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ACE Elite Prepaid Debit Card Review

Written by John Csiszar | Published on 6/18/2019

The ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card comes with plenty of standard features and benefits, as well as a laundry list of fees. With ACE Elite, even the most basic benefits of a prepaid debit card, such as ATM withdrawals, purchase transactions, and reloads, can end up costing you.

This card does offer one standout feature: A savings account that pays what seems to be a shockingly high 5% APY. However, this rate is only paid on balances of up to $1,000, with a low 0.50% APY on balances above this amount.

One surprising downside: Ace Elite is one of the rare prepaid debit cards that charges an overdraft fee. At $15, it’s not as high as many bank overdraft charges, but it’s still a negative for a prepaid card. Note that customers who directly deposit at least $500 per month activate a feature that pays overdrafts of up to $10, free of charge.

Prepaid cards in general are targeted for a specific type of clientele, typically those that have difficulty getting more traditional banking products. Even for these users, the ACE Elite card doesn’t have enough pluses to outweigh the minefield of avoidable and unavoidable fees.

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ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card features

  • A high-APY savings account: This is perhaps the single best feature of the ACE Elite card, although it does carry restrictions. If you deposit up to $1,000 on the card, you’ll earn a 5% APY per year. Additional deposits above $1,000 earn an APY of 0.50%.
  • Early access to direct deposits:For certain deposits, such as government or employer direct deposits, you can access your funds up to two days early.
  • No credit check required: As with most prepaid debit cards, you won’t face a credit check when you apply for an ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit card. ACE Elite also does not use ChexSystems to verify your banking history.
  • High limits on reloads: You can add as much as $7,500 per day on the ACE Elite card, or $15,000 every 30 days. This is much higher than many other prepaid debit cards.
  • Earn Payback Rewards: With the ACE Elite rewards program, you receive offers and cash back for many everyday purchases.
  • Limited no-fee ATM withdrawals: You can use the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card to get cash out of ATMs, but be aware that you’ll be hit with a $2.50 fee at many locations. You can withdraw up to $100 per day for no fee at ACE Cash Express locations if you’ve had a direct deposit in the prior 35 days.
  • High daily withdrawal and spend limits: You can withdraw up to $940 per day at ATMs, although any single ATM withdrawal is limited to $325. The daily spend limit is $5,000. You can have up to $15,000 deposited on your card at any one time. or up to $3,000 per month.
  • Online bill pay: You can use your ACE Elite card to pay bills online. Third-party service fees may apply.
  • Free transfer to other card holders: If you’re transferring money to another ACE Elite card, there is no charge for the service if you’re using either the website or the mobile app. Transfers conducted via a customer service agent do cost $4.95.
  • Mobile check deposit: Via the ACE Elite mobile app, you can use your smartphone camera to take a picture of a check and deposit it free of charge.
  • Purchase cushion. With monthly direct deposits of at least $500, overdrafts of up to $10 are covered free of charge.
  • Numerous reload options: You can load money on your ACE Elite card via direct deposit, at a NetSpend reload location, or at an ACE location.

ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card fees and fine print

When you sign up for the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card, you’re offered your choice of two types of plans, the monthly plan and the pay-as-you-go plan. As the name suggests, the monthly plan charges a single monthly fee to waive individual transaction fees. Under the pay-as-you-go plan, there is no monthly fee but you’re assessed a charge on every purchase or PIN transaction you make. If you have at least $500 of payroll or benefits checks direct deposited in one month, you can reduce the $9.95 monthly plan fee to $5.

Which plan is better for you will depend on your usage patterns. However, both plans can end up being very expensive. In addition to the monthly or transaction fees, there are a host of other fees attached to the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card.

ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card Fees
Fees Monthly Plan Pay-As-You-Go Plan Reduced Pay-As-You-Go Plan
One-time card fee $0 $0 $0
Monthly fee $9.95 $0 $5
Purchase transaction fee $0 $1 $0
PIN purchase transaction fee $0 $2 $0
ACH payments $0 $0 $0
Bill pay service fee $0 (third-party services may charge fees) $0 (third-party services may charge fees) $0 (third-party services may charge fees)
Account-to-account transfer via website $0 $0 $0
Account-to-account transfer fee via customer service agent $4.95 $4.95 $4.95
Cash reload at a NetSpend Reload Network location Up to $3.95 Up to $3.95 Up to $3.95
Mobile check load fee $0 $0 $0
Mobile check load fee – expedited(government and payroll checks with a pre-printed signature) Greater of 2% of total check amount or $5 Greater of 2% of total check amount or $5 Greater of 2% of total check amount or $5
Mobile check load fee - expedited (all other check types) Greater of 5% of total check amount or $5 Greater of 5% of total check amount or $5 Greater of 5% of total check amount or $5
ATM withdrawal fee (domestic) $2.50 $2.50 $2.50
ATM withdrawal fee (international) $4.95 $4.95 $4.95
Over-the-counter withdrawal fee at a financial institution $2.50 $2.50 $2.50
Over-the-counter withdrawal fee at a NetSpend Reload Network location Up to the greater of 2.75% of the withdrawal amount or $4 Up to the greater of 2.75% of the withdrawal amount or $4 Up to the greater of 2.75% of the withdrawal amount or $4
ATM balance inquiry fee (domestic) $0.50 $0.50 $0.50
ATM balance inquiry fee (international) $0.50 $0.50 $0.50
Replacement card fee $3.95 $3.95 $3.95
Additional card fee $3.95 $3.95 $3.95
Custom card fee $4.95 $4.95 $4.95
Card delivery fee (7-10 business days) $0 $0 $0
Card delivery fee (3 business days) $20 $20 $20
Card delivery fee (1-2 business days) $25 $25 $25
Additional statement mailing fee $5.95 $5.95 $5.95
Stop payment fee $10 $10 $10
Check request fee $5.95 $5.95 $5.95
Inactivity fee $5.95 $5.95 $5.95
ACH/preauthorized payment decline fee $1 $1 $1
ATM decline fee (domestic) $1 $1 $1
ATM decline fee (international) $1 $1 $1
Foreign transaction surcharge 3.5% 3.5% 3.5%

The bottom line is, the fee structure is nearly identical for the monthly plan or the pay-as-you-go plan. The single most important distinction is that you can avoid transaction fees every time you make a purchase if you sign up for the monthly plan and pay the monthly fee.

Overall, there are an extraordinary number of fees attached to the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card. If you’re on the monthly plan, you’re looking at $119.40 in annual fees just for owning the card. If you’re on the pay-as-you-go plan, those $1 and $2 transaction/PIN transaction fees can add up rapidly. Not to mention, you’ll face an inactivity fee of $5.95 if you choose to keep the card in a drawer.

ATM transaction fees are also high. If you can’t find an ACE location to access your money, you’ll pay $2.50 at any other domestic ATM, on top of any ATM operator fees. If you’re overseas, that fee jumps to $4.95. Even if you just want to check your balance at an ATM, domestic or international, you’re looking at another $0.50 fee.

Reload fees can be another issue. ACE Elite will charge you up to $3.95 to reload your card at a NetSpend location. If you’re using the mobile app to deposit a check and need expedited processing, you’ll have to pay at least $5 and possibly as much as 5% of your entire deposit.

Using the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card mobile app

The ACE Elite mobile app lets you manage your prepaid debit card as if you had a traditional bank account. You can use the app to check your current balance or review your transaction history, send money to friends and family, upload checks to your account and find ACE Express cash locations, which is an important feature when non-ACE ATM withdrawals incur a $2.50 fee.

Although the mobile deposit feature is handy, it comes with a caveat. Yes, it’s free to load money onto your card this way, but you’ll have to wait to access it. If you need to expedite the processing of your funds, you’ll pay a fee of 2% for payroll and government checks with a pre-printed signature, or 5% for all other accepted check types. In both cases, the minimum fee is $5.

The ACE Elite mobile app is available for both iPhone and Android users.

Opening an ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card account

To open an ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card, head to ACE’s site and open your account there in a few simple steps. First, enter your personal information — name, address, and email address. Then, choose one of the four card designs offered. If you prefer, you can create a custom card for $4.95 by uploading a picture of your choosing.

For the final steps of the account-opening process, ACE Elite will verify your identity. You’ll be asked to provide your government ID number and possibly your driver’s license. If your ID can only be partially verified, you can still open an account, but your transactions will be limited to in-store purchase transactions. One important thing to note is that Vermont residents are ineligible to open an ACE Elite Visa Prepaid debit card.

Unlike with some other prepaid cards, there are no fees for simply getting a new ACE Elite card. If you prefer to apply in person rather than online, you can get an ACE Elite card at any ACE Cash Express location.

Overall review of the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card

For most customers, there is only one main advantage to opening an ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card over other options, and that is the high APY savings account feature. Beyond that, the card has little to offer when compared with its competitors, as there are a bevy of fees to navigate.

Even the main draw of the account, the high APY savings component, ends up being problematic. Since the 5% rate is limited to deposits of up to $1,000 only, that means you can only earn $50 per year on that $1,000. Since the annual fee on the Monthly Plan amounts to between $60 and $119.40, you’re not even earning enough to cover the fee on the card. If you’re in the pay-as-you-go plan, that only covers about four transactions per month.

One of the more surprising negative aspects of the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit Card is the overdraft fee. For many customers, a prepaid card is one of the few banking options they have, perhaps due to past financial missteps. For a prepaid card to charge a $15 overdraft fee for customers that may have trouble keeping their accounts in balance in the first place seems predatory. Although that fee may not be as high as some bank overdraft charges, for a prepaid card, it seems as though a better option would be to simply decline a purchase that would overdraw the account. The complimentary “Purchase Cushion” feature, which pays overdrafts of up to $10 free of charge, is a nice addition, but it’s a very small buffer.

The bottom line is that while there are plenty of fees that you can trigger by using the ACE Elite Visa Prepaid Debit card, there’s not as much to recommend on the plus side of the ledger.

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