Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Walmart's prepaid VISA fees revealed

A little while ago I wrote about Walmart announcing its prepaid VISA card. One question I was left with from the original article was; what kind of fees would there be? There was a vague reference to fees, but nothing concrete.

Finally, here it is: the Walmart Prepaid Card official website. The card has a Walmart logo, but like many card services it is actually operated by a company called Greendot. The cardholder agreement gives you a rundown of their fees. Here they are in plain english.

Monthly fee: $4.95 (just for having the card)
Load fee: $4.95 (to put money on the card - ie, activation)
Reload fee: $4.95 (for putting more money on the card)
ATM withdrawal fee: $1.95 (for getting my money back - my first transaction and I've already paid $11.85 in fees)
Cash advance fee: $4.00 (I'm sure what this is, since its a prepaid card but it involves a teller or non-ATM cash withdrawal, maybe it just means any cash withdrawal from the card that is not done at the ATM?)
ATM Balance inquiry: $0.50
ATM Declined withdrawal fee: $0.50 (in other words, you pay $.50 if you check your balance or you pay $.50 if you try to get $20 when your balance is less than $20)
Stolen card replacement fee: $10.00 (thats right, if your card is stolen, you get to pay a fee)
Customer service fee: $3.50
Statement fee (by request): $2.00
Minimum deposit amount: $20
Maximum daily purchase limit: $2,500 (of course this is the balance limit anyway)
Automated phone system charge: $0.75 (a flat fee for calling the number and pressing buttons)
Phone operator charge: $.41 per minute, up to $1.00 (I suspect the operators rarely take less than 3 minutes for each call)

So you pay a fee to get the card, a fee to put money on the card, a fee to get your cash from the card, a fee to figure out how much money is on your card, a fee to interact with any employees or automated systems that issued the card, and a monthly service fee if you have the card longer than a month. Sign me up!

Statements are done electronically, and access is available online (because so many people without checking accounts have regular Internet access). They also readily admit to selling your information to other financial institutions and marketers.

I wonder how upfront Walmart will be about all these fees? I feel like I'm going to get charged a fee just for walking by the card kiosk. Admittedly, Walmarts fees are a little better priced than Greendots direct fees, but not by much. I still have no idea what the bill pay fees will be, as I didn't see them in the fee schedule. But the customer service fee is $3.50, and unless I have internet access I am going to have to interact with someone to initiate a bill pay. Walmarts card site has now become a mess of runtime errors, so please post these fees if you can find them.

They do have online access, but most of their pages were broken with errors when I was just trying to read the cardholder agreement. How many of those who have no checking account - usually because they are "undocumented" - have Internet access to avoid some of these fees?

My original suspicion was correct: paying $3.00 to cash a check is a great deal compared to this prepaid VISA.


Anonymous said...

Many of the fees are waved under certain conditions. You need to make sure you include Bank of America anytime you have something to say about illegals getting bank accounts. Equal time for all unethical corporations.

Beyond the Consumer said...

The only fee that appears to be waived is the monthly service fee so long as you are loading at least $1,000 onto the card. It also appears that many of the fees on the schedule have changed since this posting.

llsolomon said...

I have had $166.00 vanish from my walmart pp card, they say it was so and so company, so and so say it was them, have charged me a total of $12.00 just to find out they lost my money since 0 transactions showed up online.

Yzark said...

This is freakin' crazy. Of every prepaid Visa/Mastercard I've seen, every single one of them has had a fee. If anyone here can show me a card with no fees please tell me about it. I'd love to have one of these cards but not if they a) earn interest on my money, and b) charge me half my money in fees. You'd think the interest they earned was enough to make a profit, but I guess not. That just means I won't use their cards.

But these cards just go to show the lack of heart amongst American's. Why should anyone have to care enough to think about what someone might want for a gift when they can just get them a gift card.

Jennifer said...

Why do we all think we should get banking services for free? Do you place so little value on the services provided by the industry's hundreds of thousands of employees, the vast majority of which are making a modest wage? There are 13,000 banks in the US (vs about 10 in Canada). If these services can be provided for much lower fees and the provider still can remain profitable, it'd happen! If you want government provided free or no cost banking services, then lobby your representative as such. AND, NO interest rates currently being earned by banks are NOT high enough to allow them to profit materially on your $1,000 pre-paid card balance. The wages they pay their employees are relatively high (this is America, after all!) vs the per cardholder profit, they have to make their $ on fees and volume. Think, and do the math.

prepaidonline said...

Prepaid online is away of purchasing anything on the web. It is a convenient way of buying anything and paying bills on the net with the use of prepaid credit cards. It is much simpler now to transact even at in your own home. It has a safety and security pin for your account. So it is a worry-free transaction. But before getting a prepaid account online, be sure that you understand all the necessary rules and charges for every transaction.

Anonymous said...

Well number one, I've personally had a WM Prepaid Visa since early 2007 and never had ANY issue with it, I agree with Jennifer on the fact that we as Americans think we should get "free banking". I am an accountant and not afraid to admit I use a Prepaid Visa Card. I dont trust ANY bank that states they are "Free". This is a HUGE advertisment boost and when you get down to the nity grity of ANY Financial Institution NOTHING Is ever free. As far as your article, maybe you should try and update your findings a bit. I have a WM Prepaid and those fees no longer apply. Direct Dep-FREE ( no Monthly maint fee)
Reg Monthly Maint Fee-3.00
FREE IRS/State Income Tax Direct Dep
FREE Bill Pay
FREE Online usage
Oh and ALL these other articles explaing that WM sells your Info to 3rd party provider, NO They dont, I have had a WM card for ages, LOVE IT...done alot of research on the card VERSES Other Prepaid cards. Its by far the cheapest on fees. With the freedom of knowing MY money will always be there, as UNLIKE most banks after 1/1/11, will be insured ( make sure and read your bank statments begining 1/1/11 as FDIC no longer will be insuring, ( thanks to the failing Economy). But hey. You go ahead and post UNsupported articles that have no truth bearing and are out dated, at least research and update your articles.

Anonymous said...

of course it is out of date, the OP posted his [at the time, letitimate] gripe on the 13th of june, 2007.


question for the last poster. quote/ anon said: "VERSES Other prepaid cards." what tune is that from?

judging by the context of your post, i'm guessing it may be a tea part-riot rebel folk song?

or, i don't know, perhaps you meant versus?


anal retentiveness begets anal retentiveness.

have a nice day.