ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card review: Should you keep it up your sleeve?

Woman presenting her prepaid card to pay at a restaurant barImage: Woman presenting her prepaid card to pay at a restaurant bar

In a Nutshell

The ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card offers the chance to earn interest on savings, get your money faster through direct deposits, and load lots of money onto your card thanks to its high limits. But there’s no quick way to manually reload money for free, and the long list of fees can add up — though you can cut down on the monthly membership costs by loading at least $500 onto the card every month via direct deposit.
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Pros Cons
Some fees waived with direct deposit More than 25 potential fees, including a monthly fee
Interest-bearing savings feature No quick way to manually reload money for free
Faster access to paychecks for some cardholders through direct deposit  
High load limits  

What you need to know about the ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card

The ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card offers a handful of useful features, but it comes with a long list of fees that are common among prepaid debit cards and hard to avoid.

Loading and withdrawal costs depend on location

The ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card offers several options for loading your card with automatic or online transfers. This card comes with a high load-limit of up to $15,000 per 30-day period, or $7,500 per day, via direct deposits, online transfers from another ACE Elite card, and certain mobile check deposits. Better yet, all these options charge no fee when you reload.

But you may pay a fee up to $3.95 to reload at other retailers within the network of NetSpend, the company that manages ACE Elite’s cards. If you need to load cash onto a card often, this one might not be your best bet.

And cash withdrawals come with limits — up to $940 per day from an ATM or $5,000 a day at a bank counter — plus a $2.50 fee per transaction. Cardholders who receive direct deposit can withdraw up to $100 per day for free at more than 950 ACE Cash Express locations nationwide.

Before getting a card, it might be useful to check ACE’s location finder to see which locations are the most accessible to you. If you can’t use one of the locations that doesn’t charge fees for loading and withdrawals, you might be better off with another card.

Additional benefits with direct deposit

Enrolling in direct deposit comes with several benefits. There’s no fee to use it, and it can even help cut the card’s monthly membership fee from $9.95 to $5 when you use direct deposit to receive at least $500 per month.

Direct deposit can also help you get paycheck or government benefits deposited to the card up to two days earlier than your regular pay day. Your employer will need to participate in the program, but this feature can help if bills are due and you’re trying to bridge the gap between paychecks.

A closer look at this card’s fees

There’s no fee to get an ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card online, but once you have it, you’ll see plenty of additional charges.

This card might saddle you with more than 25 fees, including a monthly fee of $9.95, which is reduced to $5 if you link direct deposit. You could opt for a Pay-As-You-Go plan with no monthly fee instead, but you’ll pay a fee on every transaction if you do.

We’ve listed some notable fees below. But you should read the cardholder agreement to find out about all the potential fees you might pay with this card, how these fees work and when they might apply to you.

ATM fees

  • $2.50 per domestic ATM withdrawal, plus the potential for additional fees from that ATM
  • $1 ATM decline fee
  • $4.95 international ATM fee, plus foreign transaction surcharge of 3.5% of the amount you withdraw and the potential for additional fees from that ATM

Balance inquiry fee

  • No fee via customer service phone call, online account center, or email or text alerts
  • 50 cents at an ATM

Card-replacement fee

  • $3.95 per card, plus a delivery fee of up to $25

Inactivity fee

  • $5.95 per month if there are funds in the account and there’s no activity for 90 days

Monthly fee

  • Pay-As-You-Go plan: $0
  • Monthly plan: $9.95
  • Reduced monthly plan: $5 if you direct deposit at least $500 onto the card every month

Purchase and transaction fees

  • Pay-As-You-Go Plan: $1 per transaction when you sign and $2 per transaction when you use a PIN
  • Monthly plans: No fee for both signature and PIN purchases

Reload fees

  • No fee when loading the card with direct deposit, an online transfer from another ACE Elite cardholder or a regular mobile deposit
  • Up to $3.95 at other NetSpend Reload Network locations

Other features of the ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card

Earn interest on savings

Cardholders can open a savings account with ACE that earns 5% annual percentage yield, or APY, on balances up to $1,000, which is handy if you don’t have a traditional savings account.

If you’re able to keep $1,000 in the account, you’ll earn $50 in interest after a year. But any amount above $1,000 earns a less-impressive 0.50%.

If you’d like to use this feature and you have more than $1,000 to save, you might want to consider maximizing the interest on your first $1,000 with the ACE Elite card and then open a higher-yielding savings account for the rest.

A chance for cash back

The ACE Elite Visa® Prepaid Debit Card is part of the NetSpend payment network, which offers cash back rewards on certain types of purchases with your card via their Payback Rewards feature. But the same offers don’t appear for everyone, and you’ll need to activate specific offers before you receive rewards for those purchases.

You should also keep in mind that these cash rewards might not balance out the fees you pay on those same purchases (or on the money you’ll have to reload to build your account back up). If you’re looking for a way to get rewards on purchases you already know you need to make, then Payback Rewards can be a nice feature. But they’re probably not worth it if you find yourself going beyond your budget just because you’re earning rewards.

Who this card is good for

The ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Debit Card could be a good fit for people who can avoid the more expensive monthly fee by receiving direct deposits of at least $500 every month and can take advantage of some of the cheaper options for loading and withdrawing money from the card.

For instance, if you plan to reload the card at a retailer in the NetSpend network, make sure you have easy access to one of the locations where you don’t have to pay loading and withdrawal fees.

While ACE doesn’t require a credit check, which is appealing to many prepaid cardholders, you’ll still need to supply personal details when you apply. These include your name, address, date of birth and government ID number, and the card issuer may also ask to see your driver’s license.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

We’ve taken a hard look at some of the other prepaid debit cards out there so you can compare their fees and other important features.

We also recommend considering these other options.

About the author: Kim Porter is a writer and editor who has written for AARP the Magazine, Credit Karma,, U.S. News & World Report, and more. Her favorite topics include maximizing credit card rewards and budgeting. Wh… Read more.