Green Dot prepaid card review

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In a Nutshell

If you’re looking for a checking account alternative that doesn’t require a credit check, a Green Dot prepaid card could be a great choice. Payroll deposits are free and depositing checks is easy. Cardholders can also check their account balance online, pay bills or send money to friends with a Green Dot account. But if you use cash regularly, this probably isn’t the card for you.

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Pros Cons
No credit check required Cash reloads cost money
Free payroll direct deposits and easy check deposits Monthly fee of $7.95 when not waived
Monthly fee may be waived if you load at least $1,000 onto the card in a monthly period  
Online bill pay  

What you need to know about Green Dot prepaid cards

Take note: Depending on where you apply for this card, you may wind up with a Visa or a Mastercard. Luckily, both types of cards are accepted at a lot of different merchants.

No credit check

People may turn to prepaid debit cards if they’re unable or unwilling to open a bank account.

If your banking history is preventing you from opening a checking account, you’ll be happy to know that there’s no credit check requirement for the Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard® or Visa®.

Free payroll direct deposits and easy check deposits

If you want a prepaid debit card that you can use to set up payroll direct deposits, the Green Dot Prepaid Visa® or Mastercard® is a stellar choice.

Not only does this card offer payroll direct deposits for free, but cardholders may even be able access their money early. As soon as Green Dot gets notice that you’re receiving money, it won’t hold onto it like other banks may. Instead, the bank will go ahead and deposit the money into your account.

Mobile check deposits are also available via the Green Dot iPhone or Android mobile apps, making the process easy. Simply use your smartphone to take a picture of the front and back of your check, and the money should be loaded onto your card.

Helpful online features

Being able to check your balance and pay your bills online are two of the most convenient features of checking accounts.

You can do both with the Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard® or Visa®. You can check your account status online anytime and can even set up low-balance alerts.

And although you can pay to get paper checks for your Green Dot account, you may not need them. Scheduling bill payments or even sending money to friends with a Green Dot account can all be done for free with Green Dot’s online bill pay service.

Monthly fee is high, but may be waived

While the Green Dot cards don’t charge any overdraft or transaction fees, they do come with a $7.95 monthly usage fee. When compared to other prepaid cards, Green Dot’s monthly charge definitely falls on the high end.

But if you load at least $1,000 on the card in the previous monthly period, Green Dot waives the charge for that month.

If you think that you’ll regularly be loading $1,000 or more onto your Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard® or Visa® each month, it could be a great option. But if you don’t think that’s realistic, you might want to find a prepaid card with a lower monthly charge

Cash transactions can be difficult and expensive

So far, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about things like direct deposits, mobile check deposits and online bill pay. But what if you want to use good old-fashioned cash to load money onto your Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard® or Visa®?

Unfortunately, this is where the Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard® or Visa® falls short. Green Dot charges a painful $5.95 fee for cash reloads, depending on where you get it reloaded.

Withdrawing cash can pricey, too. You’ll need to check the app to see which ATMs are free to use, if you want to avoid charges.

What else you need to know

  • Paper checks (pack of 12) can be purchased for a $5.95 fee.
  • If you lose your Green Dot Mastercard® or Visa®, you’ll be charged a card replacement fee of $5.
  • If using your Green Dot prepaid card overseas, a 3% foreign transaction fee will be added to all of your purchases.

Who this card is good for

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa® or Mastercard® is best for those who rarely use cash. If you get paid via direct deposit and use a card for most daily transactions, then this card could be a great choice.

You may also find it a good option if you’re looking for a prepaid card to pay bills online or send money to friends. But if you get paid with cash or need to withdraw cash often, you’ll quickly pile up a lot of fees with this card.

Finally, if you don’t think you’ll load at least $1,000 onto your Green Dot Prepaid Mastercard® or Visa® each month, you may want to find a prepaid card that comes with a lower monthly charge.

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


About the author: Clint Proctor is a freelance writer and founder of WalletWiseGuy.com, where he writes about how students and m… Read more.