Consumers in 2018 who prefer the convenience and built-in budgeting that a debit card offers vs. a credit card might want to take a closer look at the Western Union prepaid card from NetSpend – especially if they send or receive a lot of money transfers.
In this review, we’ll examine the features of the Western Union® NetSpend® Prepaid MasterCard® to help potential cardholders decide if it’s the best option for them.
The Western Union Prepaid Card from NetSpend: An Overview
Sometimes consumers don’t qualify for, or don’t want, a traditional credit card, but still want the convenience of paying with plastic vs. cash.
For people who fall into that category and also receive or send a lot of money transfers, the Western Union prepaid card could be their best option.
There is no credit check, since it’s not a credit card.
Consumers simply request a card online.
Once it arrives, typically within seven business days, they simply activate it.
Users can add money by:
- Transferring money directly from their bank.
- Receiving a money transfer.
- Visiting one of the over 130,000 reload locations in the NetSpend Reload Network.
- Via direct deposit from their paycheck or government benefits.
One of the advantages of direct deposit is that cardholders can potentially have access to their money up to two days early, depending on their payment processor.
In addition, cardholders can transfer or receive a Western Union money transfer within minutes from over 200 countries, pay bills online and have access to their tax return faster by using e-file and having their refund deposited on their card.
By the Numbers
Since this is a debit card, there is no interest to worry about.
However, there are fees cardholders should be aware of, depending on which of the three plans they select.
- Pay-As-You-Go. There is no monthly fee, but users are charged $1 for every signature purchase transaction and $2 for every PIN purchase transaction. Depending on how many transactions someone makes, this could get expensive fast.
- Monthly FeeAdvantage. This plan charges a $9.95 flat monthly fee, but otherwise there are no additional transaction fees.
- Premier FeeAdvantage. The $5 monthly fee includes unlimited transactions – an annual savings of $50.40 compared to the Monthly FeeAdvantage plan. However, users need to have a direct deposit of at least $500 a month to qualify.
No matter what plan users select, they will be charged $2.50 for any ATM withdrawals they make, in addition to any fees charged by the bank or ATM owner itself.
Is There a Rewards Program?
While there isn’t a traditional rewards program, cardholders can tap into special offers and receive cash back from select merchant partners.
There is also a Refer-a-Friend program that can earn cardholders a $20 credit any time someone they refer loads at least $40 to their new card.
While the rewards aren’t robust, the fee rates are competitive for users with direct deposits large enough to qualify them for the Premier FeeAdvantage plan.