ACE Elite Prepaid Debit Card
The ACE Elite prepaid debit card, managed by NetSpend and issued by MetaBank, can cost more than it’s worth. You get a few extra services that aren’t on many other prepaid cards, such as an interest-bearing savings account, but you pay the price in fees.
The bottom line
- Steep monthly fee that can’t be waived.
- No free way to reload quickly.
- Has overdraft program with high fee.
- Free withdrawals at ACE Cash Express locations for some cardholders.
|Purchases and withdrawals|
NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of these four categories: general fees and features (40%), purchases and withdrawals (35%), reloads (15%) and other services (10%).
Read on for more details about the ACE Elite’s fees and services.
General fees and features
2.0 / 5.0
There are three plans for the ACE Elite card: standard, discounted and pay-as-you-go. Monthly fees on the standard FeeAdvantage Plan come to $120 a year, but that cost drops by half on the discounted plan. The pay-as-you-go plan has no monthly fees; instead, you pay a fee every time you make a purchase.
There are also fees if you stop using the ACE Elite card or if you request a check for a remaining balance.
The fee for buying the card varies by retail store, but it’s free to get online — a fact that the company doesn’t advertise. “There is no posting or disclosure of the zero charge, but when you do apply online, you are not charged,” says Eric Norrington, senior vice president of ACE Cash Express.
Purchases and withdrawals
1.5 / 5.0
You get a few standard features — Visa merchant acceptance, cash back at retail checkouts — but this card doesn’t offer a free withdrawal network for all its cardholders. Those on the monthly plan with direct deposit can get free withdrawals at ACE Cash Express stores. But getting money at any bank branch or ATM results in one fee from NetSpend and possibly a second one from the bank or ATM operator you use.
Since ACE Elite is a NetSpend card, there’s an optional overdraft program that lets NetSpend cover purchases you can’t otherwise afford. That leads to the highest of all the card’s fees, though.
3.5 / 5.0
Besides direct deposit, you have three options for reloading money onto the card, but there’s no free way to add money instantly or even within a day. Online transfers from a PayPal or bank account take days to process, and free mobile check deposits take 10 business days to clear.
Cash reloads at retailers in NetSpend’s reload network, such as CVS Pharmacy and 7-Eleven, are instant but carry a fee that varies by store.
4.0 / 5.0
The card has a savings account, offered through MetaBank, with a generous 5.00% annual percentage yield — but only up to the first $1,000. After that, the rate drops to 0.50% APY for the remaining balance. This means you can earn $50 in interest for your first $1,000, then $5 for your next $1,000 and so on. If you pay a year’s worth of monthly fees, though, that cost alone might outweigh whatever you make in interest.
There’s a free online bill payment option, too, but no check writing. Checking your balance at ATMs or over the phone will cost you fees, as will asking customer service to help you transfer money.
Better options elsewhere
With the ACE Elite, you get many of the same services that other prepaid debit cards offer but you’ll be hit with several fees. Whether you choose a monthly or a pay-as-you-go plan, you can’t avoid them. If you have direct deposit, you can cut down on some costs. But know that there are more affordable prepaid debit cards.
NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of these four categories: general fees and features (40%), purchases and withdrawals (35%), reloads (15%) and other services (10%). Factors we consider, depending on the category, include fees, ATM access, reload options, breadth of merchant acceptance, account features and limits, consumer-facing tech and customer service. Because prepaid debit cards help to manage money without using credit, any overdraft program gets penalized under the “purchases and withdrawals” category. Several Nerds contribute to prepaid debit card ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.
What the ratings mean:
— Among the very best
— Very good; only minor caveats for most customers
— Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers
— Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you
— Poor; proceed with great caution
(or below) — Best to avoid