One in nine households in America is without a checking account. In the day of online banking and bill pay, this is almost shocking.
Maybe you have a poor banking history or no credit history making it difficult to obtain an account from a traditional financial institution. Turning to a prepaid card option may be the way to go.
We’ve done a detailed NetSpend Review so you have all of the information when deciding if a prepaid card account is right for you.
NetSpend Review of Three Account Plans
NetSpend has three basic plans that you can choose from, each with their own fee schedules. They all have a host of fees in common that we will go over after we explain each individual plan.
Pay As You Go
There is no standard monthly fee for the pay as you go plan. There is a one dollar signature purchase fee.
You will have a two dollar PIN purchase fee. All foreign transactions have a three and a half percent fee.
The FeeAdvantage card will cost you $9.95 month for an account. You won’t have any fees for the signature purchase or PIN purchase.
NetSpend Premier FeeAdvantage
A Premier FeeAdvantage plan has a lower monthly fee of five dollars. You will also have no fees for signature purchase or PIN purchase.
To qualify for a premier account you must enroll in direct deposit for your paycheck or monthly government benefits. The total monthly amount that is direct deposited must be more than five hundred dollars.
Other benefits that come with the premier card are a purchase cushion and card personalization. If you are short on a purchase NetSpend will cover you up to ten dollars.
Direct Deposit Fees
Thankfully there is no fee if you set up direct deposit. This is the best and cheapest way to load your paycheck onto your card.
Withdrawal and Deposit of Funds
All you need to do is go to a NetSpend Reload Network Location to deposit or withdraw money. There are some fees associated and they can vary by location.
You’ll want to shop around for the location with the best rates. You’ll also want to check if the location allows withdrawal.
All locations will allow you to make deposits. Not all of the network locations will allow you to make withdrawals.
You also have the option of going to financial institutions that are a Visa member. You’ll have to pay a $2.50 fee for the withdrawal service though.
If you go to another institution that isn’t a Visa member or a NetSpend Reload Network member you pay even more fees. You’ll pay the $2.50 fee plus whatever fees the institution charges.
Be careful when withdrawing your money. You’ll want to check that you have enough funds. Any denial and you will incur a fee of one dollar.
Withdrawal and Balance Limits
When withdrawing money from an ATM you are limited to $325 for a single transaction. You can make up to six withdrawals from an ATM in a day.
This means you are capped at withdrawing $940 total from your account through ATM in a single day. This may be restricted by the owner of the ATM, so could potentially be even lower.
If you are withdrawing your money from an actual banking institution the maximum you can withdraw is five thousand. Purchases are also subject to this same limit.
Depositing Through the App
You could use the app to deposit your checks, but you’ll have to pay large fees. The service is done through Ingo Money.
Let’s assume you deposit a check that has a pre-printed signature, which is almost all payroll checks, You will have to pay the greater of five dollars or one percent of the check’s value.
For any other check you deposit, the fees will be greater. You will pay five dollars or four percent of the check’s value.
You could get the NetSpend card fees waived if you agree to a much longer processing time. The check process time jumps to ten days for no fee. If you have a PayPal account you can add money for free that way too.
You’ll also be limited to how much money you can deposit on a given day. Don’t try to deposit more than $7,500 into your account in a single day.
Then to make things more complicated, you’re limited to the total amount of money you can deposit in a given month. That limit is $15,000 per thirty day period.
Fifteen thousand also happens to be the maximum amount of money you can have on your card at a given time. You may be able to get this limit lifted if your direct deposits make it impossible for you to stick to this.
Direct Depositing Your Paycheck
There is a possibility that when you have your paycheck direct deposited you could get your money two days before payday. You need the cooperation of your employer for it to work though.
Your employer will need to send the information to NetSpend early and approve you getting your money early. If these two things don’t happen, you cannot enjoy this perk.
What Else Can You Direct Deposit?
You can have more than just your paycheck direct deposited into your account. You can also direct deposit your government checks such as a tax refund and social security benefits.
Other payments customers can get direct deposited are pension payments, railroad retirement benefits, defense finance and accounting service, state unemployment benefits, government disability benefits, and veteran’s benefits.
Foreign Transaction Fees
If you decide to use your card while traveling outside of the United States be prepared for some hefty fees. You will pay 3.5% for each transaction you make.
Any withdrawal that you make that is outside of the United States will incur a fee of $4.50 instead of the usual $2.50. The one dollar NetSpend fee for denied transactions also applies.
Your Checking Balances
It doesn’t seem right, checking your balance is a part of being financially responsible and budget tracking. With NetSpend, you may end up paying a fee for this.
If you check your balance online, through text message, or by email then you are fee free. If you try to check your balance at an ATM or over the phone you will pay a fifty cent fee for each time you decide to check your balance.
Transferring Your Funds
If you are trying to transfer funds between two different NetSpend account the best way to do this is on the website. Done this way all of your transfers will be free.
If you call their customer service line and have a live person help you transfer funds you will be charged a fee. This means you’ll pay $4.95 every time you make a transfer over the phone.
NetSpend will not charge you for transferring money into your account from another financial institution. Your other bank might have fees though so you’ll need to check before making any transfers.
Paying Your Bills
You won’t have to pay any NetSpend fees if you are paying your bills. The catch is you have to go to your Account Center and use one of their third party service providers.
Keep in mind that if your payment is rejected you’ll be charged the standard one dollar fee. You will also be charged a fee if you choose to stop using your ACH to pay your bills. There is a ten dollar hidden cancellation fee for each bill.
Adding an Additional User to Your Account
Be prepared to pay more fees if you want to be able to share your savings account with your significant other. First, you will have to pay ten dollars to get a secondary card for the other person.
Additionally, if either of you ever needs a replacement card that will cost another ten dollars per card. You won’t have to pay for shipping of the card, but it will take seven to ten days.
If you need your card faster than that you can pay twenty dollars to get your card in three days. For even faster delivery of one to two days, it will cost you twenty-five dollars.
More Potential Fees
Don’t let your account go dormant or you will be charged an inactivity fee. After ninety days of inactivity, NetSpend will begin charging your account $5.95 as a maintenance fee each month.
NetSpend does have a rewards program but you’ll need to pay attention to the rules to take advantage of it. There is a rotating list of merchants that when you use your card at the featured merchant you will earn cash back rewards.
You will have to register for each merchant’s offer to be able to participate. You can also earn rewards by referring your friends and family.
The person you refer needs to load at least forty dollars onto their card. Once they do this, both you and them will earn twenty dollars in rewards.
High Yield Savings Account
NetSpend offers a high yield account for their customers. If you have a thousand dollars or less your account will earn at a variable rate of five percent. This is an extremely high-interest rate, but it is also variable.
If your savings account has more than a thousand dollars, your interest rate is significantly lower. These savings accounts only earn at a rate of a half of a percent rate.
Setting Up Your Card
If you are interested in getting your own NetSpend card all you need to do is go online and open an account. You will provide your name, address, and date of birth.
You will also need to provide a picture of your driver’s license or other ID. If you are planning on having a second person on your account you will need this information for them too.
Once you have your account, you will need to activate your card before you can use it. You can go online or call their customer service to verify your information.
Where Can You Use the Card?
You will have total flexibility when using your NetSpend card. The card can be used anywhere a Visa credit card is accepted.
Purchases You Make by Debit
Sometimes a merchant will want to request a hold for a certain amount of funds. This often happens when you are making a purchase for gas at the pump.
A gas station can hold up to one hundred dollars until your final purchase total is processed. Hotels and rental car companies will also place a hold of up to twenty percent than the quoted total.
This amount is usually held to cover tips or damage charges that you might incur. These holds can last for up to thirty days.
While a hold in effect you will not have access to this money. This means you need to take into account that the money is in essence “not yours” while it is being held by a merchant.
Is a NetSpend Card Right for You?
When looking for a card it may be enticing to be able to have a high-interest rate or your paycheck two days early. These perks are not guaranteed for all customers though.
Take into consideration whether or not you will be able to keep track of the potential fees you will incur as outlined in this NetSpend review. Maybe you can afford the fees, or you don’t think you will incur any.
Ultimately your best option may be to use NetSpend for a few years to clean up for your banking and credit history. This lets you take advantage of the high savings account interest rate.
Once you have your finances in order you can start shopping around for a new financial institution with a great interest rate. This lets you continue to grow your savings long term.
Interested in an option that has fewer fees, keep reading to find out how free banking isn’t always free.