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RushCard Prepaid Debit Card Review

Banking, Prepaid Debit Cards
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RushCard
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RushCard, recently bought by Green Dot Corp., is a prepaid debit card that might appeal to those who lack a checking account and want a way to receive paychecks and make payments. But given the many fees it charges, RushCard adds up to a fairly expensive way to manage your money.

The bottom line

  • No way to avoid fees, even if you set up direct deposit.
  • Convenient for unbanked consumers but not the best value among prepaid debit cards.
  • Company’s reputation tarnished after a major technology outage in October 2015 caused tens of thousands of users to be locked out of their accounts, in some cases for weeks. In February 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined RushCard’s parent company, UniRush, and the card’s payment processor, MasterCard, $3 million and ordered them to pay $10 million to those affected. That came after the company agreed in 2016 to pay at least $19 million to affected customers to settle a class-action lawsuit.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best prepaid debit cards

Prepaid Visa RushCard pros and cons

ProsCons

24,000 fee-free MoneyPass ATMs.

Unavoidable fees, including purchase cost.

Online and mobile account management, including bill pay and set-aside account for savings.

Can only load cash at third-party stores that will likely charge a fee.

Mobile check deposits via partner Ingo take 10 days to clear, unless you pay for same-day service.

The card at a glance

Fees or featuresDescription
Fees$7.95 per month ($5.95 with direct deposit) for the unlimited plan.

$1 per transaction ($10 monthly maximum) for the pay-as-you-go plan.
ReloadsDirect deposit: $0.

Load cash at retailers: No RushCard fee, but the service provider may charge a fee.

Online transfers from your bank: $0.
WithdrawalsAt MoneyPass ATMs: $0.

Out-of-network ATMs: $2.50.

From bank teller: $2.50.

Cash back at retailer: $0 (or included in $1 transaction fee).
Other notable feesActivation fee: $3.95 for basic card; $9.95 for a deluxe card design.

Out-of-network ATM balance inquiry: 50 cents.

Card replacement: One free per 12 months; thereafter $4.95.
Inactivity fee: $1.95 monthly after 90 days (pay-as-you-go plan only).
Other servicesTransfer to another person's RushCard: 99 cents.

Online bill pay: $0.

Mobile check deposit: $0 (or, if same-day option, 1%-4% of the check amount).

» MORE: What to know about prepaid debit cards

You can get a RushCard regardless of your credit history or a negative ChexSystems review of your banking history. But it’s more expensive than some other prepaid debit cards out there. American Express Serve, Bluebird and Kaiku, for example, have fewer fees and more free services. While RushCard charges you $3.95 the first time you load money onto the basic card — or $9.95 if you go for the fancier card design the company tries to upsell you — the other prepaid options provide you with at least one free means of getting a card.

RushCard’s pay-as-you-go option costs $1 per transaction, up to $10 a month. You can choose a $7.95 monthly plan with unlimited transactions; with direct deposit, the fee drops to $5.95. By comparison, Bluebird has no monthly or transaction fees, and American Express Serve and Kaiku both waive their monthly fees if you meet a monthly load requirement.

If you’re considering RushCard’s cheaper monthly plan, it’s worth noting that many banks and credit unions waive checking account fees if you meet direct deposit minimums, and some online banks charge no fees at all. Even if you’ve been denied a checking account in the past, you could be eligible for second chance checking, accounts designed for consumers with poor ChexSystems histories.

The RushCard Visa prepaid debit card is widely accepted at merchants and comes with certain protections: It meets Visa’s standard for clear fee disclosures and is covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The free ATM network is sizable, and there is a variety of ways to load money to the RushCard. You can use direct deposit, or use several different cash or check load networks — though the service provider may charge a fee.

Not the best value

RushCard
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RushCard users can load money through MoneyPak, MoneyGram, Western Union and Green Dot programs, which are available at various retail chains like CVS, 7-Eleven and Wal-Mart. Beware of third-party fees adding up: Each network or retailer may charge its own fees, even though RushCard doesn’t charge anything.

If you’re working toward certain goals, RushCard has a set-aside feature that lets you designate money for your vacation savings, for example, or an emergency fund. However, it is not an actual savings account and does not pay any interest. Consumers who are getting serious about savings could consider putting their money to work in a high-yield savings account.

Jeanne Lee is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: jlee@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @jlee_jeanne. NerdWallet writer Spencer Tierney contributed to this report.

Verified  Feb. 2, 2017.