Not The Best Bank - Prepaid Credit Card

The purpose of this blog is to write about issues which will help you answer the question: what is the best bank for me? However, today, I'm going to leave that aside and look at something that is not associated with one particular bank at all - the NetSpend Prepaid Credit Card.

What Is A Prepaid Credit Card?

In particular, what is a NetSpend Prepaid Credit Card - it is a pay as you go credit card. It's created by a stand-alone company, not one of the traditional banks. So it's not going to help you decide which is the best bank for you - in fact using one means you're not using a bank at all!

It basically works like a normal credit card (or debit card), except that it's not associated with a bank. You have to add credit at a reload center, which are located at retailers, check cashing locations and supermarkets (such as Safeway), then you use it as you would a normal credit card.

So to sum that up again, it's just like a normal credit card (or debit card), but it's not tied to a bank account, you have to load money onto the card.

Personally, I like to think of the NetSpend card as a prepaid debit card, not credit card, but because it's a Visa debit card (or MasterCard debit card) you can use it in the same manner you would use a credit card - except that you can only use the prepaid amount, you can't actually use credit. So it's not really a credit card!

So Why Use A Prepaid Credit Card?

Well for me, the best reason is for buying things online. There are many things you can buy on the Internet, using a credit card, but there's always the (admittedly small) danger of having your details stolen by a computer virus, then finding your money disappearing from your account (although you should be covered by Visa if this happens).

Anyway, there's no problem if it's a prepaid credit card! Buying something worth $500? Put $500 on the card and buy it. If someone gets the details and tries to use it, the balance will be $0, so they won't be able to use it!

Of course there are many people who have trouble getting approved for a credit card. Often, these people are only blocked because of a problem long ago in their past, for which they are still being penalised. If you're unfortunately in this situation, a prepaid credit card may be the solution for you. It's not really credit, but at least you be able to get a card that you can use whenever purchases are most conveniently made via credit card.

Is NetSpend Trustworthy?

Well, don't ask me for an answer, go Google it! I've seen some very positive reviews, but I've also quite a few negative ones too. Be careful, do some research! It's a great idea in principle, but don't get caught out.

Are There Fees For NetSpend?

Sure, there are fees for everything these days! Don't take these numbers as gospel, but it costs about $4.95 to reload the card and about $1 to $1.50 per use (for most transaction). But then again, most banks will hit you with bank fees, so there may not be that much difference.

Anyway, that's all for today. Next time, I'll revert to something that's more closely tied with deciding which is the best bank for you.

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Which Is The Best Bank For Me - Considering Location

Location, location, location. That’s the mantra for real estate, but it’s also something that needs to be considered when deciding which is the best bank for you

It’s all very well to look which banks have the best loans and which banks have the lowest fees, etc. Sure that’s important, and I’ll discuss each of those in more detail later, but choosing a great bank is no good if you can’t access it easily!

In the city where I live, there is one small bank that has a very strong reputation as having the best deals on interest rates, home loans, fees,  etc. When you compare it to other banks, it wins hands downs. Great right? So everyone must use it? Nope.

The problem is that it only has a couple of offices and they’re all in the city center. If I want to go into the branch to pick up a new card, make a transaction, or even just ask a question or sort out a problem, I have to face a 40 minute train ride into the city. I personally chose a worse home loan than I could have got at this bank, because it was just too far away.

Of course, a lot of things can be done over the phone, or through the post, but being able to walk into the bank on those occasions when it’s necessary is extremely important.

A related issue is ATM location. How many ATMs do they have and where are the ATMs located? 

I may have been tempted by the bank with a great home loan, despite the fact that I couldn’t get into the branch easily, but what really killed the deal was that the bank had no ATMs near where I lived. If they did, then it may have been worth considering them as the best bank for me. However, without being able to withdraw cash from an ATM near me, I just couldn’t consider them.

One other thing to consider with ATM location, is that some banks are part of ATM networks. You can use any ATM in the network, even if it belongs to another bank. Be careful of this, because many banks will let you use another bank’s ATM, but then charge a fee for doing so!

Of course, location is not important if you’re considering using an online bank, with internet banking only and no physical locations. But that’s a topic for another time. If you’re not after an online bank, then when deciding which is the best bank for you, make sure you find a bank with a convenient location. 

Personally I find the convenience worth paying a little extra on fees etc. Think of all the other things in your life that you spend money on purely for convenience. Choosing a bank with a convenient location is surely worth it.

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