Green Dot Prepaid Card Review

A Prepaid Mastercard or Visa With No Credit Check Required

Woman uses credit card while holding a tablet.
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Green Dot prepaid Mastercard and Visa cards can be a good alternative to credit cards, secured cards, and bank accounts for people who want to avoid a credit check or are seeking an alternative to using bank checking accounts.

More and more consumers are looking into prepaid cards as banks raise fees on their checking accounts and debit cards. Prepaid cards work similar to checking account debit cards.

You must load money onto the prepaid card before you can use it for purchases. Since the Green Dot prepaid card is branded with a major credit card processing network—your choice of MasterCard or Visa—you can use it almost everywhere you use credit cards. And because you're spending money you've loaded onto the card rather than accessing a credit line, you don't have to go through a credit check to get approved for a card. 

Using a Green Dot Prepaid Card

You can use a Green Dot prepaid card just like a credit card for online purchases, bill paying, and everyday shopping. You don't have to maintain a minimum balance, and the funds you load onto the card are protected against unauthorized transactions.

You must order a personalized card online (as opposed to generic cards that can be purchased in stores) to use your card for automatic monthly payments like a gym membership or to use it for renting a vehicle or reserving a hotel room.

You can load money onto the card by having your pay direct deposited, by having a cashier load cash onto your card (subject to a $4.95 reload fee), using mobile check deposit with your smartphone, or by transferring the funds from your bank account to your card. You can reload cash at major retailers including ACE Cash Express, CVS, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Kroger, Rite Aid, Safeway, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, and Walmart.

Green Dot Prepaid Card Pricing

The downside to prepaid cards is that they come with a lot of fees. Some you can avoid, but you have to navigate the process of doing so. Some of the fees include:

  • Up to $4.95 to purchase the card from a retailer
  • $4.95 reload fee
  • $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee when you use out-of-network ATMs, plus whatever fee the ATM operator charges
  • 3 percent foreign transaction fee
  • $5 card replacement fee
  • $5.95 monthly fee can be waived any month you load $1,000 or more onto the card

Other than the initial $4.95 fee, most of the other fees can be avoided. That means using electronic methods, like mobile check depositing to load funds onto your card and avoiding trips to the ATM.

Mobile check deposit is a plus for consumers who typically would pay a check cashing fee to have a check cashed. You can simply use the Green Dot app to take a picture of the front and back of your check, and the funds will be loaded onto your card for free. There may be a processing delay that keeps you from using your funds for a few business days.

The Green Dot prepaid card is one of the most widely used prepaid cards. While it won't help you build a credit history, it will allow you to conduct business in a society that becomes increasingly dependent on electronic payments.