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Would You Bank At Walmart?

Poll QuestionDoes an FDIC-insured checking account with no overdraft fees and no minimum balance requirements sound good to you?

What if it also came with lots of free bells and whistles that other banks offer and costs less than $3 to open? And there were no monthly fees as long as you direct deposit at least $500 each month?

And it were conveniently available at Walmart?

It sounds good to me. But what do you think?

By the end of October, Green Dot Bank says it will begin offering its GoBank account, a full-featured checking account, exclusively at Walmart stores.

Green Dot says the account is one of the most affordable checking accounts in the banking industry, but it’s hardly no-frills. It has a lot of the same features and benefits available at competing commercial banks – and sometimes more – without the high fees or balance requirements.

You start by buying a starter kit at Walmart for $2.95. The kit includes a temporary debit MasterCard and instructions on how to activate it, which Green Dot says takes just a few minutes through your mobile phone or computer.

After the setup is complete, you can immediately start using the card to make purchases. You’ll get a permanent, personalized card later in the mail.

To get the most out of it, the GoBank account is made to be used on your mobile phone or computer, so if you don’t normally bank that way, this account may not for you. However, even if you don’t, there is enough value here to make it worth your while.

There are no minimum balance requirements or overdraft fees, not even if you bounce a check due to insufficient funds.

The bank says it will review customer behavior, and if it determines that you’re bouncing too many checks or improperly using the account, it will take any “appropriate” action, which probably means it will terminate the account.

Of course, most other banks are happy when you bounce checks, since they can then charge you $30 or more each time you do it. It’s one of their biggest profit centers.

Besides the startup fee, there are some other charges, but they’re easily avoided.

There is an $8.95 monthly fee, but that’s waived with a qualifying direct deposit of just $500.

To get money, Green Dot has a free ATM network of more than 42,000 machines. The GoBank mobile app shows you the location of free ATM locations based on your location.

If you use an out-of-network machine there is a fee, typically $2.50 plus any fee the ATM owner may assess.

There’s also a 3% foreign transaction fee if you use the debit card outside the U.S.

The account comes with an integrated FDIC-insured savings account called Money Vault, where you can park money you don’t need right away, although you can easily transfer funds back into the debit account for instant availability.

Neither the checking account nor the Money Vault pays interest.

In addition, the GoBank account comes with a range of other free features found on many other competing checking accounts, including bill pay, photo check deposit and instant person-to-person payment, where you can send money at no charge via email or text message.

If you pay bills via the mobile app and the payee doesn’t accept electronic payment, Green Dot will mail them a paper check for free.

The account also provides you with paper checks, and, at least initially, there will be no cost to order them. Many banks charge for new checks.

GoBank also includes features that few other bank accounts offer.

For example, there’s a Fortune Teller that provides advice on spending so you don’t go over your budget. The service cross-checks the price of an item with your income and expenses, and if it thinks you can’t afford it, you’ll be advised in real-time to pass on the purchase.

A full overview of the account’s features can be found at GoBank.com/NoWorries.

The GoBank account also sounds easy to get, even if you’ve had some financial problems. Using its own proprietary underwriting rather than credit bureau data, Green Dot says “almost any consumer who passes ID verification” will be able to open an account.

I think it’s a winner. But what do you think?

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Would you bank at Walmart?
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  1. Frank said:
    on September 30th at 06:27 am

    An account appropriately devised for Walmart employees…

    “You load sixteen tons, what do you get
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store”
    – Tennessee Ernie Ford