Green Dot is a giant prepaid card provider and innovator, that much is true. From being one of the most popular prepaid cards on the market, to their Reload @ the Register service, and MoneyPak reload pack, it's pretty hard not to have heard of them. The corporation is known for acquiring other prepaid card companies as well, such as Account Now, Ready Debit, Rush Card, and the Achieve Card. On the other hand, Green Dot has a less than stellar reputation when it comes to cardholders experience. So I didn't know what to make of their latest product, the Green Dot Unlimited card.
Green Dot has been aggressively pushing it's Green Dot Unlimited card as of recent months. I believe this is partially because of the surge of users using mobile banking services since the Covid-19 outbreak and popularity of Chime & Simple mobile banking companies.
Green Dot Unlimited Debit Card
My previous experience using Green Dot reloadable card was not that great. Besides the fact that Green Dot's reloadable card is fee heavy, I've had several issues with their delayed 2-step authentication, moving money from my savings account into my balance and transactions being declined for heavy. Ontop of my personal indifferent experience with their prepaid cards it appears many other cardholders were dissatisfied as well (Do not depend on independent reviews from writers of websites because they are often receiving incentives, when users sign up with the company. Listen to the cardholders and what their experiences are.)
So when I heard Green Dot was coming out with its Green Dot Unlimited card, I felt like Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank. "I'm out, with extreme prejudice". I didn't want anything to do with their new debit card.
I was attempting to add my new Chime account to Airbnb but I had difficulty doing that successfully. No big deal I (and others) have had plenty of issues with payment methods on Airbnb. I then attempted to link my Chime debit card with PayPal as a debit card & as a bank account. Both methods were unsuccessful and I then found out other cardholders were faced with the same issues. That's when I noticed Chime actually has some limitations. So after a moment of thinking, I decided to sign up. "Green Dot, you have a deal."
Green Dot Unlimited sign up process in the beginning, was pretty comparable to Chime which was very simple and straightforward. However, when it came to creating a user account I hit a roadblock with the password. The username and password has to pass a set of criteria. I get it, it's to make my account more secure. I created a complex password with numbers, letters and characters but it wouldn't pass Green Dot's test. So I had to choose a password containing just letters and numbers making it more vulnerable to being hacked than the previous password I wanted to use. I find this to be an issue because these types of passwords are often hacked and your not dealing with peoples social media accounts, your dealing with their money. So that was the only issue I had with the sign up process.
So we're going to be straightforward with this review, n euphemism or sugar coat about the pros and cons of Green Dot Unlimited. So here we, go...
ASAP Direct Deposit - This is nothing more than the ability to direct deposit money into your card and get your paycheck faster which is a standard feature in this day and age. A company that doesn't offer this is at a grave disadvantage.
2% APY on Savings - The 2% APY interest on the users saving account is definitely a pro. It's an interest rate that is higher than most banks but comparable to that of Chime which offers 1% APY. This 2% APY only covers the $10,000 however. Here's the problem I have with this, back in 2019 when this Unlimited card officially launched, Green Dot was offering a 3% APY and now it's 2% a year later. Who knows, another year it may go down to 1%. In fact Green Dot stated clearly "Interest is paid on each anniversary. 2% APY as of 6/2/20, may change anytime." It's a very bait and switch method in my opinion and brings back some of the negative feelings I have with the company.
Monthly Fee - Green Dot Unlimited charges a $7.95 monthly fee. Cardholders can get the near $8 fee waived if they spend $1,000. Initially this was the biggest drawback and made me decided not to sign up. However, I sat and thought about it. I currently use my Green Dot reloadable card to pay $1,200 rent, so this wouldn't be an issue for me. I'm likely to get this monthly fee waived. It is important to point out that if you are paying bills using your checking account as a ACH transfer payment, this will not be counted towards you spending $1,000. I would strongly suggest paying for bills and other items like you would with normal transactions without ACH transfer.
2% CashBack - Any percentage amount of cash back is a pro because not all prepaid or debit cards offer it. I will have to mention again though, back in 2019 when Green Dot Unlimited launched they were offering 3% cashback now it's 2%. We can't be sure that this number won't change in the future. So although it's still a pro, we have to watch out for the bait and switch.
I do not like deceptive marketing strategy that Green Dot is using to promote their Green Dot Unlimited card. The card itself isn't half bad but the marketing is taking advantage of people who do not know any better. The lines are certainly blurred from what's unique to Green Dot Unlimited and what's available to other prepaid cards. Here are some examples:
Free ATM Withdrawals - This isn't exclusive to Green Dot. There are surcharge free ATM companies called MoneyPass & AllPoint Network that allow prepaid and debit card users to withdraw money free of charge.
No Overdraft Fees - Of course there's no overdraft fees because you can't overdraft on the Green Dot Unlimited card.
The Richest Card with 2% Cashback - Chime bank account also offers 2% cashback so this cannot be the "richest" card when it comes to cashback rewards. In fact the Walmart MoneyCard offers 3% cashback when cardholders shop at Walmart.com, 2% on Walmart fuel purchases and 1% cashback at Walmart brick and mortar stores. That's generous considering Walmart sell goods cheaper than the competition anyways. So if any company can claim they have the "richest card" regarding cashback, it's Walmart.
ASAP Direct Deposit - Then there's this, the ASAP Direct Deposit which is nothing more than a trademark label, that means direct deposit. There is nothing about this that is different in any way or form than an attempt to make direct deposit sound cool.
I understand all companies in some form embellish a little to attract new cardholders, but I was a little put off with the deception of this card. I mean there is just so much fluff. In reality Green Dot Unlimited is very comparable with Chime, except Chime charges no monthly fee. I do however, think this is a pretty darn good card if users can get the monthly fee waived by spending $1,000 in bills and other reoccurring costs they're paying anyway. I just wanted you guys to see past all the fluff, and see the real value with the Green Dot Unlimited card.