Green Dot® Prepaid MasterCard® Review

Green Dot Prepaid Credit CardThe Green Dot® Gold Prepaid Visa® or MasterCard® is arguably the most widely used prepaid card today. You’ve likely seen the Green Dot card for sale at pharmacies, grocery stores, and even Walmart. The Green Dot® Prepaid MasterCard® is offered by Green Dot, a publicly traded company (NYSE:GDOT), and it sells about 1.5 million new prepaid cards every quarter. So it’s big. But is its prepaid card good?

To evaluate any prepaid debit card, there are two key factors to consider: (1) Features, and (2) fees. These aren’t the only factors. Customer service can be important if you tend to call your card company a lot. But features and fees are what set most cards apart, for better or worse.

Green Dot Features

Green Dot’s features are pretty basic. You can use the card anywhere that accepts MasterCard or Visa debit. The card can be used to make purchases online and to pay bills that accept debit cards (e.g., cell phone bill). And because of its large network of ATM machines, you can withdrawal money from your account at many ATMs without paying a fee. Free ATM withdrawals are arguably the most important reason to consider the Green Dot card.

You can also load the card with direct deposit. With direct deposit you get access to your paycheck faster and don’t have to pay check cashing fees (a reality for many unbanked). You can also use direct deposit for government benefits checks or tax refunds.

There are, however, a few features Green Dot doesn’t offer. First, it doesn’t offer any type of cash back rewards. While rewards are rare among prepaid cards, there are some cash back prepaid cards available. Second, Green Dot doesn’t offer a linked high interest savings account. While most prepaid card users don’t want a savings account, a few do. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider the ACE Elite™ Visa® Prepaid Card.

Green Dot Fees

The fees associated with Green Dot prepaid credit cards depend in part on how the card is used. For example, as noted above, withdrawals from ATMs within the Green Dot network are free, while a small fee applies to use an out of network ATM. In addition, the cost to buy a Green Dot card at a store is $4.95, but there is no fee if you get the card online. Also, if you make 30 purchases or more in any month or load at least $1,000 onto the card each month, the $5.95 monthly fee is waived.

MoneyPak

MoneyPak

Green Dot also offers what it calls a MoneyPak. A MoneyPak gives you the ability to load cash onto a Green Dot card (or any prepaid card for that matter). There is a lot of confusion over how MoneyPak works, so here are the details:

  1. You buy a MoneyPak card at a retailer. The cost of the card typicall is $4.95 + the amount of money you want to load onto a prepaid card. So if you wanted to put $50 on a prepaid card, the MoneyPak would cost $54.95.
  2. The MoneyPak has a unique code on the back. With this code, you can then go to https://www.moneypak.com/ and use the unique code to add the money you placed on the MoneyPak to your prepaid card.

As you can tell, there is a cost to add cash to your card. If you think you’ll be adding a lot of cash to your card, you may want to consider the Walmart MoneyCard(SM) MasterCard® Prepaid Card. It is actually a branded Green Dot card with one big advantage–you can load cash on the card at any Walmart store.

Green Dot Complaints

The Green Dot card has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints. If you search for complaints, you’ll find dozens of websites with people complaining about every company or product on earth. I generally ignore these sites. But one site I don’t ignore is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). While the BBB isn’t perfect in its ratings, it’s probably as good as you’ll find. While Green Dot has an ‘A+’ rating with the BBB, it also has a lot of complaints.

Here’s what the BBB has to say about these complaints:

Complainants allege difficulty activating cards, or that reload amounts are not credited to their card as agreed. Some customers complain they are initially unable to activate their cards due to invalid activation numbers, or other complications. Other customers complain they experience problems or delays with having re-load amounts credited to their cards, complaining of excessive delays, or that amounts are lost or miss-posted. In some cases, complainants report the company asks for proof of the re-load amount paid, before the amount can be credited or refunded, causing financial hardships for the cardholder. In some cases, complainants report they are unable to speak with anyone who is capable of resolving a problem, or that the company fails to return calls. The company responds to most complaints by offering apologies for delays, activating cards, or posting re-load amounts. In some cases, the company offered additional credits or refund amounts to compensate customers for inconveniences, delays or problems.

With those complaints, one has to wonder how Green Dot has an ‘A+’ rating. Here’s the BBB explanation of the factors that have raised the rating:

  • Length of time business has been operating
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
  • Response to complaint(s) filed against business
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business
  • BBB has sufficient background information on this business

I’ve actually used the Green Dot card and had no problems. But it’s always important to consider the good and the bad before picking a card.

Final Thoughts

The Greed Dot Prepaid Reloadable MasterCard is one of the best prepaid credit cards available to consumers today in terms of cost and features. To sign-up or get more details, visit the secure application page for the Green Dot® Prepaid MasterCard®.

Published or Updated: July 29, 2014
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. There are plenty of shady prepaid cards that should be avoided. It’s tough to say where the Green Dot Prepaid Card fits with the BBB complaints. I have heard that some companies can maintain a high rating on there just by paying for a higher membership level. The BBB is run like a business while many assume that it is a non-profit organization. Of course when any product is very popular, there are bound to be some complaints even if they are just from people who did something wrong or were not aware of the actual terms and conditions.

  2. Bob says:

    Good review.

    I believe that many of the Green Dot complaints revolve around the MoneyPaks, which are used by most other cards also though not always exclusively. The scratch off number can be scratched off along with the coating and if you don’t keep the store receipt you are out of luck and your money. I bought a pak at a CVS once and the number was no good. The store manager had to call Green Dot before he could exchange it for me because I could have already used it. That was a lengthy process.

    If someone gets a Green Dot card its better to get the Mastercard since they can be swiped at an Radio Shack and there is no possibility of a mistake. Mistakes can also be made with cards that reload at Western Union or Moneygram where you are dependent on the clerk inputting the info correctly. Swipe loads are more secure and quicker.

    Green Dot is rolling out a Mobile Deposit Program where someone can scan their paycheck and have it deposited on their card. They have ads on the web for positions for that in particular.

    Finally there are more complaints about Green Dot simply because they have the most customers and have been around the longest.

  3. Diana says:

    GREEN DOT CARDS take 5.95 a month on top of what you pay for the card at the checkout.
    This is terrible. I am calling master card and complaining to them about this as well. Green dot took 12.00 from me because I purchased the card last week of april and then again first week of may. They should be ashamed of stealing this way. Fraud, Scam, customer service at green dot is out source so good luck on getting one that can speak english well enough to understand them.

  4. Rob Berger says:

    Diana, you can get the monthly fee waived if you load $1,000 a month on the card or use the card for 30 purchases a month. Otherwise they charge the monthly service fee. I don’t think it’s a scam as they clearly disclose the fee right up front. But if the card isn’t working for you, you may want to check out our list of low fee prepaid cards.

  5. Clifford marshall says:

    How long has greendot beenaround

    • Rob Berger says:

      Green Dot was founded in 1999.

  6. Weston Terry says:

    Rob is right, it isn’t a scam. I would encourage that you read all the details whenever your money is involved. Know what you are signing up for before you sign on the dotted line.

  7. Lori Anderson says:

    The part about not charging for ATMs in-network is totally false. I was charged $7.50 for ATM withdrawals at the US Bank in Franklin KY listed on their sites. When I called to request a refund I was notified that although US Bank would not charge me, Greendot still did and if I read the terms and conditions I would see that this was part of the agreement. The agreement however, states that they will charge no ATM fees for in-network withdrawals. I am still out $7.50 and after over 2 hours on the phone have been told basically to shove off by the supervisor that was suppose to help me with this matter. I have filed a complaint with the BBB but do not expect this to change anything with Greendot. $7.50 is such a small amount but how many other people have they ripped off this way. There should be a law against this. I have printed the user agreement and it states clearly on the paper there will be no fees for using a network ATM. They lie though…

  8. Teresa decker says:

    I tried 3 times 2 get a room… The card locked up now I’m screwed. U mean to tell me ur company can’t afford to have people working at night …

  9. Rhonda says:

    Ive purchased the green dot card. And when the automatic computer sets me up with my information, i clearly say my name loud and clear. The computer then skipped questions. Then i was told i could only use the card once, and i cant put any more money on it. How lame is that? That happened to me twice and i purchaseed the card twice. Customer care couldnt help me, just told me to purchase another card. Why? So the same thing can happen to me again. absolutely ridiculous!

  10. Wesley Greenfield says:

    I purchased a money pak to load my paypal acct because i had a hold on mybank acct someone stole checks out my truck.the money pack wouldnt verify.called MP and they said call PayPal.Was on the phone an hour making sure everything was ok with address etc.Tried the MP again same thing.I had my mother try on hers and same thing.The money was there but could not transfer.Called Mp back and the said the same thing only this time they told me to get the Green Dot Master card or Visa and I would for sure be able to take care of my phone payment,ebay and a couple small bills,So thats what i did.Know i have this GD Mastercard that doesnt work.I tried to use it at McDonalds to get my kids something to eat.Declined,so i went home checked the balence and all the info.Pc said alls good.Tried to add to my P-P acct,Declined.WTF so called GD master card consumer hotline.They checked info and money was there and as before nothing is wrong,but they said there system said the 3 digit security code was wrong was why it was declined,so i gave them the code and it was the correct code.They said i must have entered it wrong.I laughed.They said try and make a transaction i did same thing.They more or less told me o-well.I asked for supervisor,managers and she just kept saying thats all we can do our systems says everything is correct on there end.That was 4 days ago and im sitting with no money and phone is shut off now and i have a unpaid case open on ebay.My phone is boost with shrinkage and you pay your bill on time for 6 months and the bill shrinks 5.00 every six months.Needless to say i didnt get it paid on time and i was on my last payment so that costed me 60.00 a year and my phone is disconnected.I also dont understand why one of the biggest companys dont have 24 hour customer service…O i know because they cant help your situation.

  11. Birgi says:

    WARNING! DO NOT USE ANY PREPAID CARD BY GREEN DOT!!!
    Green Dot Corp could care less about its cardholders. Do you really want to trust your money with a company who routes its customer service calls to the Philippines? What if a block is placed on your account, can you afford to wait 10 business days while they review your verification docs? Or what if you don’t recognize a charge on your account, do you want to deal with a company which makes excuses not to reimburse you. If you say yes, then Green Dot is for you!

    Avoid Green Dots cards.This includes the Walmart Money Card and anything associated with Green Dot. With us they have no business!

  12. ej brothers says:

    My account was closed and they stated it was for suspicious transactions. I explained a friend was sending me money for a car but customer service said there was nothing i could do and could not get a card again. I have asked for a complete audit as a result of what is going on either internally or externally within the Greendot organization.

  13. jessica says:

    i bought this stupid green dot card to pay my bills and it wont let me pay my boost mobile bill i have tried 4 times and it still wont let me pay it keeps saying contact your financial banking institution and i tried to call customer service but of course the dumb company is closed

  14. Kevin K. says:

    My wife and I recently started using the WalMart Green Dot Mastercard.

    As of now if you buy the Preferred card ($6) you have no monthly fee ($3) if you get direct deposit or you load $500 of more in a month.
    There is no overdraft fee’s, which is a great thing if your money is as tight as ours. Our bank charges $37 for each overdraft.
    They also offer the online vault if you buy the preferred card. This is like a savings acct just without interest.
    So far everything has been great.
    Good Luck all.

  15. Christine Fryman says:

    I purchased what I thought was a money pak, but turned out the clerk sold me a gold visa debit card for $100.00 When I realized it I went back and they said sorry no refunds. I had to pay another $100,00 for the right card. I’m mad as hell and want my money back.

    • Rob Berger says:

      Christine, I’m sure that’s totally frustrating. I would think, however, that you can still use the gold visa debit card so that you don’t lose your money.

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