For consumers who have difficulty qualifying for the normal traditional checking and savings accounts, prepaid debit cards can provide an alternative for basic banking services.
The NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card is one such option, offering online account management, mobile payment capabilities, and convenient ways to add or withdraw funds.
In this post, we’ll take a close look at the features and fees of the NetSpend prepaid card to understand who it may benefit as an alternative to standard bank accounts.
NetSpend Account Setup and Funding
To get started with NetSpend, you’ll first need to purchase an account kit that includes the Visa prepaid card. Kits are available at major retailers like CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General, and Family Dollar for approximately $9-$15.
Once you have the kit, you can activate your account and card online or through the NetSpend mobile app. You will not undergo a credit check to open the account.
The NetSpend card can be funded in various convenient ways:
- Direct deposit of payroll, benefits, or tax refunds
- Bank account transfer through ACH or wire
- Cash reload at participating retailers
- PayPal transfer
- Mobile check load using the app
Your funds are then accessible for purchases and payments using the prepaid card or mobile app.
The NetSpend Visa provides the following useful features:
- Make purchases online, in stores, by phone, or through mobile wallets
- Get cash back at point-of-sale or ATMs
- Pay bills online or by phone
- Send and receive account transfers
- Deposit paper checks using the mobile app
- Set up account alerts for transactions, balance, and more
- Make person-to-person (P2P) payments through the app
The card capabilities mimic those of traditional checking accounts, providing convenient access to your prepaid funds.
Associated Fees to Understand
While more affordable than high bank fees, the NetSpend Visa does charge the following:
- $5.95 monthly fee (waived with $500+ monthly direct deposits)
- $2.50 ATM withdrawals (2 free per month at MoneyPass ATMs)
- $5.95 per month if account is inactive for 90 days
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- $4.95 to replace lost or stolen card
- $1.50 to withdraw cash back at point of sale
- $1 to check balance at ATM
Be sure to factor these fees into your budget if using the NetSpend Visa as your primary banking and payment tool. Convenient features like mobile check load cost extra.
Interest Earning with NetSpend Savings
A nice feature is the ability to earn interest on your prepaid account balance. The NetSpend Savings account offers:
- 40% APY interest rate
- FDIC insurance up to allowable limits
- Savings account balances up to $1,000
- Unlimited transfers between Savings and Spending accounts
While not the highest yield, having some interest earning potential sets NetSpend apart from most prepaid debit cards. Just maintain a minimum $20 balance in Savings to earn interest.
Applying for a NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card
If you’d like to get a NetSpend prepaid card account, the application process is quick and straightforward:
- Go to www.netspend.com and click “Get a Prepaid Card”
- Select the type of NetSpend card you want (basic, premium, specialized designs, etc.)
- Click “Apply Now” and fill out the online application with your personal information
- Choose any optional add-on services like credit-building tools or savings account
- Review and accept the cardholder terms and conditions
- Provide your shipping address for delivery of your card kit
- Pay the upfront purchase fee (usually $9-$15) for the physical card
- Wait for your NetSpend card to arrive in the mail within 5-7 business days
Once you receive your card, you’ll need to activate it by following the included instructions. Then you can start enjoying convenient access to prepaid capabilities without a bank account!
Be sure to have your Social Security Number, date of birth, home address, and other personal details handy when filling out the online application.
Approval is guaranteed as long as you provide valid information. After activation, you can begin loading funds and using your NetSpend prepaid Visa right away.
Tips to Manage Your Account from Anywhere
NetSpend offers robust online and mobile account management capabilities:
- Monitor balances and transactions in real-time
- Set up low balance alerts
- Deposit checks instantly with mobile photo capture
- Pay bills and make online purchasesg and card management mirrors services from major banks. This allows consumers to utilize their prepaid funds from anywhere safely and securely.
Who Is NetSpend Good For? Who Should Think Twice?
A NetSpend prepaid account may make sense for:
- Those unable to open a traditional bank account due to past banking mistakes
- Anyone wanting fee transparency and avoiding overdrafts
- Those needing an account for stipends, benefits, or other direct deposits
- People new to the U.S. or lacking a Social Security Number for banks
- Students learning financial management skills
However, it may be less ideal for:
- Heavy ATM users, due to withdrawal fees
- Those wanting to build credit history with a checking account
- People who spend and withdraw funds internationally
- Those needing bank services like wire transfers or joint accounts
Understand your financial needs and banking habits before committing to the NetSpend Visa as your primary account.
Alternatives to NetSpend Prepaid
If looking for prepaid cards with different features and fees, some alternatives to consider include:
- Chime – No foreign transaction fees, fee-free overdrafts up to $100
- Bluebird by American Express – Lower monthly fee, free bill pay
- Current – Teen banking features, gas hold fee waivers, 3% interest
- PayPal Prepaid – No monthly fees if one direct deposit per month
- Movo – High yield savings account option at 4% APY
Review multiple prepaid card offers to find one truly aligned with your banking preferences and spending habits.
For consumers unable to open traditional deposit accounts, the NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card can provide key banking features and payment capabilities.