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November 26, 2009 by USA Post 

Monthly Index Tracks Low- to Moderate-Income Financial Trends
AUSTIN, Texas–(Business Wire)–
While the recent rise in the gross domestic product indicates that economic
recovery may be on the horizon, that recovery may be slow in coming as low- to
moderate-income consumers are still in recession mode, closely watching what
they spend on goods and services and spending more on groceries versus on dining
out, according to findings of the “National Spending & Savings Index” produced
and released by NetSpend Corporation, a provider of prepaid products and
financial services to low- to moderate-income consumers.

The monthly index tracks year-over-year spending trends of these consumers in
eight “lifestyle” categories, including “Home,” “Food,” “Personal and
Professional Services,” “Travel/Entertainment,” “Finance,” “Utilities,”
“Groceries” and “Auto/Gas/Transportation” expenses. Each lifestyle category is
composed of smaller subcategories (e.g. “book stores”), which track spending at
the merchant level.

The NetSpend National Spending & Savings Index also surveys the average balances
in cardholders` NetSpend Savings Accounts during the same time period. Combined,
the spending and savings trends are indicators of changes in consumer habits and
are based on aggregated cardholder data from almost 900,000 NetSpend cardholders
around the country. As a leading provider of prepaid debit cards, NetSpend is
able to provide unique insights into the spending habits of low- to
moderate-income (LMI) consumers-those between the ages of 30 and 50 with an
average annual household income between $25,000 and $40,000.

National Trends

National spending trends saw the largest gains in the “Groceries” (+8.39%),
“Personal and Professional Services” (+5.81%) and “Travel/Entertainment”
(+3.01%) categories. This demonstrates that people are eating at home more often
instead of dining out, as evidenced by a 3.03 percent decrease in the “Food”
(dining out) category. Though small, the increase in the “Travel/Entertainment”
category may hint to a coming increase in discretionary spending. Lifestyle
categories with the largest declines include “Auto/Gas/Transportation” (-5.32%)
and “Food.” These declines may reflect the stabilization of prices coupled with
efforts to minimize unnecessary expenses. In particular, researchers continue to
see a significant decrease in ATM withdrawals as consumers find ways to obtain
cash in locations that don`t charge fees.

Savings trends for the low- to moderate-income consumer across the nation are
encouraging. The data shows that the average balance of NetSpend Savings
Accounts rose from an average of $25.71 in September 2008 to $27.30 in September
2009. Researchers say that this increase demonstrates that people are still
worried about their finances and are looking for ways to save more and earn
interest on their money.

“Nationwide, low- to moderate-income consumers are still in recession mode and
are spending their money on necessities versus extras,” said Dan Henry, chief
executive officer of NetSpend. “One trend we continue to see is that people are
figuring out how to avoid fees associated with ATMs which may include selecting
the `cash back` option at grocery stores or other retail outlets. Consumers are
working to make the best use out of every dollar they make and avoiding bank
fees is a large part of that equation.”

Regional Trends

The index also examined spending patterns in Central Texas, Houston and Phoenix.
The index demonstrates that like the state as a whole, Central Texas and Houston
have fared better than the rest of the nation. “Travel & Entertainment” spending
was up in all three markets is likely an indicator that consumers are becoming
more comfortable increasing their discretionary spending. Houston continues to
experience increased utility rates in the wake of last year`s Hurricane Ike
while Austin experienced lower spending on utilities. Phoenix saw spending rise
on groceries as people may have cut back even more on dining out.

Year-over-year spending comparison:
September 2008 vs. September 2009
Lifestyle Category                  National
Home                                down 0.85%
Auto/Gas/Transportation             down 5.32%
Finance                             down 2.01%
Food                                down 3.03%
Personal & Professional Services    up 5.81%
Travel & Entertainment              up 3.01%
Utilities                           down 0.35%
Groceries                           up 8.39%

About NetSpend Corporation

NetSpend Corporation is one of the leading providers of prepaid debit cards in
the United States. A pioneer in the industry since its inception in 1999,
NetSpend prepaid debit cards offer financial freedom and convenience to the more
than 100 million underbanked consumers in the United States. NetSpend is the
only company in the prepaid debit industry to offer an end-to-end solution for
consumers and merchants with a proprietary processing platform, card
fulfillment, customer service and risk management capabilities. More information
about the company can be found at http://www.netspend.com or by following the
company on Facebook or Twitter.

NetSpend
Brad Russell, 512-539-5932
Corporate Communications Manager

Copyright Business Wire 2009

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