With over 40 billion people shopping at Walmart every single day, any opportunity to save money there represents massive potential savings. The Walmart MoneyCard is a pre-paid debit card that promises those kind of savings.
But is it really in your best interest to sign up for a Walmart MoneyCard? Will it save you money when you shop at Walmart? The card has lots of money-saving features, such as cash back rewards and even a perk if you use direct deposit for your paycheck, so it looks very appealing.
But when you dig into the fine print, are the savings really significant? Are they worth getting a MoneyCard? Let’s take a look and find out.
The Cash Back Rewards Program
If you sign up for a Walmart MoneyCard with cash back rewards, you will be qualified for some benefits that sound pretty impressive. However, once you dig down deeper into the fine print, you’ll find that the limits are many and the savings are actually non-existent for quite some time after signing up for the card.
The benefits look promising. Every time you use the card on the Walmart website, you get 3% cash back. If you shop at Murphy USA or use the card at a Walmart fuel station pump, you can get 2% of the purchase back. And if you buy anything at a Walmart store with the card, you get 1% cash back.
Therefore, the easiest way to build up a large cash back reward is to do as much of your shopping on Walmart.com as you can.
You might think that getting 3% cash back on your online purchases could end up paying out hundreds of dollars a year. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? Not when you read the fine print:
- Rewards max out at $75 for the year. You don’t earn any more cash back rewards until the 12-month “Reward Year” is over.
- You can not cash out any of your reward balance for the entire initial 12 months after you sign up for the card.
- If you don’t load at least $1,000 a month onto your card, you will find a $5 fee subtracted from the balance every month.
- You will be charged $2.50 to withdraw money from the card at any ATM, and $0.50 just to do a balance inquiry.
Consequently, it’s not very difficult to imagine that maximum $75 of rewards getting chewed up quickly by the monthly fee and ATM service charges. This could leave you with no reward balance at all by the end of the year.
The MoneyCard Vault
Another benefit to having a MoneyCard that could potentially earn you some actual cash is the MoneyCard Vault.
The MoneyCard’s benefits don’t stop at cash back. You also stand to win a fair number of prizes if you use it as a savings account of sorts.
The way this works is you assign a portion of money to go into the “Vault”. This is a cash balance set aside that can not be used for purchases with the card. For every single dollar that you place into this “vault,” you receive one entry into monthly drawings for cash prizes. You can have up to a maximum of 500 entries into those sweepstakes.
Walmart gives away 500 cash prizes every month, including a grand prize of $1,000. The remaining 499 cash prizes are all for $25, so your odds of eventually winning $25 if you keep at least $500 in your vault are pretty good.
Is there a catch with the MoneyCard vault? The only “gotcha” is that you earn 0% interest on the money you put in the vault. So it isn’t exactly a good investment plan, or even a very good savings plan. For people who struggle to save any money at all every month, it is a good start.
Bank accounts typically offer paltry interest rates on their savings accounts anyway — anywhere from 1% to 3%, depending on the bank. It would take a very long time for you to earn very much with such low interest rates. Depending on the frequency that you win some of those cash prizes, you could potentially get more out of the vault in the end anyway.
Since the odds depend on how many people are using the vault, there’s no place where the odds of winning those cash prizes are published.
Online Bill Payment Service
Probably the number one benefit of using the Walmart MoneyCard is having access to the online bill payment service. Many other banks that offer online bill payment services will charge you transaction fees for each bill that you pay. In the case of the Walmart MoneyCard, using the online bill payment service is absolutely free.
Just keep in mind the following items if you plan on using the MoneyCard online bill payment service:
- Each individual bill payment has a limit of $1500. So if you plan on paying a huge mortgage payment with this service, it won’t work.
- The MoneyCard has a $2,999 spend limit, and bill payments count toward that limit. So don’t pay all your bills on the same day you plan to go grocery shopping at Walmart!
- Walmart is a well-recognized entity, so there are thousands of billers in the online payment service. The odds are good whoever you have to pay will be in the system.
- If your biller is not in the system, Walmart will mail them a paper check.
If you don’t already use any online bill pay service to consolidate all of your bill payments, this service is not a bad reason to sign up for the Walmart MoneyCard — even if this is the only reason you sign up!
Additional Incentives and Features
Every now and then, Walmart offers some special incentives to buy its MoneyCards.
For example, until November 26th, 2016, if you sign up for a card and have at least $250 in payroll direct deposit funds deposited into your MoneyCard account, Walmart will credit your account $25 — no strings attached. Free money. That’s not a bad deal.
Some other cool benefits you get when you sign up for a Walmart MoneyCard:
- You can send money to other people who also have a MoneyCard.
- You can deposit checks into your MoneyCard account by taking a photo of the check using the Walmart MoneyCard app.
- You can buy paper checks that you can write out and let people cash against your MoneyCard account. However, checks must be preauthorized with your MoneyCard app.
- The useful Walmart MoneyCard app gives you quick access to your account balance and transaction history.
- A “Budget” feature helps you to organize your income and expenses to better balance your household budget.
The bottom line is that the Walmart MoneyCard has its pros and cons. If you’re looking for a way to save (or earn) money through the cash back reward incentive, I would say you should look elsewhere. There are plenty of credit cards out there that offer equally generous cash back rewards, and don’t cap them at such a low yearly amount.
With that said, the MoneyCard could be very useful for anyone who is looking for convenience. The combination of the MoneyCard smartphone app, easy online bill pay service, check services, and easy direct deposit makes the MoneyCard a perfect solution for someone who has had bad luck with banks or credit cards in the past. Especially if you still want to have the convenience of having a debit card that can be used anywhere.
Whether you choose to use the Walmart MoneyCard is a personal choice. Read the fine print and decide whether the features of the card are ones that you need.
Have you ever had a Walmart MoneyCard before? What do you think about the features and fees? Share your experiences in the comments section below!