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Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card: a prepaid card worth the fees?

A straightforward but pricey tool for making card purchases without a bank account. 

 /  9 min
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Snapshot

Bottom line

The Green Dot card is a good starter card for individuals who want to practice managing their finances without committing to a bank account. However, be wary of the various fees one can incur when using this card.

Green Dot® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card

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Recommended Credit

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Annual fee

Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card overview

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa Card offers the convenience of a debit card. The card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted in the U.S., and other benefits such as direct deposit and a convenient mobile app add to the appeal of this prepaid card. However, the card’s hefty fees mean this card is more of a learning tool and stop-gap on the road to opening a proper bank account. 

  • Credit Fair

    Credit-building features

    • This is a prepaid card, meaning positive use doesn’t affect your credit. 

    Expert Appraisal: Weak
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • This card does not offer rewards, which is typical of prepaid cards.

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • $1.95 card purchase
    • $7.95 monthly usage fee (you can avoid this fee if you load at least $1,000 monthly)
    • $5.95 cash reload fee
    • $3.00 fee per ATM withdrawal
    • $3.00 teller cash withdrawal fee
    • $0.50 ATM balance inquiry fee
    • 3 percent international transaction fee
    • $5.95 for a set of 12 checks
    • $5 to $15 card replacement fee 

    Expert Appraisal: Weak
    See our expert analysis

Green Dot Prepaid Visa pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    The ASAP Direct Deposit™ feature allows you to deposit checks for free through the mobile app.

  • Checkmark

    Reload your money easily through a mobile deposit, ACH bank transfer or at locations all across the U.S.

  • Checkmark

    As this is a prepaid card, you don’t have to worry about overdraft or bounced check fees.

Cons

  • Long list of additional fees including a $5.95 cash reload fee and $3.00 fee per ATM withdrawal.

  • Since prepaid cards do not report to credit bureaus, positive card usage won’t affect your credit score.

  • No rewards program if you don’t upgrade to the Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa Debit Card.

Why you might want the Green Dot Prepaid Visa

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa offers a few reasons consumers may want to check out the card. 

Usability: Easy to manage

The GreenDot Prepaid Visa is relatively simple to use and maintain: once you purchase the card, you can register and activate it online. The card features direct deposit through the GreenDot mobile app and the ability to upload a picture of a check to deposit into your account. You can also reload your money through eligible locations, including 7-11, CVS or Kroger. Cash is available immediately after depositing and you can withdraw funds using any ATM or teller. There’s a maximum cap of how much money you can deposit onto the card, but this is relatively high at $10,000. 

Automatic upgrade: Register for more perks  

When you purchase and register a new Green Dot Prepaid Visa online, Green Dot will automatically upgrade your card to the Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa Debit Card. This card offers additional features, such as cash back, interest on savings, free in-network ATMs and more. 

Why you might want a different prepaid card

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa carries a few burdens that limit its bottom-line effectiveness. 

Credit-building features: It doesn’t build credit 

If you hope to use the Green Dot Prepaid Visa to build credit, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Since this is a prepaid card, you’re not borrowing money and not performing any actions that Green Dot would report to the major credit bureaus. 

We expect this from a prepaid card, but ideally, a prepaid card offers some other type of benefit to offset the lack of credit-building capabilities. The Green Dot Prepaid lacks many extra perks to incentivize using this particular card over other prepaid or credit-building cards. 

Excessive fees: A pricey card to use 

There are more than a handful of fees associated with the card, including a few particularly painful ones that aren’t common on credit or debit cards. Reloading cash, withdrawing cash, checking your balance at an ATM, making purchases abroad, and simply owning the card month-to-month all come with a cost. You’ll also need to pay for checks and card replacements should you need them. 

Rewards: None available baseline

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa doesn’t offer a baseline rewards structure. Given that the card doesn’t help build your credit score, and other prepaid cards on the market offer rewards, the Green Dot Prepaid Visa falls behind when offering additional value to consumers beyond its base functions. The card’s numerous fees don’t help, and a rewards structure could have helped soften the nagging bite of those costs. 

How the Green Dot Prepaid Visa compares to other prepaid cards

If you’re looking for a prepaid card with a fee structure similar to the Green Dot card but offers cash back rewards, check out the Blue Netspend Visa Prepaid card or the Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard. Both cards allow you access to a free mobile app, free mobile deposits and live customer service. Here’s how they compare. 

Image of Green Dot® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Green Dot's secure site

Annual fee

$0 (Monthly Fee Applies)

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

See Terms
Info
Image of Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
Bankrate Score
Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5
3.1
Apply now Lock
on Netspend's secure site

Annual fee

Up-to $9.95 monthly*

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

See Terms
Info
Image of Brink's Money Prepaid Mastercard®

Brink's Money Prepaid Mastercard®

Annual fee

Variable Monthly Fees

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

See Terms
Info

Best cards to pair with the Green Dot Prepaid Visa

While prepaid cards can be convenient, they don’t report to credit bureaus, so your card usage won’t affect your credit scores. If building credit is a major goal, you could add a secured credit card to your portfolio.

Two great secured cards worth looking into are the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card or the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. This type of credit card is secured by a deposit that becomes the collateral for the card. Since such credit cards generally have lower credit score requirements, they can be a great way to rebuild your credit and pair well with a prepaid card like the Green Dot.

Who is the Green Dot Prepaid Visa right for?

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa will most likely appeal to the following consumers. 

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Green Dot Prepaid Visa worth it?

The Green Dot Prepaid Visa can be a solid choice for those who need to keep their spending under control and want to practice managing their finances before opening a bank account, such as students or those with a history of poor credit. 

However, you shouldn’t view the Green Dot Prepaid Visa as an outright replacement for a bank account. The various fees for ATM usage, foreign transactions and reloading can add up quickly, making the card more of a short-term tool.

How we rated this card

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Our proprietary card rating system takes into account a mix of factors when scoring credit cards for students and people building credit, including each card’s cost, APR, credit-building tools and more.

We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for students and people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score and scored each based on where its key features stood in relation to others in its category. 

Here are some of the key factors that gave this card its score:

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Written by
Steve Dashiell
Editor, Credit cards

Steven Dashiell is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com with expertise in rewards credit cards, financial literacy, and helping consumers build and maintain their credit.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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