Western Union prepaid card review - What you need to know

TransferWise
09.15.19
5 minute read

With a Netspend Western Union prepaid card, you’ll be able to send and receive money, and get easy access to your salary or benefit payments through direct deposit.¹

When deciding if this card is right for you, be sure to check out independent Western Union prepaid card reviews, and fully understand the card fees, features and conditions. This guide will get you started.

How does it work?

To use the Western Union prepaid debit card, you’ll first need to load money onto it. You can do this in several different ways:¹

  • Have someone send you a Western Union domestic or international money transfer to the card
  • Have your paycheck or government benefit payment sent to the card via direct deposit
  • Top up the card yourself at one of the many Western Union prepaid card reload locations around the country

Once you have money on your card, you can spend it wherever you see the Mastercard logo.

It’s good to know that there may be fees for reloading your card. Typically it is free to have money paid to your Western Union prepaid debit card by direct deposit, but a charge may be made for topping up via bank transfer or at a reload location. We’ll cover fees a little more later.

You can track your balance and activities by calling the phone number on the back of the card, or logging in to your account via the Western Union website.² If you want, you can also choose to get alerts when payments arrive, via mobile phone or email.

Depending on your situation, you may also have access to other perks like a $10 cushion for if you go over your available balance, a custom made card, or the Western Union customer referral scheme which could pay you to introduce the Netspend card to your friends.³

Western Union prepaid card fees and features

The Western Union prepaid debit card comes with a range of features, including:

  • Earn cash back rewards from selected merchants
  • Refer a friend to get cashback onto your card
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster by direct deposit when your payroll or benefits are put into your card account
  • Pay bills online
  • Get a savings account to earn interest on your balance up to $1,000

As you may expect, there are also fees to pay to use the Netspend card service. It’s worth looking in detail at these costs and deciding how they will impact you, based on the type of transactions you are likely to make.

Here’s a rundown:

Fee type Western Union Netspend Card cost ³ ⁴
Card purchase Standard initial card is free Custom card - $4.95 Replacement card - $3.95 Secondary card - $3.95 Card delivery is free within 7 - 10 business days. If you need it sooner, you can pay $20 for 3 business day delivery, or $25 for delivery within 1-2 business days
Plan fees Pay as you go - no monthly fee Regular monthly plan - $9.95 Reduced monthly plan - $5 Reduced monthly plan is offered to customers who receive at least $500 in direct deposits - such as pay checks or benefits - in a single month.
Purchase fees Pay as you go - $1 for signature purchases, $2 for PIN purchases Regular monthly plan - $0 Reduced monthly plan - $0
Balance checking Checking your balance by phone or online is free, at an ATM in the US you’ll pay $0.50. An additional fee may be charged by the ATM operator.
Withdrawing cash Over the counter - $2.50 at a financial institution, or up to the greater of $4 or 2.75% of the withdrawal amount at a reload location Domestic ATM - $2.50
Adding money to your account Direct deposit - free Cash at a reload location - up to $3.95 Mobile check load fee - free for standard service. For an expedited service you’ll pay up to the greater of 5% of the amount, or $5 Western Union money transfer - Fee varies. No fee to receive money onto your account
Foreign transaction surcharge 3.5% of the value of the transaction - in addition to any purchase transaction or over the counter withdrawal fee you will pay
International ATM withdrawal $4.95
Transaction decline fee $1
Inactivity fee $5.95 per month if the card is inactive for 90 days

Looking for an alternative to the Western Union Netspend Card?

If you’re still deciding which card will work for you, it’s worth looking at a range of options to see if there are cards out there with fees and features which suit you better.

Take a look at the TransferWise borderless card as a great alternative. You can get yourself a TransferWise borderless account online, and get a linked Mastercard debit card to make spending easy. You can withdraw up to $250 a month fee free, with a small fee after that - and spending directly with merchants using your prepaid balance is free.

The borderless account is a multi-currency account, which means you’ll also be able to send and receive money in foreign currencies, and hold a balance in any of over 40 different currencies all at the same time. This is perfect if you plan on traveling, or if you’re a freelance worker and need to receive payments from employers based overseas.

How can I get a Western Union prepaid card?

You can apply for a prepaid card at a Western Union location near you⁵.

You’ll need to provide the following information and documentation to get your account up and running:³

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your date of birth
  • Your government ID number
  • You may have to provide a driver’s license or other government issued photo ID

If you don’t have all that’s needed to get your account fully verified, you may still be able to apply for a Netspend card, but your activities could be restricted until you provide the documents requested. It’s also worth noting that the card is not available to residents of Vermont.³

Choosing a good prepaid card to use at home or as you travel can seem like a daunting task, as there are so many different options out there. However, it’s worth comparing a few prepaid cards, as the fees and features of each can vary widely.

Don’t pay more than you have to for your prepaid debit card. Compare the Western Union Netspend card to the TransferWise debit card to see if you could save money today.


Sources:

  1. Western Union Netspend Prepaid Mastercard
  2. Western Union FAQ - How do I find my WU Netspend prepaid card balance and track my card activity?
  3. Western Union Netspend
  4. WU NetSpend MasterCard Terms and Conditions
  5. Western Union FAQ - Where can I buy a prepaid card

All sources checked 3rd of September 2019


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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