NetSpend challenges the throne

Is NetSpend a better option for 5X everywhere? 

Update: Shortly after writing this post, NetSpend cancelled my account without warning or explanation.  For details, see “We’re sorry, there is a problem with your account.”

Seven weeks ago I declared the American Express Prepaid card to be the “One card to rule them all.”  In that post, I described how one could earn 5X everywhere by using a Chase Ink card to buy Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot.  Those Vanilla Reload cards could then be used to load up money on the American Express Prepaid card.  The points come from having used your Chase Ink card at Office Depot: the Chase Ink cards automatically earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores.

American Express Prepaid Card Recap

In addition to the huge benefit of being able to load from Vanilla Reload cards, the American Express Prepaid card has some great features:

  • Order online for free.  There is no cost to obtaining the card and no credit check is performed.
  • ATM withdrawals are allowed.  The first ATM withdrawal each month is free, then it is $2 per withdrawal after that.
  • No fees (other than ATM withdrawals, as described above)
  • Purchase protection
  • Roadside assistance

Overall, it’s almost too good to be true.  However, there are some annoying limitations:

  • No more than $1000 can be loaded to the card per day.
  • No more than $2500 can be loaded to the card in any 28 day period.
  • The card cannot be used as a debit card.
  • It is an American Express card, so it is not accepted everywhere.
  • It can be difficult to use at Walmart (see “How to shut down Walmart with one swipe”)

 

Enter Netspend

imageLike the American Express prepaid card, NetSpend prepaid cards can be ordered for free and can be loaded with Vanilla reload cards.  That’s where the similarities end.  Let’s look at the pros and cons:


Pros:

  • Free money!  If you use this referral link to order a card (www.mynetspendcard.com/?uref=3796101305), you and the referrer (not me) will earn $20 when you load at least $40 to the card.  Once you have a card, you can get your own referral link to give to family and friends so that you and they can make even more money.
  • Mastercard.  Unlike American Express, Mastercard is accepted almost everywhere.
  • Debit card.  Some transactions require debit cards, and the NetSpend card can be used in those circumstances.  Also, in some cases, using a debit card can save you money.  For example, if you were to use a debit card to pay taxes, you would be charged a very low fixed fee (less than $4) whereas you would be charged 1.89% (or higher) if you were to use a credit card.  Unless you were to make a very small tax payment, the % fee would be much higher than the debit fee.
  • Fewer restrictions.  You can load up to $7,500.00 over any 24‐hour period and up to $15,000 total.  You can make up to $940 in ATM withdrawals per 24-hour period.  More information can be found in their Terms & Conditions here.
  • Payback rewards.  There is a possibility to earn cash back for some transactions.  NetSpend supposedly monitors your spending patterns and offers deals accordingly.  I’ve only been using my card for about a week so I haven’t been offered any deals yet, but I’ll watch this one closely to see what happens.

Cons:
If you thought the above pros were too good to be true, you’re right.  There are a couple of serious drawbacks:

  • High fees.  $1 per credit transaction, $2 per debit transaction, $2.50 per ATM withdrawal, $1 per bill pay, 3.5% foreign transaction fee.  Credit and debit transaction fees will be waved if you signup for their monthly FeeAdvantage plan ($10 per month, or $5 per month with direct deposit).
  • Account closings.  Quite a few people have reported using the NetSpend card’s debit feature to quickly cash out after loading up the card.  Everyone I’ve heard from who has done this has had their account closed.

 

Analysis

The NetSpend card has a few great advantages over the American Express prepaid card, but it’s fees are pretty steep.  The question to consider is whether the advantages of this card outweigh the fees.

It’s theoretically possible to minimize NetSpend fees by making few, very large transactions.  That way, the fees would be a small percentage of each transaction and may be worth the expense.  Unfortunately, evidence suggests that people who do this get their accounts shut down pretty quickly. I don’t recommend this approach.

For those with light spending patterns, this card is unlikely to be a good fit due to it’s high fees.  If this is you, stick with the American Express prepaid cards.

My working hypothesis is that the NetSpend card will be best for those that pay the monthly fee (to avoid per-use fees) and use the card heavily for regular transactions.  At $10 per month, you would have to run at least $1000 per month through the card to keep the fees down to 1% or less.  My guess is that if you establish a pattern of using the card for regular purposes, you will then be less likely to get shut down when you use the card to pay large bills, pay taxes, or do other things that may be construed as “cashing out”.  This is the path I’ve started down, and I’ll do my best to keep you informed as this experiment progresses.  I’m looking forward to using the card to pay estimated taxes, so I’m hoping this works!  Keep in mind, that the above is just my current best guess.  Your mileage may vary.

Recommendations

If you haven’t already read my post “One card to rule them all,” I recommend doing so to get a general understanding of the approach to earning 5X everywhere.  To make the most of this approach, here are some specific steps to consider:

  • Ink Bold: Consider signing up for the Ink Bold, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash.  Each of these cards offer 5X for office supply purchases and thus are really key to getting the most out of this overall approach.  See “How to sign up for the Ink Bold” for details of how to apply and whether you are likely to qualify.  Other cards that might make sense include the American Express Simply Cash Business card (5% cash-back for office supply purchases) or the CitiBusiness AAdvantage World Mastercard (2X for office supply purchases).
  • Vanilla Reload:  Another key to success here is the ability to buy Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot using your credit card.  Some Office Depot stores have stopped selling the cards and some others have posted signs saying “cash or debit only” for buying prepaid cards.  Fortunately, most stores still allow these purchases.  Many readers have reported ongoing success in the comments of the post “When thieves steal our points”.
  • Reloadable Prepaid card: You will need one or more prepaid cards that can be loaded using Vanilla Reload cards:
    • American Express Prepaid:  Consider signing up for the American Express prepaid card.  Since it has no fees except for ATM withdrawals, it’s a great option for most people.  This will be my go-to card overseas (for any place that accepts Amex) since it has no foreign transaction fees.  See “American Express loves to give us money, part 2” for an opportunity to get $25 free from American Express.
    • NetSpend:  With its high fees, this card is definitely not for everyone, but with the $20 sign-up bonus, there is little risk in giving this card a shot.  Worst case, you can get your $20 bonus and then cash out entirely at an ATM to make a small profit after the fees.  In my case, I decided to pay the $10 monthly fee (for a month or two) to see how well this card works as my primary card.  I won’t use it overseas (due to the 3.5% foreign transaction fees), but I will use it for all of my day to day spend within the U.S.

 

Experiments

In the next month or so, I hope to test out all of the following:

  • Paying Taxes: The possibility of earning 5X while paying taxes is too good to pass up.
  • Paying Bills / Mortgage: NetSpend has a bill pay feature in which it appears that they’ll charge a fee of just $1 to send a check.  I’m looking forward to trying this for bills in which I can’t currently use a credit card.  I’ll stick to payments of $100 or more so as to keep my costs down to 1% or less.
  • Direct Deposit via PayPal: I’d like to get the $10 monthly fee lowered to $5.  This supposedly happens when you make a direct deposit of more than $500.  I’m curious to see whether a Paypal transfer will qualify.
  • Other Cards: In addition to the Amex Prepaid and NetSpend cards, there is a Mio card and a soon to be released Vanilla card that can be loaded via Vanilla Reload cards.  I hope to test out these options to see if they offer any advantages over the two I already have.  I also hope to take a look at a competing reload card called Reloadit, but I have yet to find one in a local store.

 

Reader experiences

Have you already tried the NetSpend or Mio cards?  Have you tried Reloadit cards, or any similar product?  Please let us know about your experiences.  What has worked, and what hasn’t?  Comment below.

Last updated on September 25th, 2012

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Preacher
Guest
Preacher

I just ordered a card through your referral link! Enjoy the $20, and keep us posted on if this is really the new King of the Hill of Ink Bold Points! Do you know if there are any inactivity fees?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Preacher: Thanks! I’m not aware of any inactivity fees

bf: Yeah, I feel bad for those who don’t have an Office Depot nearby that sells these!

THEsocalledfan: Thanks

HikerT: Thanks for the tips! Yes, everyone, feel free to put in your own referral links. One caution, the spam filter sometimes grabs comments that have URLs in them. Let me know if you write a comment, but it doesn’t appear. Another good option could be to create a referral chain on FlyerTalk.

bf
Guest
bf

Major problem so far is finding Vanilla reload cards. All the ODs in the area (50 mile radius) have been out of reload cards for a month and even though they supposedly ordered them, none have been put on the Amex prepaid rack. With the monthly limit on reloads, I don’t think this is a reliable method of earning 5X.

THEsocalledfan
Guest
THEsocalledfan

Great stuff as always, miler. Still don’t have a gall darn OD in this town and the one convenience store that sells Vanilla reload insists on cash.

To me, it is the debit card ability of this card the card intriguing. That could be a points gold mine, however, I think many who push that may eventually face the wrath of Chase.

The Mastercard part is nice, but I simply use my perpaid Amex or Ink Bold to buy Office Max $200 visa cards with the $6.95 fee to get around that limitation and keep my ink spend rolling. If I had a fee free ATM, I wouldn’t even bother with that; I’d just pay more things with cash!

HikerT
Guest
HikerT

Frequent Miler, can we put up our own referral links? Here’s my link if anyone wants to use it. http://www.mynetspendcard.com?uref=3796101305
 
BTW, I noticed the $20 signup bonus is paid immediately after loading the card. I did have a problem referring someone else living at the same address. It lets you refer them but when they go to signup it indicates they already have a card. Not sure if they’ve fixed that glitch but if it happens, just use another address (work) and the address can be changed back when activating the card.

purplnuprl
Guest
purplnuprl

With a $7,500/day, $15k/mo limit, suddenly $500 seems way too small for a vanilla reload card.

FrequentMiler
Guest

purplnuprl: 🙂

harvson3: Yes you can use the exact same prepaid reload cards. I haven’t looked into other alternatives yet, but I believe there are others.

msp2msy: Wow, I wonder if they changed the rules for the Amex? I was never able to load more than $1000. Thanks for the tip!

Jason: Congrats on getting an Ink Bold. As you know, it’s by far my favorite card!

harvson3
Guest
harvson3

FM – One quick clarifying question: these cards are re-loaded with the same prepaid reload cards as the permanent Amex prepaid card? There aren’t other alternatives? (I live very far from any ODepot.)

msp2msy
Guest
msp2msy

FYI, I loaded $1,500 onto my Amex Prepaid via three $500 vanilla reload cards yesterday. Totally forgot about the $1000 limit. Just checked my transaction history and it’s clearly there which was a relief as I’d thrown away the reload cards yesterday and wasn’t looking forward to digging through the trash for $500.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I just applied (and was approved) for an Ink Bold. I’m still waiting for the actual card, so I will wait to see what your experiences are with the NetSpend card or those future alternatives. I am particularly interested in paying bills/mortgage/taxes with this card, since those are big monthly/quarterly expenses that currently don’t earn any points.

Keep us posted.

Sera
Guest
Sera

Thanks miler for reminding again. I have signed up using your link. If anybody wants to use mine: you can sign up using http://www.mynetspendcard.com?uref=7362780834.

Can I pay my credit card bills using Netspend?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sera: I don’t know if there is any explicit rule against using your NetSpend card to pay your credit card bills, but I do think you’ll get shut down if you try it. Anyone want to risk it? If so, let us know how it goes!

atxtravel: Thanks for the info about additional load options. I can’t wait to hear the results of your experiment!

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

harvson3: No, this card can also use ReLoadit cards and their own branded Netspend reload cards, both similar to Vanilla reloads. I think even GreenDot reloads may work.

The problem is finding these others at stores that allow you to buy them with a CC. In my area they’re all in grocery stores, and I’m going to attempt to buy them today. If that fails, there’s always OD.

HikerT
Guest
HikerT

Sera, the biller directory is pretty limited. Not surprisingly, they don’t list any credit card billers. To pay your credit card you would need to use the “Automatic Payments & eChecks” option or the “Money Order” option. Sounds like those options could increase the risk of getting your account shut down. I was browsing the biller directory and paying my property tax looks like the most promising option, assuming I can get them to add my county.

trinity
Guest
trinity

Nice bit a info to the reader reporting 1500 was loaded on the AMEX on one day. Anyone else care to try this? Perhaps it is a rule that isn’t enforced. As long is you print out the load info as a backup this may be a safe way to push the envelope if you had a large purse coming up.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

..also Walgreens supposedly sells Netspend cards. If grocery stores won’t sell them I’ll go there.

Anyone can find locations on this page:
https://www.netspend.com/account/distributors.m

Kevin Wagner
Guest

Unfortunately, it looks like you can’t refer anyone else living at your address for the 20/20 bonus. Has anyone had success doing that? When I tried referring my wife, it said she already had the card.

FrequentMiler
Guest

atxtravel: Thanks.

Kevin Wagner: See HikerT’s comment #4 for a way around that problem.

HikerT: As a thanks for posting the spouse referral workaround, I’ll use your link when signing up my wife

Carolyn: The IRS lists the options and explicitly shows the credit vs debit fees here: http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=101316,00.html

Carolyn
Guest
Carolyn

Just curious, but what site if any would you use in order to pay your taxes? If paying directly with the tax collector, don’t they typically charge you a few % regardless of whether they are running it as a debit/credit? I haven’t really seen anywhere where they actually differentiate when it comes to paying taxes.

HikerT
Guest
HikerT

Kevin, see comment 4 above to refer someone living at the same address. 🙂

Ted F
Guest
Ted F

In addition to PayPal transfer for direct deposit, you can also try Amazon Payments. Chase categorizes Amazon Payments withdrawals as direct deposits (ACH credits to be more specific).

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ted F: Thanks! That’s definitely worth a try!

Preacher
Guest
Preacher

Has anyone been able to get more than one card per mailing address? Different names, but same mailing addy?

HikerT
Guest
HikerT

Another possible work around for referring someone at the same address is to change your address after signing up and ordering the card. Then refer the spouse and change it back after the spouse has signed up. I haven’t tried this method but guessing it will also work.

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

With AM Ex Prepaid, Netspend and Mio Card, there are some great of options for loading OD purchased prepaid reload cards. The problem I anticipate is exhausting the Ink Bold 50K office reward cap (plus pushing your luck with Chase). Is there another card that makes sense to use in addition to Ink Bold? Maybe the CitiBusiness AAdvantage World MasterCard with its 2x on certain business purchases? Does anybody know of any other cards that could be leveraged to work? FM? I’m sure you been thinking about this problem.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Piecerate: -2 points for not reading my post carefully enough. Just kidding! I inconveniently put this information under the heading “Ink Bold” in the above post. To save you trouble, here is the text:

Other cards that might make sense include the American Express Simply Cash Business card (5% cash-back for office supply purchases) or the CitiBusiness AAdvantage World Mastercard (2X for office supply purchases).

If anyone knows of other good options, please let me know!

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

Wow, I see the paragraph plain as day now. I was so excited with your post I blew right through the details. Thanks. One other idea atxtravel has floated is using Netspend to purchase money orders. I would love to pay my mortgage via MO at 5x and not have to pay those huge CC fees to ChargeSmart. Maybe USPS is the way to go if you can buy MOs via debit?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Piecerate: Money order purchases at grocery stores and other places are exactly the deal that has led to most of the NetSpend account closures I’ve heard of. Tread carefully.

atxtravel: My guess is that you have to be profitable to NetSpend to avoid getting shut down. The only way to be a profitable customer (that I know of) is to use the card for credit card transactions so that they can get the transaction fee from the vendor.

greek2me: Great idea. I still prefer Kiva for that sort of thing, personally, but this is a good option for people who need access to the money sooner.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

My plan with the money orders is to try and simulate the Mint. I know grocery stores sell them very cheap and I think so does the post office. There’s only so much I can spend a year, even with taxes, so this will be a great way to meet those onerous and ever increasing spending requirements. On cards that give you 2x or more it might make sense to do this long term. Even on 1x cards, you’re effectively generating points/miles at a cost of under 1-cent so not too bad for reaching an award.

For daily spending I’d still prefer the AMEX prepaid card, or maybe upcoming Vanilla debit card. The trick with Netspend is to figure out their limits on PIN/debit/cashout transactions without the account getting axed.

greek2me
Guest
greek2me

@Piecerate and FM: To give Ink a break I will buy Vanillas at OD using non-Ink CCs where I have had limited time 2-5x bonuses I’ve gotten as retention offers.

bluto
Guest
bluto

Great post. I will use your link to order a card.

I recently bought 3 $500 Vanilla reload cards and was only able to load 2 of them within a 24 hour period. Msp2Msy’s experience might be an anomaly.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

Well, profitable for them ruins the profit margin for me 🙂 hehe.

IRS taxes only cost 1.9% on other cards, so another $30/quarter. I can do that if Netspend is a hassle. The real value of this card is in possible cash-out style transactions so we’ll see how far those go. I suspect a mix of a few regular purchases combined with an odd-numbered debit transaction should be fine.

FrequentMiler
Guest

atxtravel: I’m looking forward to hearing your results. Good luck

D: Thanks. Nothing shows up at all when I type in Michigan or North Carolina. What areas do show up?

Roger: Hmm. I hadn’t heard of security issues. That would be a huge problem if real. My strategy is to park more money into the card than I spend so that my actions don’t appear to be cashing out. I hope no one steals my money. Regarding Moneypaks: ironically I tried exactly that at Kroger a few days ago, but the register wouldn’t allow it.

D
Guest
D

Here is a link to finding Reloadit cards: https://www.paypower.com/store-locator#

Roger
Guest
Roger

FM, I am one of the Netspend users that got my account closed by cashing out quickly (about 4X$500 in a couple weeks – I loaded and cashed out in a 24hr. period). I called cust. service and was told my account was closed due to a “corporate decision” and I was not eligible for another account. However, I applied for another account with a different address, and so far, it has been approved.
One of my concerns with Netspend is security issues. They have an A rating with the BBB, but they have a lot of complaints. And, I’ve noticed lots of threads online about security issues, such a unauthorized money transfers. In order to make the Netspend stategy worth it, you really have to be moving thousands of dollars, not a $500 reload every once in a while. Yet, I just don’t feel comfortable having $2,000+ sit on a Netspend card for any considerable period of time.
In your strategy, are you looking to load and quickly pay large bills, such as taxes? Or are you going to be carrying a large balance on Netspend for a considerable period of time? I think American Express Prepaid is MUCH more reputable and secure than Netspend.

Roger
Guest
Roger

Another thought: Can Netspend by used to pay for a Moneypak in a grocery store? That might be classified as a grocery purchase by Netspend. And a moneypak is a lot closer to cash than a vanilla reload.

Roger
Guest
Roger

FM, I don’t know how real the security complaints are, but I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to my money :-).
Here is what drew a red flag of concern for me:
1) At the BBB, a tiny company like Netspend has 60% as many complaints as a MUCH larger American Express company. Netspend is a small fraction of the size of Amex but has 60% as many complaints. I consider BBB complaints reputable, because you have to do some work to get them filed.
2) I’ve seen several Netspend reviews online with lots of complaints such as this: http://www.my3cents.com/reviews/netspend. These complaints probably are not as reputable as the BBB, but I’ve noticed a lot of them online, which makes me cautious about Netspend. Hopefully, my second account stays approved and I will cautiously give them a try (without obvious cash-outs).

FrequentMiler
Guest

Roger: Thanks for the info. I’m not surprised that they have lots of complaints. I agree that for most people the Amex is a better card.

slomo: They do send a check (as Roger said). I’ve heard that from several people.

slomo
Guest
slomo

What happens if Netspend shuts down your account? Do they send you a check for the balance?

Roger
Guest
Roger

slomo, my account had a zero balance when it got shut down. When I called the customer rep., he did not know the customer balance. I asked him if I had a positive balance – would I receive a check – and he said “Yes”.
From what I’ve read online, I haven’t seen any complaints about getting money back after a corporate closure. Most of the complaints I’ve read are about poor customer service and unauthorized transactions.

chuck
Guest
chuck

Hi FM, do you have any referral link to American Express Simply Cash Business card? By the way, I opened TopCashBack & this NetSpend account by going thru you.

FrequentMiler
Guest

chuck: Thanks! Yes, you can find the Simply Cash card (and all of my credit card affiliate links) on this page: https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/credit-cards/. The table is now searchable.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

Well so far no luck. Walgreens registers show “Cash only” when trying to buy Netspend reloads, and so did the big-box grocery store I went to. I’ll try a few more locations over the next few days. I’m also contemplating just saying yes I’ll pay with debit, wait for them to load it up, and pretend like I forgot the debit card at home, and see what happens.

FrequentMiler
Guest

atxtravel: Thanks for trying!

Milezjunkie: Which specific stores have let you use a credit card to buy the reload cards? So far, stores I’ve visited only allow purchasing regular gift cards with credit, but do not allow prepaid cards or reload cards.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

You can also buy the NetSpend reloadable cards at grocery stores. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card offers 6% cash rebate on all grocery store purchases. I’m thinking this is going to work well to mix up my spending at OD with my Bold card. I’ll take 6% cash back and use that solely for my mortgage…

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

Email me if you want a referral for $150 Blue Cash Preferred American Express after spending $1,000 in 3 months. This will get you 6% cash rebate at grocery stores, where the NetSpend reload cards are sold. jason10170@gmail.com

ikonos
Guest
ikonos

I believe the real limit with Amex Prepaid is it can not have more than 2500 at any time (at least from what I understand talking to the rep). I loaded 2K on a single day but could not load another $500 as I had some balance left from a previous load.

@frequentmiler Netspend is an interesting option for tax and mortgage payment if it is possible at all. Look forward to seeing your experiment results. Also if you have any more information about USbank’s card. I dont remember the name but its called visabuxx or something.

FrequentMiler
Guest

ikonos: That’s interesting that different people have had different experiences with this. I’ve definitely hit the $1000 per day limit a couple of times. I was not within range of the $2500 limit those times.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

FM, I’ve purchase plenty of Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot without issues. Worst case I will get the Amex Biz card offering 5% cashback on office supplies and withdraw through ATM. Drawback is it’s limited to $12K a year. Once I get the NetSpend card (signed up through your link) I will attempt to purchase a reload at a local grocery store and gas station. I never saw a sign saying cash only.

About the Amex prepaid card, I was told by the Amex CS that each individual is allowed three separate cards. I ordered additional ones and they just get added to your login. That’s a little annoying but not too bad.

Ann
Guest
Ann

Mine i was able to load 2,500 in a day.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ann: Lucky!

Milezjunkie: Yes, you are allowed 3 Amex prepaid cards, that’s correct (I keep meaning to write a post about that…). Let me know how your grocery / gas station experiment goes!

Vadzim
Guest
Vadzim

Sorry for offtopic, But I wonder how accurate is Chase when calculating reward points. In past month I got only 4000 points while I have $1000+ receipt from Office Depot.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Vadzim: do you use an Ink card that gets 5x for office supply purchases? ink cards dating from mid Nov 2011 and earlier didn’t have this benefit.

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

I finally got my hands on an actual REloadit card today at the local supermarket. It says clearly on the packet “Cash Only.” Just the same, I asked if I could pay with a credit card. The answer was an unequivocal “Cash Only.”

FrequentMiler
Guest

Piecerate: bummer

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

@Vadzim,

You earn 5x. You get 4x bonus points per dollar and 1x for the spending.

Lee
Guest
Lee

what the max daily one can withdrawal from an ATM with the AMEX prepaid?

rob
Guest
rob

I am using OP`s link only.

Howie
Guest

@Lee $400 every 24 hours.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

My second attempt was a great success! I went to a more upscale part of town, to a grocery chain that caters to higher end customers.

They had ReLoadit cards that could be loaded with $500 or $950, so for testing purposes I took a $500 card to the cashier, she asked “credit or debit?” and I paid with my Visa. No hassle, just asked for my ID.

I don’t know if this was one time luck, or just the right neighborhood and grocery chain, but I’ll make future attempts and see how it goes.

My next step is to load up this $500, make a token store purchase and then do a debit/PIN transaction to cash out the rest, and see how it goes.

FrequentMiler
Guest

atxtravel: great! Any chance you can tell us the name of the store?

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

I don’t want it showing up in search results, hehe. Wouldn’t want the corporate goons to find this thread.

Anyone in Austin will figure it out though…starts with R.

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

Atxtravel, I’m curious about the product you bought. The reloadit I saw allowed a load from $20 to $500. You said you had the option to go in for 500 or 950. Is there more than one reloadit product I wonder? Did yours says cash only on the packaging?

jim
Guest
jim

sadeway stores have RELOADIT cards but says CASH only in the front! they don’t have VANILLA reloads. they have other reloadable cards that require SS number and cash only reload cards.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

I went to my local grocery store looking for the NetSpend cards. They had none which I found odd because they had been there. I was able to find one PayPower card which refills with a ReloadIt card. I would have bought it but it was clearly tampered with so I left empty handed.

One positive thing about PayPower is they state after the card is registered your funds are FDIC insured. It looks nearly the same as the NetSpend although you have to register it with all your personal information. It’s issued through Metabank as well. I guess the key here is finding a store that will sell reloads via credit cards. According to their website, I see they’re offered all over!

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

yes, I saw two types of reload card, one said $20 – $500, the other said $20 – $950. I opted for the smaller one to avoid triggering any manager overrides and causing a big scene.

Next time, if this experiment with cash withdrawal works, I’ll attempt to buy $950 as this would give me 0.4% cost.

Mine did say cash only under the amount in the top-left, and I thought it was a lost cause, but turned out to work ok. At Walgreens, the card said nothing about cash but they required it. Doesn’t seem to matter what it says.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

They looked just like this one:

http://tinyurl.com/6ofsyme

…except some had $950 as the limit.

FrequentMiler
Guest

atxtravel: Thanks again! I need to run out to try some more grocery stores…

jim: You can wait until you get the card and load it. You won’t be charged any fees until you actually use the card.

Milezjunkie: Thanks for the info

GM: Let us know how it goes.

jim
Guest
jim

@FF
should I upgrade to the $10 fee based plan right after I ordered the card online or I can upgrade to the fee plan after I receive the card and requires no different card or to wait for another fee based netspend card?

what other reloadable cards are out there that can be loaded to this netspend mastercard other than the vanilla reload card? any info or a new posts on what other reload cards are out there that are reloadable to this and the amex prepaid card and as good as the vanilla reload card? I see many reloadable cards at grocery retain chain stores but not good like the vanilla reload card due to many fees, requiring SS numbers and etc.
I signed up for one using your link.
thanks

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

@Chuck, thanks for pointing that out. I misread it. The $12K limit is on fuel. Thanks!

@Maureen, go to Vanillareload.com and see where they sell reload cards. It’s very limited but NetSpend card are sold all over in comparison.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

@Chuck, thanks for pointing that out. I misread it. The $12K limit is on fuel. Thanks! Is there anyway to have Amex send you a check for your rebate?

@Maureen, go to Vanillareload.com and see where they sell reload cards. It’s very limited but NetSpend card are sold all over in comparison.

GM
Guest
GM

If the billpay feature will send a check on your behalf, I’ll try to pay my rent with it. Fingers crossed!

HoKo
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HoKo

FM from the reports you’ve gotten about how long does it take Netspend to cut a check for closed accounts

FrequentMiler
Guest

HoKo: One reader said he was told it would take 20 days for them to send a check for the account closure. Others were told longer. YMMV

Maureen: I’d like to know that too!

jcmitchell21: Yes, with the Ink Bold you can spend up to $50K and still get 5X. With the other Ink cards the limit is $25K

chuck
Guest
chuck

@Milezjunkie: Regarding your comment that there is a 12,000 annual cap on business spending on the AX Business card, I have an AX Simply Business card. I called them and they told me that that card does not have any annual cap on business spending. Do you have a different type of AX Business card?

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

@Chuck – I just saw where Amex limits the cash back on the Simply Business card. Here is the link, http://www262.americanexpress.com/business-credit-cards/business-card-details/simplycash-business-credit-card and it clearly says 5% up to the first $12,000. Maybe this is a new feature?

Maureen
Guest
Maureen

Hi, I am considering the Netspend card. I would like to buy Vanilla reload cards but Office Depot is pretty far, also I don’t have an InkBold. So I’d like to buy the reloads somewhere else using a 2% rewards card. Are the cards readily available, do you know where?

Thank you, I will use your link when I open it.

Maureen

jcmitchell21
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jcmitchell21

Comment #25 says “50k office reward cap”. I just wanted to clarify that this is $50k is spending at 5x, so 250k UR points per year. Not 50k UR points in a year.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

@jcmitchell21, yes it is 250K points. They match up to $50K.

pointhound
Guest
pointhound
FrequentMiler
Guest

pointhound: Thanks for the conga link. I didn’t know about that!

Josh: I also tried linking from a couple of banks, but with no success. I think the best bet is to send a money order, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Josh
Guest
Josh

I was looking into the BillPay options as I would like to use this card to pay my mortgage, etc as many others have mentioned. It looks like many of the large mortgage companies are just routed through ChargeSmart, which provides zero value.

Anyways, I clicked on the “Automatic Payment” tab which gives you a routing number and account number. Theoretically, you should be able to use this to make a payment just about anywhere that accepts and ACH/e-check (just about any loan allows e-payment).

However, I tried to type the routing number I was given and Wells Fargo (my mortgage holder) said it is an invalid or ineligible routing number. Has anyone else tried this?

Wally
Guest
Wally

I really have to hand it to you guys. You (mileage junkies) manage to destroy anything you get your hands on, all simply so you can spoon feed each other. This has been the case for years and now the bloggers who are in it for the simple referrals have taken it to a new level.

These netspend card solutions have worked very well since at least last summer. You have managed to send netspends fraud department into overtime mode. So this is as good as dead.

I dont think it is any coincidence that i have enjoyed this card product for almost a year and now, since you guys have all started holding each others hands for this, I got caught in their wave of closures.

Any ways, the gentleman I was/am dealing with did admit to overall increased activity lately.

I naturally showed him why, linking to this ridiculous article and the other and also the “conga” on FT.

We had a good laugh about it. Heh, you know you are bad off when the fraud operations employee even says “if their goal is to maximize travel, etc, why would they put things out there so blatantly like this?”

Anyways, between following the referral thread and links they will simply go right down the chain. You can expect the run around, faxing in identification, frozen funds for several week and bans from netspend overall.

It is pathetic where the mileage game has sunk too, and thanks for screwing it up for the rest of us who know what we are doing AND can keep quiet about it.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Wally: Often people post comments like this to try to scare away the masses in an attempt to keep things like this to themselves. I’m sure you didn”t do that, but others might assume you did. Note that my post encourages people to use the NetSpend card for everyday purchases and not to use it as a cash-out vehicle. I’d be very surprised if NetSpend finds this advice problematic.

John
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John

@wally I’m so glad to hear you got banned, people like you don’t deserve to be part of this. Enjoy sitting on the sidelines!

rick
Guest
rick

This scheme is self-limiting. Only people who abuse it will get shut down. The obvious case being loading up several thousand and cashing out at the bank the next day. If you don’t get greedy and mix in a few regular purchases with an odd amount of tax payments and money orders, I doubt your account will be closed.

emily
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emily

@ wally, you are just upset because others learned your secret ways of racking up points and miles. Get a life!

wally
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wally

@emily no, I’m not upset that other people learned about it I am upset that it has been spelled out so blantantly to where it is now ruined. Mileage hounds have been spoiling things for years, that is a fact. Also, this service like other prepaid products are for low income users with an average transaction value of under 25 bucks. Many on this will stick out like a sore thumb.

rick
Guest
rick

By your logic, before it was widely publicized you stuck out even more like a sore thumb. Now many more sore thumbs will join in and won’t stick out as much.

Matt
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Matt

@Wally Why does it matter? A transaction is a transaction. If I pay them $10/mo to sign up for their fee free program what difference does it make what I do with the money I deposit and withdrawal? They are a bank selling a service, we are using the service to our advantage well within the T&C’s. NetSpend is within their rights to cancel our card at any time, fine. If you pay $10/mo and are using it to buy movie tickets, fast food, gas, and the occasional iTunes album, what’s the difference if I use it to pay my mortgage and car payment through ACH? (BTW, setting up the ACH worked for my bank.) They get $10 either way.

Sam_Goh
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Sam_Goh

@FM – Works at Kroger stores here in terms of using a CC to pay. I usually try and triple dip when getting reload cards. Buy Kroger GC with CC (6X Amex). This gets Kroger fuelpoints and also gets my daughter’s school cash back (linked to my Kroger account). Then use the Kroger GC to buy the reload card.

Howie
Guest

convenient that a Kroger is within walking distance of my house 🙂

Thanks Sam_Goh!

Sam_Goh
Guest
Sam_Goh

Also if anyone has success doing mortgage payments with this, please keep us updated. This would be great for that + property taxes!

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

Sam_Goh, I went into a Smith’s (owned by Kroger) to see if I could find a reload product today. I couldn’t see one. Which reload product did you purchase? Was it on a rack or behind a counter or somewhere else. I’m holding out hope that Smith’s has them. By the way, your Lowes advice is going to save me a mint on some big spends I have coming up.

AdamL
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AdamL

Do you know if 7-11 counts as a double spend category on any credit card? They also sell Vanilla Reload cards…

Lawrence
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Lawrence

Any accountant/payroll people here? I’m using EFTPS to pay my 941 every month. Can this be done using Netpay? We pay just over $5k/month, so if we could get some miles, that would be awesome.

Looks like it lets you pay the balance? Does that mean you didn’t pay in full? We always want to pay everything in full. How do the tax processing companies handle the splits between 941 Social Security/941 Medicare/941 withholding? Currently with EFTPS we enter a total amount, then break it down. We do the telephone entry method.

Thanks!

Milezjunkie
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Milezjunkie

I noticed earlier today that Vanilla Reload cards are sold at Dollar General, 7-11 and Dollar Stores. I don’t remember seeing them on the list the last time I checked. Does anyone know what a Dollar General Store is coded as with credit card companies? They mostly sell groceries so maybe they will fall under the grocery store. I will be buying some VR cards with my Chase Freedom next quarter. I think it’s a matter of time before the VR cards start showing up in grocery stores and everywhere else.

Maybe I’m forgetting the focus of these comments. If a VR card can be reloaded on a NetSpend, what is the problem? As far as I’m concerned, this will go well with an Amex Cash Back card that gives 5% rebate on office supplies. If I load these cards on a NetSpend and mix my regular spend (at 5%) along with some money orders for mortgage I don’t see how NetSpend would be unhappy.

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

I just got off the phone with netSpend after trying to activate a permanent card. I was told that my account had been closed due to unacceptable usage. I was not given the option to discuss the matter with someone who could review the closure. It seems likely that my payment of a large quarterly estimated tax payment as a debit transaction caused the problem. I was told I am no longer eligible to be a netSpend customer. Oh well, you win some you lose some. I hope others will have better luck finding the sweet spot between usage and fees. I clearly pushed my luck. But it does seem that netSpend is geared more toward exploiting the “underbanked” than catering to sophisticated users. Well, I still have the MioCard and the forth coming MyVanilla (and my trusty Am Ex prepaid) to keep me happy.

atxtravel
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atxtravel

Piecerate : out of curiosity, what size of payment did you make to trigger the account closure?

I set up my netspend routing and account #s and will try to pay my mortgage and electric bill with it later this month.

Stevedealin
Guest
Stevedealin

@Piecerate- if you don’t mind me asking, how much was the tax payment? I am curious to see if a $10/month plan member who uses the billpay option for household utility, etc. will draw the same review. MioCard seems interesting, can you buy those at Officedpot as well and do billpay?

jim
Guest
jim

new post on more relaodable cards like vanilla card that has no fees pelase.

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

$4500. Of course to do that I had to load 10 500 reloads in short order to have funds available. probably didn’t help. Also I had not done a mo. payment plan on the theory that I could do a handful of small credit charged and incur the fees to make my large debit charges more palatable. If you guys can figure this out I’ll have my wife get a card and pay taxes and mortgage on her card but I’m not holding my breath.

FrequentMiler
Guest

All: Wow, that was fast. My NetSpend account was shut down today. The irony is that I didn’t do anything that should have been construed as suspicious. I bought some pet food, movie tickets, etc. I didn’t pay bills, I didn’t visit an ATM, I didn’t make any large debit or credit payments. I’ll post more details in the morning.

Howie
Guest

Next time don’t open a card with:

First Name: Frequent
Last Name: Miler

n00b.

Looking for more details.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Howie: That’s what I did wrong!

bluto
Guest
bluto

Maybe Wally did lead them to shut down everybody who posted their referral link here and on FT.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

FM: how much did you load up on there? And was it all at once or in separate installments?

I think that given their target audience, they’ll be suspicious any time several thousand dollars in reload packs get added at once. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised they have that as a trigger in response to our work here.

FrequentMiler
Guest

atxtravel: I loaded $1500 in one day. I suppose that’s a possible trigger, but I did that over a week ago.

Wally
Guest
Wally

@bluto why would i lie about it?

Lawrence
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Lawrence

Say I pay $5,000 in business taxes every month ($60k/yr). I buy the reload or whatever at Office Depot on my Chase Ink Bold. I can only do $50k before I run out of the 5x bonus, so paying my taxes with the 5x bonus gets me 250,000 Chase Ultimate reward points.

Now for the cost. I would sign up for the $10/month plus fees for paying taxes of say $5/month. Are there fees on the vanilla? Can’t remember…Lets say $5/month. So total cost per month is $20 or $240.

If my math is right, is 250,000 points worth $240? I would say so, as it could get me 4 tix to Europe on United in coach or 2 tix on KE to Bali on KE. Seems worth $240.

Is my math right?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Lawrence: Your math looks almost right. Vanilla reload card fees are $3.95 per card so you would need to pay $39.50 per month for those. There are two big problems: 1) your NetSpend account will get shut down (as mine was); and 2) You risk Chase shutting down your account if you abuse the office supply store 5X perk too much. I’d recommend setting your Office Depot sights a bit lower than $50K

umut
Guest
umut

Well I have been doing reloadit for a while in Alaska, and have bought over 20k worth reloadit packs to my paypower account. I’m not gonna mention the store name, but few times they did not let me buy due to cash only restriction. You can turn paypower into money orders at post offices and walmart for only .60 cents. Whoever can buy these reloadit with credit card, please do not mention the store name. Because it won’t take too long not to able to buy from there again.

atxtravel
Guest
atxtravel

That could be it. A good strategy is to spread out your loads across a few days or a week, and to load up odd amounts. Maybe insert a bill payment or purchase in between.

In other words, simulate real use. Really, how many people who are typical Netspend customers show up with $1500 cash to a store and buy reload packs?

trackback

[…] NetSpend challenges the throne […]

Piecerate
Guest
Piecerate

So I got my Mio Card and loaded it with an OD Vanilla Reload (in an odd amount). Needless to say, I will be sloooowwww playing this one.

Sam_Goh
Guest
Sam_Goh

@Piecerate
YW, hope you save lots at Lowe’s! I got a greendot reload at my Kroger’s it was buried with the rest of the GCs. Was only one slider, since Kroger likes to promote the fixed value 100/200 GC’s.
@Lawrence
Uh, I’d be happy to pay you $240 for 250K points 🙂 In all seriousness, it is 1) possible to get a Chase Ink Bold for another business or 2) a Chase Ink (regular) which still has 5X Office Supplies for your current business. With 2) you will be able to transfer out as long as your Ink Bold card is active.

gm
Guest
gm

So, the NetSpend card is also a debit card.

Assuming your NetSpend account hasn’t been closed down yet, you can use a debit card to purchase money orders from the post office for these prices: $0.01 to $500.00 for $1.15, $500.01 to $1,000.00 for $1.55. And NetSpend will charge you $2 for the PIN transaction.

Note: for any post office transaction over $3,000, you are required to fill out a form for which you’ll have to provide your SSN and two forms of Gov’t ID. No joking. Keep it below $3,000 and no such requirement. (For instance, I got two $1k money orders and another for $900.)

FYI: A NetSpend “money order” is actually a check where NetSpend guarantees that funds are available. I sent one to myself, made payable to me and it went through fine. Takes a week to arrive. Netspend charges $1 for a “money order.”

So, these are 2 options for cashing out. Cheaper to get the NetSpend not-really-a-money-order, but too easy for them to flag for closing an account. I’ll with postal money orders.

FrequentMiler
Guest

gm: Thanks for the update! Quite a few people who have bought money orders have been shut down. I expect that it will just be a matter of time in your case, but enjoy it while it lasts! That’s very interesting about the NetSpend money orders. I did understand that they were checks, but it never even occurred to me to send one to myself!

Stevedealin
Guest
Stevedealin

Has anyone else noticed that it takes a long while for Bill Pay transactions to post to your account? I paid my mortgage last week and it shows a debit on my loan but almost 3 business days later I still have the full available balance on my NetSpend card.

Stevedealin
Guest
Stevedealin

To follow-up on my prior post, I am concerned that Netspend will reverse the billpay transaction even though it went through with my mortgage company. My netspend account still shows I have the full balance available even though it has been 3 full business days. Has anyone else run into this issue?

KCal
Guest
KCal

Hey FM,

Great as usual! I am relatively new to this whole process, and was wondering if you know anything about Wells Fargo Prepaid cards. On their website it says that there is a $3 monthly maintenance fee ($36/year). There is a $5 load fee from a non-Wells fargo card, with a maximum load of $2,500. You get two free ATM withdrawals from Wells Fargo ATMs, and each additional ATM withdrawal is $1 from Wells Fargo. I believe the maximum you can take out is $500 per transaction.

This SEEMS like less work, and might even be cheaper, than NetSpend and Vanilla Reload cards. My question, of course: when you load a prepaid credit card like this do credit card companies/Wells Fargo classify this as a cash advance or a purchase? I know that when you buy Amex pre-paid cards, Amex classifies it as a purchase and not a cash advance. For reference, I am trying to meet the minimum spending requirement on my Amex SPG.

Thanks and have a great holiday!

-KCal

FrequentMiler
Guest

KCal: I just took a quick look at the Wells Fargo T&C. Very interesting! It does look like they allow funds to be loaded by credit card as you said. I don’t see anything one way or another about whether the loads will be considered cash advances. This is definitely worth testing. Thanks for bringing this up here! It won’t get 5X for Ink Bold owners, but it might be a great option for people trying to meet minimum spend on other cards.

Milezjunkie
Guest
Milezjunkie

Actually, if you can load from a credit card you could load any type of credit, including the Amex. I could only see doing that if the ATM fee was less. But being able to load a Visa could be helpful if you are trying to maximize a spending category on another card like the Freedom. My example is that both my wife and I have Freedom cards and Discover Cards. Both offer 5x and 5% at gas stations this quarter up to $1,500 per card. That’s $6K which is a lot but I can now buy One Vanilla $500 Visa cards at gas stations (bought two today). These can’t be cashed out at an ATM but if they could load this card and I could cash out it would be great. Paying $4.95 per $500 card still gives me a 4% return. Plus, there are other cards that this could help with…

KCal
Guest
KCal

I have started the test for the Wells Fargo Prepaid- you can do it all online. They DO NOT take Amex, but I am trying my Citi Thank You Premier. Checking to see if it posts as a cash advance or a purchase (I know Citi classifies Amex gift cards as cash advances). I think this is a really easy way to reach minimum spending requirements, not necessarily as a great way to maximize individual points (like the Ink Bold 5x).

Stevedealin
Guest
Stevedealin

As an update, Netspend reversed the billpay payment made to my mortgage company after nearly a week. The transaction shows as “NSF” on the mortgage side of things even though there is plenty of money on the card. These people are shady to say the least and I am through with them. On Wells Fargo prepaid, how about buying a prepaid Visa using Ink Bold at OD and then using that visa to load the Wells Fargo Prepaid? Still making about 3x after fees.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Stevedealin: Wow, that’s crazy. I’m really surprised they reversed the transaction. You might be better off simply sending yourself a check (see the Netspend Bill Pay feature).

Piecerte
Guest
Piecerte

I just ordered my Wells Fargo prepaid card. I funded the initial load with a Mio card. Worked fine. I initially tried to use a generic prepaid gift card but it wouldn’t work. The Wells card certainly has some interesting possibilities.

KCal
Guest
KCal

Can you load a Mio card with Amex? Does Citi code it as a cash advance if you load a Mio card with it?

Thanks!

Piecerte
Guest
Piecerte

A Mio requires cash or a prepaid vanilla reload network card (which can be purchased with am ex or other cc) or a debit card load at the point of sale at a vendor like Dollar General. I don’t think you can go directly from a cc to a Mio.

KCal
Guest
KCal

Thanks!

GM
Guest
GM

In addition to “$7,500.00 load over any 24‐hour period and up to $15,000 total” at any given time, they have an unwritten $15K load per 30 days rule. After 3 customer service calls when I had trouble loading (with a Vanilla reload from Office Depot), I was told of this nugget of a rule. The CSR claims that this limit is part of the Federal Anti-Money Laundering law. I’ve tried researching, but can’t seem to find that exact amount in any Fed regs. ??

KCal
Guest
KCal

Wells Fargo and/or Citi coded the credit card load on their prepaid card as a cash advance. Not really surprising given how Citi treats Amex gift cards.

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