, and Premier. None of the plans charge activation fees or direct deposit fees, but they all charge a $2.50 ATM fee, a $0.50 fee to check your balance at an ATM, and cash reload fees determined by the reload location.
Also, there is a $5.95 inactivity fee for cards that haven’t been used in over 30 days.
If you wish to cancel your card while you still have a balance, you can request a refund check. This check is sent by mail and usually takes three to four weeks to receive, with a fee of $5.95 deducted from the balance.
Pay-As-You-Go Fees: The Pay-As-You-Go plan charges no monthly fee but charges $2.00 per PIN purchase transaction and $1.00 per signature purchase transaction.
FeeAdvantage Plan Fees: The FeeAdvantage Plan charges a $9.95 monthly fee, but no transaction fees.
Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Fees: Users that enroll in Direct Deposit and have $500 in payroll or government benefits deposited onto their card are eligible to upgrade to the Premier FeeAdvantage card in the following month. This lowers the monthly fee to $5.00 from $9.95 and has no transaction fees.
You can avoid certain fees by using the card wisely. For example, rather than withdrawing money from an ATM, you can get cash back at many retailers for free. And rather than paying a fee to check your balance at an ATM, you can check it for free with the Netspend mobile app.
How the Netspend Prepaid Card Works
There are several ways to load the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card.
Direct Deposit: You can deposit your paycheck directly to the Netspend Visa just like you would a bank account. Netspend also accepts tax refunds and most government benefits through direct deposit. All direct deposits are free.
Mobile Check Deposit: Users can deposit checks to their Netspend Visa Prepaid card using the Netspend mobile app. Mobile check deposits are free but take 10 days to clear. If you want same-day processing, you have to pay a 1% to 4% fee.
Online Bank or PayPal Transfer: If you have a bank or PayPal account, you can transfer funds to the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card online for free.
Cash Reload: Netspend has over 130,000 partner locations in its Netspend Reload Network, where you can load cash onto your prepaid card. While Netspend does not charge a fee for this service, the partner locations do. Cash reload fees at partner locations cost $2.00 to $3.95. That fee is lower than many competitors, like Green Dot’s Reload @ the Register, which can charge up to $5.95.
Using the Card
For purchases, the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card works like a credit card or checking account debit card. It can be used anywhere debit Visa cards are accepted. This includes in-person stores, movie theaters, and other retailers. You can also use your card at online retailers like Amazon and pay just about any bill that accepts Visa debit cards.
There are two ways to get cash from the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card:
ATMs: You can use the card like a bank debit card to withdraw money from most ATMs. Netspend charges $2.50 per withdrawal. The ATM owner may charge its own fee.
Cash Back at Retailers: Many retailers allow you to get cash back when making debit purchases using your PIN. It’s free to get cash back at the register, making it an easy way to avoid ATM fees.
Getting the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card
Because it’s not a credit card, getting a Netspend Visa Prepaid Card requires no credit check. And there’s no ChexSystems inquiry or income requirements. As with all prepaid debit cards, you need a valid social security number to verify your identity.
The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card can be ordered online for free or purchased at certain retailers such as Walmart or CVS. However, buying at a retailer often includes a purchase fee charged by the retailer. For instance, CVS charges a $2.95 purchase fee. There’s no purchase fee when you order the card online.
You can order your Netspend card online by completing a short application here. It takes about 7 – 10 days for your new card to arrive.
The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card offers a notable benefit in its associated savings account. Along with mobile check loading, direct deposit, and the smartphone app, the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card is a good alternative to a traditional bank account.
As with most prepaid cards, however, consumers should be mindful of the fees. The card is most suited for those with $500 or more in direct deposits each month or those who make just one or two monthly transactions.
Best For: Prepaid card users with direct deposit who are looking for a bank account alternative.
Not So Good For: Prepaid card users without direct deposit and who visit an ATM often or make frequent cash loads.