Comparing the Value of NetSpend Cards to Varo and Empower Bank Accounts

by
Adam Rust

Before you get a NetSpend card, you should consider your alternatives, as you can undoubtedly find a better option.

In this post, I will compare the well-known NetSpend prepaid debit card with two other options, both of which in my opinion present a much better value to a consumer.

Before I go any further, let me advise you that it makes a difference. For people who use one of these accounts as their primary banking tool, choosing the wrong (NetSpend) card could cost as much as $60 per month!

Measuring by the total number of accounts, NetSpend is one of the two largest providers of prepaid debit cards. They market their cards through relationships with several check cashing stores. You can find them in other retail settings as well. By purchasing valuable rack space, they can put their product in front of many potential customers. You will enjoy the convenience, but you will pay for it in the form of higher fees.

To save money, you will have to get a Varo or an Empower card digitally. You will not find these cards in stores.

NetSpend has two plans. The first, known as the “pay-as-you-go plan,” has no monthly fee. You can load money by direct deposit or by a cash load. Most people will add funds via a load, as those who use direct deposit can avail themselves of a discounted price on their monthly plan option.

Under pay-as-you-go, you’ll pay a fee just about every time you use your account:

• $2 per purchase

• $2.50 to withdraw funds from an ATM – not including any host ATM fees that might also be added.

• $3.95 to load cash

• $0.50 to check your balance at an ATM

• $5.95 if your account has no activity for 90 days.

NetSpend also offers a monthly plan. It costs $9.95 per month, but the price drops to $5.00 when more than $500 is deposited to the account by a direct deposit. NetSpend wants you to establish a direct deposit. Direct depositors are the best customers, as they tend to keep their account open for a long time and generate lots of fees for NetSpend when they buy things with their card. Nonetheless, NetSpend’s monthly plan still has several fees:

• $9.95/$5.00 monthly fee

• No charge for purchases. The lack of a per-purchase fee is the primary virtue of the monthly plan.

• $2.50 to withdraw funds from an ATM.

• $3.95 to load cash

• $0.50 to check your balance at an ATM

NetSpend does not subscribe to a fee-free ATM network.

Picture of card
Picture of card

Not to be blunt, but you can do better.

WiseWage specializes in helping people do better. That’s why we exist. As a result, we have fee-free accounts.

Consider the Varo bank account:

• No monthly fee

• No purchase fee

• Access to 55,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs

• No inactivity fee

• No fee to check your balance at an ATM

On top of that, you can benefit from Varo Money’s savings account. As of May 24th, 2019, Varo’s savings account pays 2.14 percent interest. Additionally, you can deposit checks to the account.

Consider our Empower bank account:

• No monthly fee

• No purchase fee

• Access to more than 30,000 free MoneyPass network ATMs.

• If you use an ATM outside of the MoneyPass network, Empower will reimburse the cost for you one time each month.

• No inactivity fee

• No ATM balance inquiry fee

Empower offers 2.15 percent interest as of this moment. They also give account holders 1 percent cash back on purchases – up to $10 per month. You can come out ahead by using an Empower card!

Another difference: Empower and Varo are both bank accounts, whereas the NetSpend card is a prepaid debit card.

In terms of qualifying for an account, there is no difference. Neither Varo nor Empower denies people if they have bad credit.

It pays to shop around to find the best card. WiseWage has done that for you.

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