Netspend Visa Prepaid Card Review

Netspend is an alternative financial services company and is one of the leading prepaid debit cards. They aim to serve the estimated 68 million underbanked consumers by offering financial solutions to underbanked consumers by providing tools for people who don’t have a traditional bank account or might prefer to use alternate financial services. Their goal is to provide their customers with convenience, security and freedom.

What is a prepaid card?

A prepaid works similar to a gift card that you give to yourself. Prepaid debit cards aren’t linked to a banking account or a share draft account provided by a credit union. You are only able to spend the money that you place on the prepaid card, this is known as loading money onto the card. This means you won’t have to worry about overspending with a prepaid card. They don’t help you build credit, but a prepaid card is accepted at any merchant that accepts the card’s payment network, such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express. And like a debit card, a prepaid card is more convenient than using cash.

What is the difference between a prepaid, debit and credit card?

Prepaid cards have money loaded onto them via cash, direct deposit, checks or bank accounts before they can be used to make purchases. They don’t help you to build credit. No overdraft fees or credit checks, but you may be charged fees to use ATMs.

Debit cards are directly connected to the money in your checking account. Money is withdrawn from your account when making purchases or using an ATM. Also withdrawing money from your bank’s ATM is free.

Credit cards are supplied by a bank or financial institution. The cardholder applies and is approved with a certain credit limit, which allows you to make purchases, transfers and ATM withdrawals and pay the money back within a certain time frame or the cardholder is charged interest on the remaining balance. 

The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card enables its consumer the easy option of making purchases and payments without requiring a checking or saving account from a bank. Netspend prepaid are easy to open, the sign-up form is quick to fill out, and Netspend doesn’t perform credit checks on its applicants.

Whether you have a strong credit history, have excellent or poor money management skills or simply like to have options, you may find it advantageous to get a visa prepaid card. This Netspend prepaid card review will cover the card’s benefits, features and fees, and will hopefully help you to decide if this card is right for you.

How to apply for the Netspend Visa prepaid card

Netspend sign up is simple and requires no credit checks. The application will ask you to fill out your name, address, date of birth and social security number. You’ll receive your card in the mail within 10 business days. Should you choose to receive your card faster, you can opt for the fast-tracked service.

After you receive your card you can activate it online or by calling 877-973-1223.

You can also get a Netspend prepaid card at Walmart and CVS Pharmacy. These retailers charge a fee, so to avoid this you may want to receive your card directly from Netspend.

How to load money on the Netspend prepaid card

You can load money on your Netspend prepaid card the following ways:  direct deposits, mobile check loads and at reload locations.

Direct Deposits

Once you have activated your Visa prepaid card, arranging direct deposit is quick and convenient, and can be loaded onto the card the same way and with just as much ease as you would transfer money into a banking account. Direct deposits can save you the hassle of standing in line to cash a check and Netspend states that the money is available up to two days faster than standard transfers. Once deposited the funds are available for immediate use. When setting up your Netspend prepaid card direct deposit, input your card account number and routing number. Along with paychecks, pensions and veteran benefits, other accepted deposits include:

  • Social security benefits
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Tax refunds
  • Railroad retirement benefits (RRB)
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service payments (DFAS)
  • Government disability benefits-SSDI or workers compensation 

Mobile Check Load

After receiving your check, you can load the money onto your prepaid Visa card using the Netspend mobile app. The mobile app helps to get account information, send and receive money, find the nearest reload location, and load checks. Go to Move Money menu and select Mobile Check Load. You can snap a photo of your check to upload and follow the on-screen instructions. There’s a choice of approval timeframes and you can have your check approved in minutes.

Reload Locations

There are over 130,000 locations across the U.S., from convenience stores to gas stations, that customers can visit to load money onto their Netspend Prepaid Visa card. Cardholders can use the online location finder in the app to locate the nearest outlet, as well as to find out the applicable reload fee for that location. 

Netspend cardholders can make transfers and receive money between other Netspend cardholders as well as ACE Elite, Control and Purpose cardholders. Transfers are free online, just simply enter the recipient’s name and FlashPay ID.

How to manage money with the Netspend Prepaid Visa Card

Prepaid Visa cardholders can manage their funds using the Netspend mobile app on their phone or on Netspend’s online account center. Cardholders have access to the following capabilities.

  • Viewing your balance and recent transactions
  • Load money and make transfers
  • Load checks
  • Search for Netspend reload locations

Netspend also has anytime alerts, which allows prepaid card customers the ability to know the moment a check has hit their account or when they’re in the vicinity of a reload location. Cardholders can customize their alerts, so they only receive alerts about occurrences that are specific to their needs and they can control how often they are notified.

Netspend provides cardholders with a $10 purchase cushion in case customers overdraft their account. The money is repaid when funds get loaded back onto the card.

Netspend Prepaid Visa Card Fees

Netspend has two plans that are available for its cardholders and each have a plethora of fees with each. The pay-as-you-go plan incurs transaction fees on every purchase, so if you plan to use this card a lot it might be better to subscribe to the monthly plan. The monthly plan is $9.95 per month. Below is the breakdown of fees for both the pay-as you-go and the monthly plan.


  • Card purchases – $0 on and up to $9.95 at a retail location
  • Plan Fee – $0 for pay-as you-go and $9.95 for the monthly plan
  • Purchase Transaction Fee – $1.50 for each transaction for pay-as you-go and for the monthly plan
  • ATM Withdrawal – $2.50 for both
  • Cash Reloads – $3.94 
  • ATM Balance Check – $0.50
  • Card Inactivity after 90 days – $5.95 per month for both

Other monthly plan fees:

  • Over-the counter withdrawal fee at a bank – $3
  • Over-the counter withdrawal fee at a Netspend reload location – 2.75% of the withdrawal amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
  • Expedited mobile check load fee – 2% of the check amount or $5 (whichever is greater)
  • Account-to-account transfer fee via customer service – $4.95
  • Foreign transaction fee – 4%
  • Declined ATM transaction – $1
  • Declined payment transaction – $1
  • Replacement card fee – $9.95
  • Check request fee – $5.95

Other Netspend Features

Two additional features offered by Netspend to its Visa prepaid card customers are Netspend Premier and Netspend Prepaid Visa Card Payback Rewards.  With Netspend Premier cardholders receive 50% off their monthly plan fee. To qualify, cardholders must enroll in direct deposits and receive at least $500 per calendar month in deposits.

Netspend cardholders are automatically enrolled in the rewards program, which is tailored to the customer’s shopping habits. You can earn cash back on everyday purchases, so the more you shop reward offers, the more you receive. To take advantage of an offer, just click the promotion and use your prepaid Visa to make the purchase. Cash-back from reward offers is credited to your Netspend account at the end of the following month. Should you like to opt-out of the program, an opt-out option is available on the online account center.

Bottom Line

A Netspend Prepaid Visa card can be beneficial for individuals that need assistance in managing their money, but it won’t help those suffering with poor or damaged credit.  So, in the case of people looking to build their credit, a traditional bank account would be the way to go. Netspend provides its prepaid Visa cardholders the same capabilities as a bank checking account, just pay attention to the transaction fees that are associated with the pay-as-you-go plan. They can really rack up if you use your prepaid card a lot.

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