The popularity of prepaid debit cards has really taken off in the past few years due in large part to the economy, tighter credit policies for credit cards and the fact that people don’t like paying fees for a checking account (which is typical if you don’t keep a certain dollar amount of money in your account at all times). Before you complete and submit a Walmart Money Card application there are some important things you need to consider.
How does it work?
- By cash or check (at Walmart only)
- Green Dot MoneyPak (at Walmart or elsewhere)
- Walmart MoneyCenter Express (these are ATMs at Walmart stores)
- direct deposit
- online bank transfer
The card can be used for three different purposes:
- Card purchases – This is NOT a credit card, but it can be used like one wherever Visa is accepted for payment as long as you have sufficient funds loaded to purchase items at checkout, either online or offline at a brick and mortar store.
- Bill payments – The Money Card can be used to pay bills, like those for power, water, cable, etc. This can be done for a fee at a Walmart store.
- Direct deposit – Employees without a bank account may be able to use the Walmart Money Card direct deposit feature to have their paychecks added to their card.
Verdict? Since it’s a prepaid card it unfortunately does not report your bill payment history to the credit bureaus… so it is of no value for building credit or a credit score. That’s why you still need to have credit cards if you want to build up your credit.
Are there any fees with this card?
Unfortunately, there are a number of Walmart Money Card fees you should take note of before applying:
Issuance Fee for Temporary Card purchased at a Walmart store – $3.00
Issuance Fee for Temporary Licensed Card purchased at a Walmart Store – $4.95
Monthly Service Fee (first fee 10 days after Card set up) – $3.00
Reload Fee at Walmart Store – $3.00
Reload Fee at Walmart Store with check cashing transaction (Check Cashing not available in
all states, Walmart Check Cashing fees will apply) – $0.00
Reload Fee at Participating Green Dot Location – Varies by Retailer
Reload Fee for Direct Deposit – $0.00
ATM Withdrawal (at non-MoneyPass ATM) – $2.00 (plus whatever the ATM operator charges)
ATM Withdrawal at MoneyPass ATM – $0.00
ATM Balance Inquiry – $1.00 (additional fees at non-MoneyPass ATMs may apply)
Teller Cash Withdrawal – $2.00
Rush Delivery Fee for Personalized Card – $20.00
Additional Personalized Card Fee – $3.00
Additional Personalized Card Fee for Walmart MoneyCard Family Edition – $0.00
Lost/Stolen Replacement Card Fee – $3.00
Foreign Transaction Fee – 2%
Whew… that’s a lot of fees there! But in defense of Walmart, most prepaid debit cards charge much higher fees. It’s free to add money to the Money Card through check cashing, however Walmart charges up to $3.00 to cash checks (and up to $6 for checks of $1,000+) – thus you’re still paying money to load the card. So, basically, you have to pay $3 a month for the account and $3 for every card load. Card loads are free if handled through direct deposit, though. If you set it up that way it’s a fairly cheap account to get and maintain.
- Easy to get, there is no credit check
- When compared to other reloadable cards, the Walmart Money Card fees are relatively reasonable. All prepaid debit cards have fees – this one just happens to be one of the least expensive
- In order to apply you still need to give your Social Security number and have your identity verified. This is due to the U.S. Patriot Law.
- Other than the basics, the card offers almost no benefits
- The only way to reload for free is to fill out the Walmart Money Card direct deposit form and arrange to have your paycheck electronically deposited on the account.
- Even though the fees are reasonable for a re-loadable card, it’s still not as good of a deal compared to the banks and credit unions that offer no fee credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts.
- As with all re-loadable cards, it is totally useless for building credit. Accounts are never reported to the credit bureaus. Since it’s your money loaded to the card there is no credit going on to even report. This save you money in terms of not having to pay any credit card bills or interest charges but the downside is you don’t get any credit history to your name.
- The Walmart Money card is not currently available in the following states: New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut
If you can’t qualify for a normal credit card, then I would recommend going to a credit union and getting a free checking account with a debit card, instead of using a reloadable card that will cost you money to use.
But if you insist on a reloadable card…
If you do choose to apply for a prepaid credit card PLEASE make sure you review all the fees closely (they are required to be listed in a table in the terms and conditions). It won’t be possible to get a free prepaid debit card (as mentioned there are always some fees, but they can take many different forms, as noted in the fee schedule update above). But some are much worse than Walmart’s offer, while others are a better. Right now I think the best one (the one with the most fair fee structure) is the new Prepaid Serve Card from American Express, which has almost no fees.
But better yet…
…I would recommend getting an entry-level credit card or if you have bad credit get a secured credit card. Secured credit cards involve sending in a deposit to a card issuer and they in turn issue you a credit card with a real credit limit. If you ever close the account you get your deposit back, with interest. This type of card Will help you build credit, unlike prepaid debit cards (which are more like mobile checking accounts for those who don’t have a bank account or just don’t trust banks).. That way, with responsible use (i.e. paying your monthly card bill on time consistently), you can work on building or rebuilding your credit history. You can use this tool to see which real credit cards you could qualify for: Card Finder Tool.
Last edited August 7, 2014