Say No to AccountNow and You’ll Thank Us Later

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The AccountNow card says it’ll curb the power of regular credit cards. With the abundance of hidden fees and the seemingly irresistible temptation to “buy now, worry later,” credit cards have the power to make or break our financial health.’s prepaid debit card purports to control that insatiable thirst to spend while protecting users from sneaky annual, over-the-limit and other fees. But, unfortunately, the “cure” for credit card fees comes riddled with fees of its own.

Here at NerdWallet, we’ve done what we can to educate consumers on the real story behind the prepaid debit card. They claim to improve credit scores and shield you from the outrageous fees, but they’ve just turned out to be nothing more than the traditional debit card’s ugly (and very expensive) step cousin.

But, despite our various warnings, some people still want to give it a try, so we’d like to at least help you navigate the prepaid debit waters as safely as possible.

Tantalizing Temptations

The AccountNow Prepaid Debit card from Visa is a popular prepaid card, but one that should definitely be avoided. In addition to its claims about promoting responsible budgeting and other money saving tactics, the AccountNow card also advertises the standard “no credit check” and “no overdraft fees,” gimmicks often used to intensify a prepaid card’s allure.

Account Now also offers free check cashing (but only when using direct deposit) and emphasizes that everyone can join, even those listed on ChexSystems. But although they offer some rather enticing deals, the benefits are severely outweighed by their ridiculous fees.

There are two AccountNow prepaid cards available—the Classic card, for occasional users, and the Gold card, intended for frequent users. The Classic card comes with a $4.95 one-time set up fee and although the Gold card doesn’t have a set up fee, they stick you with a $9.95 monthly fee instead, and attempt to soften the blow by calling it a “Gold Privilege” fee. The Classic card doesn’t have a monthly fee but charges $1 per transaction, coming up about even with the Gold Card by the end of the month.

The lesser of the prepaid debit evils

If you really have your heart set on a prepaid debit card, you’re better off with the new American Express prepaid card in terms of fees. It doesn’t have a monthly fee, a sign up fee, or a replacement fee for lost cards (as opposed to AccountNow’s $15 replacement fee). It gives one free ATM withdrawal a month, and charges $2 per ATM use after that, compared with the AccountNow Gold’s $3.75 withdrawal fee.

But just because it’s better than the AccountNow doesn’t mean it is free of problems itself. American Express doesn’t offer free deposit/reloading with direct deposit (yet), so your deposits will cost you $4.95 with a Green Dot Money pack, unless you have a credit card or a checking account to make deposits (which makes a prepaid debit card more or less irrelevant). For all the media hype, the AmEx prepaid falls a little short of its goal of helping the unbanked. Plus, AmEx card can only be used where American Express is accepted, limiting your choices to about 4.5 million merchants. But still it manages to be cheaper than the Account Now cards for those without bank accounts.

Many look to prepaid cards to improve poor spending habits or to help revive an ailing credit score, but the truth is, if you want to make some real changes to your financial situation, a prepaid debit card won’t help. A prepaid debit (or really any debit) card won’t raise your credit score, no matter what you hear. Despite popular belief, there isn’t usually a credit check involved when getting a checking account, so a prepaid debit card isn’t the only option for those of you with poor credit. If you’re having credit trouble, you’re better off with a regular checking account or one of these credit cards specifically for those with bad credit.

  • ny user

    I have had this card for over 7 years with no problems. As far as gas purchases, they totally explained in the information provided at signup that an amount would be on hold until the merchant settles their credit card accounts which, can at times, take a few days. People need to research and read what they are signing up for. Ignorance is no defense.

    • BattleOverride85

      You’ve used it for seven years? Wow…all that time and you couldn’t get a bank account with a debit card? What’s with you people? I’m only here because of some scam job ad on CL regarding Account Now and upon seeing this page I see that the job is pure bullshit.

      But seriously tho….Seven years and no bank account? I’ve had the same bank account with Commerce Bank (now TD Bank due to merger) and I haven’t had any problems at all…with the same check card even. Ignorance is no defense to you, either. Nimrod.

      • ny user

        Mr. Dimrod-
        Not that its any of your business, I like this online account for some of my direct deposit as I pay most of my bills online. I just like the account, my savings is at a local bank. I did not feel like switching my information as I like the debit account I have – dont fix what aint broken. Im happy.

        • BattleOverride85

          wow….you’re like, the first person I’ve ever met that was actually happy getting ripped off with monthly fees from a prepaid card. That’s just…


    I have my pay check direct deposited to Account Now. i tried to use the card at the gas pump and The card was charged $126 twice. It has been a whole week and I have not received my money from Account Now. If you are reading this, this means that they have gotten you toop. Don’t use the card no more and withdraw all your money. This card is a rip off.

    • Lisa Marie Rink Gibson

      Account Now tells on their website to not use the card at the pump. It mentions you will have money held out of your account. It says to only use the card inside as DEBIT to prevent any money being withheld.. You would think they would add that small print to the cards.

  • recardo

    Stay away from this card total scam

  • Lindsay

    I just got an email saying I had a gold card coming in the mail, which I never signed up for. Both the automated customer service recording and the customer service representative I spoke to immediately asked for my social security number. No way in hell am I giving my personal information to a bunch of scammers.

  • Dou KnoMe

    I know of 8 different people plus myself who used Account Now for their tax refund because of the early delivery of the funds. Account Now accepted our tax returns and after about 4 days they suddenly blocked the cards. One person was in the middle of shopping when her card got blocked. They could not give an explanation as to why it was blocked only that documents were needed to confirm identity. We have sent these people our whole life documents and still no release of the funds. After they got our documents they proceeded to say they closed the account and sent the money back to the IRS and it would take 6 weeks for the IRS to get it. Mind you the IRS stated that Account Now was the 3rd recipient and they originally sent the money to University Bank. Account Now refuses to provide me with any more information. Even though they have my full identity and all of my money along with others. We are gathering other individuals who have been scammed by this company. Please email contact info to

  • Laura Colley

    Don’t never get one of these prepaid card account now is no good they rip uou off what’s 9.95 cent snd plus 4.95 you add money bad business never get this card be very careful who send you a prepaid card.bad , bad account now we want our money back you took from us $ 9.95

  • Sam Roberts Jr

    THank you so much folks…they sent me a”Gold” card with my name on it already…never heard of them but had me all set up….this card makes really nice gold flakes…LOL

  • Zachariah Lloyd

    I have had an AccountNow Gold card for some time now, and I used to need it to pay bills, but I do not use the card anymore, and have not used it in over a month, but they STILL took $9.95 from me for a monthly service fee, and put my balance on the card to negative because there was only $5 left on the account….
    I called them to cancel the account, and the card, so that they would not keep digging me a deeper hole every month, but was put on hold relentlessly during the conversation by the obviously foreign agent, which eventually led to use being disconnected while I was on hold the third time.
    I called back and FINALLY,got an agent who could actually speak clear English, and the call lasted 5 minutes. So, it all comes down to which agent you get on the phone, as to how long you will be inconvenienced. If you call, and get someone with a Middle Eastern, Asian, or Indian accent, HANG UP AND CALL BACK until you get an American, it can save you endless frustrations, and you can get what you wanted done, or better yet, CUT THE CARD UP WHEN IT ARRIVES!!

  • stephanie

    I used my card for tax refund and account now has frozen the remainder of my funds and claimed the IRS was the one holding it. Has anyone else had this happen and how do i get my money released.

    • jamelia

      They said they sent my funds back to the irs. . But the irs said they don’t have them..

  • Brooke

    I love my AccountNow. I’ve been using them for more than 5 years. Just two days ago, I thought I was supposed to get paid (my payday is delayed a day when Monday falls on a holiday, and I had completely forgotten). I went to the ATM to make a withdrawal and the money wasn’t there. I won’t be getting an overdraft fee for this mistake. I’ve never had any problems with AccountNow at all.