NetSpend: An Option for Patient People Without Bank Accounts

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NetSpend: An Option for Patient People Without Bank Accounts

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NetSpend offers prepaid Visa and MasterCard debit cards. The cards are especially useful for people without bank accounts or with bad credit. Rather than being linked to a bank account, they are reloadable, meaning that customers can head to a local Safeway, Winn-Dixie, gas station, or other participating establishment to load cash onto the card.

Netspend gives people the ease and convenience of a credit card without the required bank account or paperwork. Card usage is not reported to credit bureaus, so users do not build credit history by using them. Customers have also experienced longer-than-expected holds on funds and arduous identity verification procedures–byproducts of the relative anonymity involved in the card–so it does come with a potential price.

Also, watch out for fees: The card costs $9.99 to purchase, and $4.95 to reload.

It’s a good deal if you:

a) Don’t have a bank account, or cannot get one
b) Are prepared for some registration delays and holds on your funds
c) Are willing to pay to reload your card

If you live week-to-week, or rely heavily on having your money instantly (and can’t afford blocks on your account), you may want to consider other options.

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About The Author
Drea Knufken
Drea Knufken
Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.
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  • Ben
    February 24, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Why even post this?

    Is this a tongue-in-cheek warning against it, or just raw marketing for a terrible product?

  • maria
    February 26, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I’ve been with NetSpend for 5 years now….I am pleased with my service, I’ve never had funds held for long periods of time.I went with Netspend…. I like not having to worry about “overdraft fees” and my direct deposit is always a day or two early instead of late, as it was with wells fargo
    I love it!!!!

  • April 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Hello. I used to have a netspend all access card, but decided to change because of bad customer service. Now i have an accountnow card. This prepaid card offers more options and features. the fees are just about the same as netspend too. ya, so check out the AccountNow prepaid card

  • May 13, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    that’s all bullcrap!

  • May 18, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I am member of Netspend i Think it Good service

  • Malik
    September 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    You get your money four days before time.

  • BW
    September 26, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    This article is a misrepresentation of the netspend product. “longer than expected holds” are clearly defined and explained in the pamphlet you get with your card, not hidden in any small print or anything. You will see holds for a couple of different things: Hotels, which makes sense on a prepaid card because they need to ensure you’re going to have enough money on your card to pay your bill when you leave. 90% of the extra long holds from hotels are caused by the hotels opening a new transaction at checkout rather than collecting on the hold they already have out. Gas stations are another hold you may see, but again, it is clearly stated in the documentation you get with the card (again not in small print) that if you swipe your card at the gas pump, there will be a hold of at least 55 dollars on your card, to make sure you have enough funds to cover a typical gas transaction. If you spend 30 of that 55 on gas, you will get the other 25 back, when you get it back just depends on the gas station. You get the rest back when the gas station posts the transaction, which in some cases takes 3-5 days. But the documentation also explains that you can just go inside the gas station and tell them how much gas you want and the hold will be for that much, and the gas pump will turn off at that point.

    It’s also bad to say that it costs 4.95 to load your card…it CAN cost that much if you purchase a reload pack, which are only available in a very small amount of markets. Most places charge $1 to reload your card, but no locations are more than $3, some places are even free. Plus, you can get direct deposit on the card and it’s free, plus you get your funds a day or two BEFORE payday. Netspend does not hold your direct deposit to collect interest off of it like 95% of banks do.

    A lot of peoples complaints about netspend are their own misconception or just plain ignorance. There are no hidden fees, they clearly explain everything in a simple booklet you get with your card. People just don’t WANT to believe that it’s a good company, providing a good service for people who otherwise would have no chance at ever seeing a visa or mastercard. I’ve been using my netspend card for 3 years now and i don’t even need to. I have good credit, I have a bank account, I just choose to use Netspend because you will never see any weird fees pop up out of nowhere, if you have unauthorized transactions, they have a great dispute department that will help you get your money back.

  • Clint
    October 13, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I’ve used Netspend for years. They’re way too expensive and only makes sense for emergencies but they were clear from the beginning about the price. No suprises yet. Works well for my purposes.

    December 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    This is the first time in 2 years i have not gottten my ss deposit at exactly 12:30 pm on the friday before the scheduled wednesday i am due to recieve. i wonder why? anyone experiencing this today?

  • Myha
    March 31, 2010 at 7:49 am


  • Brad
    April 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I went to a murphy gas station and I payd at the pump the thing is it put my card on hold so I went to the next pump and it wouldnt let me either.

    checked my balance and it shows there were two transactions made from that GS and its been 6 days already and i have yet to recieve my credit back. Spoke to a manager at Murphys GS she said I should get it before this day or more than likely the next day. “WTF” I know the hold is to make sure if you have money in the account but people lets be real, Shouldnt there be some type of an advance technology at most Gas Pumps that automatically asures that acounts have suficient funds. “Thats why they get f***** Drive offs”

  • June 25, 2010 at 8:31 am


    Netspend is one of many prepaid cards on the market today. They function similarly. And the poster that explained how “holds” work for hotels and rental cars is correct. Fees vary among cards, but all of them do not charge interest because they are not credit cards. Thus, there will be some fees, either to maintain the card month after month ($4) in the case of the MiCash Prepaid MasterCard, or to load. MiCash offers free direct deposit from your pay or benefits straight to the card. Also, a 24/7 support hotline.

  • Tara
    September 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I have a netspend card and was supposed to receive a direct deposit from my school’s financial aid office yesterday. The fin. aid website shows that my funds were released. However, they still haven’t made it to my account. Perhaps I have misunderstood how this works, but it seems to me that it should be there by now. I tried to call Netspend but there is NO option whatsoever to speak to anyone and the prompts give no information useful to this situation. Any thoughts?

  • lisa
    September 20, 2010 at 7:49 am

    i just activated my netspend card and my direct deposit wasnt deposited the day it was supposed too.. i was wondering tara, you had to have goten it by now?? im hoping i get it tomorrow. but then what good is direct deposit if i dont get it earlier than my check, considering the fees. there is a number to get a customer service rep its 866-387-7363 and their hours are m-f 8-8 i think..

  • MR WOW
    September 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I have had use netspend for 4 years.i like the service and have helped me as far as online services from taking more than what the AOL who haved billed me for one fee and the next month take (steal) more money.and i have used direct deposit and have gotten my money early.GREAT CARD SERVICE !!

  • lisa
    September 25, 2010 at 11:44 am

    ok i take that back.. i did get my direct deposit on the day i was supposed to.. just not at midnight.. it was at noon instead.. so since that was my only issue, so far netspend has been good to their word.. there’s no extra fees or anything, and as long as you have the right telephone number, you can get through to a customer service rep fairly easily.

  • Tricia
    November 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I was told my financial disbursement was released

  • Tricia
    November 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I was told my financial disbursement was released on Tuesday 11/09/10 for direct deposit, yet it is now 11/12/10 and I haven’t received anything in my acct. I called and a rep told me nothing is showing as pending. Help!

  • lisa
    November 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    to tricia – i am guessing your talking about school financial aid. usually when it says financial disbursement, it means when they disbursed it to your school, or if its not for school, to whomever is issuing the money because usually it doesnt come from the bank to you. contact your school and it usually takes one week from the day its put into your account.

  • EMontgomery
    March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I have been a member since 2008 and have never had any problems. Great customer service, immediate communication regarding merchant disputes and a superb website. I have a better service with them than my bank.

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