Green Dot Bank Review

Earn Cash-Back Rewards When You Spend Online

Woman withdrawing money at the ATM
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Green Dot Bank is an FDIC-insured online bank offering prepaid cards, a high-yield savings account, and the potential to earn cash back on purchases. You primarily work with Green Dot online or with a mobile app, but you can deposit cash and use free ATMs at certain retailers.

Who Is Green Dot Best For?

Green Dot provides an attractive cash back reward for customers who shop online or use apps that have a relationship with Green Dot. It may be a good fit for those who want:

  • 3% cash back for spending online or through specific apps
  • A competitive interest rate on savings 
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • A cash-back program that does not set a maximum limit on rewards
  • A virtual bank with the ability to deposit cash
  • 24/7 customer service by phone or chat
  • Thousands of fee-free ATMs inside stores like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Earn 3% cash back on select in-app and online purchases

  • No overdraft fees

  • Potential to earn up to 3% APY on up to $10,000 in your savings account

Cons

  • Potential $7.95 monthly fee unless you meet spending requirements

  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee

  • No cash-back rewards for in-person spending, airline tickets, and other transactions

  • Must manually pre-authorize any checks you write

  • No joint accounts allowed

Types of Accounts

Green Dot offers the following types of bank accounts:

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

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account

The Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account is a spending account with the potential to earn rewards. Rewards are available when you use your debit card online or you make purchases through certain apps (such as ride-sharing apps, for example). Below are other account features to note.

  • Receive direct deposit from your employer up to two days earlier than usual
  • Order paper checks, if needed, for a fee of $5.95 per book of 12 checks
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • No overdraft or bounced check fees
  • Potential monthly maintenance fee of $7.95
  • Deposits can be made with online transfers and the mobile app, or with cash or check deposits at participating retailers

While the cash back feature is appealing, it’s only valuable to the extent your rewards exceed the monthly fees (or if you can qualify for a waiver of that fee). For example, if you spend $265 for qualified purchases each month, you’d accrue $7.95 to offset the fees. Additional spending would result in rewards, but to eliminate the monthly fee you’d have to spend at least $1,000 on qualifying purchases during the previous month. Qualified purchases may include items bought online at Amazon, Walmart, GrubHub, Etsy, and more, as well as through their respective apps and other apps like Uber, Wish, InstaCart, and more.

You do not receive your rewards monthly. Instead, Green Dot pays out any rewards on your account anniversary, assuming your account is open and in good standing.

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.

  • Potentially earn up to 3% APY on your savings
  • Green Dot does not pay interest on balances above $10,000
  • Receive your interest earnings once per year on your account anniversary. Keep in mind that most high-yield savings accounts distribute interest earnings monthly.

Like the Unlimited Cash Back Account, the High-Yield Savings Account is FDIC insured. The interest rate is attractive when compared to other online banks, but it’s important to note that Green Dot discloses on its site and in the terms and conditions that this rate is accurate as of July 2019, and that it reserves the right to change the interest rate at any time. (We independently confirmed with the bank that the 3% APY rate is still accurate as of Jan. 23, 2020.) However, it may still be an excellent place to store free cash that you set aside for goals.

Other Types of Accounts

Green Dot offers other prepaid cards and a secured credit card designed to help you build credit.

Green Dot 5% Cash Back Visa Debit Card

  • Potential to earn up to 5% cash back per year, up to $100
  • Receive direct deposits up to two days earlier
  • No overdraft fees
  • Several fees, including a monthly fee of $9.95, $3 ATM withdrawal fee, and more

Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card

  • Receive direct deposits up to two days earlier
  • No overdraft fees
  • Monthly fee of $7.95 can be waived if $1,000 or more is loaded onto the card during the previous monthly period
  • Cash reload fee of up to $5.95 and $3 ATM withdrawal fee

Load & Go Prepaid Visa Card

  • No monthly fee
  • Several other fees, including $1.50 per purchase, $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee, and many more

Green Dot Platinum Visa Credit Card

  • No credit check required
  • Credit limit is equal to the amount of your refundable security deposit up to $5,000
  • Minimum deposit of $200
  • Several fees, including an annual fee of $39

To learn more about the Green Dot Platinum Visa Credit Card, read our review.

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, CVS, and others

As with any financial institution, you need to provide personal information to open an account.

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Social Security number (SSN)
  • Date of birth
  • Email address and phone number

You can add funds to your account in the following ways.

  • Set up direct deposit with your employer
  • Transfer funds from a linked bank account
  • Deposit cash at retail stores like Walmart or CVS
  • Deposit checks with your mobile device

Green Dot Bank allows you to transfer funds into your account from another bank via ACH, but there is no option for wire transfers, and you cannot transfer money out with ACH. Instead, the only way to move money to another bank account is by withdrawing it in cash or writing a check, and then re-depositing it. As a result, it may be best to limit the amount of money you send to Green Dot. Deposit as much as you plan to spend, or as much as you want to keep in the High-Yield Savings Account.

Account Fees

Green Dot Bank’s Unlimited Cash Back account has a notable monthly fee that might be hard to avoid. Plus, if you use checks frequently, you might find better pricing and a smoother process at other banks.

Monthly fees:

  • $7.95 unless you spend at least $1,000 on qualifying purchases with your card

Other fees:

  • Out-of-network ATM withdrawal: $3
  • Out-of-network ATM balance inquiry: $0.50
  • Cash withdrawal at bank teller: $3
  • Replacement card: $5
  • Order of checks: $5.95 for 12 checks
  • Foreign transactions: 3% of the transaction amount
  • Adding cash to your account is free at Walmart or CVS when you use the app, but you may have to pay $5.95 at other retailers.

About Green Dot Bank

Green Dot Corp. is a technology and bank holding company, and Green Dot Bank is part of that organization. Headquartered in Pasadena, California, Green Dot offers several prepaid cards and other financial services. Money at Green Dot Bank is FDIC insured.

Steve Streit founded Green Dot in 1999 with a goal of helping young people use debit cards. The company offered their first prepaid debit card in 2001, and products were available in retail stores like Rite Aid and CVS. By 2006, the reach in retail stores increased, and Green Dot had sold more than 2 million cards to consumers around the world. Green Dot became a public company in 2010. It trades on the stock exchange as GDOT.

As of January 2020, Green Dot products are available at over 100,000 retailers, and the company has several lines of business, such as GoBank.

The Bottom Line

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 those in service industries who regularly receive cash and want numerous options for depositing funds at retail stores.

But while the cash-back feature is promising, it may be hard to overcome the monthly fee with this account. What’s more, Green Dot Bank probably won’t replace your bank account because there’s no online bill payment available, and you can’t wire money out or withdraw funds via ACH. And while online chat support is quick and helpful, reaching somebody by phone may not be easy.

Overall, if you can dodge the monthly fee, this account may be a useful tool for getting cash back on your everyday purchases.

Article Sources

  1. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 36. Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  2. Green Dot Bank. "Getting Started: Why Green Dot? Who Is Green Dot?" Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  3. Green Dot Bank. "Earn Unlimited 3% Cash Back!" Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  4. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account FAQs: What Are the Fees for an Unlimited Cash Back Savings Account?" Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  5. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account FAQs: How Do I Receive the 3% Annual Interest on Funds Kept in My High-Yield Savings Account?" Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  6. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  7. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot 5% Cash Back Visa Debit Card FAQs." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  8. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  9. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot Load & Go Visa Card." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  10. Green Dot Bank. "Green Dot Platinum Visa Card." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  11. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 5-6. Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  12. Green Dot Bank. "Unlimited Cash Back Account, by Green Dot: Deposit Account Agreement," Page 7. Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  13. Green Dot Bank. "History." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.

  14. Green Dot Bank. "About Us." Accessed Jan. 31, 2020.