Western Union® Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® review
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The Western Union® Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard is best for managing money without having a bank account.
The Western Union® Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® Overview
The Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard can help you manage your money if you don’t have access to, or don’t want, a checking account. You’ll be able to use your Netspend card to receive your paycheck, pay your bills, make online purchases and send money to friends and family.
Read our Netspend review to see how it compares to other prepaid cards and determine if it’s the right financial solution for you.
What are the pros and cons?
Netspend offers rewards like cash back and referral bonuses.
You can get a savings account with an APY of up to 5 percent on up to $1,000.
There are over 130,000 Netspend reload locations.
Netspend offers overdraft protection and a purchase cushion that may cover you up to $10 when you overspend.
Netspend charges over a dozen different types of fees.
Netspend gets lackluster reviews from customers.
A deeper look at the current card offer
- Rewards rate: N/A
- Welcome offer: $20 credit when you refer a friend who activates their new card and loads at least $40
- Annual fee: $9.95 per month, $5 for the reduced monthly plan (with $500 direct deposit per month) or $1.50 per purchase if you choose the pay-as-you-go plan
- Purchase intro APR: None
- Balance transfer intro APR: None
- Regular APR: None
Current welcome offer
While this card doesn’t technically have a welcome offer or sign-up bonus, it does have a referral program that can boost your balance. When you refer someone who activates a Netspend prepaid card and adds a minimum of $40 to their account, both you and your referral will get a $20 credit. You can refer as many people as you want and will get $20 for each.
Netspend has a free program called Payback Rewards that offers you personalized opportunities to earn cash back from some of your favorite retailers.
How you earn
To earn rewards with the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard, the Payback Rewards program analyzes your spending habits and uploads personalized cash back offers (or referral bonuses) to your rewards page.
How to redeem
All you have to do is click on the offers you want to activate and use your card at the stores you’ve chosen. Netspend will track the offers you redeem and credit your account with cash back at the end of the month.
Other cardholder perks
The Western Union® Netspend® Prepaid Mastercard® has almost all of the features of a regular bank account. It offers direct deposit, online bill pay, overdraft protection, money management tools and more. Here’s a closer look at some of the main benefits of Netspend prepaid cards.
High APY savings account
You can open a free Netspend savings account alongside your prepaid card account that offers APYs up to 5 percent on the first $1,000 in your account. You can make transfers from your card account to the savings account or you can set up automatic transfers instead.
Netspend has optional overdraft protection for cardholders who receive at least one direct deposit of $200 or more every 30 days.
You’ll have a 24-hour grace period to avoid fees. After that, you’ll be charged $15 unless you overdraft your account by less than $10. If you only overspend a little, Netspend may waive your overdraft fee as a courtesy.
Free direct deposits
You can receive government benefits, tax refunds, paychecks and more via direct deposit for free.
Money management tools
Netspend offers a variety of tools that can help you manage your money better, including a mobile app and automatic savings transfers. You can even get email and text message updates about your account balance, transactions and budget.
Rates and fees
Netspend charges over a dozen fees, which is more than many prepaid cards.
First, you have the monthly plan fee, which can vary based on the plan you choose and where you live. The monthly plan is usually $9.95 per month, but it can go as low as $5 per month if you have direct deposits of payroll or benefits exceeding $500 per month. There is no fee per purchase.
The pay-as-you-go-plan doesn’t have a monthly fee, but you’ll pay $1.50 per transaction in most cases.
You could also pay up to $3.95 for the Netspend reload fee and a $5.95 monthly inactivity fee if you don’t use your card for 90 consecutive days. There are also small fees for balance inquiries, card replacements, upcharges for expedited mobile checks, getting mailed statements to you and more.
How the Netspend Prepaid Mastercard compares to other prepaid cards
The Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard is a terrific option for prepaid card users who often send or accept Western Union transfers and wish to take advantage of the interest-bearing savings account. There are, however, cheaper cards available if you want to avoid a pricey Pay-As-You-Go plan or an unwaivable monthly charge.
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account by Green Dot
Recommended Credit Score
Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard vs. Brinks Money Prepaid Mastercard
The Brinks Money Prepaid Mastercard® offers many of the same features as Netspend, and it has a comparable fee structure. If you choose the pay-as-you-go plan, you’ll pay $1.50 on every purchase and there’s also a reduced monthly plan for people who receive regular deposits of $500 or more.
Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard vs. Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Card
The Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back debit card is similar to Netspend, but it has a lower monthly fee. It also has its own network of free ATMs, so you may not have to pay to withdraw cash (but out-of-network ATM withdrawals are $3). This card also offers unlimited 2 percent cash back on all online and mobile purchases, not just ones from certain stores. But Green Dot’s savings accounts only offer an APY of 2 percent, which is low compared to the 5 percent APY you could earn with Netspend.
Best cards to pair with the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard
Because the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard isn’t a credit card, it won’t help you build your credit. That’s why it’s a good idea to pair your prepaid card with a good credit card offer that reports to the three major credit bureaus, especially if you don’t have much credit history.
Even if you’re unbanked or have a thin credit profile, you may still be able to qualify for a credit card. Capital One, for example, has two cards that are particularly good for borrowers with limited financial history: the Capital One Platinum Credit Card and the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Bankrate’s Take — Is the Netspend Prepaid Mastercard worth it?
If you can’t get a checking account or don’t want one, the Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard is a good alternative. It has most of the features normal bank accounts have such as a mobile app, online bill pay and free direct deposits.
It also allows you to earn rewards on some of your purchases and provides a free savings account with an APY of up to 5 percent, which is much higher than what traditional banks offer.
But because Netspend cards have so many fees, they may cancel out the cash back and interest you earn. Opening a checking account is likely to be less expensive in the long run, so consider going that route if you can.
All information about the Brinks Money Prepaid Mastercard and Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.