Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa® Debit Card review

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Snapshot

3.2

Bankrate rating
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Bottom line

The Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa Debit Card is a unique blend between a prepaid card and an online bank account. It’s a good choice for anyone wants to earn unlimited 2 percent cash back on purchases. Plus, its separate savings account earns 2 percent annual interest (APY) on balances up to $10,000, offering users a nice boost of up to $200 with interest.

Green Dot Image

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account by Green Dot

Rewards rate

N/A

Annual fee

See Terms

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good  (580 - 740)

Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa® Debit Card overview

Debit card and checking account rewards are pretty rare nowadays, but they can be a convenient way to earn some extra cash back. Just don’t expect to rake in as much as you would with a solid rewards credit card.

The Green Dot Bank Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa® Debit Card earns an impressive 2 percent cash back on online and mobile purchases, plus it throws in a 2 percent APY savings account (on up to a $10,000). These are fantastic rates compared to checking accounts and high-yield savings accounts we’ve seen, but continue reading our Green Unlimited Cash Back Card review to see how the fine print affects your rewards potential.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Excellent unlimited cash back rate
  • Additional 2 percent APY high-yield savings account (on up to balances of $100,000)
  • Cash can be deposited at thousands of major retailer locations, including Walmart

Cons

  • $7.95 monthly fee (waived by spending $1,000+ with your debit card during the previous month)
  • Merchant category codes (MCCs) and Green Dot Bank’s qualifying purchase definition exclude many reward-earning opportunities
  • Credit card cash back programs generally offer better cash back and benefits

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 2 percent cash back on online and mobile purchases
  • Monthly fee: $7.95 (waived by spending at least $1,000 in the previous monthly period)
  • Initial deposit: $20 to $500
  • Early direct deposit? Yes (“ASAP Direct Deposit,” up to two days before payday)
  • Out of network ATM withdrawal fee: $3 per transaction (50 cents for ATM balance inquiry)
  • Overdraft fee: N/A
  • Early direct deposit? Yes (“ASAP Direct Deposit,” up to two days before payday)
  • Additional savings account included? Yes (2 percent APY on up to a $10,000 balance)

Rewards rate

Unlimited 2 percent cash back is excellent, even for cash back credit cards. But cash back-earning purchases in the online and mobile spending bonus categories are limited by merchant category codes (MCCs) and Green Dot’s restrictive qualifying terms.

Earning cash back

In order to receive the unlimited 2 percent cash back on online and mobile purchases, the merchant category code—a four-digit number used to classify businesses based on their primary products/services—must describe it as a strictly online or mobile purchase.

The issue here is that there aren’t many specific MCCs in Visa’s entire list specifically outlining goods and services that fit the description for online and mobile purchases. The card agreement says that depending on the retailer’s MCC, “some online and in-app purchases appear to us as non-qualifying purchases.” If the merchant’s code doesn’t categorize itself as an online or mobile merchant, then you won’t earn cash back.

For example, if you order from a brick-and-mortar bookstore online, its MCC doesn’t indicate it was an online merchant and the Green Dot app doesn’t notify you that it was online purchase either, your purchase won’t earn rewards.

Your other reward opportunities are further limited by Green Dot’s sprawling list of which online purchases don’t qualify:

  • Airline purchases
  • Person-to-person transactions (services such as PayPal and Venmo), digital wallets (such as Apple Pay and Google Pay), digital and gambling currencies (such as casino chips, lottery tickets and in-game currency purchases for mobile and online video games) and traveler’s checks
  • Prepaid cards, such as gift cards
  • Bill payments
  • greendot.com and Green Dot mobile app transactions

That means that even if you shop on Amazon.com or make in-app purchases, you can’t earn cash back while guarding your card with a digital wallet or another third-party P2P payment service. This strips away a strong layer of identity theft protection when you’re shopping online—which is especially concerning since debit cards don’t have the same protections as credit cards.

Redeeming cash back

Cash back can only be added to your account after 12 months of use, meaning upon your account anniversary each year. You then have one year to redeem the rewards before they expire.

This is remarkably less flexible than how many rewards credit cards operate. Usually, you receive your new rewards and can redeem them shortly after each month’s billing statement.

How much are rewards worth?

Once you consider the $7.95 monthly fee, any returns you make from cash back take a huge cut. It would take spending $397.50 each month on online or mobile purchases to break even. Otherwise, you can spend $1,000 each month to waive the monthly fee and save nearly $8 of rewards. If you usually spend less than $1,000 with your debit card each month, you’ll be losing almost $100 in rewards each year in monthly fees.

To decide if these rewards are worthwhile, you should evaluate your budget and gauge how much you spend shopping online and via mobile each month.

Rates and fees

The Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back card carries a number of fees, many of which are common, but avoidable with the right product.

  • Monthly fee: $7.95 (waived after spending $1,000+ in the previous monthly period)
  • Out of network ATM withdrawal: $3 per transaction ($0.50 for ATM balance inquiry)*
  • Teller cash withdrawal fee: $3 per transaction*
  • Replacement card: $5
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3 percent*
  • Paper check fee: $5.95 for 12 checks (No bounced check fee)
  • Overdraft fee: N/A
  • Minimum balance requirement: N/A

*On top of other ATM and merchant fees, etc.

Green Dot may also place limits on the number of checks or the dollar amount that you can deposit (outside the direct deposit). Depending on the retailer you deposit cash at, they may also have their own limits and could charge up to a $5.95 deposit fee.

How the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back card compares to other cash back debit and credit cards

The Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back card offers a high cash back and APY rate compared to other rewards debit cards and savings accounts at its level. In fact, we’ve found the Unlimited Cash Back Account’s 2 percent APY is much higher than the 0.09 percent average savings account APY (as of Sept. 23, 2020) and many other high-yield savings accounts we’ve reviewed.

Green Dot Image

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account by Green Dot

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3.2

Annual fee

See Terms

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Fair to Good(580 - 740)
Wells Fargo Image

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200 cash rewards

Rewards rate

2%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Capital One Image

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1.5%–5%

Recommended credit

No Credit History

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account by Green Dot vs. Discover Bank Checking Account

However, other rewards checking accounts can earn more versatile cash back across a wider pool of purchases. The Discover Bank checking account earns 1 percent cash back on up to $3,000 debit card purchases each month—not just online or mobile purchases—with no monthly fee.

If you were dead-set on unlimited debit cash back, the “fee-free” Radius Bank Rewards Checking account offers unlimited 1 percent cash back on signature-based debit purchases, plus 1.5 percent back on select categories.

Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account by Green Dot vs. Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

In most cases, you’re better off with a cash back credit card when it comes to rewards. Many cash back cards carry extra benefits and earn more rewards over a larger range of purchases. For example, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card can earn up to unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases.

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is a solid alternative option (earns unlimited 1.5 percent back on all purchases) if you haven’t built up a prime credit score just yet.

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back card worth it?

The Green Dot Bank Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa debit card’s 2 percent cash back on mobile and online purchases, plus 2 percent high-yield savings account APY, are a notch above competing accounts’ rates. Unfortunately, the seemingly broad bonus categories are narrowed a bit by the issuer’s definition of a qualifying purchase. These restrictions and a monthly fee make other rewards debit cards more lucrative options.

But as with other rewards checking accounts, you should view Green Dot’s debit card as an added perk rather than a deciding factor in where you bank. Cash back credit cards are ultimately a better use of your rewards spending.

All information about the Green Dot Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account Visa® Debit Card, Discover Bank checking account debit card and Radius Bank Rewards Checking account debit card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions