Netspend ® Visa ® Prepaid Card Review
The NetSpend Visa is a prepaid debit card offering features similar to a traditional bank account. It includes an interest-bearing savings account, yet doesn’t require a credit or ChexSystems check. In our Netspend Visa Prepaid Card review, we cover the card’s features, fees, and card limits.The card does have fees that can add up quickly each month. We explain, however, how 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 a variety of fees based on how the card is used and which fee plan is selected. Users can choose between a Pay-As-You-Go plan which charges a $1.00 purchase fee or $2.00 signature fee for each transaction or a FeeAdvantage plan that charges a $9.95 monthly fee. For those with direct deposit of $500 or more each month, Netspend lowers the monthly fee to $5.
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 do a cash reload, there are numerous participating locations, 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, this fee can be avoided 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, there are rotating cash back offers at different retailers. Users can opt-in to varying rewards for locations where they shop regularly to earn cash back, added automatically to their 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 and 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 and include 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, more than double the average for prepaid cards.
The NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card offers three levels of service. A Pay-As-You-Go plan, a FeeAdvantage Plan, and a FeeAdvantage Premier plan. None of the cards 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 at most locations. Also, there is a $5.95 inactivity fee for cards that haven’t been used in over 30 days.
For overage charges, all Netspend Visa Prepaid Cards offer two options. Users can choose to have purchases over the balance limit declined. Or, face overage fees of $15 per overage, with up to three overages a month. These fees are higher than overage charges for other prepaid cards.
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 to Load Money on the NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card
There are several ways to load the NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card.
Direct Deposit: Paychecks and government benefits checks can be loaded on the card via direct deposit without a fee.
Mobile Check Deposit: Users can deposit checks to their Netspend Visa Prepaid card via the card’s 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 where you can load cash onto your prepaid card. While Netspend does not charge a fee for this service, the partner locations do. Average cash reload fees at partner locations are $2.00 to $3.95.
Using the Card
The NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card works like a credit or debit card. It can be used anywhere debit Visa cards are accepted. This includes in-person stores, gas stations, movie theaters, and other retailers. This card can also be used at online retailers such as Amazon.
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 any ATM. The Netspend fee is $2.50 per transaction, plus the fee charged by the ATM owner. NetSpend also charges a $0.50 fee for balance inquiries at ATMs.
Cash Back at Retailers: Many retailers allow you to get cash back when making purchases using your PIN number.
Getting the NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card
Getting a NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card is easy. There is no credit check, no ChexSystems inquiry, and no income requirements. As with all prepaid debit cards, you do 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 Wal-Mart or CVS. However, note that buying at a retailer often includes an activation fee. For instance, CVS charges a $2.95 activation fee.
You can order this card online by completing a short application here.
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 or who make just a couple of purchases with the card each month.
Not So Good For: Prepaid card users without direct deposit and who frequently visit an ATM or make frequent cash loads.