PROS / No other prepaid credit card offers as many ways to load money onto your card.
CONS / To take advantage of lower fees and to access a savings account, you must be a Premium FeeAdvantage cardholder.
VERDICT / With so many options available to customers, NetSpend is sure to have a card for everyone.
The NetSpend prepaid credit card is at the top of the class when it comes to options for loading money onto your card as well as the amount of money you can have on your card. While reaching the $15,000 limit is improbable, just knowing that you are afforded that option provides some peace of mind. We applaud NetSpend's Account Center, Anytime Alerts and mobile site, which keeps you informed of your account balance, transaction history and more. With that in mind, NetSpend deservedly earns our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award.
Fees & Charges
NetSpend provides three payment plans: Pay-As-You-Go, FeeAdvantage and Premier FeeAdvantage. While all three have their merits, we recommend the versatility of NetSpend's Premier FeeAdvantage Plan. Upgrading to the premier plan however does require you to sign up for direct deposit and make $500 in direct deposits each calendar month.
Like its competitors, you have the option of making in-store purchases. To do this, you swipe your card like you normally would. When the card machine presents you with the option of choosing credit or debit, you can opt for either, but each comes with their own respective fees. With the Pay-As-You-Go plan, you will pay a $1 fee for each transaction if you choose credit and a $2.50 fee if you choose debit. With the Premier FeeAdvantage plan however you are not subject to either fee.
NetSpend adds a $2 fee for each withdrawal. This fee does not include the ATM fee itself. To elude these fees, you can simply select the "cash back" option available at many grocery stores and avoid ATMs altogether. Getting cash back is free for members of the Premier FeeAdvantage Plan.
Below is a list of other fees you should expect to pay with this prepaid card:
- Monthly fee: $5.00
- Balance inquiry using a toll-free, automated service: $0.50
- Balance inquiry with a customer agent: $0.50
- Balance inquiry when using an ATM: $0.50
- ATM decline fee: $1.00
- Additional card: $9.95
- Paper statement fee: $5.95
- Stop of preauthorized payment: $10.00
- International ATM cash withdrawal: $4.95, plus ATM fees
- Account-to-account transfer via customer service agent: $4.95
- International purchase fee: 3.5 percent of the transaction amount
If your card remains idle (the card has had no activity; no purchases, cash withdrawals, load transactions, balance inquiries) for 90 days, you will be assessed a $5.95 inactivity fee. Should you need to close your account, you can withdraw all your funds from an ATM or you can simply request to have a check mailed to you within three to four weeks. There is a $5.95 fee for receiving this check, plus the ATM fees.
The versatility of this card grants you the freedom to make purchases online, over the phone, in a store and at the gas station. These options do come with a set of restrictions you should be aware of:
Car rental – Some car rental agencies charge up to a 15 percent deposit on the chosen vehicle. This determined percent is deducted from your card's total balance until the transaction is approved. Unfortunately, this can take several weeks. NetSpend suggests contacting several agencies to see their required deposit and percentage fees.
Hotel Room – Booking a hotel room is similar to renting a vehicle. The hotel will levy up to a 15 percent charge in addition to your room price. This hold remains on your card until the hotel has authorized the transaction to go through. NetSpend advises that you call the hotel and inquire what they charge for a prepaid debit card authorization hold and how long the hold will remain on your card.
Keeping track of your funds during the course of your hectic life can be quite a chore. To offset this challenge, NetSpend's Account Center allows you to check your account balance, deposit and transaction history.
In addition to the Account Center, NetSpend provides Anytime Alerts, a feature that enables you to keep track of every purchase you make. Any phone with texting capabilities will work with Anytime Alerts. These alerts provide a convenient way to stay on top of your transactions, deposits, account balance and more.
Embracing mobile technology, NetSpend provides a downloadable iPhone and Android app. These apps allow for convenient access to the mobile site. Through the mobile site, or even through a text message, you can transfer money to another account. NetSpend allows up to three prepaid cards for each individual account, providing an easy solution to load your money.
Qualifying for the Premier FeeAdvantage plan qualifies you for the NetSpend savings account as well. This account does not have a minimum balance requirement and you will earn a 5 percent APY.
When it comes to options for adding money to your prepaid credit card, NetSpend is king of the hill. They offer more options than any other prepaid credit or debit card, including:
Direct deposit – Setting up direct deposit is as easy as logging into your online account and printing out a direct deposit form to give to your employer. This form will contain all the necessary information, such as routing and account numbers. With NetSpend, you can also have your government benefit checks (Social Security, Pension, Disability, etc.) and tax refunds automatically deposited.
Bank transfer – Effortlessly transfer your funds from your bank account to your prepaid debit card. According to their FAQs page, NetSpend accepts all U.S.-issue banks.
PayPal – PayPal is a highly convenient and easy method of funding. There is no charge for this service.
Card-to-card transfer – Your NetSpend prepaid card can transfer funds to any other NetSpend prepaid card.
NetSpend reload packs – Reload packs are available at various retail locations across the U.S.
NetSpend reload locations – With over 100,000 locations throughout the U.S. to reload your prepaid credit card, including banks, gas stations and grocery stores, reloading a prepaid credit card has never been so easy and convenient.
With so many options to load, adding cash to your card is really a simple and direct process. This could pose a problem for many prepaid credit cards that have a maximum limit of around $2,500. NetSpend however possesses the highest card limit of any prepaid credit or debit card we reviewed. You can have up to $15,000 on the card at one time. The purchase transaction and cash withdrawal limits are quite flexible as well:
- Purchase transactions:$4,999.99 every 24 hours
- Over-the-counter cash withdrawals: $4,999.99 every 24 hours
- ATM cash withdrawals: $325.00 per withdrawal, but only a cumulative cash withdrawal of $940.00 is allowed within a 24-hour period
Note, you can withdrawal money up to six times in a 24-hour period.
Help & Support
Cardholders and those interested in learning more about NetSpend services can call customer service for support and technical questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.
NetSpend asks members to log in to their online account and send an email to receive help from customer service. All general questions regarding how to use your card, including how to get started, add money and actually use it can be referenced via the well-organized FAQs section, which has detailed answers to basic questions covering these topics.
You can also connect with NetSpend via Twitter and Facebook and ask them questions on both social walls.
The NetSpend prepaid credit card provides many benefits and features, including the mobile apps for the iPhone and Android, and a savings account for Premium cardholders. While there is certainly much to love about NetSpend, including the lower fees and additional features that the FeeAdvantage plan offers, we were left hoping that in the future this card comes with one plan with one monthly fee and options that everyone can enjoy.