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Banking Without Branches: Is GoBank for you?

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Last week, the popular prepaid card provider Green Dot launched GoBank, a new bank account that emulates a traditional checking account but with a mobile-only interactions. Much like Simple, another mobile-based banking service, all deposits and payments are performed via a smartphone app or a debit card. However, where GoBank differs is that it is an actual bank (your deposits are not held at another bank on your behalf as with Simple).

How does it work?

Once you become a “member” of GoBank you’ll get a Visa debit card to use for payments and cash withdrawals. Their standard card is free, but GoBank heavily suggests getting a card with a custom image, which costs $9. The account doesn’t come with checks, but GoBank will mail a check to a third party for free on your behalf. Considering the time and hassle of writing a check to make a payment (not to mention postage) this feature seems particularly useful. For cash withdrawals, customers can withdraw for free from any of over 40,000 network ATMs nationwide. You can deposit money via electronic transfer or using your phone to scan a paper check.

The really interesting part of this account is the fee structure. There are no overdraft fees, and the $9 monthly fee is flexible, meaning the customer chooses what they would like to pay each month. This approach relies on the good-natured consumer paying what they feel is the true value of the service (perhaps dropping at times due to a poor interaction or rising due to a particularly positive one).

Is GoBank for you?

With no physical branches, and all transactions made directly via phone or debit card, this type of bank account could be a difficult transition for some consumers. Others, however, may already be using their checking account in a very similar way. In that case, GoBank could be an excellent option due to its lack of fees.

A few questions still remain: will consumers embrace an entirely mobile banking experience, and will they (given the choice) pay any monthly fee at all?

Learn more about GoBank

  • analyzethis

    Free cash deposits at Walmart also with English as a first language customer service unlike BlueBird.

    • Summer Sunshine

      You are absolutley CORRECT! I currently have BLUEBIRD and the MAIN and ONLY reason I will be leaving them is because of the Customer Service being completely based overseas. That tells you a lot about what AMEX thinks of its BlueBird/Prepaid Card customers. If you are having a “failure to connect” with the BLueBird customer support reps, well lets just say you are SOL!!! AMEX & WALMART’s joint venture made it very clear..”WE DONT CARE ABOUT YOU SO WE ARE HANDING YOU OFF TO THE FOREIGNERS AND TOO BAD IF THEY DONT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE ASKING OR CANT SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM” This is simply UNACCEPTABLE!!! The one thing that companies as cocky as AMEX forget is that when you treat your customers like sh*t and they realize it, its just a matter of time before they jump ship and a competetor takes them from you WITH EASE”. I dont know if GOBANK will be a good product or not for me – but the moment it is available for the general public I will be on that ship as I contacted their customer service dept already to inquire on the product and they were very pleasant, knowledgable and understood EVERY WORD I SAID and address ALL questions and concerns. THESE COMPANIES DONT UNDERSTAND that YOUR PRODUCT HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT NO ONE ELSE CAN COMPARE TO (like IPHONE) BEFORE CUSTOMERS PUT UP WITH HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE; and the THE LAST THING anyone wants is a “Failure to Communicate” when it comes to THEIR OWN MONEY!!! Clearly a lack of RESPECT for the customer on the part of AMEX and WALMART!! Typical corporate/retail/financial giants not realizing they can fail at something as well when they take the mutual repect out of an equation. I had a problem with a BillPay item not getting to its destination, so obviously I needed it researched and the 4 reps that I spoke with HAD NO CLUE AS TO WHAT TO DO!!! How insane is that!!! Way to go GOBANK I hope you rock BLUEBIRD right out of the debit card industry!!!

      • analyzethis

        You are of course correct. If Amex/Bluebird had decent English as a first language customer service I wager most customers would be willing to pay a monthly fee for it. Maybe they can offer a better customer service as a paid option.

        I figure Green Dot/GoBank has been doing prepaid for a long time – their customer service is pretty good so this product will be pretty good.

        My question about GoBank, and one they won’t answer, is whether they will use Chex or some other front end qualifier to approve customers. Simple is a prepaid account but they will deny someone in Chex. They don’t like to talk about it either because they don’t want to be associated with prepaid but you can’t use a Simple card to rent a car.

        6 days for Bluebird to deposit a check, 3 days for GoBank. The new remote deposits from Visa/Chexar being used by Plastyc (iBankup, Upside, Rush, Account Now is 5 days (plus a processing day most likely) at no charge or immediately for 4%. 4% is highway robbery. No one will pay that.

        • rachel_at_simple

          Hi! I’m Simple’s Community Manager, and yes we creep on comments of articles that mention us :) Just wanted to let you know that a. We do use a prepaid processor, but the reason not to use Simple to rent a car (you *can* with most car rental companies, actually, but you shouldn’t) is that Simple is a debit card, not a credit card. Most car rental companies will strongly advise against renting with Debit, since they put a hold on your account for hundreds of dollars.

          Also, our partner bank (The Bancorp Bank) does use Chexsystems to verify customer identities, but a Chexsystems entry won’t automatically deny you an account.

          Also also, we have RDC (photo check deposit), and the first $200 clears after 1 business day, with the remainder clearing the next day :)

          AND FINALLY, John at nerdwallet, our customers’ deposits ARE fully FDIC-insured. So, uh, please make that less scary-sounding!

          <3 Rachel @ Simple. You can ask us more questions at @Simplify on Twitter if you want!

  • Glenn Drane

    Wow! Gobank is the worst! my experience has been the exact opposite. Well Bluebird may have non English speaking customer service representatives.go bank has plenty of English speaking representatives. but what good does an English speaking customer service representative when there’s nothing they can do to help you. case in pointmost of the month of March I was traveling. during my travels I needed to stay in a hotel obviously. each and every time I paid for my hotel gobank authorize the card then they would debit the card so I would have a charge and a pending transaction on each transaction not for just a few dollars but for hundreds of dollars at a time and in some cases they charge me double and debit my account. essentially I would have 3 transactions for hundreds of dollars at a time. My last episode that drew me over the edgeis I want to go check into the hotel. the hotel receptionist swipe my card and it came back declined even though I had enough to satisfied the transaction. when I call the bank to check the status they indicated that the transaction had completed and it was debited from my account for about $300. So the hotel receptionist asked for the transaction number or approval code and go bank provided it.but three days later they put an authorization hold on my card for the same amount which left me me over drawn. So when I called the bank to question the transaction they advised that they were so so sorry about the mishap but they wouldn’t be able to return my money for up to 10 days which was the case on prior transactions . this is not the only time instances like this have occurred and like I said it’s not been just for a few dollars it’s been for hundreds of dollars at a time. so if you need access to your money right away go back is not the bank for you but if you can risk this or afford to have hundreds of dollars on hold for days at a time for no reason then it may be the bank for you. I can never afford to have these large amounts held for ten days. I give them 2 thumbs down no stars and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. Finally they also say that they have over 14,000 free ATMs I’ve paid $5 or more per transaction every time I’ve withdrawing cash from my account. I’m so done with them. RUN AWAY FROM GOBANK