GoBank takes on Bluebird. Which is better?

Note: On January 8, 2015 American Express sent out a notice to a large number of Bluebird & Serve cardholders informing them that loading capabilities on their accounts had been terminated. For more information, see: Amex kills Bluebird and Serve for manufactured spend

Last Fall, American Express released an innovative new prepaid reloadable product called Bluebird (see “Bluebird takes flight and changes the game“).  While Bluebird was loaded with features, it wasn’t the features that made it innovative.  It was the lack of fees.  Bluebird can be used as a quasi-checking account, an ATM card, a credit card, and a peer to peer payment system — for free*.  Green Dot, NetSpend, and many other companies have long offered similar capabilities, but with many fees.  All charged per transaction and/or per month fees.

* In order to get free ATM access, you do need to use MoneyPass ATMs and you supposedly need to setup direct deposit as well (although I haven’t found that to be necessary in practice.  See “Bluebird: Are direct deposits necessary for free ATM use?“).

Bluebird was especially exciting to those interested in earning points & miles.  It was (and still is) possible to buy Vanilla Reload cards to earn credit card rewards, then load the money to Bluebird, then use Bluebird to pay bills (including credit card bills).  This continues to be one of the best perpetual point machines around.

Recently, a great new Bluebird option opened up.  Visa and MasterCard gift cards can now be setup with PINs (see “Gift card PINs“).  If you can’t find Vanilla Reload cards, then you can buy Visa gift cards instead (they seem to work better than MasterCards).  Take the cards to Walmart and use the PINs to do “swipe reloads” to move the money to Bluebird.

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Enter GoBank

Green Dot Bank wasn’t willing to sit on the sidelines and watch American Express take all of its business.  So, they developed a worthy competitor: GoBank.  Like Bluebird, GoBank has no fees for most uses (except foreign transaction fees, out of network ATM fees, and customized card or replacement fees).

Currently, GoBank is rolling out its service to new members slowly.  The best option if you want a card is to sign up at GoBank.com and wait for an invitation.

image

You can also try contacting GoBank via Twitter or Facebook to see if they can accelerate your membership.

In mid-April, The Free-quent Flyer wrote up GoBank in his post “Gobank’s Launch Challenges Bluebird.”  At that time, I signed up for GoBank’s waiting list and even Tweeted them, but I never received an invitation.  A few weeks ago, at Free-quent Flyer’s suggestion, I simply entered my email address again and was immediately led to a series of signup pages.  I received my card about a week ago.

GoBank vs. Bluebird head to head

Both GoBank and Bluebird are designed to be alternatives to traditional checking accounts.  Both allow direct deposit, check capture, peer to peer payments, bill pay, and free in-network ATM use.  Let’s see how they compare head to head…

Loading Money

Both services are happy to accept direct deposits, ACH transfers (in, but not out), check deposits (snap picture with your phone), and cash or debit reloads at Walmart.  Here is where they differ:

  • Walmart reloads: Both cards allow fee-free debit reloads at Walmart. Unlike Bluebird, GoBank currently has a quirk where some swipe reloads do not show up immediately in your balance, but they do show up after 10 or 15 minutes. Bluebird is limited to $1000 per day.  GoBank is limited to $2500 per day.  Advantage GoBank.
  • Online debit loads: GoBank initially offered free online debit loads (up to $200 per day) but they are in the process of phasing out that option.  Bluebird allows debit reloads online, but they limit you to $100 per day and $1000 per month with a $2 fee per transaction.  Neither card has a good option here.
  • Reload cards: Bluebird can be loaded with Vanilla Reload cards.  GoBank can be loaded with GreenDot MoneyPaks.  MoneyPaks cost more ($4.95 vs. $3.95) and are less often available to be purchased with a credit card.  Advantage Bluebird.

Bill Pay / Check Writing

Both services offer free bill pay services.  Whenever possible, payments will be sent electronically.  If the recipient isn’t setup for electronic bill payments, then payments will be sent by paper check.  Here is where the services differ:

  • Write your own checks: Bluebird offers optional paper checks that you can write out yourself.  This is useful for in-person transactions where credit and debit cards are not accepted.  And, until mid August, Bluebird is offering your first book of checks for free.  GoBank has no equivalent option.  Advantage Bluebird.
  • Recurring payments: GoBank allows you to setup recurring payments.  Bluebird does not.  Advantage GoBank.

Sending Money

Both services allow you to send money to friends over email.  With Bluebird, the recipient needs a Bluebird or Serve account to pickup the money.  With GoBank, the recipient can use a GoBank account or a PayPal account to pickup the money.  This is a nice option since PayPal is so widely used.  Advantage: GoBank.

ATM Use

Both services allow free ATM use at in-network ATMs.  Here is where they differ:

  • GoBank’s network of free ATM’s is bigger (over 40,000 vs. over 22,000) so it is easier to find a fee free GoBank ATM.
  • GoBank charges $2.50 for out of network ATMs.  Bluebird charges $2.  In both cases you will likely incur an additional fee from the ATM operator.
  • Bluebird has no foreign transaction fees on ATM withdrawals.  GoBank charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Advantage: GoBank within the US, Bluebird outside of the US.

Spending Options

Both cards can be used as credit cards.  Here is where they differ:

  • GoBank is a Visa card.  Bluebird is an American Express card.  Visa is accepted in far more places than American Express.
  • Bluebird has no foreign transaction fees (but American Express cards are not widely accepted outside of the US).  GoBank charges 3%
  • GoBank is a debit card and can be used anyplace that accepts debit cards.  Bluebird is not a debit card.
  • Bluebird’s purchase protection covers losses if your eligible purchase is accidentally damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.

Advantage: GoBank

Fund Transfers

Bluebird has the option to transfer funds directly from your Bluebird account to a bank account.  As far as I can tell, GoBank has no similar option.  Advantage: Bluebird.

Account Closures

I’ve never heard a credible report of anyone having their Bluebird account forcibly shut down, but Green Dot seems to shut people down regularly.  Million Mile Secrets provides the following important cautions:

Warning: You should NOT experiment with the Go Bank debit card and reload card if you can’t afford to be without the money loaded in your Go Bank account.  Many people complain that Green Dot (which owns Go Bank) arbitrarily closes accounts and that it takes months to get your money back.

– Do NOT fund Go Bank and then immediately withdraw money from an ATM or transfer money to your checking account.  That is very easy to detect.  Withdraw only as much money as an average person would – that is in the hundreds of dollars and NOT thousands of dollars per week.

– Use Go Bank for lots of routine transactions as well.  If all you do with Go Bank is withdraw money from the ATM or to your bank account, you are likely to be shut down because you are unprofitable for GreenDot.

– You WILL get shut down if you try to spend tens of thousands of dollars per month at any store with any one card.

– I can’t give you an exact amount  and you’ve got to decide for yourself what is a reasonable limit.

– Alternate with other credit cards so that you’re not buying too many gift cards with just one credit card.

Miscellaneous Other

  • GoBank, in my opinion, has a better user interface on both their web site and their mobile application.  I especially love how their mobile app lets you search for ATMs and (optionally) check your balance without logging in.
  • Some people have reported that GoBank has better customer service than Bluebird.

Summarized Card Features

Feature

Bluebird

GoBank

Advantage goes to…

Load via debit card at Walmart
(Swipe Reload / Rapid Reload)
Up to $1K per day. Up to $5K per month. No fee. Up to $2500 per day. Up to $50K balance. No fee. GoBank
Load via reload card Vanilla Reload. $3.95 Fee to buy card. Green Dot MoneyPak. $4.95 fee to buy card. Bluebird
Write your own checks Yes No Bluebird
Free bill pay Yes Yes Tie
Recurring payments No Yes GoBank
Transfer funds to bank account Yes No Bluebird
ATM Network >22,000 >40,000 GoBank
ATM out of network fees $2 + ATM charge $2.50 + ATM charge Bluebird
Credit card use American Express Visa GoBank
Foreign transaction fee None 3% Bluebird
Purchase protection Yes, 90 days No Bluebird
User Interface Good Very good GoBank
Receive money Recipient must have Bluebird or Serve account Recipient must have GoBank or PayPal account GoBank (since PayPal is more prevalent)
Customer Support Many complaints So far, so good GoBank
Known to shut down accounts No Yes Bluebird

My Thoughts

GoBank looks like a worthy competitor to Bluebird.  On several measures, it appears to be better than Bluebird.  It’s great to see competition in this no-fee bank-alternative space and I’m happy to get a chance to try out GoBank to see how well it works in practice!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

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Comments

  1. My person opinion is that the most important measure is how scalable each card is. We know that each Bluebird card can do 5k a month no problem. We have no idea how far you can take GoBank before you get shut down. The answer is probably not much so unless one is looking to manufacture say 1k or less a month, GoBank wouldn’t really be a viable option.

    • WeddingSpend: That’s true. We really don’t know what the GoBank limit is.
      traveller: I think that GoBank is best for those who are looking for additional ways to cash out gift cards. If you can get reload cards easily, then there are other options as you said.
      Moses: Yes, Bluebird is a great way to meet minimum spend requirements. Easiest is to use your credit card to buy Vanilla Reload cards and cash them out through Bluebird. Yes, at least some people at Chase know about this.

  2. if i already have bluebird, would it not be better just to add “myvanilladebit” card instead of Go bank. With the former, I can load with VRs (tons of them where I live) up to $2500, leave it for a week or so, cash advance all but the $1.95 fee at a Chase or B of A bank and then rinse and repeat?

  3. I have a bluebird account, and I need to make minimum spend on a chase card, is it something that can be done through bluebird, and does chase realize?

    • Nick: You’re right! I checked my old Spam and found this:
      ::nudge :: nudge::
      You requested exclusive early access to GoBank, and your time has come.
      Don’t let another GoBank-less moment go by! Here’s what you need to do:
      Head over to GoBank.com from your computer
      Click JOIN NOW
      Enter this exact email:
      Hit NEXT, and you’ll see we’ve given you special access

    • Jane S: I’m not paying a monthly membership fee.
      jim: Yes, GoBank can be loaded at Walmart with gift cards that have PINs just like Bluebird
      Miles: Cool. Hopefully you’ll get the invite soon.

  4. I waited a couple of days, then entered my email again at GoBank.com. This error message appeared:
    “Thanks for checking back. We received your request, and we’ll be in touch with an invite ASAP.”

    • Squeezer: Bluebird has a $5K calendar month load limit (when loading via reload cards or swipe reloads). What we don’t know about GoBank is how far people can go before getting shut down. Where did you see the $9500 limit?
      Grant: I think the best option is to simply put yourself into the waiting list and then send a tweet to GoBank to ask for quicker access (then check your Spam folder!)

  5. Took money out over Christmas in both the UK and Austria. No problem with the Bluebird card – but was charged a $2 fee every time. Which means I have to take more than $200 for Bluebird to be cheaper than my 1% Credit Union Bank card.

  6. I haven’t found a store to buy the GreenDot with a credit card. Anyone have any luck at a major chain? Feel free to email me directly if you don’t want it posted out there antignos@aol.com

  7. I had put my email in for an invitation a few days ago. Per your suggestion I just went back and reentered it and the site took me right to the sign up page. Thanks!

  8. Seems like for those of us where WalMart is too far away / too difficult with traffic to get to frequently, Bluebird is still easily the winner due to ease of loading at home. If only, they’d raise their limits or a competitor not involving WalMart would appear…

  9. You downplay the risks of go bank/greendot – ALL BLOGGERS DO.

    I was shut down by them after 2 months with no warning, after moving less than $1000 a month. I did all the things you suggest above – mixed in plenty of actual spend, only pulled a few hundred dollars out via an ATM, left the money sitting in their account for weeks, never loaded then immediately unloaded, funded all from a dozen different credit cards, used at a dozen different stores.

    NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

    I’m still waiting to get my money back (was shut down in April) – fortunately they’re holding less than $1000 of mine, but they are impossible to get a hold of (waited on hold for 90 minutes last time, and was told there are “no supervisors available”) and are incompetent or simply unhelpful.

    Blogs are doing a huge dis-service to their readers on this. Bloggers go through the motions of moving money through these schemes ONE time – as a demonstration so they can say “see – I did this, you can too!!!” Of course, it will work ONE time. But nobody reading this is planning to do it one time. They’re planning to do it over and over, and that can not be done for long, no matter how “careful” you are.

    It’s dishonest to suggest you can keep doing this for even a little while before you get shut down and your money held. And no, just posting a brief “be careful, don’t put in money if you can’t afford to have it tied up” disclaimer does not tell the whole story. If you follow these bloggers’ instructions, you WILL be shut down, and it won’t take long.

    • Stan: Were you shut down when using the GoBank card or the old Green Dot prepaid? I’m sorry you feel that I’m being dishonest by anything I’ve written here and/or by quoting MMS. It would be equally wrong for me to tell people “you will get shut down” since I don’t know that to be true. GoBank is a new product without much track history yet. If I ever get shut down, I’ll let people know just as I did with NetSpend last year.

  10. @stan,
    what you said was true. I encountered these issues, luckily I was able to resolve quickly.

    Everyone who uses Greendot MoneyPaks, please make a note of this important information.

    reendot support
    To ensure a timely and effective resolution, please call our Customer Support line at (866) 795-7597. Or you can try this one aswell, 1 – 800 – 4733636 and select option 6.

    As Stan said, there might be waiting time of 90 minutes or more at this no. and they may say no supervisor.

    Then call below number (the team at this no. resolve your Greendot Moneypak issues very quickly, these guys have more authorizations)
    888-267-9413(Moneypak customer support special services department)

    Another number to get help
    Green Dot Moneypak resolution tickets
    866-871-2415

  11. To me, bluebird still prevails as I have a Walmart within half hour driving distance; my local pharmacy store don’t accept cc for greendots. So I will stick to my VR+bluebird way.

  12. Hello all,
    I’ve been researching Bluebird ever since it launched last Oct but always seem to find conflicting information on whether it’s worth it. Since we don’t live very near any Wal Marts, it hasn’t been a huge draw, however now that my husband’s commute puts him w/in a few miles of one, I think I’m ready to make the leap. We’ll soon have tuition to pay ($5,000 per month!) so would be great to actually earn miles/ points for that whopping expenditure.(School charges only $55 fee to split up the payments over 10 mo. (w/ no interest tacked on) but if I use my credit card directly, to make the payments-there’s a convenience fee of over 2.5%, resulting in thousands$$! So BB seems to be the obvious way to go!

    Q: Will this sort of use raise a red flag when using Bluebird? My plan is to reload BB with Visa gift cards each month ($5k max from what I understand) and then utilize BB auto bill pay to pay the monthly tuition thru the school’s payment program.

    Q: As this would essentially be utilizing most of the money in the BB account, each month and $5K is the max I’m able to reload per mo., would it be better to start a second account for my husband and just make the tuition payments from each, so that it wouldn’t drain either BB acct, each month?

    Q: If anyone out there has had problems w/ BB- what seemed to set off the red flags?
    1. Is it the AMOUNT of money you take out every month (whether it’s via auto pay, paper check or ATM withdrawl)?
    2. Is the trouble w/the PERCENTAGE of funds you withdraw on a mo. basis (compared to how much you leave in)?

    3. Or is it an issue of WHO the payment goes out to every month- (i.e-just withdrawing your money every month and depositing it back in your regular bank account)? Can see why this might cause concern over money laundering from the bank’s perspective. But if you are just paying your bills each month and then refilling your acct. afterwards so you can do it again the next mo., has anyone been called out by BB for that?

    Paying for our son’s education will be a huge sacrifice for us so anything we can do to recoup even a little but (miles/ points) will go a long way towards paying for other things. So THANK YOU for any advice on this. T
    I will definitely post my experience doing this. Thanks so much!!

    • Wendy: Yes, BB can be a great option for you…
      A: The only red flag you need to watch out for is with your credit card company. If you buy lots of gift cards or reload cards every month there is a (very small) chance of getting a financial review. The best way to avoid that is to have multiple rewards cards from different banks and to spread out the purchases across banks. In your case you could also have some accounts in your name and some in your husband’s.
      A: I don’t think it really matters, but it can’t hurt to have both Bluebird cards and do as you said.
      Note: BB does not have an auto bill pay feature. You would have to initiate a new payment every month. One easy workaround: instead of paying from BB, log into your BB account each month to transfer money from BB to your checking account and autopay from there. You’ll still get just as many points that way.

      • Great advice! Thanks so much for the quick reply.

        One follow up Q:

        Do you think it would hurt to call my CC companies to let them know that we plan on buying multiple GC or reload cards each mo. from here on out? (So as to give them a heads up so they won’t need to wonder if the purchases are mine & are legit)? I’d think this would lessen the chance of them flagging my cards for fraud/ stolen card, etc? I’d think it’d be perfectly understandabl to the CC companies if we explained that we’re buying these cards for our son to use while away at school. (Since he is only 14, he does not have a cc of his own so visa/ amex gift cards are one of the few options he’d actually have to make purchases while far from home).

        **We currently only carry Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Plat Amex. Do you know if either of those cards are known to be problematic about this type of purchasing? Thanks again for the terrific info! Cheers

  13. Like others have posted – the response to my request to sign up was in SPAM – despite the initial response from GOBANK coming through.
    .
    Oddly for bank to bank transfers (how I wanted to initially fund the account) they only offer push (i.e. provide their routing and account # to your bank) rather than pull. In my case my credit union simply couldn’t recognize their routing number as I guess they are too new.

  14. @Wendy
    Buy Chase gift cards online with the chase card (up to $2.5k allowed) & AMEX GC with the AMEX (up to $5k allowed). Each will verify against your details so little risk. For the AMEX you can do this from within your online AMEX login.

    • @SJCRussell,

      Great idea! Would purchasing online mean e-delivery of said giftcard or an actual hard card that would need to be shipped? Obviously, if the fees are less (or free)to buy these at their own sites, it’s a win-win. But if the delivery is electronic, is it possible to “deposit” a $200 Visa E-gift card into my BB account via online, as well? Eliminating the frequent WalMart trips would be awesome!

      Curious if buying these giftcards directly from Amex or Chase’s website would cause it to be coded as a “cash advance” rather than an actual retail purchase? Or if the CC companies specifically prohibit points/ miles earning for those giftcard purchases made on their sites? If so, how does one get around that?
      Thanks!!

  15. Curious how the new rules about 4 digit pin codes being added to GC’s has affected everyone’s ability to fund these BB and GoBank accounts? Has the change been a positive one overall for most of you or has it added another level of hassle to the transaction, when dealing w/ already confused managers and sales clerks who ring you up? I’ve been following this closely, as well but there seems to be many mixed reactions. Anyone care to share how it’s been super beneficial (or horrible) for them, when used for funding their BB or GoBank accts?
    Much appreciated!!

  16. I have access to Vanillas from several nearby CVS, Bluebird is working easily for me up to 5000 a month, so I think I`ll sit tight for the next 6 months or so before jumping in on the GoBank.
    I was able to set up an account and did make the required $50 deposit
    But I`m sitting on the fence for awhile on this one
    By the way FM, I really respect your reviews and your overall perspective. Keep up the excellent work on your blog

  17. BB has 22,000 fee-free ATMs? Where?

    I got the Ok to create an account this morning but I had a question. Can I use a CC to fund the account without being charged a cash advance fee?

  18. Did @stan ever clarify whether he was shut down on a Green Dot reloadable/prepaid card or GoBank. They are different products with somewhat different target markets.

  19. Dear FM

    I signed up for go bank and in the final page, it asks me how I want to make a deposit, I selected debit and used my visa debit gift card to deposit $50 but it didn’t work. It seems that I completed the sign up process even without the online initial deposit. But it didn’t tell me if and when I will receive the GO BANK CARD. Will I receive a physical card?

  20. @Wendy,

    You can’t load online without a fee and the limits are paltry, so that isn’t an option. You should try to get Vanilla reloads if you can, as its easier.

    You need to be ok with the idea that you are going to spend a lot of time doing this for minimal gains. 60k a year without bonus catagories is 60k points for a lot of effor and non-zero expense. It is totally worth it if you are meeting min spend on new cards, but I think it is dubious just to manufacture points on an existing card. That said, I do some of it, but don’t go out of my way to do so, other than to meet min spend, which I mostly do out of my regular spending anyway.

    My biggest use is that I won’t shift any bonus catagory spending to a new card to meet min spend. Instead I’ll do this.

  21. It says

    Done!
    You chose our free standard card. Once you make your initial deposit, we’ll drop your card in the mail (woohoo!)

    How do I make initial deposit when I don’t have the GO BANK card? I tried DEBIT to load $50 but it didn’t work online. Looks like I am not getting the card in mail.

  22. On Step 5 of completing my registration for the card and received the following:

    Eek. Something happened on our end, and we’re unable to complete your registration. Please come back and try again in a bit.

    Anyone else received this?

  23. GreenDot is a royal PITA and everyone who’s ever dealt with them knows it. It’s not IF you will be shut down, only WHEN. Unless you think the hassle of signing up, learning how to load, cashing out and then spending hours on the phone once you get shut down (as you surely will) and waiting weeks for your money is fun, then think twice.

    Stan’s comments above are par for the course, not the exception.

  24. @traveller,

    The same thing happened to me. I assumed it was because I hit the “i’m still here” button about 10 times while I read their lengthy account agreements. Guess that’s what I get for reading before agreeing. Anyway, I restarted the application from the beginning, and it zipped right through the second time.

  25. Same issue as previous comments above. I cannot make the initial deposit. I tired 3 different debit cards without success. My account is now locked for 24 hours I’ve been informed.

  26. I got the invite. Tried to do initial deposit with chase gc but didn’t work, I used my regular debit card to deposit $50from chase and went smoothly.

  27. It looks like the bank doesn’t offer reload with MoneyPak anymore, only for initial load.
    From FAQ:
    DEPOSIT: “WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR MAKING AN INITIAL DEPOSIT?”
    MoneyPak – … (MoneyPak can only be used for your first deposit.)

    And indeed no mention of MoneyPak on the site anywhere. (I have an account with them).

  28. Any thoughts about using the Delta Suntrust Debit Card? At first got an error for trying to load $1000. I reduced to $500 and it worked. I then tried another $500 and got the error. The Walmart assistant was able to override. So I was able to put $1000 in the account. I use BB and GoBank to pay bills only. I don’t take money out from the ATM ever. Although, I may start using it to transfer money to a non sun trust account. My concern is.. how much will Sun Trust tolerate before shutting me down?

  29. Newbie Miler: You’re right. GoBank seems to have stopped allowing MoneyPak’s for ongoing loads.

    Charles: Suntrust should work. I don’t have any idea how far you can go with it, though.

  30. I received this message today from gobank.

    We’re rolling out updates to GoBank’s Mobile Deposit feature, and we’ve edited our Deposit Account Agreement to highlight the improvements. We’ve also made changes to the Electronic Communications Agreement.Here are the key updates:Mobile DepositWe’ve updated our Mobile Deposit limits, availability times and the kinds of checks we do and don’t accept. You can read all about these changes in the Deposit Account Agreement.Deposit Options Using a debit card to deposit money into your account will only be an option when making your initial deposit. Ongoing deposit options now include Mobile Deposit, Direct Deposit, bank transfer and cash.

    No more debit card deposits? I haven’t received my card yet and they are telling me that it’s just like any other bank account. Am I understanding it wrong?

  31. “Both services offer free bill pay services. Whenever possible, payments will be sent electronically. If the recipient isn’t setup for electronic bill payments, then payments will be sent by paper check”.
    .
    I’ve been experimenting and can find no way to set up electronic bill payment. Unlike BB all bills look to have to be set up as mail in checks.
    If this is wrong can you please point me in the right direction?

    • SJCRussell: With GoBank, the interface looks the same whether the payment is electronic or not. When you put in a biller, if it finds one for you it won’t let you enter an address. That’s how you’ll know it is electronic.

  32. Hey FM, I tried loading my GoBank using the prepaid Visa debit card from Kroger at Walmart today and was declined and a message that says something about using an alternate method. The machine spit out the receipt showing code 75.
    I tried this at a different Walmart, using another gift card, and also changed the deposit amount to $200, but it still doesn’t work.
    I also tried selecting the GreenDot option on the machine instead of Walmart Moneycard but to no avail.

    Have any of your readers reported anything similar or am I just doing it all wrong?

  33. So, I went back to Wally to try reloading my GoBank with my 2 GCs again and both were declined. I tried to reload BB, and were declined as well. So, I figured it’s not GoBank but the GCs themselves. So, I called the toll free number to reset my PINs. I used GC#1 to buy some jalapeno peppers at Wally just to see if it works, and it did, then I proceeded to reload my GoBank card for $495, and it worked. However, when I try with GC#2, it didn’t work, and I grabbed some gums and try paying with GC#2 and it was declined. So, I called the toll free number again to reset the PIN, waited a few mins, tried to buy the gum again, and was declined again. Frustrated, I left. I remembered you had some issue with the Kroger GC before… what did you end up doing with that GC? Right now, I can’t use it to buy stuffs or reload…

  34. Victor: Yep, those Kroger US Bank GCs seem to be pretty finicky! In my case, I never could get one of them to work so I liquidated it as follows:
    1) Go through TCB to GiftCardMall to buy 2 $250 Choice e-gift cards (get 2% back = $10) and pay with the US Bank Visa
    2) Go through TBC to GiftCardMall two separate times to buy 1 $500 Visa gift card each time. Pay $250 worth with the choice e-gift card and the rest with your credit card (get 1% back each time = $5 + $5 = $10). Total of $20 cash back is slightly more than gift card fees.
    3) Take new gift cards to Walmart. Use last 4 digits. No problem.

    You can only use one Choice e-gift card per transaction and they top out at $250.

  35. FM: Being the stubborn mule that I am, I called the Customer Service and talked to a rep to figure out what’s going on. The lady told me that my card’s PIN was locked because I tried too many times with the from PIN, although I’m sure I had it right. Anyway, she was kind enough to unlock it and let me reset my PIN again. Went down to Wally and reload with no problem. I guess the next time anything like this happen, just call and talk to someone…. but, I think for now I’ll just head down to OM for the $10 off $200 GC deal. Thanks

  36. Some discoveries:
    When using the WM machine to load there seems to be a max of 10 loads per day, even if you are under the $ load limit. This seems to be a WM thing.
    Using the WM service center each store seems to have its own limit on # of loads. One store I was able to load > 10 small GC (they had no WM ATM) but at another today it maxed out with just 4 loads (and unfortunately their ATM machine seemed unable to read the GoBank card at all).
    .
    Note – some GC (mostly mastercard) seem to auto-trigger as payment by credit which will trigger a failure to load. If you have the option you need to select the button ‘change payment method’ to debit. The Visa cards seem to read first time as debit load.

    • SJCRussell: Thanks for the tips. In my experience, the limit at the WM machine seems to be based on amount loaded not number of loads. It seems to get stuck after $1500 of loads, so I just wait a while after doing $1500 before doing any more. That seems to work.

  37. Question on ACH transfers, is it stated in the T&Cs that ACH transfers out are not allowed?

    I want to setup a small credit card (one recurring transaction) to be automatically paid off in full each month through bluebird. I asked my credit card company if it was possible and they didn’t know what bluebird was but they said as long as the account has a routing number and an account number it should work. Bluebird has these so do you think it will work?

    Thanks

    • Paul: No, Bluebird doesn’t like to have money pulled out of it via ACH. You can initiate an ACH transfer by logging into Bluebird, but you can’t set it up for automatic payments. GoBank, on the other hand, does allow automatic payments.

      • Also it says goBank costs money to load …this is incorrect..I just go to 7-11 like I have for couple years now …hand them the card and the money And it is totally free …and it says you can’t transfer to a bank account and they are if they haven’t already added that

  38. It seems MoneyPak’s for ongoing loads is working again. I just tried today. I went to moneypak website and enter my gobank card number in “Reload a Prepaid Card” section. Loaded the money successfully.

  39. And the party is over for GoBank….
    Unlike BB they are closing accounts once your statement rolls over if you load and do bill pay. No one has figured out what the pattern is or what will trigger automatic account closure but even low amounts loaded have triggered this. Once your account is closed you can get your money out pretty easily, but you are banned from opening any other Greendot Bank product.

  40. FM:

    Has anyone payed around with the amount of “voluntary” pay each month to see if you select the max of $9 your account isn’t shut down?

    Also, I just tried to load with two MC gift cards. Told the WM cashier they were debit cards (the ATM was broken), but it would not let me load with them. I was never asked to enter a PIN number while doing the load. Apparently a real problem with MC loads.

  41. Marshall: That’s a great idea. If anyone has tried that, I haven’t heard of it. There is a trick to loading at the register: after swiping your card, watch carefully for a “cancel” button to show up and press it (you have to be quick). Then you should be given the option to enter a debit PIN.

  42. I have had my original greendot card so long it just expired and I received a new one. Never any problems. I add the max ach deposit via Paypal 4x a week. I use it to pay my bills and pull out cash every other week. I always have an available balance.

    I heard about gobank and decided to use them. I love the app and ease of sending check payments. I have loaded $600-$800 3-4 x a week for about a month. I have carried more then $2,000 balance the whole time. My account was closed Sat. With $2,500 in it. I called them and they said it looked like it was being used for business so they closed it. They will not reconsider. Their decision is final. They did however, lift the block so I can spend down the balance. Thankfully!! However, I love the app and wish they wouldn’t have closed it.

  43. I had Bluebird account and someone hacked into it, putting money in and then back out again, Bluebird shut down my account without any notice, and I had direct deposit. I went without a paycheck for 3 weeks and Blue’s only response was it was shut down due to illegal activity. I was blamed for the hacks. I even had money in my account that was never returned. Never again Bluebird.

  44. I love bluebird. I have had them for years and have never hand a customer service problem. They even work wuth UBER. I love the fact that there are virtually no fees. They are no accepted everywhere but they do allow for ATM cash withdrawals. I have seen the gobank user interface .I was not impressed with over bluebird.

    • Yes, it is loadable with debit gift cards at certain locations (such as Walmart or Rite Aid), but you do have to pay the load fee ($4.95). The card also has pretty hefty monthly fees unless you load at least $1K per month (or, better yet, keep the card balance empty)

      • So this looks like the monthly fee (most months), plus the $4.00 VGC purchase fee plus the $5.00 load fee and that makes this option pretty expensive.

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