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Netspend Card review
15 Jul 2018

Is a Netspend Card Right for Me?

If you are a NetSpend cardholder, you know it is one of the most flexible prepaid debit cards available today. Not only can you use it to fund your personal purchases, there’s a NetSpend card for business owners too.

These debit cards are simple to apply for and you can fund them at over 100,000 reload centers across the country. But with everything you have to ask, “Does the good outweigh the bad?”

We learned everything there is to learn about NetSpend cards. So, follow along!

Is NetSpend a Scam?

There are tons of message boards and websites throughout the internet where worried consumers are asking this same question. It’s a fair question to ask with all the horror stories we’ve heard where people have had their financial information and social security numbers stolen online by companies that seemed similar.

To finally give a clear answer to the question, no NetSpend is not a scam and it’s safe to use. If you use this debit card and unauthorized purchases are made, you will be covered by the Zero Liability Protection plan offered by Visa or Mastercard.

NetSpend also works with the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) to ensure its prepaid debit cards. Furthermore, the NetSpend website is heavily encrypted to protect any personal information you enter into their system like your social security number, name, and address.

What Exactly is NetSpend?

NetSpend is a prepaid debit card company that has been around since 1999. Prepaid debit cards don’t require a bank account to back them.

Instead, you can load money directly to the card by direct depositing your paycheck, using the mobile check deposit feature in the app, or applying cash to the card at one of the accepted retailers.

Because this isn’t a credit card, a credit check isn’t required prior to opening an account. Additionally, you won’t be able to spend more money than what’s in the current balance.

The NetSpend debit cards are available with either the Visa or Mastercard logo depending on your preference. And you can easily sign up through their website.

Advantages and Perks

If you plan to become a NetSpend cardholder, you will benefit from many of the same perks as you would with a traditional bank account and debit card with a couple of bonuses. The perks NetSpend cardholders enjoy the most are explained below.

Easy Activation

You can activate your NetSpend debit car through their website in about 2 minutes. You will need to enter your birthday, social security number, and NetSpend debit card information onto the online form.

The site uses heavy-duty encryption and security to keep this personal data safe. You can also activate it over the phone using the same information.

NetSpend Smartphone App

Since most people are constantly attached to their phones, companies with apps end up becoming our favorites because of their convenience. In the NetSpend app, you can look up your card balance and transaction history.

You can also send money to other NetSpend cardholders at no additional charge and find reload locations near you on a handy map. You can download the application in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store depending on your device.

Mobile Check Deposit

Like most major banks, NetSpend allows you to safely upload checks to your account without having to leave your house. When using this feature, you will be asked if you’d like to pay a fee that will make the funds accessible in a few minutes.

If you decline the fee, you can end up waiting for about 10 days or so for the funds to be ready.

Direct Deposit

Although NetSpend isn’t a traditional bank, you will still have a routing and account number. This will bring ease to the process of receiving direct deposits.

You can submit your account details to your employer to have your full paycheck or a portion of it sent directly to your NetSpend card. In some cases, this can cause your paycheck to become available a day or two earlier than your coworkers’.

This also works with tax refunds. Whether you file on your own or use a service, you can submit your routing and account numbers to have your refund deposited onto your card.

Vast Funding Options

There are thousands of NetSpend Reload Locations throughout the country if you prefer to handle your finances face to face. You can also add money by visiting a local bank or credit union. You will incur fees if you use either of these methods.

You can avoid extra costs by loading money from your PayPal account or your employer’s direct deposit. Western Union and MoneyPak are also acceptable funding sources.

Balance Checks

You can check your account balance by calling customer service, which includes a charge. Instead, you can text “BAL” to 22622 to receive a text reply with your balance information.

NetSpend won’t debit your account for this feature, but it’s possible your cell phone provider will. In order you use this service, you’ll have to sign into your NetSpend account online and enroll yourself into the Anytime Alerts.

Anytime Alerts

When you’ve turned the Anytime Alerts on in your NetSpend account, you will have notifications automatically go directly to your email or text messages with important account information.

The alerts you may see include:

  • Your paycheck is ready
  • You had a declined transaction
  • You’re near a reload location
  • You’ve almost reached your spending limit or budget
  • Transaction information

These alerts can be customized in your account. You can pick a couple that you find most important. You can also adjust the frequency in weekly, daily, and monthly increments so that you aren’t overloaded with notifications.

More Text Features

Even if you don’t want automatic alerts, you can text simple codes to 22622 to get instant answers to your questions. Below, you will see what you should type to receive specific account information.

  • Bal- Your balance
  • Reload (or the local zip code)- Closest NetSpend Reload Locations
  • Last- Specifics about your most recent account activity or purchase
  • Dep- Most recent deposits from the last 30 days
  • Direct- Routing and account numbers for direct deposit
  • Help- Tips for using NetSpend alerts
  • Unsubscribe- Cancel your Anytime Alerts

You don’t need to have the latest smartphone to use NetSpend’s text features. As long as you can receive text messages, you will be fine.

Types of NetSpend Cards

One of the great things about Netspend is they offer options because not every customer is the same. There is a total of three NetSpend plans you can choose from: The Pay-As-You-Go-Plan, the FeeAdvantage Plan, and the NetSpend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan.

You can change your plan from the NetSpend website if you decide your current plan isn’t working for you. However, some plans require you to meet a minimum balance qualification.

Pay-As-You-Go Plan

There is no monthly fee for the Pay-As-You-Go Plan. However, if you sign up for the monthly plan, you will be responsible for a monthly fee of $9.95.

The fee will be lowered to $5 automatically if you receive at least $500 in payroll direct deposits in a month. Another way to see a lower fee is to receive government benefits.

You will be charged $1 for every transaction that requires a signature. And $2 for transactions that require you to enter your pin.

If you make purchases outside of the United States, you will be responsible for an extra 3.5% of the U.S. dollar amount plus the signature or pin fee.

FeeAdvantage Plan

If you are using the Pay-As-You-Go plan, you can upgrade to this one by calling NetSpend’s customer service line or by logging into your account.

The FeeAdvantage Plan costs $9.95 each month. There are no pin or signature transaction fees with this plan. And if you are making foreign purchases you will just be charged the extra 3.5% of the total dollar amount.

NetSpend Premier Fee Advantage Plan

This plan will cost $5 each month to keep the plan active. You won’t be responsible for either transaction fees. And the same 3.5% fee applies to foreign transactions.

A Full Breakdown of the Fees

Simply put, the fees charged to NetSpend cardholders are neverending. While transaction fees and monthly fees are different with every plan, there are several general fees that NetSpend charges making it increasingly difficult to save money.

Cardholders do, however, see fewer fees from the Premier Plan (roughly 50% less).

Cash Withdrawal

If you go to a financial institution like a bank or credit union to request cash, you will be charged $2.50 for each withdrawal. Additional fees can apply if you’re at a location that doesn’t use Visa or Mastercard.

If you insert your card into an ATM for cash, the same $2.50 will be deducted. An ATM fee will also be charged. You will typically see the amount on the screen before you complete your transaction. They tend to be $5 or less.

If you are declined at an ATM due to lack of funds, NetSpend will charge $1 to your plan.

Deposits

If your money is going into your NetSpend account through a direct deposit or as an online transfer from another NetSpend card, you won’t be charged a fee. Transfers done over the phone with a customer service agent will cost you $4.95.

If you choose to add cash to your card at one of NetSpend’s approved physical reload locations, you will be charged. However, the company doesn’t specify the exact amount. It varies from location to location.

The same rule applies when you use the mobile check upload feature. Most banks and prepaid credit cards allow cardholders to add money without fees at all, so these are disappointing.

Balance Inquiries

If you’d like to check your NetSpend balance through your online account, email, or via text message it’s free of charge. But you will have to pay $0.50 to ask a customer service agent, use the company’s automated phone system, or an ATM to check your balance.

Cards and Matinence

Your initial debit card is free. But if you ask for customizations ($4.95 each card) or another card, say for your spouse or child, NetSpend will ask you to pay $9.95. Replacement cards are the same amount.

When you have your card(s) delivered, it will be best to use the standard 7-10 business days delivery window. If you choose 3 days, you will need to pay $20 and $25 for 1-2 business days.

If your card is inactive for 90 days, you’ll be charged $5.95 per month. This even applies if you carry a balance during that period.

Bottom Line

NetSpend debit cards come with excellent perks and security features, but those things aren’t strong enough to justify all the extra fees for the average person. If you regularly handle large transactions of high dollar amounts, this card will work for you.

NetSpend has one of the highest maximum balance thresholds among prepaid cards with the option to load up to $15,000 dollars in a 30 day period. You can also complete up to 6 ATM withdrawals every day with a total cap of $940.

That is almost twice as much as other cards.

If you are at a bank, credit union, or NetSpend Reload Network location, you can take as much as $5,000 from your account in one transaction. These kinds of transfers will definitely make the monthly fees seem more reasonable.

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