Green Dot Bank Review

Is Green Dot Bank a good bank?

Woman withdrawing money at the ATM
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Green Dot Bank is an online bank offering an unlimited cash back bank account and high-yield savings account. Green Dot Bank is held by Green Dot Corporation, which also owns Bonneville Bank and GoBank. Green Dot has been around since 1999, with its first prepaid debit card coming on the market in 2001. Publicly traded since 2010, Green Dot provides banking services for millions of customers. 

Who Is Green Dot Best For?

Green Dot is a good fit for people who are comfortable shopping online and using an app to handle their money. It may be a good fit for those who want:

  • Up to 3% cash back for spending online or through specific apps
  • A competitive interest rate on savings
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Unlimited rewards
  • 24/7 customer service by phone or chat
  • The ability to deposit cash at major retailers

What We Like

  • Earn 3% cash back on certain purchases

  • No overdraft fees

  • No credit check

  • No minimum balance requirements

What We Don't Like

  • Monthly fee of $7.95 is steep if you don't meet spending minimums

  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee

  • Cash-back rewards are restricted to certain transaction types

  • No joint accounts allowed

What Does Green Dot Offer?

Green Dot offers two accounts:

  • Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account
  • High-Yield Savings Account

Green Dot also offers a mobile app.

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account

The Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account is a spending account with the potential to earn rewards. It's not referred to in the deposit account agreement as a "checking account," but that's how it functions; you can even order a little pack of checks if you need to write a check. (The fee for a pack of 12 checks is $5.95.)

  • Receive direct deposit from your employer up to two days earlier than usual
  • Earn cash back on certain online and in-app purchases (restrictions apply)
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No overdraft or bounced-check fees
  • Monthly maintenance fee of $7.95
  • Deposit to your account using direct deposit, electronic transfers, mobile check deposit, or at major retailers ($4.95 fee may apply)
  • Visa debit card included

While the cash-back feature sounds appealing, it’s only valuable to the extent that your rewards exceed the monthly fees (or if you can qualify for a waiver of that fee). For example, you would need to spend $265 on qualified purchases each month to earn the $7.95 in rewards that would offset the monthly fee. Then you would need to spend more after that to earn rewards after that breakeven point.

To waive the monthly fee, you need to have spent at least $1,000 on qualifying purchases during the previous month. For your purchase to qualify, the merchant you buy from must classify it as an online or in-app purchase.

Airline tickets, gift card purchases, and bill payments do not count toward cash-back rewards.

You'll receive your cash-back rewards as a credit to your account after the 12-month period is over.

If you want to find your nearest ATM, you'll need to download the app and create an account—you won't be able to find it using Green Dot's website. In-network ATM withdrawals are free; out-of-network transactions carry a $3 fee unless you're simply checking your balance, in which case the fee is 50 cents. Those are on top of what the ATM operator may charge you. Withdrawing cash from a teller carries a $3 fee as well.

Your money is FDIC-insured at Green Dot, but your Green Dot cash-back account and your savings account are considered one account for insurance purposes. Also, if you have an account with GoBank or Bonneville Bank, they are all considered to be the same bank—Green Dot Bank—for insurance purposes.

High-Yield Savings Account

The High-Yield Savings Account enables you to earn interest on your saved funds with Green Dot. The account pays a competitive interest rate, but you can only fund your Green Dot savings account from your Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back account.

Green Dot calculates your interest by taking the average daily balance of your account for each day over the previous 12-month period and multiplying that by 3%. You must wait until your anniversary date to receive the interest in your account. In contrast, other high-yield bank accounts compound interest daily and pay it monthly.

The interest rate as of May 17, 2020, is attractive, but note that, like other online banks, Green Dot reserves the right to change the rate at any time. Also, there are deposit restrictions; your first transfer is limited to $100, and subsequent transfers limited to $1,000, with a monthly maximum of $3,000.

Your High-Yield Savings Account is FDIC-insured together with your unlimited cash-back account to the regulatory limit, which is $250,000 per depositor.

Credit Cards

Green Dot also offers a secured credit card that can help you build your credit:

Green Dot Bank Customer Service

For customer support, you can call Green Dot's customer service line at 866) 795-7597. If you need to resolve a dispute, you can e-mail a member of their resolution team; otherwise, there's an FAQ on its website to help you figure out your concern, or you can send a letter to their Pasadena, California, mailing address.

How to Bank With Green Dot

There are several ways to open an account.

  • Download the app and apply.
  • Apply online at Green Dot’s website.
  • Purchase a limited-use starter kit at a retailer such as Walmart or CVS.

As with any financial institution, you need to provide personal information to open an account, including date of birth and Social Security number. You won't be able to add funds with a wire, so you'll need to fund the initial deposit another way if that was your plan.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

BENEFITS

Green Dot Bank can help you earn rewards on money you spend, and you may also receive a competitive rate on savings. It may also be handy for people in service industries who regularly receive cash and want options for depositing those funds at retail stores. It offers online bill pay and lets you send a check to billers you can't pay electronically.

DRAWBACKS

However, it may be hard to overcome the monthly fee with this account considering the spending requirements and restrictions. There are numerous other fees, too, which could add up quickly if you aren't careful, and depositing cash requires a trip to the store. And while the savings account yields a good rate, it only pays out once per year.

Article Sources

  1. Green Dot Corporation. "Prospectus Summary," Page 4. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  2. Green Dot Bank. "Why Green Dot?" Accessed May 17, 2020.

  3. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 36. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  4. Green Dot Bank. "Earn Unlimited 3% Cash Back." Accessed May 17, 2020.

  5. Green Dot. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 39. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  6. Green Dot. "Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account, by Green Dot: Account Agreement," Page 40. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  7. Green Dot. "Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account, by Green Dot: Account Agreement," Page 2. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  8. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account FAQs." Accessed May 17, 2020.

  9. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 4. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  10. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 24. Accessed May 17, 2020.

  11. Green Dot Bank. "The Power to Build Your Credit." Accessed May 17, 2020.

  12. Green Dot Bank. "Simplify Your Bills. Simplify Your Life." Accessed May 17, 2020.