Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card review: Build credit without a bank account

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In a Nutshell

The Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card offers the option to make your initial deposit and monthly payments online (for free) or at popular retailers (for a fee), which can make it feel more accessible and a tempting choice for many. But fees involved may make it a poor choice overall.

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Pros Cons
Reports to three major credit bureaus, which can help you build credit over time Charges an annual fee, on top of the initial deposit
Can fund initial deposit and make payments online No automatic upgrade to an unsecured card
Can fund deposit and make payments without a bank account There’s a fee for in-person funding and payments at retail locations

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Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card

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What you should know about the Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards are a special type of credit card that are designed to help you build credit — but they come with some additional requirements, like putting down a deposit when you open the card.

For the Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card, you can deposit as little as $200 or as much as $5,000. Your card’s credit limit will be equal to the amount you deposit.

A security deposit can make lenders more willing to offer secured cards to people with poor or no credit, because it significantly reduces the lender’s risk.

$39 annual fee

One of the Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card’s major downsides is the $39 annual fee. The annual fee is automatically charged to your account. So if you’ve made an initial security deposit of $200, your total credit limit is $200. But your available credit when you first get the card would be only $161 until you pay off the annual fee.

Account service online or in person, but watch out for fees

The Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card requires you to apply for your card online. You can also fund your security deposit online (for free), or you can head to a participating retail store and fund it there for a fee of $4.95.

The Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card also allows you to pay your credit card bill online without any processing fees. You can also pay in person at participating retailers, as long as you live in an eligible state and pay a $3.95 fee.

Being able to fund your deposit or make your monthly payments with cash at a store could be an advantage, say if you don’t have a bank account. But take note that not all retail locations let you make the same kinds of transactions. Check at attheregister.com to see which services each location offers.

No automatic upgrade to an unsecured card

Often when you use a secured credit card, your ultimate goal is to build your credit and eventually upgrade to an unsecured card. If you move up to an unsecured card, you’ll no longer need your secured card — which means you may be able to get your security deposit back.

Some secured credit cards offer the potential of graduating your account to an unsecured account and getting your security deposit back once you’ve built up a good payment history. But with the Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card, you’ll need to pay off your balance and close your account before you can get your deposit back.

Who this card is good for

The Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card isn’t a great choice for many people. There are other secured credit cards with no annual fee and with more-valuable perks, like cash back rewards or checking your FICO® score for free each month.

The card could mostly benefit those who want to work on their credit but who don’t have a bank account or a debit card — so, people who need the ability to make their deposit and pay their bills in person.

Not sure this is the card for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you want a secured card, but don’t think the Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card is right for you, take a look at our picks for the best secured credit cards, or check out these options instead.