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ACE Elite Prepaid Debit Card Review

Oct. 1, 2018
Banking, Prepaid Debit Cards
ACE Elite Prepaid Debit Card Review
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NerdWallet rating: 2.0/5.0

Where ACE Elite shines:

  • Interest-bearing savings feature.
  • Free withdrawals at ACE Cash Express locations for some cardholders.
  • Direct deposits can be paid up to two days faster.

Where ACE Elite falls short:

  • High monthly fee unless you have direct deposit.
  • Overdraft fees, which most prepaid debit cards don’t have.
  • No quick way to reload money manually.

Where ACE Elite shines:

  • Interest-bearing savings feature.
  • Free withdrawals at ACE Cash Express locations for some cardholders.
  • Direct deposits can be paid up to two days faster.

Where ACE Elite falls short:

  • High monthly fee unless you have direct deposit.
  • Overdraft fees, which most prepaid debit cards don’t have.
  • No quick way to reload money manually.

Where ACE Elite shines:

  • Interest-bearing savings feature.
  • Free withdrawals at ACE Cash Express locations for some cardholders.
  • Direct deposits can be paid up to two days faster.

Where ACE Elite falls short:

  • High monthly fee unless you have direct deposit.
  • Overdraft fees, which most prepaid debit cards don’t have.
  • No quick way to reload money manually.

 

The bottom line

ACE Cash Express

at ACE Cash Express

The ACE Elite prepaid debit card may cost more than it’s worth. The card, managed by NetSpend and issued by MetaBank, has a few extra services that aren’t on many other prepaid cards, such as an interest-bearing savings account, but the card fees add up.
 Best if: You can’t open a bank account, you receive direct deposits, and you can take advantage of the savings feature.


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 monthly, discounted monthly and pay-as-you-go. And they all carry fees.

Upsides:

  • Free to get the card online. And the sign-up process is straightforward. You need your Social Security number when you sign up, but there’s no credit check.
  • Discount on monthly fee. If you have at least $500 in direct deposits monthly (from payroll or government benefits), you can be part of the $5 FeeAdvantage Plan that costs $60 a year.
  • Up to two days faster for direct deposit. Companies and government agencies may send your money earlier than the official payday, but banks usually wait to process funds. ACE Elite can process direct deposits faster, but it depends on whether they receive your money early.

Downsides:

  • High monthly fee. Prepaid debit cards tend to have a monthly fee around $5, on average, but ACE Elite’s fee is $9.95.
  • Other general account fees. If you stop using the ACE Elite card for 90 days or request a check for a remaining card balance, there’s a $5.95 fee.
  • Fee to buy the card in stores. The price varies by retailer, but you can pay up to $9.95.

Plan reviewed for rating: ACE Elite FeeAdvantage Plan

Purchases and withdrawals: 1.5/5.0

You get a few common features — Visa merchant acceptance, cash back at retail checkouts — but this card lacks many free services for purchases and withdrawals.

Upsides:

  • Free withdrawals for some customers. Cardholders who receive direct deposits can withdraw up to $300 per day for free at over 1,000 ACE Cash Express stores.
  • Monthly plans don’t have purchase fees. Most prepaid debit cards don’t charge fees for using the plastic at stores, but ACE Elite’s pay-as-you-go plan does — $1 per purchase. The card’s two monthly plans, however, keep purchases free.

Downsides:

  • No free-withdrawal network for any customers. To withdraw cash at any ATM or over the counter at a bank costs $2.50 each time.
  • Additional fee for declined transactions. If an ATM withdrawal, online transfer or pre-authorized payment is declined because it’d exceed available funds, there’s a $1 fee.
  • Has optional overdraft program. A big selling point to many prepaid debit cards is not having overdraft fees if you dip your account negative. ACE Elite, like other NetSpend-managed cards, has an overdraft program with $15 overdraft fees and a maximum of three per month. This is cheaper than most banks’ overdraft programs but not ideal to use if you need help budgeting.

» Learn more about how prepaid debit cards work

Plan reviewed for rating: ACE Elite FeeAdvantage Plan

Reloads: 3.5/5.0

Upside:

  • Three free reload options. Direct deposits, online transfers from another ACE Elite card and mobile check deposits with 10-day processing are available with no fee. Transfers from bank accounts may be free, but it depends on the bank.

Downsides:

  • No free way to add money manually that’s quick. Online transfers take days to process and the option for processing mobile check deposits within minutes costs 2% or more per check amount.
  • No free-reload network. Cash reloads at retailers in NetSpend’s reload network, such as CVS Pharmacy and 7-Eleven, are instant but carry a fee, typically $3.95, that varies by store. Some locations don’t charge, but many do.

Other services: 4.0/5.0

Upsides:

  • Has savings account with 5% APY for first $1,000. This annual percentage yield is high, but after the first $1,000, 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 the same for the next. If you pay a year’s worth of monthly fees, though, that cost alone might outweigh whatever you make in interest.
  • Free online bill pay.
  • Extended customer service hours. You can call a representative from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central time on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Downsides:

  • No check writing.
  • Some fees when calling customer service. If you ask for help making a transfer between accounts or want to check your balance, there’s a fee.

Better options elsewhere

ACE Cash Express

at ACE Cash Express

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 there are more affordable prepaid debit cards.