Netspend Prepaid Visa Card

Andrew Reyes  | 
  • Annual percentage rate (APR): N/A.
  • Rewards: Personalized offers, cash back.
  • Credit score: N/A.
  • Savings account yield: 0.5% to 5% APY.
  • Monthly fee: $0 to $9.95.
  • ATM fee: $2.50.
  • Cash reload fee: $3.95.
  • Compare cards here.

Benefits

  • No late fees or interest payments: The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card is not a true credit card; you can only spend money that you load onto the card via direct deposit or cash reload. Because of this prepaid arrangement, you will not have to pay interest on the money you spend. You will also not need to worry about late fees and other penalties typically associated with credit cards.
  • No credit check: Because the Netspend Visa is not a traditional credit card, the issuer does not perform a credit check on applicants. People with a poor credit score or no credit history can obtain the Netspend Visa Prepaid even though they would not qualify for a regular credit card. After depositing money, they can use the card at retailers and online just like a standard debit or credit card.
  • Checking-account-like features: Cardholders can use their Netspend Prepaid Visa Card as an alternative to a checking account. Netspend allows cardholders to set up direct deposit so that their employer can put their paycheck straight into their account. They can also deposit money in person at Netspend reload locations, including convenience stores and drug stores such as 7-Eleven and Walgreens. Finally, users can withdraw cash at ATMs just like they could with a checking account debit card.
  • High-yield savings account: Netspend Visa Prepaid cardholders have the option to put money into a savings account. The annual percentage yield of this savings account is 5%; 5% is much higher than the average yield for a savings account at a bank.

Drawbacks

  • Unavoidable monthly fees: If you don’t want to pay for each transaction you make, the Netspend Prepaid Visa has a monthly fee of $9.95. There is one way to lower this fee: if you set up direct deposit, the fee drops to $5 per month. If you choose to stick with the default pay-as-you-go plan, you’ll pay between $1 and $2 per purchase instead of paying a monthly fee.
  • Withdrawals and deposits could cost you: One of the advantages of the Netspend Visa Prepaid is that you can load the card with cash at “reload locations,” including select convenience stores and drug stores. The problem with this service is that each face-to-face reload incurs a $3.95 fee. When withdrawing via an ATM, the cost is $2.50. The fee is also $2.50 for face-to-face cash withdrawals. You can limit these fees by loading the card via direct deposit and using the card directly instead of withdrawing cash at an ATM.
  • Inactivity fee: If you do not use your card for 90 days, Netspend charges you $5.95. This charge is one that you can avoid if you use your card frequently.
  • No free bill pay or check-writing services: Some prepaid cards offer free bill pay and check-writing services. Netspend does have such services, but it provides them through a third party called MoneyGram. MoneyGram charges fees for its bill pay services. You may avoid these fees if the business to which you pay the bill allows you to use a debit card instead of a check or bank transfer.

What Can You Expect From the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card?

Cardholders can manage their Netspend Visa Prepaid account with Netspend’s mobile app. With this app, you can monitor your balance, set and receive account alerts, and make deposits. Netspend allows you to take pictures of a check and upload them to make a deposit. The problem with this is that it can take a week or more to confirm the deposit. Netspend does have an expedited deposit, but it incurs fees.

Another feature of the Netspend Visa Prepaid is that you can make face-to-face deposits and withdrawals. Netspend provides this service through convenience stores and other service providers. These reload locations are relatively easy to find. Many Walgreens and 7-Eleven stores serve as Netspend reload locations.

Cardholders need to be aware of fees with this card. You can avoid most of Netspend’s fees — except for the pay-as-you-go transaction charges  — if you do not use ATMs and load your card with checks and direct deposits. 

Who Should Get the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card?

The Netspend Visa Prepaid can serve as an alternative for anyone who does not have a checking account. It works best if you earn at least $500 per month and can set up a direct deposit through your employer. Automatic deposits of this amount lower the monthly fee to $5. This way, you can avoid the pay-as-you-go transaction fees.

Netspend offers convenient ways to load and withdraw money, but most of these incur additional fees. If you need to use an ATM or make cash deposits frequently, these fees can add up and make this card very expensive.

However, people who are diligent about how and when they deposit funds can avoid most of these fees. If you can make an effort to minimize usage fees and take advantage of the card’s features, the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card is a reasonable alternative to a bank-issued debit card.  

Compare other prepaid cards and learn more here.


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