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Netspend’s prepaid debit cards are expensive alternatives to a checking account. They're easy to get, and there’s no banking history or credit check required to open, but Netspend makes you choose between paying a monthly fee or paying a fee every time you make a purchase. Either way, you might spend more in fees in a year than you could earn in interest from your card's savings account. There's a convenient nationwide network of more than 130,000 locations for cash reloads, but it isn’t free and there’s no free access to ATMs.
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A prepaid debit card is a type of payment card that only lets you spend the money you load onto the card. They don’t help you build credit. Like a debit card, a prepaid card works at any merchant that accepts its payment network, such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express. It’s safer and more convenient than using cash. Usually the prepaid card has a mobile app to deposit checks and transfer money. Learn more on our .
Unlike checking accounts, prepaid debit cards may lack some services such as free ATM or branch networks, checks, among others. If that doesn’t work for you, see our list of . Or, if you’ve struggled with banks before, check out .
Prepaid debit cards nearly always have FDIC insurance, which keeps your funds protected in case the issuer goes bankrupt. Only financial institutions can have FDIC insurance, so a prepaid card is either managed by a bank or by a prepaid card company that partners with a bank to offer that insurance. You must register your prepaid debit card with your name and other identification information in order to be eligible for FDIC insurance and other protections.