Those seeking a prepaid debit card have many options available to them, and ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit card is one such option, although one that will involve an assortment of rates and fees. This prepaid debit card product offers tiered levels of fee-based services, for those seeking an alternative to traditional banks. However, the card comes with more than two dozen fees and may have limited use beyond the states where its parent company operates.
ACE Cash Express primarily offers payday loans and other short-term consumer loans, check cashing, bill payments and other services to consumers in 22 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Like many short-term loan products, the companyâ€™s payday loans can carry astronomical interest rates and origination fees. In Minnesota, for example, ACE charges a staggering 684.64% APR on a 14-day term $100 loan.
In 2014, ACE Cash Express (the parent company associated with the card) was fined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for â€śpushing payday borrowers into a cycle of debtâ€ť through â€śillegal debt collection tactics.â€ť While ACE Cash Expressâ€™s headquarters arenâ€™t accredited by the Better Business Bureau, it does have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. There have been 212 complaints closed in the past three years, and the parent company holds a 1 Â˝ star rating, as averaged by 16 customers.
Its reputation as a payday lender isnâ€™t stellar, but the prepaid card offering is a distinct product, so weâ€™ll focus on that in this review.
While the card isnâ€™t charging the same fees and interest rates as the ACE Cash Express locations, savvy debit-card shoppers may want to read the fine print very closely regarding fees, collections and other possibly unexpected charges.
Get early access to your paycheck with direct deposit. As is typical with prepaid cards these days, those who enroll in direct deposit have early access to their paycheck â€“ up to two days faster â€“ if your employer participates.
Interest-earning savings. The card has one genuinely useful feature. Cardholders can open a savings account with a fairly decent interest rate. Balances up to $1,000 can earn 5% interest per year, with no required minimum balance. So, if you stash $1000 into the account, youâ€™ll earn $50 after a year. Any amount after $1000 earns a less-impressive 0.50% interest per year, which is lower than what you can find at many online banks these days. One thing to note: this rate has not increased in the past year, although savings account interest rates overall have increased.
Payback rewards. The Payback Rewards program offers discounts to various retailers and restaurants, which can result in a credit back to your ACE Elite cardholder account.
High load limits. You can load up to $15,000 on the card per 30-day period, or $7,500 per day.
No credit check required. The main selling point for prepaid debit cards like this one is they typically require no credit check. The Ace Elite Visa is no different.
|The ACE Elite Visa Prepaid card offers three tiers of plans:|
|ACE Elite Pay-As-You-Go Plan||No monthly fee, but it charges $1 transaction fee every time you swipe the card at retailers.|
|ACE Elite FeeAdvantage Plan||$9.95 per month, no transaction fees.|
|ACE Elite FeeAdvantage Plan with Direct Deposit||$5 monthly fee for cardholders who put a total of $500 ACH deposit(s) into their account every month.|
|ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card Fees|
|Transaction fee||$1 per transaction for the Pay-As-You-Go plan;no fee if you enroll in the $9.95/month FeeAdvantage Plan or the $5/month Direct Deposit plan.|
|Activation fee||If purchasing a card in a retail location, the retailer sets the price, but shouldnâ€™t be more than $9.95.|
|Reload fee||Free reload when itâ€™s an online transfer from another ACE Elite cardholder or direct deposit. Reloading with cash at a retailer, in person, may come with â€“ you guessed it â€“ a fee, set by the retailer.|
|Check deposit fee||Direct Deposit no fee;Check deposit fees not listed, and is claimed to be a â€śthird party fee.â€ť|
|ATM fees||$2.50 per withdrawal, plus ATM fees
$1.00 ATM Decline Fee
$4.95 International ATM fee, plus ATM fees and Foreign Transaction Surcharge of 3.5% of the U.S. dollar amount
|Card replacement fee||$3.95 per card, plus $0 (7-10 business days) to $25 (1-2 business days) card delivery fee.|
|Purchase transactions||$1/each Pay-As-You-Go;No fee for those in FeeAdvantage plans|
|PIN purchase transactions||$2/each Pay-As-You-Go;No fee for those in FeeAdvantage plans|
|Account maintenance fee||$5.95 per month when the card hasnâ€™t been used for purchases, withdrawals, load transactions or balance inquiries in 90 days. This fee is applied instead of the plan fee if enrolled
in any FeeAdvantage Plan.
There are few ways to avoid heavy-duty fees at ATMs ($2.50 per transaction, plus local ATM fees). For example, those enrolled in one of the FeeAdvantage programs can withdraw up to $300 per day, but only at ACE Cash Express locations. You can get cash back at retailers using your PIN, although that will also incur fees, unless in a FeeAdvantage tiered plan. Youâ€™ll also pay a $1 fee for any declined transactions, of course.
One â€śbenefitâ€ť that may be more of a net negative: signing up for the optional overdraft protection feature, which gives one free overdraft â€śpurchase cushionâ€ť of up to $10, a 24-hour grace period, then charges $15 per overdraft, up to three per month. Those trying to adhere to sound financial management might skip the feature, as even the ACE states in a notice, â€śthis is an expensive service and should not be relied upon to meet your financial needs.â€ť
Thereâ€™s also a general lack of straightforward information about fees. The â€śFunds Transfer Feeâ€ť canâ€™t be viewed until you sign up and log into your Online Account Center, and is determined by â€śa variety of factors.â€ť Third-party fees not disclosed include a online bill pay fees and any mobile check load fee, which is also determined by a third-party service provider.
More ominously, all these fees with the ACE Elite Visa can lead to a negative balance, and any additional funds will go towards paying off fees, first.
If the plan makes changes to fees, youâ€™ll receive a letter such as this, which is coy about sharing what, exactly, those fees might be. And thereâ€™s an arbitration clause youâ€™re opting into when signing up for the card â€” make sure to read the details.
On the positive side, there arenâ€™t fees for online inquiries, direct deposit or account-to-account transfer via the website. There is no minimum balance, deposit requirements or monthly charges for the Pay-As-You-Go Plan (as long as you continue to use the cardâ€¦or thereâ€™s a $5.95/month maintenace fee). Avoiding ATM fees involve visiting one of the 950 ACE Cash Express locations, which are only available in 22 states and D.C.
The mobile app is available for iPhones through the Apple App Store, where it has a 3.4 rating with 24 Ratings. Android device owners can use Google Play, where the app has 4 out of 5 stars.
The app allows you to check your transaction history and account balances for the prepaid and savings accounts, send money to others (with ACE accounts), find reload locations and upload checks. However, the check load service may have an assortment of varying fees attached.
According to reviews, iPhone and Android users have experienced a difficult time uploading checks, but the app developer appears to be responsive to complaints on both platforms.
Next, youâ€™ll need to activate your card, and verify your identity. Activation requires a Social Security number, name, address and date of birth. Residents of Vermont are not eligible for an ACE debit card.
Then, activate the card online or by calling a toll-free number. Next, add money at one of the ACE Cash Express locations, or at a NetSpend location, of which there are apparently 130,000, although the NetSpend websiteâ€™s location-finder appears to be nonfunctional at times.
Those who might benefit from this card include individuals who live in D.C. or one of the states ACE Cash Express operates in;those who cannot get a bank account or another fee-free or low-fee prepaid debit card. The above individual would want to set up a direct-deposit feature, to lower the monthly fee structure.
Another potential customer: someone desiring a savings-account offering a good interest rate (for savings up to $1000), and who can continue to regularly add to that savings account, and ward off the $5.95 inactivity fee. As well, individuals interested in ACE Elite Visaâ€™s fee-free mobile-app options, such as balance and transaction mobile-alerts.
Overall, those seeking an alternative to traditional banks would be better off looking into prepaid debit cards like Bluebird that are more straightforward about costs, and charge far fewer fees.
Because individuals who are money-management-challenged may be surprised at just how quickly fees can rack up with the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid debit card, and how the card can continue to charge fees until the debit cardholder ends up with a negative balance. This means debt on your debit card.