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Walmart MoneyCard Prepaid Debit Card: Cash-Back Rewards Offset by Hard-to-Avoid Fees

March 14, 2016 Banking, Banking Basics, Prepaid Debit Cards
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Wal-Mart has changed its MoneyCard prepaid debit card to focus on its store customers. What had been a card for general prepaid users, with robust ATM access and a low monthly fee, is now a card with rewards for Wal-Mart customers and higher fees.

The card, still operated by Green Dot Bank, now has cash-back rewards from Wal-Mart purchases, more online services and a mobile app, suitable for customers who want an easy way to track their money. Outside of Wal-Mart, you can use your card for purchases without paying fees, but withdrawing or loading cash always costs money.

The Walmart MoneyCard may be right for you if:

  • You shop frequently at Wal-Mart online or in stores and would like to earn cash-back rewards.
  • You generally can load or withdraw cash at a Wal-Mart to avoid fees.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best prepaid debit cards

Walmart MoneyCard

ProsCons

Rewards for Wal-Mart customers, up to $75 in cash back per year

Rewards can only be redeemed all at once after 12 months; your card must still be opened and in good standing — meaning rewards are forfeited unless all monthly fees are paid

Expanded online services, such as mobile check deposit, web peer-to-peer transfers, and budgeting and saving features available to cardholders enrolled in the rewards program or who have the Walmart MoneyCard Preferred

Limited cash reloads and withdrawals — no free ATM network

Fraud protection on purchases

Fees are hard to avoid

At a glance

Fees or featuresDescription
Monthly fee$5

Waived if you loaded $1,000 or more the previous month (not waived for first month)
ReloadsDirect deposit: $0, including tax refunds

Cashed check: $0*

Cash: $0 at a customer service desk or Walmart MoneyCenter; $3 for rapid reload at Walmart register; up to $4.95 at other participating retailers like 7-Eleven, CVS Pharmacy and Family Dollar

Online transfers from your bank: $0 for 1-3 business days; $2.95 for same-day transfer
WithdrawalsAt customer service desk or Walmart MoneyCenter: $0

At ATMs: $2.50, plus any bank or ATM owner charges

From bank teller: Up to $2.50
Other notable feesActivation fee: $1 in stores, $0 online

ATM balance inquiry: $0.50

Card replacement: $3

Overdraft: $0, but negative balance will lead to declined transactions
Other servicesPerson-to-person transfers: $0 — can only be received in a Walmart MoneyCard, other Green Dot card or PayPal account

Online bill pay: $0

Mobile check deposit: $0, limited to $1,000 checks

Paper checks: $5.95 for 12 checks, limited to writing checks of $3,000 or less

Phone customer service: $0
RewardsEarn up to $75 at the end of 12 months through:

1% cash back for buying merchandise at Wal-Mart stores

3% cash back on Wal-Mart's website

No rewards given for buying gift cards or lottery tickets, withdrawing cash or paying bills; refunds reverse rewards
*Although it’s free to load a cashed check, there’s still a $3 fee for cashing a check of $1,000 or less, or a $6 fee for cashing one between $1,000 and $5,000.

Where MoneyCard excels — and where it falls short

The new version of this prepaid debit card can benefit Wal-Mart customers: If you shop there, you might earn up to $75 in cash back rewards per year. In theory, that can make up for the $60 a year in monthly service fees you’d get hit with if you can’t add $1,000 each month to the card. In reality, it may be hard, especially because you lose rewards if you get behind on monthly fees, close your card, or get refunds on purchases.

» MORE: What you should know about prepaid debit cards

The card works either in the Visa or MasterCard debit payment network. Its mobile app can provide a budgeting aid by letting you track spending and deposit checks. It can also help you find one of the over 5,000 Wal-Mart stores that might be close to you. Other online services such as bill pay and money transfers to friends must be made on the website.

The card is more costly and limited if you deal in cash and checks. Because there’s no free ATM network, you must visit a customer service desk at a nearby Wal-Mart location to avoid cash withdrawal or reload fees. Adding cash to the card at a Wal-Mart store checkout, which means using the “rapid reload” service, is easier but costs $3, and going to other retailers can cost more. To cash a check, you also must visit a Wal-Mart store.

For people who shop at Wal-Mart and like using mobile banking, the Walmart MoneyCard can hit the spot. But it isn’t the cheapest prepaid debit card out there.

Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: spencer@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.

This post was updated on March 14, 2016. It was originally published on Oct. 4, 2012.

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