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5 Things to Know About Green Dot Credit Cards

Feb. 3, 2020
Credit Cards, Credit Cards for Bad Credit
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Green Dot might be best known for its prepaid debit cards, but the company also offers secured credit cards, which are aimed at consumers who have poor to average credit scores or a limited credit history.

So if you’ve been struggling to get approved for a credit card because of less-than-stellar credit, a Green Dot credit card might be an option.

Here are five things to know about three Green Dot credit cards:

1. The cards require a refundable security deposit

A secured card functions like a regular credit card — you can use it to make purchases and then pay off the balance, or a portion of it, each month — but you must first put down a refundable security deposit.

Generally, your credit limit will be equal to that deposit. For all of these cards, the deposit can vary between $200 and $5,000.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best secured credit cards

2. You’ll also owe fees

While there are no processing or application fees, you’ll face other charges. First, you’ll owe an annual fee, regardless of which card you choose:

  • The Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card carries a $39 annual fee.
  • The Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card has a $39 annual fee.
  • The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card features a $49 annual fee.

(The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card has a lower potential ongoing APR. More on that later.)

The cards also charge a foreign transaction fee of 3%, meaning none of them is ideal for use internationally.

Consumers with thin or no credit might want to instead consider alternative credit cards that don’t charge such fees, such as the Petal® Visa® Credit Card. It’s an unsecured card, meaning it doesn’t require a security deposit, and it offers rewards. Its annual fee is $0.

» MORE: Can’t get a credit card? Try these alternative options

3. The Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card doesn’t offer next-level benefits

Despite having the word “platinum” appear prominently on the card, the Green Dot Visa® Secured Credit Card doesn’t offer extra perks befitting its fancier appearance. In fact, compared with the other two options, its interest rate is significantly higher. The ongoing APR is 19.99%.

The Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card, for example, charges the same annual fee but offers a lower interest rate. The ongoing APR is 13.99%.

The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card charges the highest annual fee but features the lowest interest rate of the three. The ongoing APR is 9.99%. An APR in the single digits is unusual among cards aimed at people with poor credit. That’s a reason it’s featured on our roundup of best secured cards. Depending on how large of a credit card balance you need to carry, the slightly larger annual fee may be worth it.

There is no penalty APR on these cards (although paying late can still hurt your credit scores, and you can be charged a late fee).

4. You won’t earn any rewards

While that’s not unusual among secured cards aimed at people with poor credit, it can also be frustrating for consumers eager to use credit cards to earn cash back or rewards points.

When you’re just starting out with credit cards, rewards aren’t the most important thing — but you can still find some secured and alternative options that earn them. The Discover it® Secured, for instance, earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically (1% cash back on all other purchases). You’ll have to put down a $200 minimum deposit, but unlike these Green Dot cards, the annual fee is $0. Plus, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

5. They can function as steppingstones to better cards

Unlike a prepaid debit card, where purchases are subtracted from the cash put down upfront, credit cards allow you to build up your credit as you pay off your purchases each month.

Just as with regular credit cards, Green Dot reports credit card behavior to credit bureaus, allowing cardholders to build their credit histories and credit scores.

Eventually, with responsible credit behavior, you may be able to qualify for cards with better features, such as rewards, no annual fee, 0% intro APR offers and other perks.

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