Is the Western Union NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard worth it? | February 2018

Review: Western Union NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard – February 2018

  • Get this card if… you’re looking to receive Western Union transfers more quickly.
  • Pick something else if…you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for a debit card.
Product NameWestern Union NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard
Annual fee
Card TypeMastercard
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC)
Foreign currency conversion fees are charged when you make a transaction that is converted by a credit card network, such as MasterCard, Visa or American Express, from Australian dollars to a foreign currency. You’ll also incur a currency conversion fee if you make a purchase or obtain a cash advance in Australian dollars while overseas or shopping online with a foreign merchant or financial institution.
3.5% of transaction value
Minimum Age18 years of age
Annual fee
Additional Cardholder Fee$3.95

The basics

The Western Union NetSpend Mastercard is a prepaid card for day-to-day purchases. You can also use it to receive Western Union money transfers and spend the funds within minutes. That may be a big plus if you’re used to picking up cash from Western Union locations or waiting for deposits in your bank account.

Unfortunately, the card comes with a rather long fee table. If you choose the entry-level Pay-As-You-Go plan, you’ll see a fee each time you use your card. If you choose the higher-tier plans, you pay a monthly fee to maintain your card. All plans charge $2.50 each time you withdraw cash from an ATM or bank.

That said, you may be better off with a debit card from a bank. You can find one that doesn’t charge a monthly fee and allows you to withdraw money for free.

Getting your paycheck faster

If you receive a paycheck or government benefits, you already know that direct deposits can take time to process across banks.
You might be able to get access to your money up to two days faster with a direct deposit to your WU NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard.

Another way to avoid the $5 fee

To access your paycheck even faster, consider the free Earnin app (formerly Activehours). Earnin lets you upload your timesheet and receive up to $100 in your bank account quickly — with few catches.


Pay-As-You-GoMonthly FeeAdvantagePremier FeeAdvantage
Account opening fee$0$0$0
Monthly plan feeNone$9.95$5
Signature purchase transaction fee$1Included in planIncluded in plan
PIN purchase transaction fee$2Included in planIncluded in plan
US ATM/bank cash withdrawal fee$2.50$2.50$2.50
Balance inquiry fee$0 by text message; $0.50 by phone or ATM$0 by text message; $0.50 by phone or ATMNone
Account inactivity fee$5.95 a month$5.95 a month$5.95 a month
Foreign transaction fee3.5%3.5%3.5%

Adding money

Direct deposit feeNone
Adding money at NetSpend Reload Network locationVaries by location
Bank transfer feeVaries by bank
Western Union money transfer feeFree to accept money. Fee varies for sending money.

View a full list of fees in the Western Union NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard terms and conditions.

What’s great about the WU NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard?

  • No account opening fee. The card comes with no activation fee, unlike many other prepaid cards.
  • Faster access to deposits. When you deposit your paycheck or government benefits directly to your card, you can access the funds up to two days faster than direct deposit to a bank account.
  • Load money quickly. Set up automatic deposits of your paycheck or government benefits or receive Western Union money transfers to use your funds in minutes.
    You can also reload your card at more than 130,000 locations in the NetSpend Reload Network.
  • Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mobile Banking app. Upload checks, send money and receive Western Union transfers through the NetSpend Prepaid Mobile Banking app.

You’ll also like …

  • Cash back. At some merchants, you’ll get cash back for using your WU NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard.
  • Refer a friend. If you refer a new user who funds their card with at least $40, you and that person each receive a $20 credit.

What to watch out for

  • Not a credit card. This Mastercard is a prepaid card. You’ll need to load money to the card before using it.
  • Loads of fees. The prepaid card charges nickel-and-dime fees at every turn. Check the fee table before applying.
  • Account inactivity fee. If your account is dormant, you’ll pay $5.95 a month.

What should I know before I apply?

If you live in Vermont, you’re ineligible for the WU NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard.

Always consider your options and your financial situation before you apply for a prepaid card.

Information you’ll need

  • Full name and contact information
  • Date of birth
  • Government ID number, if you’re looking to deposit government benefits checks

How to apply for the WU NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard

1. Go to the Western Union NetSpend Prepaid website and click Get My Card.

Western Union NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard step 1

2. Complete the application with details like your name, address and direct deposit information. Choose a card design. Then click Get My Card to submit your application.

Western Union NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard step 2

How long will it take to be approved?

You’ll typically receive a decision on your application right away. After you’re approved, your card arrives in the mail within seven business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Avoid fees. You may be assessed fees for everything from a purchase to a simple balance inquiry. Check the fee table to understand the fees you might encounter.
  • Customer service. If you have questions, contact customer support at 800-214-5483.

Bottom line

If you receive Western Union transfers and are willing to put up with pesky fees, the NetSpend Prepaid Mastercard may be for you. It lets you automatically deposit your paychecks and quickly receive Western Union transfers.

Frequently asked questions

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