Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard Review
The Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard has some good features, like a high-interest savings account, and some nice-to-haves, like cash back offers. The monthly fees and lack of a free ATM network, however, can put a damper on a card with potential.
Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard Overview
The Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard is available on the Mastercard network and is widely accepted anywhere Mastercard or debits cards are accepted.
As one of the oldest and largest money transfer services, Western Union offers its money transfer services to its prepaid cardholders. Most other prepaid cards aren’t accepted. You can receive money through a Western Union transfer directly to the card with no fee. You can also send money from the card through Western Union, although the standard charge for the money transfer service still applies.
The Western Union Prepaid Mastercard offers a couple of fee plans–a monthly fee plan or a “pay-as-you-go” plan that charges for each purchase. The monthly fee plan costs $9.95 per month–a high fee compared to other prepaid cards. But with direct deposit, the monthly fee drops to $5.00–about average among monthly fee cards. The pay-as-you-go plan charges $1.00 per signature transaction. So, unless you plan on using the card infrequently for purchases, the monthly fee plan is the cheapest option.
The Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard has many features available across prepaid cards, such as direct deposit, but it does have some unique features as well. A summary is below:
Western Union Transfers: Typically you need to use cash or have a checking account or credit card to send or receive money with Western Union. The Western Union Prepaid Mastercard allows you do utilize the Western Union services without a bank account. Or carrying around large amounts of cash.
Savings Account: With the Western Union card, you can take advantage of a connected savings account. Users can transfer money into their 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: With the card, you’ll receive rotating cash back offers at different retailers. You can opt-in to varying rewards for locations where you shop regularly to earn cash back. The cash back bonuses are added automatically to your account.
Refer-A-Friend Program: If you invite a friend to get a Western Union Prepaid Mastercard, you’ll each receive a $20 referral bonus if your friend loads $40 or more onto their new card.
Mobile App: Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard 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: The Western Union Prepaid Mastercard uses the Netspend Anytime Alerts system. Within your online portal, you can sign up for text alerts based on individual transactions, received deposits, and budget notifications. Once signed up for the program, you can also get on-demand alerts by texting the Netspend SMS number any time.
You can have up to a $15,000 balance on the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard – higher than most prepaid cards. The maximum daily spending limit for the card is $5,000, again higher than most prepaid cards. The ATM limit is $940 a day, more than double the average for prepaid cards.
The Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard offers two fee plans–the Pay-As-You-Go plan and the FeeAdvantage Premier plan. Neither plan charges activation fees or direct deposit fees
Pay-As-You-Go Fees: The Pay-As-You-Go plan charges no monthly fee, but charges $1.00 per signature purchase transaction and $2.00 per PIN purchase transaction. If you plan to use the card for purchases, as most do, this fee plan should be avoided since the fees will quickly exceed the FeeAdvantage plan fees.
FeeAdvantage Plan Fees: The FeeAdvantage Plan charges a $9.95 monthly fee, but no transaction fees. Users that enroll in direct deposit and have $500 in payroll or government benefits deposited onto their card are automatically upgraded to the Premier FeeAdvantage card in the following month, which lowers the monthly fee to $5.00.
Both plans charge ATM fees–$2.50 per withdrawal plus any fees charged by the ATM operator. You can avoid the ATM fees by getting cash back at the register when you make a debit purchase using the card with your PIN number.
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.
How to Load Money on the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard
There are several ways to load the Western Union Prepaid Mastercard, including four methods with no fees.
Direct Deposit: Paychecks and government benefits checks can be loaded on the card via direct deposit without a fee. Loading $500 or more by direct deposit has the additional advantage of lowering the monthly fee under the FeeAdvantage plan to $5.
Western Union Transfer: You can accept a Western Union transfer to the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard with no load fee.
Mobile Check Deposit: Users can deposit checks to their Western Union Prepaid Mastercard via the card’s mobile app for free. 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 Western Union Prepaid Mastercard online for free.
Cash Reload: The Western Union card uses the Netspend Reload Network for cash loads. The network has over 130,000 partner locations. While Western Union does not charge a fee for this service, the partner locations do. Cash reload fees at partner locations are $2.00 to $3.95.
There are two ways to get cash from the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard:
ATMs: You can use the card like a bank debit card to withdraw money from any ATM that takes Mastercard. The Western Union Netspend fee is $2.50 per transaction, plus the fee charged by the ATM owner. The card charges a $0.50 fee for balance inquiries at ATMs, so we recommend using the mobile app or Anytime Alerts to check your balance instead.
Cash Back at Retailers: Many retailers allow you to get cash back when making purchases using your PIN number. So, if you have the monthly plan, this is a good way to avoid ATM fees. But, remember that if you choose the Pay-As-You-Go plan, you’ll still have the $2.00 PIN transaction fee.
Getting the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard
Getting a Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard 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 (or ITIN) to verify your identity.
The Western Union Prepaid Mastercard can be ordered online for free or purchased at certain Western Union agent locations. Among major chains that sell prepaid cards, you’ll find the Western Union card only at Dollar General or Family Dollar. If you buy at a retailer, you’ll pay a purchase fee that can be avoided by getting the card online.
For prepaid card users that regularly send or accept Western Union transfers and want to make use of the interest-bearing savings account, the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard is a good choice. Otherwise, you may be stuck carrying large amounts of cash in and out of Western Union locations, if you don’t have a bank account or credit card.
However, with an expensive Pay-As-You-Go plan or a monthly fee that you can’t entirely waive, there are cheaper cards available.
Best For: Prepaid card users that regularly use Western Union money transfer services and can take advantage of the interest-bearing savings account.
Not So Good For: Prepaid card users without direct deposit and those that will regularly use ATM cash withdrawals.