Green Dot Bank Review: Alternative Banking Using a Debit Card and Mobile App

4.5
Our Take: Green Dot is most known for its prepaid card products for people who don't have a bank account. The company also offers Green Dot Bank -- a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-backed alternative to traditional banking for customers comfortable with banking without a teller. This Green Dot Bank review will help you understand how it works and whether it's worth signing up for an account.
  • Fees
    4.5
  • Ease of Use
    4.3
  • Mobile App and Digital Experience
    4.8
  • Availability
    4.5
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • No overdraft fees
  • Free cash deposits at participating retailers
  • Early direct deposit -- two days early for paychecks, up to four days early for government benefits
  • Can deposit cash at many retailers

Cons

  • Comes with a learning curve since it's not a traditional type of bank
  • Limited to one checking and one high-yield savings account
  • Interest paid annually

About Green Dot Bank

Green Dot Bank seems like a new banking idea, but it’s been around for 20 years. Although Green Dot Bank is designed to provide online-only banking services using the mobile app and the bank’s debit card, you can still handle cash deposits and withdrawals at over 90,000 participating local retailers, including 7-Eleven, Kroeger, Rite Aid and Walmart. GOBankingRates has ranked it as one of the Best Online Banks of 2021.

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Green Dot Bank Products

Green Dot Bank isn’t considered a full-service banking platform because it only provides basic banking services

Product Features
Checking Account
  • 2% cash back on online and mobile app purchases
  • Comes with a debit card 
  • $7.95 monthly maintenance fee
  • Early direct deposit
Savings Account
  • High-yield interest earnings of 2%
  • Free in-network ATM withdrawals
  • Free cash deposits at participating retailers when using the mobile app

Take a closer look at how Green Dot Bank accounts work.

Green Dot Bank Checking Account

Green Dot Bank isn’t your typical traditional bank. You’ll have only one type of checking accountknown as Unlimited by Green Dot, available. The good news is you won’t have many fees to contend with other than the $7.95 monthly fee, which can be waived if you spend $1,000 or more each month with your debit card.

You can open an account online by purchasing a debit card for $1.95 at a retail store or ordering one online. Activate it as instructed on the card and download the Green Dot Bank mobile app. Top up your account with some money at a participating retailer or by setting up direct deposit.

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Features

  • 2% cash back on purchases
  • Early direct deposit — get paychecks up to two days early, government benefits up to four days early
  • Can make deposits at participating retailers such as Walmart, Rite Aid and Kroeger

Pros

  • No expensive overdraft fees to worry about
  • No ATM fees when using an in-network ATM
  • Pay bills, shop using debit card

Cons

  • No interest earned 
  • Must spend $1,000 or more in debit card transactions to waive the $7.95 per month fee

Green Dot Bank Savings Account

Opening an Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account comes with a linked high-yield savings account. To the bank’s credit, the account is fee-free.

Features

  • 2% annual percentage yield on funds up to $10,000
  • Allows transfers between high-yield savings and Green Dot Unlimited debit card

Pros:

Cons:

  • $3 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals

Banking Experience

Green Dot Bank’s services are useful, but limited. They’re ideal for someone interested in making basic bill payments, and for those who don’t mind visiting a 7-Eleven or Walmart location to deposit funds.

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Customer Service

If you need help, you’ll need to navigate through the online chatbot to get directed to the right article in the knowledgebase. You can also call for help at 866-795-7597.

Accessibility

There are no Green Dot Bank branches, but the financial institution works with a list of major retailers where you can make deposits:

  • 7-Eleven
  • Ace Cash Express
  • CVS
  • Dollar General
  • Family Dollar
  • Kroger
  • Rite Aid
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Mobile and Digital Experience

The bulk of your banking happens through the mobile app. Green Dot Bank reviews from customers using the mobile app are as follows:

  • Google Play: 4.2 out of 5 stars, 53k votes 
  • App Store: 3.6 out of 5 stars, 7.2k votes

You can securely access your account to:

  • Activate a new account.
  • Deposit checks using your phone.
  • Manage your transactions.
  • View balances.
  • Pay bills.
  • Send friends money.
  • Access chat-based customer support.
  • Find ATMs and participating retailers near you.

Convenience and Ease of Use

The easiest way to set up a Green Dot Bank account is by enabling direct deposit or depositing your paycheck through the mobile app. You’ll avoid having to visit a local retailer to deposit cash. Once your fund deposits are on autopilot, paying bills and buying merchandise is simple — your debit card takes the place of checks and cash.

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How To Open an Account

To get started, purchase a debit card for $1.95 at a retail store, or sign up for an account online to receive your card in the mail. Once you have the card, activate it by following the instructions on the card label. Download the Green Dot Bank mobile app and set up an account with a username and password. Set up direct deposit, deposit a check using the app and a smartphone or visit a local retailer to deposit cash into your new Green Dot Bank account.

Key Information

Customer Service Number: 866-795-7597

Routing Number: 124303120

Green Dot Bank Fees

Green Dot Bank’s fees are minimal when you stick with the account’s basic functions. Fees to watch out for include:

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $7.95 per month, which can be waived when you spend at least $1,000 per month using the debit card
  • Out-of-network ATM withdrawal: $3 each
  • Paper check fee: $5.95 for 12 checks
  • Overdraft fee: None

Green Dot Bank vs. Competitors

Bank Best For
Green Dot Bank Cash back on your spending
Chime Bank No fees
Ally Bank Full-service online banking
Radius Bank Unlimited ATM reimbursements
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Green Dot Bank vs. Chime Bank

Both Green Dot and Chime Bank have a simple model of a spending account with a debit card and a linked high-yield savings account. Although Chime Bank has fewer fees, Green Dot pays cash back on your debit card purchases.

Green Dot Bank vs. Ally Bank

Ally Bank provides a comprehensive list of online-only banking services other banks in this comparison don’t offer. Besides accounts, you can invest your money and borrow from a range of loan and mortgage options. But Greet Dot pays higher rates on savings accounts.

Green Dot Bank vs. Radius Bank

Radius Bank reimburses you an unlimited amount of ATM fees, so you can withdraw from wherever is most convenient for you. If you don’t withdraw cash often, Green Dot is a better choice because it pays more cash back on purchases.

Final Take

If you’re in search of a low-cost and different way to handle your banking via a mobile app, Green Dot Bank could be a good option. Once you’re armed with the mobile app and debit card, most of your basic banking tasks can be taken care of easily. To get started, sign up for an account to receive a card in the mail, or pick one up at a participating retailer near you.

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Editor’s Favorite

If you need your paycheck the moment it’s available, Green Dot’s early direct deposit feature is worth signing up for. You’ll get paid up to two days early from your employer and four days early on government benefit payments.

Green Dot Bank FAQ

Here are answers to some of Green Dot Bank’s more commonly asked questions.
  • Is Green Dot Bank FDIC insured?
  • Is Green Dot a real bank?
    • Although Green Dot operates a little differently from most banks, it's a real bank. You can open a checking account, order checks for a fee, pay bills and make deposits. The difference is, in-person deposits can be made at a retail store, such as Walmart or CVS, instead of at a bank.
  • How can I deposit cash to my Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account?
    • There are over 90,000 retail store locations where you can deposit cash for free, such as 7-Eleven, Kroger, Walmart and Rite Aid. You'll need to set up the deposit on the mobile app and visit a cash register at one of the participating store locations.
  • How do I keep my Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account eligible to earn unlimited 2% cash back?
    • Keep your account active and in good standing for at least 12 months, and you'll be eligible to earn 2% cash back on your mobile and online purchases.
  • Can I open a high-yield savings account separate from the Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account?
    • Unfortunately, you can't open a standalone savings account. You'll need to have an Unlimited Cash Back Bank Account and debit card before you can open a high-yield savings account.
  • Does Green Dot Bank offer free money for signing up for an account?
    • The current Green Dot Bank promotion pays you $15 when you activate a card by April 30 and receive your tax refund by direct deposit, and receive two payroll or government-benefit direct deposits of at least $500 each by June 30.

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About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

Green Dot Bank Review: Alternative Banking Using a Debit Card and Mobile App
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