Western Union MoneyWise Prepaid Card Review

Western Union MoneyWise Prepaid Card BigAs prepaid credit cards become a realistic banking alternative, more consumer-friendly cards become available. And by consumer-friendly I mean prepaid cards with little or no fees. As prepaid cards eliminate fees, they become a better alternative to high fee bank accounts. And that brings me to the Western Union MoneyWise prepaid card.

When I think of Western Union, I don’t think of a prepaid card. Instead, I think of a service that allows you to send money to friends and family. But somewhere along the way, Western Union decided to get into the prepaid credit card business. And its MoneyWise prepaid card is extremely-consumer friendly, starting with fees.

Western Union MoneyWise Fees

MoneyWise is about as free a prepaid card as you can find. There are no fees to get the card, no monthly maintenance fees, and no fees to use the card. In fact, the only fees the card charges relate to ATM usage, an inactivity fee, and when you load cash (more about that in a moment). Here’s a list of fees from the MoneyWise website:

Western Union MoneyWise Fees

Money Management

One of the benefits of using a prepaid card is that it automatically tracks your spending. We do the same thing with a rewards credit card. In the case of the MoneyWise card, you can track your balance and spending online. Using a smartphone, you can also track card activity via email or text messages. While I don’t normally keep track to that level of detail, text messages are ideal if you are letting your teenager use the card.

Reloading the Western Union Card

Almost every prepaid card can be loaded either with direct deposit or bank transfer. The Western Union card is no exception. Because of Western Union’s physical locations, however, it also offers two other loading options that most cards don’t have.

First, you can load the card with a Western Union money transfer. In this way, friends or family can wire money directly to your card in an emergency. Second, you can load cash onto the card at any Western Union location. Loading cash onto any prepaid card comes with a fee ($4.95 in this case), so it’s not the ideal way to reload a card. But in an emergency, it’s good to know that the option is available.

Is Your Money Safe?

The other day a reader emailed me to ask if money on a prepaid card is safe. I’ll publish a more detailed post on this question later. But with the MoneyWise card, it comes with MasterCard’s Zero Liability Policy. Here are the details:

MasterCard’s Zero Liability Policy covers U.S.-issued cards only and does not apply to the cost of replacing the card, ATM transactions, PIN transactions not processed by MasterCard, or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use. Consult issuer for additional details or visit www.mastercard.com/general/zero_liability.html. Refer to Cardholder Agreement for fees on card use, replacement and card account closure. Certain conditions and exceptions apply.

What Not to Like

The MoneyWise card is not perfect. While I love its low fees, it lacks some of the banking features that say the UPside card has. So, for example, if you want to use a prepaid card to pay bills online or even write checks, the MoneyWise card is not for you.

Published or Updated: November 24, 2012
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Jeff Herman says:

    Worst customer service I’ve ever seen. These people simply DO NOT CARE!!! Find a more reputable company!!!

  2. Molina says:

    Please go thru a better card company these morons activated my card then put a hold on it to verify info, wanted id, utility bill, ss #, tax return, and W-2….SO LAME

  3. LaCheka says:

    This is by far the crappy card of all cards!!!!!! Customer Service sucks and no one speaks proper English, all Indian/Pakistan. Never rent a uhaul with the card it takes about 60 days and 50 phone calls and your money still won’t be refunded!!!!! The supervisors are terrible , overall I give them a ZERO, AND PERSONALLY SHREDDED THE CARD&MAILED IT BACK!!!!!

  4. Angela says:

    I hate the western union prepaid card the service sucks and also they put my money on hold and they told me i won’t get my money till 14 to 30 days and it makes me really mad and i will never use that card again

  5. Jenni says:

    I have been disappointed in their service as well. Every place on their website and online claims that we can load our cards with bank transfers. I’m assuming that means that I can have a debit from my bank account directly to my card. But I have not been able to find any way to do that. When I contacted customer service, I got a reply back that basically posted the same info from the web system that it could be done, but not how. There’s no button on my page do load card. So I’m confused. Unfortantly, the closest Western Union offices to my location don’t appear to do money loads, or don’t have hours that work for me. /shrug. I will still use it when my work does a western union transfer to it, but I don’t see being able to “stock up” personal funds for business trips and the like.

  6. info u can use says:

    The best thing you can do about this is to: (ex.) Paying a bill – the day you load it,pay it the same day. Don’t just leave money on it. You it for whatever you need at that moment/day. I been doing this and so far I’ve had no problems.

  7. justin brown says:

    I have had the card for over a year now and it is the best card out. I use it for everything. Thank you

  8. Tanya says:

    “So, for example, if you want to use a prepaid card to pay bills online or even write checks, the MoneyWise card is not for you.”

    Can I ask for clarification? You can pay a bill online or purchase something online, correct? What issues are there with that?

    My main way of “loading” the card would be direct deposit from work. I am concerned now about some of the comments hat they place “holds” on funds. I confess I live pretty much paycheck to paycheck so couldn’t afford to have money held for more than a few days!

    Has anyone had any issues with using these to get cash at an ATM (I am aware they charge a fee).

    • Rob Berger says:

      Tanya, prepaid cards do place holds on funds in some situations. Examples include if you use the card at a gas station, to book a hotel, or to rent a car. You can check with the prepaid card company to confirm. There generally shouldn’t be issues with using an ATM.

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