Walmart, Green Dot Partner Up For New Checking Alternative-Is It For You?

Wal Mart and Green Dot recently announced they would start offering a checking alternative, similar to the American Express Bluebird that’s been in the nation’s largest retailer for a few years. Green Dot’s GoBank will handle the banking aspect, while Wally World will make sure customers are introduced to the newest alternative to traditional bank accounts.


Is Wal Mart and Green Dot’s Checking Alternative A Good Option For Your Banking Needs?


In order to figure out if GoBank’s checking alternative is a good option to replace our banking and payment methods, we must first get familiar with what Wal Mart and Green Dot are trying to sell us. Does GoBank offer FDIC protection? What are the fees charged by Wal Mart and Green Dot? Will this checking alternative be cheaper or more convenient than the bank it’s replacing?


These are all questions that I will attempt to answer with the information the nation’s largest retail store has made available to us. First though I wanna answer a more pressing question that was on my mind when I first heard about GoBank.


Why Would Wal Mart Want To Offer Checking Accounts?


When I first read about GoBank, I asked myself a simple question. Why is Wal Mart offering it’s customers a checkless checking account alternative? It took me about five more minutes to realize the answer to this question.


Of course Wal Mart wants into the banking industry. It makes perfect sense from the retail giants standpoint. By offering a cheaper alternative targeted at its low income customers, Wal Mart can kill two birds with one stone.


Not only does the giant retailer put more money back in its customers pockets and eventually it’s own cash registers, Wal Mart gets a new way to track the spending of all its customers using GoBank’s services. It’s genius from a business standpoint, but the fact that Wal Mart will now have access to our spending habits even in other stores kinda scares me.


With that short rant over, I’ll get back to the real point of this post. We’re trying to figure out if GoBank makes sense from a financial view point, right?


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Does GoBank Offer More Protection Than Traditional Checking Accounts?


Green Dot’s GoBank is member FDIC insured and according to this, deposits are insured up to the maximum allowed. What that means is yes, your money will be protected just like with any other checking account.


Since the full launch of GoBank’s checking option was just recently, it’s yet to be seen how deposit claims are handled.


What Are The Fees Associated With Green Dot’s Checking Alternative?


GoBank works on what they call a “pay what you want” fee structure. In layman’s terms, that means there are no fees for direct deposit, ATM withdrawals (in network), monthly fees, etc. Apparently Green Dot is saying they will “work for tips”. We have the option of paying a $1-$9 fee if we want to.


Whether this will change if the service becomes widely adopted remains to be seen, but for now it appears the fee structure with Wal Mart’s checking alternative is fair.


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Can I Deposit My Pay Checks Using Green Dot?


As I said previously, GoBank’s checking account allows for direct deposit and as long as your employer allows it, there should be no problems directly depositing your check.


Can I Use Mobile Banking With GoBank?


You might be surprised to know that GoBank’s checking option is based around mobile bankers. In fact, one of the major selling points for the service is how mobile friendly it is. Wal-Mart and Green Dot obviously intended to cash in on the growing adoption of mobile banking with this one.


Can I Use Automatic Bill Pay With My New Debit Card?


Green Dot’s Checking account is very similar to the one you use now. Setting up Auto Bill Pay is just as easy as before, using just the debit card information to set it up.


Does Green Dot’s Checking Pay Interest?


In our quest to Build Financial freedom, we are often looking for ways to put our money to work. Interest paying savings accounts are a good way to make a small, risk-free interest on our cash.


Unfortunately, GoBank’s new checking account does not pay interest. The online specialized banker does offer interest on its online-only savings accounts though. The rates are usually higher than traditional savings accounts at your brick and mortar banks too.


Do I Get Rewards Or Perk’s For Using Wal-Mart’s Checking Account?


As of right now I’m not aware of any reward or perk programs being offered for users of GoBank’s checking alternative. Keep an eye out though. These types of accounts often introduce incentives to get people to sign up.


Can Green Dot’s Checking Account Help Me Build Financial Freedom?


Unfortunately, at the moment, I have seen nothing that would tell me Green Dot’s Checking is a better option that other banks or Credit Unions. Aside from the obviously low fee structure and mobile integration, Wal Mart’s checking alternative doesn’t seem to add any significant benefits to the other options available.


American Express and Google both offer mobile banking that is as good or better than Green Dot’s. In fact, Soft Card, which is AMEX’s partnership, offers $1 cash back on qualifying purchases over a dollar. They also allow direct deposit through the Serve physical debit card.


I guess the important thing to know is that our banking options are no longer limited to local or regional banks. We are now faced with literally hundreds of checking and savings alternatives to choose from. As long as the one you choose makes sense for your financial situation and budget, that’s what really matters.