NetSpend Prepaid Debit Cards and Premier Card Reviewed

NetSpend is a prepaid card that combines features of a debit card, savings account, and bank account  in one. It’s not as accessible as a credit card and doesn’t offer the same sort of rewards and perks, but it’s well worth a look if you have poor credit or no credit and are looking for a new card account.

Card Details

If you have a checking account, you can get a NetSpend Prepaid Card and then use this card just like you would use a typical debit card. There are several types of NetSpend cards available, including the NetSpend Mastercard, the NetSpend Visa, the NetSpend Premier, and the NetSpend Small Business Card.  The first three cards, which are aimed at consumers with little to no credit, provide the following benefits:

  • Direct Deposit: Your wage or government benefits are paid directly into your NetSpend account and will clear up to 2 days quicker than paper checks.
  • Payback Rewards: Get customized offers tailored to meet your preferences.
  • Reload Options: Transfer money to your card at one of our 130,000 reload locations across the country.
  • Management: Use the NetSpend Mobile App and Alerts to manage your money and take control of your finances.
  • Protection: Both Visa and Mastercard variants of this card benefit from payment and fraud protection.
  • Easy Access: Your account needs to be verified before you can start using your card properly, but there is no initial credit check and you don’t need to maintain a minimum balance.
  • Customize: With the NetSpend Premier Card, you can add a custom image of your choice at no extra cost.
  • FDIC-Insured: Your account balance is protected if anything happens to your money.

Different Options

The NetSpend comes in two varieties:

  • Pay-as-you-go Plan: With the Pay-as-you-go Plan, you won’t pay a monthly fee, but you will pay every time you make a purchase and these fees range from $1 to $2. 
  • Monthly Plan: Pay up to $9.95 a month and you won’t need to cover any purchase fees.

If you upgrade to the NetSpend Premier card you will pay a monthly fee of just $5, and there will be no purchase transaction fees. NetSpend will also provide you with a “purchase cushion” of $10 a month, which works a lot like an overdraft.

To qualify, you need to move at least $500 into your account every month (from benefits or employment).

Fees and Access

As with all prepaid cards, the NetSpend cards charge several fees:

  • Activation Fee: None
  • Card Purchase Fee: $0 for Visa; $9.95 for Mastercard
  • Reload Fee: Up to $3.95
  • Domestic ATM Withdrawal Fee: $2.50 plus whatever the ATM operator charges
  • International ATM Withdrawal Fee: $3.50 plus whatever the ATM operator charges
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 3.5%
  • Inactivity Fee: $5.95 (charged if there are no deposits in 90 days).

In the past, NetSpend claimed that consumers would be given “instant access” and “guaranteed approvals”. However, this wasn’t true and the company was forced to pay over 430,000 consumers more than $10 million following an FTC settlement. These days, NetSpend doesn’t make such grand claims, and it can take several days for your account to be verified.

Once you sign up, you’ll be allowed to make a deposit, and this is what countless consumers did in the past. However, your account will undergo a review during this stage and there is no guarantee you will pass that test. If you do signup, make sure you wait for the verification process to finalize.

Frequently Asked Questions About the NetSpend Card

If you’re still not sure how this card works, take a look at this short FAQ:

  • What Do I Need to Join? You’ll be asked to complete a short order form, with no credit check or initial charge. You will then be asked for basic information for them to identify you, including name and address.
  • When Will I Get my Card: Once you have completed the sign up process and have been verified, your card will be sent, after which it typically takes up to 10 business days to land in your mailbox.
  • How Can I Activate? Once you receive your NetSpend card in the mail, you’ll be given a list of instructions telling you how to activate. This process can be completed in a few simple and quick steps
  • Is it Just for Social Security Benefits and Wages? You can use your NetSpend to transfer money and load money as needed. You can also use it to receive a tax refund. 
  • How Can I Add Money? You can add money using NetSpend reload locations, PayPal, a bank transfer or another NetSpend account.
  • Where Can I Use my NetSpend Card? Your new card can be used online and offline to pay for a host of products and services.

Do You Need a NetSpend Prepaid Debit Card?

NetSpend card reviews are positive, suggesting that consumers like these cards. And they certainly have a few standout benefits if you have bad credit and don’t have access to credit cards, debit cards or traditional bank accounts.

If this sounds like you, and you need a card to be a part of the digital economy, and stay protected against fraud, theft, and scams, you should certainly look into the NetSpend card. It pales in comparison to standard Mastercard and Visa debit cards and credit cards, and we even prefer the prepaid cards offered by the likes of PayPal.

But if your options are few and far between and you can’t get your hands on debit/credit, sign up for this prepaid Mastercard or Visa today.

Better Options than the NetSpend Card

The NetSpend credit card has its uses and will appeal to some consumers, but it’s a far cry from the generous reward credit cards and store cards you can get elsewhere. If you’re here to find a card that offers big rates and bonuses, just take a look at these store cards, all of which have much more favorable terms than the NetSpend Card.

Not only are these cards backed by reputable credit card companies and issuers, but they are cheaper to maintain, offer more features, and have lines of credit. And just like the NetSpend, you don’t need Good or Excellent credit to apply.

Kohl’s Credit Card 

A Fair credit score is all that’s required for the Kohl’s credit card, and while there is no generous cash back scheme here, cardholders can secure regular discounts at all Kohl’s stores.

For your very first purchase using the card, you’ll get 35% off, and you’ll get an additional 15% coupon when your card arrives in the mail. After that, you’ll be entitled to 12 special offers every year and these can save you up to 30% at a time.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 26.49% Variable APR
  • Minimum Credit Score: Fair
  • Benefits: Discounts at Kohl’s
  • Sign-up Bonus: 35% off your first purchase at Kohl’s
  • Other Benefits: Regular Offers, Birthday Gift, Free Shipping

There is no annual fee for the Kohl’s and in addition to the aforementioned benefits, you’ll get a birthday gift every year and free shipping. Just bear in mind that this is a high APR store card, one that can only be used at Kohl’s and will leave you in hot water if you fail to clear the monthly balance in full.

Walmart Reward Credit Card

Earn a generous rewards rate of 5% every time you use the Walmart Mastercard on online Walmart purchases. This is an open-loop card, so it can be used everywhere, but the biggest rewards are provided for Walmart purchases.

The only issue we have with this card, is that the rate drops to 2% when you use the card in store, but you can still get 5% on grocery pickup and delivery services, as well as all other online Walmart purchases. There is also a flat rate of 1% when the card is used for general purchases.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 17.99% to 26.99% Variable APR
  • Minimum Credit Score: Good
  • Benefits: 5% cash back on select purchases
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: No
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance Fee: 3%
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

Costco Anywhere Visa Credit Card

The Costco Anywhere Visa is one of the few branded credit cards that doesn’t offer the highest rewards rate for its own products. In fact, the rewards rate offers between 3% and 4% cash back when you use the card at gas stations, restaurants, and on certain travel purchases.

The cash back rate for Costco purchases, however, is 2%, and this applies to purchases at the Costco store and the Costco.com website. The cash back you earn can be used to reduce your statement balances or save big bucks on Costco purchases.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 16.74% Variable APR
  • Minimum Credit Score: Very Good
  • Benefits: Up to 4% cash back on select purchases
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: No
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance Fee: 5%
  • Sign-up Bonus: None

You don’t need to pay an annual fee when you use the Costco Anywhere Visa and there are no foreign transaction fees either. However, you will need to be a regular Costco user. Not only because those shoppers can earn higher rewards and utilize more benefits, but because you need to be a Costco member to use this card.