Netspend cards are prepaid debit cards that allow cardholders to make purchases as they would using traditional debit cards. Netspend cards can be used internationally. They are accepted at any location that accepts a debit Visa or Mastercard, depending on the cards brand.

Netspend is a TSYS® Company and a registered agent of Axos Bank, The Bancorp Bank, MetaBank, and Republic Bank & Trust Company. According to its website, over 10 million customers have utilized Netspend’s services and it offers more than 130,000 reload locations in America.

Prepaid cards are a popular mode of financial transaction in the United States. An article by Consumer Reports stated that according to The Nilson Report, "Americans charged $557 billion, accounting for 9% of all payment-card purchases made at merchants in 2016, the latest year for which information is available."

With figures like these, it is not surprising that U.S. customers are taking their prepaid cards along with them on vacations abroad. Travelers planning post-tax season vacations can even elect to have their federal tax returns direct deposited to a Netspend prepaid card.

Key Takeaways

  • Netspend offers several prepaid debit cards that can be used as a low-cost option for purchases anywhere that a branded Visa or Mastercard are accepted.
  • Netspend offers both pay-as-you-go and a monthly fee plan for all card users.
  • Like many card providers, most Netspend cards have a 3.5% foreign transaction fee on every transaction.

Should You Use Your Netspend Card Overseas?

Netspend debit cards can be used at millions of locations worldwide. Prepaid debit cards are often a wise decision for international travel. If a prepaid debit card is stolen or compromised, the account owner can call customer service immediately to deactivate the card. Travelers can receive money on their cards via friends and family who are also Netspend card holders, and Netspend cardholders can send or receive funds via Western Union to over 200 countries. It is also possible to use the Netspend Mobile Check Load feature via the Netspend mobile app to deposit checks into your Netspend account.

However, there are downsides to using it when traveling abroad. For example, many Netspend debit cards do not include the newer technology being added to most cards, such as the chip feature. Most European transaction terminals have been converting to this technology to reduce theft and fraud. Also, there are no Netspend reload locations outside the United States.

Fees and Charges When Abroad

Fees and charges for different types of Netspend cards can vary. To use the card, customers choose between either the pay-as-you-go plan or the monthly plan. The pay-as-you-go plan charges no monthly fee, opting instead for per transaction fees. The individual transaction fee is $2.00. On a monthly plan, customers pay $9.95 per month with no transactional fees domestically. Other charges can apply to both plans, including fees for ATM withdrawals, cash reloads, and balance inquiries.

There are several additional fees involved with using the card internationally. When buying standard items or services overseas, the foreign transaction fee is 3.5% of the U.S. dollar amount. When withdrawing from an international ATM, there is a charge of $4.95 per withdrawal, in addition to the ATM's own transaction fee. International balance inquiries are $0.50 each and a declined transaction internationally will cost $1.00.

Are There International Prepaid Debit Cards?

International banks and financial services companies do issue prepaid debit cards like those found in the U.S. but are generally only available to residents of the country where the bank is located. However, since U.S.-based prepaid debit cards can be used overseas there is no need to obtain an international prepaid card when considering foreign travel.

The Bottom Line

International card transaction costs can be expensive regardless of the card you use. When traveling abroad, Netspend prepaid debit cards can be a good way to avoid overspending and provide a safety net if a card is lost or stolen. Money can be added via Western Union or the Netspend mobile app.

Generally, foreign transaction fees and international ATM withdrawal charges from Netspend are comparable to other debit card providers. All international travelers may also encounter a currency conversion fee from an ATM or merchant. Moreover, keep in mind, some stores, restaurants, and hotels may not be able to process charges if the cards aren’t equipped with a chip transactor.