When it comes to banking products, mainstream banks tend to get all of the attention.
But what if you don't want to go with one of the larger banks? Maybe you can't. Maybe you dislike their practices.
Whatever the reason, perhaps you've stumbled onto the ACE Flare™ and are wondering if it's right for you.
They issue prepaid debit cards that are accepted anywhere Visa is as well as other financial services for those who have little or no standard bank relationship. They also offer an (optional) ACE Flare™ Savings Account that pays up to 6.00% APY on your balances under $2,000 and 0.50% APY on balances above that. There are some requirements to get this higher rate but they're achievable.
The ACE Flare™ Visa debit card offers so many services that you may not even need a traditional bank account.
Let us dig in more:
About ACE Flare™ Account by Metabank
ACE Flare™ is a prepaid Visa debit card offered by Ace Cash Express but issued through MetaBank.
Based in Irving, Texas, Ace Cash Express provides non-traditional banking services for consumers with no credit or impaired credit. Founded in 1968, the company has more than 950 stores located in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It also offers online services in 11 additional states.
On June 20, 2019, the company changed its name to Populus Financial Group, though it will continue to operate as Ace Cash Express. The company has a Better Business Bureau rating of “A+”, the highest-ranking on a scale ranging from A+ to F.
In addition to providing prepaid debit cards, they also offer payday loans, installment loans, check cashing and other financial services.
Founded in 1954, and based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, MetaBank is FDIC insured as a Savings Association with the FDIC# 30776. They also have a Better Business Bureau rating of “A+”. The bank has assets of more than $5 billion as of December 2019. Though it only operates 10 retail branches, it's one of the leading providers of prepaid cards, credit products, electronic funds transfers, and ATM sponsorships.
How ACE Flare™ Works
Your ACE Flare™ account is a demand deposit account that is functionally the same as a checking account; however, the account offers only a debit card, not full checking privileges.
The debit card can be used just like a credit card, so you can use it anywhere Visa is accepted. You can make unlimited purchase transactions using the card, and any funds held in the account will even earn a little bit of interest.
Using Your Card and Accessing Your Account
Purchase and withdrawal limits are as follows:
- Point-of-sale transactions, PIN or signature-based – $5,000 per transaction.
- Cash withdrawals at financial institutions (over-the-counter) – $5,000 per transaction.
- ATM cash withdrawals, domestic or international – $400 per transaction: $1,000 per day.
You can also use your account to set up recurring payments to merchants and other parties using Bill Pay services through eligible third-party bill payment service providers. Be aware that any third-party service you use is likely to charge its fee structure. Payments can also be made by phone or online directly from your account.
You can also transfer money from your ACE Flare™ Account to accounts at other financial institutions.
Direct deposit or ACH transfers from your bank or other financial institution are not limited. However, cash remittances sent through the Netspend Network are limited to no more than $7,500 per transaction (or per day), or $15,000 per 30-day period. You can also fund your account with check deposits, but the limits will depend on those imposed by the institution the checks are drawn on. Deposits made at ATMs are not eligible.
Debit Card Overdraft Service
This is an optional service and you will need to meet eligibility requirements. You'll be charged a fee of $20 for each transaction that overdraws your account by more than $10. There is a maximum of five fees charged in each calendar month. However, if you sign up for the overdraft service, you can avoid that fee by bringing your account back to a zero balance or greater within 24 hours.
In any event, the overdraft fee will not be charged if your account is overdrawn by $10 or less.
Debit card transactions are not eligible for overdraft coverage. Metabank reserves the right to refuse to pay any item that will cause an overdraft.
ACE Flare™ Account Features and Benefits
Minimum balance requirement: There is no minimum required, either to open your account or to maintain it.
Mobile App: ACE Flare™ offers its mobile app for iOS devices through the App Store and Android devices through Google Play. You can check your account balance and transaction history, send money to friends and family, access the optional Netspend Pre-Funded Check Service, and add money to your account with Mobile Check Capture. You can also set your account to provide mobile alerts via text messages sent via Short Message Service (SMS).
Account statements: Available by electronic transmission. However, if you have not consented to electronic delivery, you'll receive paper statements (at $5.95 per statement). A statement will be delivered in each monthly cycle in which activity is taken place. If it has not, statements will be provided on at least a quarterly basis.
Earn interest: ACE Flare™ pays little bit of interest on account balances. The current interest rate is 0.01% APY. You can earn a much higher rate of return by adding an optional Savings Account, as described below.
Customer service: Available by phone and email, though no specific days and hours are indicated.
Dormant account policy: If your account remains inactive for at least 365 consecutive days, it will be considered dormant and not eligible for transactions.
Other services offered by ACE Flare™ Account by Metabank: Installment loans, payday loans, and title loans. Check cashing, business check cashing, and tax refund check cashing are available at ACE Flare™ retail locations.
ACE Flare™ Account Fees
There is no fee to open an account online or by phone; however, if you apply through a retail location there is a $3 Retail Application Processing Fee. Once again, no funds are required to open an account.
ACE Flare™ Account by Metabank offers two monthly fee plans:
- Accounts not receiving a qualifying direct deposit: $9.95
- Accounts receiving qualifying direct deposit(s) totaling $500 or more: $5
With the second fee plan, the direct deposit(s) only applies within one calendar month of opening the account. You will not be required to have regular direct deposits to take advantage of the lower fee.
Other fees that come with the ACE Flare™ Account by Metabank include:
- Domestic ATM cash withdrawal fee: $2.50
- International ATM cash withdrawal fee: $4.95
- Balance inquiry fee (domestic or international): $1 (waived on mobile app, by email or text message)
- Direct deposit: no fee
- Over-the-counter withdrawal fee at financial institutions: $2.50
- Statement mailing fee: $5.95 per statement requested (free online)
- Foreign transaction fee, 3%
- Replacement or additional debit card: $3.95 per card ($4.95 per custom card requested)
- Stop payment: no fee
- Account-to-account transfer fee, no charge online ($4.95 if using a customer service agent)
ACE Flare™ Savings Account
When you open an ACE Flare™ Account, you'll have the option to also open an interest-bearing savings account. The account pays up to 6.00% APY on an average daily balance of $2,000 or less. Higher balances will be paid at a rate of 0.50% APY. The funds are held in an account with Metabank.
No minimum balance is required to open or maintain the account, but you must receive direct deposits totaling a minimum of $500 within one month of opening the account. As is the case with all savings accounts, and consistent with federal law, you are limited to no more than six transfers to your Flare Debit Card in each calendar month. If you exceed this limit, transaction fees will apply.
As an FDIC insured bank, funds held with Metabank are covered for up to $250,000 per depositor.
How to Sign Up for an ACE Flare™ Debit Card
You can apply for the card directly through the website.
When you apply, you'll be asked to provide the following information:
- Your full name
- Permanent address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- A copy of your driver's license to verify your identity
Once you've provided the information above, you'll be required to E-SIGN agreements and disclosures provided with the application. You'll then choose the style of debit card you want, all of which will be various designs of Visa cards.
When you receive your card, you'll select your personal identification number (PIN). It can then be used to make purchases at merchants or online vendors or to get cash from ATMs or over-the-counter in banks.
ACE Flare™ Pros & Cons
- An ACE Flare™ account and Visa debit card will provide most of the services available through a traditional bank checking account.
- It serves as a non-bank banking solution for consumers with poor credit or no credit and have been denied access to credit cards or checking accounts.
- Since it's a debit card, you won't be charged interest on your purchase activity.
- The optional Savings Account pays up to 6.00% APY on average daily balances of $2,000 or less (and 0.50% on higher average daily balances).
- At $20, overdraft fees are much less than the typical $32 to $39 charged by most banks.
- ACE Flare™ offers other financial services that may benefit non-traditional consumers.
- ACE Flare™ product offerings vary by state, so not all details presented in this review may be available in your location.
- You will have to pay a monthly fee for the service, but this is similar to a bank checking account when you don't maintain the required minimum balance.
- You will not be permitted to add authorized users to your card.
- Like most debit cards, a $100 hold will be placed on your account if you purchase gasoline “at-the-pump.”
Should You Get an ACE Flare™ Account?
It's the 21st century, and everyone needs a credit or debit card to transact business on an everyday basis. Sure, many retail institutions still accept cash, but an increasing number of non-retail vendors no longer do (requiring the need to have a debit card). This is especially true with major purchases, such as airline tickets, hotel stays, and car rentals. It may even be necessary to make copayments at medical facilities.
Even if you don't have a major credit card or a traditional bank checking account, ACE Flare™ Account by Metabank will have you covered with their Visa debit card. You can use it anywhere VISA is accepted (which is just about everywhere). Not only can you make unlimited purchase transactions, but you can also use it to pay bills and transfer funds. Since it's a debit card, you'll never need to deal with paying high interest on open credit card balances.
The account pays a very small amount of interest on your open balance, but you also have the option of opening an ACE Flare™ Savings Account and earning up to 6.00% on the first $2,000 in your account.
If you want all the benefits of having a Visa card for those times when cash isn't accepted, as well as the many other bank type services that typically come with a checking account, ACE Flare™ may be the account you've been looking for.
If you'd like more information, or you'd like to sign up for the card, visit the ACE Flare™ Account by Metabank website.