Netspend Visa® Prepaid Card — Is It Really Worth It? (2024)

With over 10 million customers, Netspend is one of the leading providers of prepaid debit cards. They offer financial solutions for underbanked individuals who may not otherwise benefit from traditional financial services or simply choose to not have a bank account.

The Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card is a simple option for enabling transaction payments without requiring a bank account. Card accounts can be opened with a quick and easy sign-up form, and the vetting process does not perform a credit check on the individual.

The prepaid card utilizes funds that the cardholder has, so it does not involve any extended credit and therefore does not impact the cardholder’s credit score in any way.

This article outlines the pros and cons of the Netspend Visa Prepaid Card, to help decide if it’s the card for you.

Applying for the Netspend Prepaid Visa Card

It’s straightforward to apply for the Netspend Prepaid Visa card online. During the application, you’ll need to complete your name, address, date of birth, and your government ID number. No credit checks are required, and you’ll receive your card in the mail within 10 business days (unless you opt for a fast-tracked service).

Once you receive your card, you will need to verify your identity to activate it. You can do this online or by calling 877-973-1223.

Netspend Prepaid Visa cards are also available to purchase from the likes of Walmart and CVS Pharmacy, where the retailer charges a fee (usually between $3.95-$9.95).

How to Load Money to the Netspend Prepaid Visa Card

Direct Deposits

Arranging a direct deposit is a quick and convenient way to load funds onto your prepaid card and can be used to receive funds such as paychecks or government benefits.

Once you have received and activated your card, direct deposits are set up in the same way as you would for transfers into a bank account. Where prompted for payment details, simply input your Netspend Prepaid Visa card account number and routing number.

Accepted deposits include:

  • Work paychecks
  • Tax refunds
  • Social Security benefits
  • Defense Finance and Accounting Service payments (DFAS)
  • Government disability benefits-SSDI or workers compensation (varies by state)
  • Pensions
  • Veteran benefits
  • Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB)
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income)
  • State unemployment benefits (varies by state)

Arranging direct deposits can save time and effort, cashing a check, and can avoid the risk of losing a check completely — everyone’s worst nightmare. Netspend also states that direct deposits can mean that your money is available up to 2 days quicker than standard transfers, and most definitely quicker than waiting to receive a check in the mail.

Mobile Check Load

When you receive a check, this can be loaded to your prepaid card through the Netspend mobile app. From the Move Money menu, select Mobile Check Load, and you can take a photo of your check to upload and follow the on-screen instructions. There’s a choice of approval timeframes, with the option to have your check approved in minutes.

Reload Locations

Netspend Visa® Prepaid Card — Is It Really Worth It? (1)

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. Customers can use the online location finder to identify their nearest outlet, while also being presented with the applicable reload fee for that location.

Money Transfers

Netspend customers may transfer and receive money to other Netspend cardholders and ACE Elite, Control, and Purpose cardholders. Transfers can be made for free online with the recipient’s name and FlashPay ID.

Managing Money With the Netspend Prepaid Visa Card

Customers can manage their money via the Netspend mobile app (iOS or Android) or in the online account center, including access to the following services:

  • Viewing balances and recent transactions
  • Load and transfer funds
  • Find Netspend reload locations
  • Load checks

With Netspend’s anytime alerts, customers can find out the moment a check has been approved into their account or when they’re near a reload location. Users can customize alerts, so they are only notified about specific occurrences as often or as little as they like.

Netspend gives customers a $10 purchase cushion in case customers unexpectedly fall into the negative. This is repaid when funds are loaded back onto the card.

Netspend Prepaid Visa Card Fees

Netspend Prepaid Visa cards are available on a pay-as-you-go plan, where every purchase will incur a transaction fee. This would benefit customers that don’t plan to use their card for every single purchase they make, as those $1.50 transaction fees would add up.

Alternatively, customers that are planning to use the card regularly (for at least 7 purchases or more per month) would benefit from the monthly plan where no transaction fees are incurred when making purchases. However, fees would still apply for ATM withdrawals, cash reloading, and balance inquiries .

Summary of Main Fees


Fee TypePay-As-You-Go PlanMonthly Plan
Card Purchase Fee
  • $0 when signing up at
  • Up to $9.95 if purchased at a retail location
Plan Fee$0
  • $9.95
  • $5 – reduced monthly plan for accounts that have received $500 in direct deposits from payroll/benefits in a calendar month
Purchase Transaction Fee$1.50 for PIN and signature transactions$0
ATM Withdrawal$2.50$2.50
Cash Reload$3.95 (this fee may be lower depending on where and how the card is reloaded)
ATM Balance Inquiry$0.50
Card Inactivity (90+ days with no transaction)$5.95 per month

Other Fees


Fee TypeMonthly Plan
Over-the-counter withdrawal fee at a financial institution$3
Over-the-counter withdrawal fee at a Netspend reload network location2.75% of the withdrawal amount or $4.00 (whichever is greater)
Expedited mobile check load fee (government and payroll checks with a pre-printed signature)2% of check amount or $5 (whichever is greater)
Expedited mobile check load fee (all other check types)5% of check amount or $5 (whichever is greater)
Account-to-account transfer fee via website$0
Account-to-account transfer fee via customer service agent$4.95
Foreign transaction fee4%
ATM transaction declined$1
Payment transaction declined$1
Replacement card fee$9.95
Custom card fee$4.95
Fast-track card delivery fee3 business days — $20
1-2 business days — $25
Check request fee$5.95

Netspend Premier

Netspend Premier customers benefit from nearly 50% off their monthly plan ($5 instead of $9.95). To qualify, customers must enroll in direct deposits and receive at least $500 per calendar month in payroll or government deposits.

Netspend Premier customers also receive a free customized card.

Netspend Prepaid Visa Card Payback Rewards

With payback rewards, Netspend customers can earn cash-back on everyday purchases. Cardholders are automatically enrolled in the rewards program, with opt-out possible within the online account center.

Reward offers are tailored to your shopping habits, and the more you shop reward offers, the more offers you will see within your account. To take advantage of an offer, just click the promotion and ensure you use your Netspend Prepaid Visa card for the purchase.

Cash-back from reward offers is credited to your Netspend account at the end of the following month.

Other Netspend Prepaid Visa Card Benefits

Refer a Friend Program

Share the good news about your Netspend Prepaid Visa card and you can add a bit of extra cash to your balance. When you introduce a friend to a Netspend Prepaid Visa card, you’ll both receive $20 credit after they load $40 onto their card. There’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer and it’s all managed from the online account center.

Prescription Savings

Netspend cardholders are eligible to save up to 50% on prescriptions by claiming their free Pharmacy Savings Card. Once cardholders have applied for their card, they may use this at SingleCare partner pharmacies.

Savings Account

Netspend cardholders have the option to open a savings account to earn interest on their money. Transferring money between the card and savings account is easy and can be done up to 6 times per calendar month. An automated transfer can be scheduled after funds have been loaded for customers to take advantage of the high yield account.

Balances of $1,000 or less will receive interest rates of 4.91% with an annual percentage yield (APY) of 5%. Any funds exceeding $1,000 will receive 0.49% with an APY of 0.50%.

Netspend Prepaid Visa Card Identity Protection

Netspend Visa® Prepaid Card — Is It Really Worth It? (2)

Customize Your Card

Netspend Prepaid Visa cardholders may customize their card with their choice of photo. Not just a personal and fun touch, this customization actually doubles-up as a security precaution as customers may use a photo of themselves, allowing merchants to query the user’s identity if they don’t look like the photo.

Virtual Card Numbers

Netspend has a handy option for customers that worry about purchasing items from unfamiliar online sites. Customers can create up to 6 virtual card numbers that can be used in place of their permanent card number. This creates a virtual account that is charged at the same rate as a regular account, and customers can cancel their virtual accounts at any time.

» Related: The 13 Best Virtual Credit Cards in 2024 [Detailed Guide]

Other Reward-Based Cards (Our Recommendations)

Another great prepaid card that offers rewards is the American Express Serve Cash Back® card. The card earns an unlimited 1% cash-back, and your cash rewards are added to your card right after you earn them and can be redeemed at any time. The card also offers direct deposits for no additional fee, free in-network ATM withdrawals, fraud protection, and 90-day purchase protection on purchases up to $1,000.

If you’re a frequent Walmart shopper, then you should consider the Walmart MoneyCard® Prepaid Visa® Card. You’ll earn 3% cash-back at, 1% cash-back at Walmart stores, plus 2% cash-back on purchases at Walmart fuel stations. The card also offers free direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and online bill pay.

AdditionalNetspend Prepaid Card Options

Netspend offers a variety of prepaid cards including a Mastercard option. All features and fees are the same as the Visa card and with both accepted widely throughout the U.S. and internationally, the choice really is down to personal preference.

  • Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard®, now a WWE partner®
  • Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
  • Blue Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card

In addition to these prepaid cards, Netspend also offers an “all-access” card:

  • Netspend® All-Access® Account by MetaBank®

Hot Tip: If you’re looking for a credit card versus a prepaid card for your small business, explore our best credit cards for small businesses as well as our guide on how to apply for a small business credit card.

Netspend Prepaid Visa Card vs. Other Prepaid Cards

Many other prepaid debit card providers, such as the Chase Liquid® Prepaid Card or the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard®, charge a flat monthly fee (usually $4.95) but don’t offer the option of a monthly plan or a pay-as-you-go plan. That’s where Netspend provides flexibility to the cardholder, depending on what their intentions are for the card.

These alternative debit card providers charge $4.95 without the requirement for a minimum deposit amount. So Netspend cardholders will only benefit from this reduced monthly rate if they receive direct deposits of $500 or more every month.

For cardholders on a pay-as-you-go plan, the payment transaction fee is pretty consistent with other prepaid cards at $1.50 for PIN and signature transactions.

ATM withdrawal fees are on the expensive side at $2.50 per transaction, and the Chase Liquid Prepaid card has the upper hand again offering free cash withdrawals from one of its 16,000 Chase ATMs across the United States.

Final Thoughts

The Netspend Prepaid Visa card is a good option for individuals that need to manage their money, but perhaps have damaged credit scores or simply prefer to not have a bank account. It’s also a way to get around expensive fees for cashing checks, where the costs can eat into that monthly paycheck.

With the Netspend Prepaid Visa card, you can do mostly everything that you can with a bank account, from checking account balances to transferring payments, and cashing checks to paying for everyday items. Cardholders even have access to a high yield savings account, offering favorable interest rates of up to 4.91%.

Just keep an eye on those individual fees that could really rack up, especially when on the pay-as-you-go plan. Try to load money to your card via direct deposits and checks rather than cash loading, which can cost up to $3.95 per reloading fee.

As with any prepaid card, this will not count against your credit rating, so if you’re looking to build credit, you would need to consider a secured credit card such as the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

The information regarding the American Express Serve Cash Back® card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Netspend Visa® Prepaid Card — Is It Really Worth It? (2024)


Is the Netspend Visa card any good? ›

The Netspend Prepaid Visa card may be an excellent choice for those with poor credit or those who choose to not have a bank account—but its high rates and fees, on the other hand, may make other prepaid cards or even secured credit cards sound more appealing.

What are the cons of a Netspend card? ›

The biggest cons of the Netspend card are the fees. There is a recurring fee of $9.95 per month or $1.95 per transaction charge, depending on the plan you choose.

What is one downside of using a prepaid card? ›

Disadvantages of prepaid debit cards

Prepaid debit cards may have additional fees associated with ATM withdrawals, card replacement, direct deposit, inactivity, card cancellation, paper statements, and card reloading.

How much is the monthly fee for Netspend? ›

Summary of fees:
Type of FeePay-As-You-Go PlanMonthly Plan
Plan fee$0$9.95 per mo.
Per purchase$1.95$0
ATM withdrawal$2.95$2.95
Cash reload$3.95*$3.95*
3 more rows

Why would someone get a Netspend card? ›

Convenience and Flexibility: Netspend cards offer convenience and flexibility in managing personal and business expenses. They can be used anywhere MasterCard or Visa debit cards are accepted, including in-store purchases, online shopping, and cash withdrawals at ATMs worldwide.

Can Netspend be trusted? ›

All transactions made using Netspend cards are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to the current coverage limit, and the cards can be used anywhere MasterCard and Visa debit cards are accepted.

What is the Netspend controversy? ›

What was the lawsuit about? According to the FTC, many people who bought NetSpend prepaid debit cards were unable to access their funds, either because NetSpend denied or delayed activation of their card or because NetSpend blocked them from using it.

What is the best prepaid debit card to use? ›

The 10 best prepaid debit cards you can get without a credit score
  • Best overall prepaid debit card: Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard.
  • Best for overdraft protection: Netspend Prepaid Card.
  • Best for receiving federal benefits: Direct Express Prepaid Debit Mastercard.
  • Best for no fees: Cash App Card.

What happens if you don't use your Netspend card? ›

If there has been no activity on an account for 90 days, Netspend will begin charging a $5.95/month inactivity fee. If you have a monthly plan and are inactive for 90 days, this fee will replace the fee for the monthly plan.

Why prepaid cards are of high risk? ›

Fraudsters and money launderers may use these cards to anonymously transfer funds, make purchases, or withdraw cash. It is important for consumers and businesses to be aware of these risks and take appropriate precautions to protect themselves.

Are prepaid Visa cards worth it? ›

Prepaid cards can be a good way to stay out of debt because you can't spend more than the amount you've already deposited. They're also a useful budgeting tool. Even if you have a checking account, you could put a fixed amount on a prepaid card each month for certain spending categories, such as dining out.

What is a major concern with prepaid debit cards? ›

There are only a few downsides to using prepaid cards, but they are significant. Prepaid cards come with fees. Cardholders may have a lot of fees, including activation fees, transaction fees, ATM withdrawal fees, reloading fees, monthly fees, or inactivity fees.

Is Netspend worth it? ›

Absolutely avoid it

I then went ahead and closed my NetSpend account. I was due a $50 refund for my initial deposit. They sent me a check in the mail that took very long to arrive and discounted $6 for "delivery". The check says explicitly "not eligible for mobile deposit", making it extremely inconvenient.

Is there an activation fee for Netspend card? ›

There is no cost to order and activate a Netspend card. Once you activate the card, you may choose from our selection of fee plans. To view the fee plans and other costs associated with using the card, see our fee schedule.

What is the minimum amount you can put on a Netspend card? ›

There is no minimum amount of money you're required to put on your NetSpend prepaid card. However, you will need to put at least $10 on the card the first time you load it. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

How does Netspend visa card work? ›

With a Netspend Prepaid Debit Card, you can make purchases at stores, over the phone and online. Use it anywhere Debit Mastercard and Visa debit cards are accepted. Withdraw cash at ATMs worldwide. Pay bills, rent and other necessities.

Which card is better Netspend or chime? ›

Both function similarly, but have different features and benefits. One of the biggest things to consider is that Chime has no hidden fees², while Netspend® fees can pile up with monthly charges and more.

Why can't I use my Netspend Visa card? ›

Here are the most common: Order billing information doesn't match the information on your card account. You don't have enough money in your account to cover the purchase, shipping, and taxes. Your card has been flagged for suspicious activity, has a freeze on the account, or is subject to a security review.

What is the limit on a Netspend Visa debit card? ›

A: Paycards come set with an ATM transaction limit of $325 per use and $940 per day.

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