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AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Debit Card Review: High Fees Make This Card a Last Resort

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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accountnow prepaid debit

AccountNow is marketed as a prepaid debit card that is safer than cash, easy to load and use, and an alternative to a traditional checking account. But a MagnifyMoney review finds AccountNow’s Gold Visa Prepaid Card carries fees that may make it too prohibitively expensive for most people to use.

The fees associated with this card make it a risky bet for cash-strapped consumers looking for a checking account alternative. While it’s free to signup and activate the card, the monthly maintenance fee ($9.95/month) alone adds up to $119.40 per year. The card has also received quite a few complaints from cardholders with the Better Business Bureau, which raises a red flag.

In this review, we’ll go over the features of the AccountNow prepaid debit card, including the pros and cons. We’ll also get to the bottom of the fee structure and expose any hidden fees this card may have.

Why you should use prepaid debit cards

If you’re worried about overspending or you have a poor history with traditional bank accounts, prepaid debit cards can be an ideal alternative. Prepaid debit cards work similar to bank-issued cards because you can deposit and withdraw money and use the card to make purchases.

However, since you can only spend what you have loaded onto the card, it eliminates the risk of overdrafts and spending more than you can afford.

It’s important to know that not all prepaid debit cards are created equally. There are dozens of options to choose from and some cards carry fees that can quickly become expensive.

Overview of the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card

With the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, you can add money to your card through a variety of different methods, shop everywhere and access thousands of different ATMs, send money and pay bills, and earn discounts and rewards.

Fees

While the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card may help you avoid overdraft fees that traditional banks have, there are many different fees to consider before signing up. These fees include:

  • Monthly service charge of $9.95
  • ATM withdrawal fees
    • U.S. ATM withdrawals – $2.50 per transaction
    • Non-U.S. ATM withdrawals – $4.95 per transaction
  • Teller cash withdrawal – 3% of amount withdrawn
  • Balance inquiry at ATMs – $1.50
  • Reload at retail locations – up to $4.95 (varies by retailer)
  • Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit fee (charged each time funds are withdrawn from your card account using your account and routing number) – $2.50 per transaction
  • Monthly paper statements – $1 per statement
  • Additional debit card – $10
  • Expedited shipping of replacement card – $25
  • Expedited Bill Pay service – $9.95 (whenever you request to have your funds delivered 1-4 business days faster using the Bill Pay service)
  • Foreign currency conversion – 3% of total transaction amount

According to AccountNow’s listing with the Better Business Bureau, they have hundreds of customer complaints, and many of them are complaints about the fees associated with this prepaid card.

Most customers complained that AccountNow didn’t disclose any of their fees when they signed up and the fees were very inconvenient. Imagine needing to withdraw cash from an ATM or wanting to expedite their Bill Pay service and being faced with an extra fee.

A quality prepaid debit card shouldn’t cost you much money each month.

Direct Deposit

While AccountNow states you can get your paycheck up to two days earlier when you sign up for direct deposit, that is not a guarantee.

How soon you receive your paycheck depends on your employer’s payment processing system and how soon they notify the bank of direct deposit paychecks. Prepaid card holders with AccountNow do receive account and routing numbers to set up direct deposit with an employer, but you will have to verify with your specific employer to make sure you can set up direct deposit. Speaking with them directly may also give you a better idea about how soon you’ll receive your funds.

Options to Load Money onto Your Card

Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is free to set up, and you can get paid up to two days faster (depending on your employer’s payroll process and timing). When you sign up for direct deposit, you may also qualify for a $15 bonus.

Use a Loading Network

You can also add cash by using a cash load network like Green Dot’s MoneyPak and Reload at the Register, Western Union, Visa ReadyLink, or MoneyGram. You can find many of these loading networks at locations like Walmart, 7-Eleven, CVS, Kmart, Walgreens, UPS, and more.

With any of these methods, your money will be available within 30 minutes. However, it’s important to keep in mind some stores may charge a small fee to load your card with one of these networks.

Using MoneyGram may be the most affordable option because most stores that offer MoneyGram only charge $3.95 to load your card.

Deposit a Check

If you have a government, payroll, or personal check, you can deposit it for free from your smartphone by using the Ingo Money App. When you use the app to deposit a check, funds are available immediately for a small fee or within 10 days for free.

Making Purchases and Withdrawing Money

You can use your AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card to make purchases anywhere Visa cards are accepted. You can use your card to shop online, reserve rental cars, pay for travel, and more.

AccountNow has a Visa Zero Liability policy. As long as you carry this card, it protects you from unauthorized purchases that can occur as a result of identity theft.

When it comes to withdrawing cash from your card, you can select any ATM, but you may be subject to a fee.

To reduce ATM fees, AccountNow suggests visiting surcharge-free ATMs, or you can request cash back when making purchases at the store.

Options to Send Money and Pay Bills

Paying bills is easy with the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card because cardholders can simply log on to their bill company’s online portal and enter their card number to pay bills online, or they can use the AccountNow Bill Pay feature to plan ahead and create a list of monthly bills and the due dates so they can be automatically paid each month.

Discounts and Rewards

If you set up direct deposit, you can get $15 credited to your account. In order to qualify for this offer, within six months after being approved for your AccountNow prepaid card, you must have at least $500 deposited into your account via direct deposit for two consecutive months.

AccountNow also has a refer-a-friend program where you can earn $20 and your friend can earn $10 when they sign up for an account using your referral code and add at least $10 to their card within 60 days of applying and signing up.

How to Get Approved

To open an account for a prepaid debit card with AccountNow, you need to be at least 18 years old. You can go to their website to sign up online or call the company at 866-925-2036 to sign up by phone.

The application process is free, and you need the following information: your name, phone number, email, address, mailing address (not a P.O. box), and Social Security number.

AccountNow also states on their website there is a 100% approval rate (subject to verification), and there are no credit checks or activation fees.

How to Access Your Account

Once you open an account and receive your prepaid Visa card, you can go to the Customer Center to view your account balance, transaction details, and user information.

You can also get information about your account on your cell phone via SMS alerts. Carrier message and data rates may apply, but you can set up automatic notifications to receive text messages any time money is deposited into your account.

Fine Print

The terms of this card come with quite a bit of fine print, and you’ll want to review all of it before opening an account.

Fees

Applying for and activating your card is free. It takes 5-7 days for your card to arrive after you sign up. There is no minimum balance requirement, but there is a monthly fee of $9.95, which is high compared to other leading prepaid cards. AccountNow also provides free monthly statements, but charges $1 for paper statements.

Loading Money onto Your Card and Making Withdrawals

The maximum daily limit is $10,000 for direct deposit and $1,500 for cash loads. Third-party money transfer services used to load funds to your card may have their own daily, weekly, or monthly limits on the frequency or amount of cash you can load.

AccountNow encourages cardholders to view their specific cardholder agreement for specific details.

There is a daily limit on how much you can withdraw from your card as well. AccountNow says these limits may vary and recommends cardholders refer to their specific cardholder agreement for more details.

Transaction fees and usage limits can also change without prior notice, except as required by law.

Using Bill Pay

Cardholders can make payments to anyone in the U.S and U.S. territories. However, AccountNow discourages people from making the following payments:

  • Tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service or any state or other government agency
  • Court-ordered payments, such as alimony or child support
  • Payments to insurance companies

Fees may apply for expedited requests.

If you are setting up automatic Bill Pay, you can choose from the following options:

  • Weekly
  • Every other week (payment will be made 14 days apart)
  • Twice a month (your first payment will be the same day every month, with the second payment 15 days later)
  • Monthly
  • Every two months
  • Every three months
  • Every six months

Pros and Cons

Pro: 100% approval rate and no credit check as long as you can verify your identity.

Con: Monthly fee of $9.95.

Pro: No minimum balance requirement, but if you don’t at least have enough money in your account to cover the monthly fee, it will go negative.

Con: Low ATM withdrawal limits.

Pro: Using the card is safer than cash because your purchases are protected.

Con: Expedited fees to pay bills faster or clear deposited checks quicker can be inconvenient and costly.

Pro: Ability to set up direct deposit and receive a $15 bonus.

Con: ATM fees are unavoidable unless you get cash back or find a surcharge-free ATM.

Pro: Automatic Bill Pay.

Con: Many different fees to consider that can add up, such as calling customer service or checking your balance.

Pro: Referral bonuses for signing up friends.

Con: Daily limit for direct deposit and cash deposits.

Other Prepaid Card Options

Given the pros and cons of the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card, their high fees overshadow most of the benefits leaving much to be desired in terms of a good prepaid card. Below are two alternative options with much lower fees.

Kaiku Visa Prepaid Card

Kaiku is a prepaid Visa card that allows you to load money onto your card easily and even transfer funds from PayPal and Amazon. The Kaiku card has a $3 monthly maintenance fee that is waived as long as you load at least $750 onto the card each month.

There are also no ATM fees when using this card as long as you use in-network Allpoint ATMs.

American Express Serve

American Express has three different Visa prepaid cards, including a cashback card that provides cardholders with unlimited 1% cash back for every dollar spent in-store and online.

American Express Serve’s basic card provides free early direct deposit, free online bill pay, and free ATM withdrawals at over 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs, along with helpful tools to help you manage your money.

While the American Express Serve cashback card has a $5.95 monthly fee, the basic American Express Serve prepaid card has a $1 monthly fee that is waived as long as you set up direct deposit for at least $500 every month.

Final Word

The AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Card seems like a last resort option for people who don’t qualify for a regular checking account at a traditional bank and want to control their spending.

If you want to deposit money for a large purchase or withdraw cash from the ATM, you may not like encountering some of their daily deposit or withdrawal fees either.

Overall, the fact that cardholders can pay their bills easily on time, set up direct deposit, earn small rewards, and use their prepaid card just like a bank debit card to make purchases at their favorite stores and online can make this card look attractive.

However, there are much better prepaid cards on the market with lower fees and less limitations even if you have a poor banking history.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.

Pros

  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.

Cons

  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

CreditStacks Mastercard Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a unique opportunity for individuals with little or no U.S. credit history – such as recent college graduates or professionals relocating to the U.S. for employment – to be approved for a credit card.

That’s because instead of requiring a Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as most traditional credit cards do, the CreditStacks Mastercard allows applicants to apply using a valid passport or U.S. government-issued ID, a U.S. visa or a permanent resident “green” card (if applicable), as well as proof of income. The CreditStacks Mastercard also allows you to apply up to 60 days prior to starting your new job in the U.S.

We break down the pros and cons of the CreditStacks Mastercard, and show how it compares to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which is also designed to help individuals establish or rebuild credit.

CreditStacks Mastercard pros

No credit history required. With the CreditStacks Mastercard, you can apply without a Social Security number and with little or no U.S. credit history. Once you obtain your Social Security number, you must provide it within 60 days of account opening. At that point, CreditStacks will begin reporting your credit activity to the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus.

Note, if you have been living in the U.S. for more than one year, you will be required to provide a Social Security number when applying for the card. A credit check may also be performed.

Decent credit limit. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a credit line of up to $5,000 – which is a generous amount for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require credit history.

Your credit limit will be determined by the proprietary underwriting procedures of CreditStacks, which will consider your current employment situation and additional factors, instead of your credit score.

No annual fee. The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional CreditStacks Mastercard benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection(™). Access free identity theft resolution services, as well as Mastercard ID Theft Alerts(™).
  • Extended warranty. Receive an extended warranty of up to one year past a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less.
  • Purchase protection. If you are dissatisfied with a purchase, you may be eligible to receive a full refund for up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Price protection. Get reimbursed for the difference if you find a lower price for an eligible new item within 60 days of purchase using your CreditStacks Mastercard.
  • Purchase assurance. Cardholders receive coverage if an item is lost, damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Travel protections. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a MasterRental(R) collision damage waiver, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Plus, receive access to exclusive experiences and offers through Priceless Cities and special travel offers through Mastercard’s online booking tool.
  • Cellphone insurance. If you use your CreditStacks Mastercard to pay your monthly cellphone bill, you can receive coverage against theft or damage of up to $600 per claim and up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

CreditStacks Mastercard cons

No rewards program. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a sign-up bonus or rewards on the purchases you make using the credit card. That said, when trying to build or rebuild credit, it’s best to focus on paying your bill on time and in full (when possible) each month, rather than racking up rewards.

No intro APR on purchases. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases – meaning, if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you will be subject to interest charges at a rate of 15.49% Variable APR.

That said, the card’s ongoing APR for purchases is reasonable – considering that some cards designed for individuals with little or no credit come with APRs upwards of 26.99% (variable).

Compare it to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Similar to the CreditStacks Mastercard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is designed for individuals with little or no credit. However, because it is a secured credit card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200.

If you deposit more money before your account opens, you may be eligible for a higher credit line, up to $1,000. Additionally, you can be given access to a higher credit line after demonstrating responsible card usage by making your first five monthly payments on time.

While the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not require U.S. citizenship to apply, it does require a valid SSN or ITIN, as well as a residential address in the U.S. or a U.S. military location.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

CreditStacks Mastercard vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 CreditStacks MastercardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rateN/AN/A
Credit lineUp to $5,000$200-$1,000
Deposit requiredNone$49, $99 or $200
Regular purchase APR15.49% Variable26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® also comes with a number of benefits, including auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, extended warranty and 24-hour travel assistance services. As a Capital One member, you will also have access to virtual card numbers and account alerts from Eno, as well as access to your credit score and fraud monitoring through CreditWise.

But if you plan to carry a balance on your card, you’ll be better off with the CreditStacks Mastercard, since the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a substantially higher APR of 26.99% (Variable).

Read our: Capital One Secured Mastercard review

Which credit card is best for me?

If you haven’t yet established credit in the U.S., the CreditStacks Mastercard could be a good fit. In addition to not requiring a Social Security number for approval, the card helps build your credit by reporting to two major credit bureaus.

But if you’re in the market for a secured credit card and already have a SSN or ITIN, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good alternative. While the card offers a much lower credit line than the CreditStacks Mastercard, it does offer a variety of useful benefits that aren’t common for a secured credit card.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.