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Green Dot Prepaid Card

Prepaid Debit Card Showdown: WalMart MoneyCard vs Western Union MoneyWise

by on October 29, 2010

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You’ve probably seen the WalMart MoneyCard at your local WalMart, offered in partnership with Green Dot Financial. It’s the most popular prepaid debit card in America – about 1 million of these cards are purchased every 3 months at the time of this writing. While it’s definitely one of the better deals out there, it’s not the best deal. That honor belongs to a more recent offering from Western Union, called the MoneyWise Card.

Fees: Western Union Wins.

The fees tell a pretty straightforward story. Direct deposit is free at Western Union, but if you need to deposit money at a Western Union location, there is a higher fee. That’s the one downside of the MoneyWise card relative to the WalMart MoneyCard. The Western Union card has no activation fee, no monthly fee, a lower ATM fee, and a lower balance inquiry fee. There’s a heck of a lot more Western Unions around the US and World than WalMarts, which should mean that it’s usually more convenient locating a WU than a WalMart.

Fee WalMart MoneyCard Western Union MoneyWise
Activation $3.00 $0.00
Monthly Fee $3.00 $0.00
ATM Fee $3.00 $1.95
Balance Inquiry Fee $1.00 $0.45
Deposit/Reload Fee $3.00 $4.95

Customer Service & Trustworthiness: Western Union Wins.

Bottom line – The WalMart MoneyCard and Green Dot Financial have gotten thousands of complaints on message boards. We couldn’t find any complaints on Western Union. You do the math.

When comparing the cards we have to consider the ridiculous number of consumer complaints levied against the Green Dot Prepaid Cards and the WalMart MoneyCard.

Out of the first 100 complaints, 9% of the complaints involved attempts to return merchandise that resulted in no refund, 35% involved complete loss of deposited money due to some reason or another (not fraud related), and 17% involved fraud related losses unrecoverable by Green Dot. That should raise some red flags, because judging from the message board, customer service is virtually non existent, so nobody can help out when something goes wrong.

Meanwhile, we didn’t come across many complaints about the Western Union MoneyWise card. Now you definitely have to consider that there are many more Green Dot and MoneyCard users out there, but it makes you wonder if Western Union’s customer service addresses customer issues, whereas Green Dot’s strategy involves hanging up on the customer.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from various consumer complaint boards.

“Once you have paid with green dot you have no protection or room to dispute ANYTHING!! You have no proof that you paid for something and no recourse if you have been ripped off.”

and

“If you purchase a prepaid credit card & want to dispute a transaction, you’d want customer support to assist you in correcting the problem i definitely dont want to write a letter to some po box.”

We believe this comment, because there appears to be a whole scam industry surrounding the use of Green Dot cards to buy non-existent items from fake stores. Apparently scam artist are counting on the fact that you can’t block payment to a merchant you are having a dispute with, unlike with a normal debit card.

“I ORDERED A 12′ HARDTOP PAVILION FROM THE ABOVE CO WEBSITE. THEY REQUESTED I PAY WITH A GREEN DOT MONEY PAK RATHER THAN PAYPAL BECAUSE I WAS A NEW CUSTOMER.”

Well… you can guess how that turned out. If you’re thinking about getting a WalMart MoneyCard, don’t. Get a Western Union card or go to our prepaid debit card list and sort by “Rewards” – it will give the latest list of cards, ranked by their monthly fees.

TKO – Western Union MoneyWise dominates WalMart MoneyCard

In case you were wondering, there are a lot of other prepaid debit cards that did not fare well in our analysis. We ran a hypothetical scenario – What’s your average monthly fee over 6 months, assuming 1.5 ATM withdrawals per month, 8 purchases, 1 balance inquiry, and 2 reloads?

  • Green Dot Prepaid Card – $19.11
  • WalMart MoneyCard – $12.50
  • NetSpend Visa – $25.81
  • Emerald Card – $12.83
  • Rush Card – $22.91
  • Vision Premier – $17.83
  • Western Union MoneyWise – $12.45
  • AccountNow – $22.86
  • Ace Cash Express from NetSpend – $24.49
  • PayPower – $16.28

And what about your typical checking account fees, if you don’t meet the minimum balance requirement? Note that checking accounts offer all of the services named above for free.

  • Bank of America – $8.95
  • Capital One – $0
  • Chase – $6
  • Citi – $7.50
  • HSBC – $3
  • PNC – $0
  • SunTrust – $0
  • TD Bank – $3
  • US Bank – $0
  • Wells Fargo – $5
Green Dot Walmart MoneyCard NetSpend Visa Emerald Card Rush Card Vision Premier Western Union MoneyWise AccountNow ACE Cash Express (NetSpend) PayPower Average
Prepaid Debit Card Fees
Activation 4.95 3.00 13.90 4.45 19.95 9.95 0.00 9.95 13.43 3.95
Monthly Fee 5.95 3.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.95 0.00 9.95 0.00 5.95
ATM Withdrawal 2.50 2.00 2.50 1.95 1.95 1.95 1.95 2.50 2.50 1.95
Purchases 0.00 0.00 1.50 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.50 0.00
Balance Inquiries 0.50 1.00 0.50 1.00 0.50 0.95 0.45 1.00 1.00 0.50
Deposit/Reload 4.95 3.00 3.95 4.45 4.45 3.30 4.95 4.45 3.00 3.95
First Month
Activation 4.95 3.00 13.90 4.45 19.95 9.95 0.00 9.95 13.43 3.95
ATM Withdrawal 3.75 3.00 3.75 2.93 2.93 2.93 2.93 3.75 3.75 2.93
Purchases 0.00 0.00 12.00 0.00 8.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 12.00 0.00
Balance Inquiries 0.50 1.00 0.50 1.00 0.50 0.95 0.45 1.00 1.00 0.50
Deposit/Reload 4.95 3.00 3.95 4.45 4.45 3.30 4.95 4.45 3.00 3.95
Total Fee 14.15 10.00 34.10 12.83 35.83 17.13 8.33 19.15 33.18 11.33
Subsequent Months
Monthly Fee 5.95 3.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.95 0.00 9.95 0.00 5.95
ATM Withdrawal 3.75 3.00 3.75 2.93 2.93 2.93 2.93 3.75 3.75 2.93
Purchases 0.00 0.00 12.00 0.00 8.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 12.00 0.00
Balance Inquiries 0.50 1.00 0.50 1.00 0.50 0.95 0.45 1.00 1.00 0.50
Deposit/Reload 9.90 6.00 7.90 8.90 8.90 6.60 9.90 8.90 6.00 7.90
Total 20.10 13.00 24.15 12.83 20.33 17.43 13.28 23.60 22.75 17.28
Annual Total 114.65 75.00 154.85 76.95 137.45 104.25 74.70 137.15 146.93 97.70
Average Monthly Fee $19.11 $12.50 $25.81 $12.83 $22.91 $17.38 $12.45 $22.86 $24.49 $16.28 $19.14
Bank of America Capital One Chase Citi HSBC PNC SunTrust TD Bank US Bank Wells Fargo
Checking Account Fees
Monthly Fee 8.95 0.00 6.00 7.50 3.00 0.00 0.00 3.00 6.95 5.00
Out of Network ATM 2.00 1.50 2.00 1.50 1.50 2.00 2.00 0.00 2.00 2.50
Overdraft 35.00 35.00 34.00 34.00 35.00 30.50 36.00 35.00 28.00 35.00
Monthly Fees
Monthly Fee 8.95 0.00 6.00 7.50 3.00 0.00 0.00 3.00 0.00 5.00
Out of Network ATM 2.00 1.50 2.00 1.50 1.50 2.00 2.00 0.00 2.00 2.50
Average Monthly Fee $10.95 $1.50 $8.00 $9.00 $4.50 $2.00 $2.00 $3.00 $2.00 $7.50 $6.82
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  • pretap

    Wonderful feedback on these cards but I’d also like to know why it seems NONE of them carries the “PLUS, NYCE, ACCEL, etc.” emblems, which I’m told is VERY important (the gas companies in New York City will NOT accept debit cards without these emblems)? Lastly, can anyone here PLEASE explain to me why our ‘photos’ are not placed on these cards (Citibank used to do it), in order to stop identity theft in it’s tracks? Imagine how thieves could be stopped from using cards if ‘your’ pic appears on it?