Guide to Green Dot Visa

Allison Martin
Man holding gold credit card

The Green Dot Visa is a personalized, prepaid card that can be reloaded at any time. Available at over 6,000 retail locations and online, it functions like a debit or credit card, and is imprinted with the cardholder's name for customization.

Benefits

Not only is the card easy to use, but it is a unique Visa that you can reload in four ways: cash, direct deposit, cashing a check or by transferring funds from a bank account. Once reloaded, the Green Dot Visa can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. Card activity tracking is available via the mobile application or by sending a text message to retrieve the balance.

Credit Card Without Debt

For those who have poor credit history and cannot get approved for a credit card, The Green Dot Visa works well because it offers a lot of the same capabilities as credit cards do. Consumers can use the card to conduct transactions that typically require a credit card, such as renting a car, without incurring any debt, interest expenses and annual fees.

It's important to note that when renting a car, rental companies will typically place a hold on an amount of money that usually exceeds the cost of the rental, and this hold might stay in place even after the rental has been completed. Speak with the rental company to find out specifics regarding any funds holds to your card.

Easy to Obtain

If you've applied for credit and been turned down, or avoid applying for credit because of your credit history, you don't have to worry with this card. As a review on the blog Money Q& A pointed out, anyone can get the card and credit history isn't even a factor in the application process. The Green Dot debit card bypasses the credit screening entirely.

Budgeting

The Green Dot Visa provides a way to get a handle on monthly spending. Money Q & A noted that the Green Dot Visa is "an especially desirable option for those that aren't as good at managing their finances" since it prohibits the cardholder from incurring overdraft fees. All the cardholder has to do is load the disposable income allocated from the monthly budget onto the card. This will prevent overspending and the need to use credit cards or funds from a savings account to cover monthly expenses. In some instances, it may even be appropriate to obtain more than one card for different expense categories, such as gasoline and entertainment.

Direct Deposit

If the consumer does not have a bank account and their employer uses direct deposit, the Green Dot Visa is an option for receiving payment. Direct deposit transactions can be completed free of charge and the cardholder will have the ability to make purchases and pay bills online. In addition, this will eliminate the need to carry around excessive amounts of cash, and the cardholder's identity will be protected through the verification process if the card is personalized.

Skip the Bank Fees

Banking with certain institutions comes at a high price, and certain mishaps can quickly cause problems. With the Green Dot Visa, no fee will be incurred if there is a low minimum balance or if a certain number of transactions are exceeded in a month. In addition, there are no overdraft fees since the card is prepaid. Also, it is very simple to withdraw funds from the network of 22,000 MoneyPass ATMs and process bill payments online free of charge. This makes the Green Dot Visa a preferable option over bank debit cards with hefty fees.

Drawbacks

As with any credit or debit card, there are drawbacks to the program that you should consider before committing.

No Protection

Considering that some cardholders may carry an extremely high balance, a major drawback is the lack of protection for lost or stolen cards. There is also a $4.95 replacement fee.

Transaction Limits

Limits are imposed on reloading and online bill pay. With the exception of direct deposit transactions, cardholders are only allowed to reload $2,500 per day, and the online bill pay transaction limit is $1,000. This can really be a problem for those who desire to make a large transaction using their Green Dot Visa, such as a down payment on a vehicle.

Fees

The Green Dot Visa also comes with quite a few fees. Under its 'Simple Fee Plan', the initial purchase fee is $4.95 unless you obtain the card online. There is also a monthly charge of $5.95 unless the cardholder reloads $1,000 or makes 30 or more transactions per month. The reload fee is $4.95 with the exception of direct deposit transactions.

Poor Customer Service

Reviewers from Consumer Affairs and Ripoff Report feel Green Dot Visa should be avoided at all costs because of the fees and poor customer service. Many actually believe that they were robbed by Green Dot as a result of the purchase of cards that were already used or the company's failure to issue a replacement card in a timely manner. In some instances, large merchant holds were placed on accounts, preventing the cardholder from making additional purchases for weeks at a time. When they reached out to customer service to resolve the problem, the response times were extremely delayed and in some cases, incidents were left unresolved.

No Impact on Credit Score

Since it is prepaid, the Green Dot Visa does not build credit history. To be eligible for reporting to the three credit bureaus, the card would need to have a revolving debt balance; this is not the case as the balance is comprised of the cardholder's personal funds. This puts those consumers who are looking to improve their credit score at a disadvantage, and they may have to get a secured credit card or apply for installment loans instead.

Is the Green Dot Visa Right for You?

If you are searching for a cheaper alternative to secured credit cards, an easier way to budget your money, or want to avoid bank fees, you should look into the Green Dot Visa. If, on the other hand, you have good credit and are able to obtain a low-interest credit card, you really do not need a Green Dot Visa. Of course, it's always important to read the terms and conditions before you decide if the Green Dot Visa is right for you.

Guide to Green Dot Visa