Monday, June 11, 2007

First National Bank of de Wal-Mart

OK, so if it looks like a bank, walks like a bank, and quacks like a bank, is it a bank? With the Wal-Mart, you never know.

We got these new Wal-Mart MoneyCards at our store this weekend -- and they're insidious. They parked a huge display at the main door -- immediately as you enter the store by Register 1 -- and small displays in front of every Customer Service register.

Also, and this is what customers find the most annoying - there is a prompt after cashing EVERY paycheck - "Would you like to load your check onto a Wal-Mart Moneycard?" That's right - every cashed paycheck. Every time. All day I had to keep telling people "Do you want a MoneyCard? Then hit NO."

Don't know what a MoneyCard is? Here's an article from the Chicago Tribune. And here is the MoneyCard Web site.

Basically, it is Wal-Mart's way around the law's preventing them from opening up a bank. The cards work almost EXACTLY like the pre-paid credit cards that people with crap credit get.

You have to load money ONTO the card before you can spend. But it looks and acts more like a debit card. You can use it a places that accept Visa - and for online shopping - and at ATMs.
when your balance is low, you can add more money at any Wal-Mart store - either by cashing your paycheck (free, except for the $3 check cashing fee) or by paying a $4.64 fee every time you want to deposit money into the account. Yes - pay just to use YOUR money!

Every time you visit an ATM, it is $1.95 to get cash. A balance inquiry will cost you seventy-five cents. Just having the card costs you $4.94 a month. Here's the full schedule of fees.

Who is the market for this? People who can't even get Wal-Mart's regular credit card - and people without access to the regular U.S. banking system.

Wal-Mart can shout to the high-heavens all they want about capturing the "high-end" segment of the market with cleaner stores, trendy merchandise and faux-couture fashion. Call a spade a spade.

Wal-Mart took a long, hard look at the numbers. And the money. Wal-Mart's money services are raking in the cash - and there is no "supply chain," "product chain" or "merchandise management" issue there. It is just cash and digital cash. There's money to be made in money.

Ask yourself -- "Who deals mainly in cash?" The polite way to phrase this is "
people without access to the regular U.S. banking system." The impolite way is "the bottom rungs of society." As we move more and more toward a digital future, even these people need access to SOME sort of digital form of their money -- and really, it is safer than carrying around $3,000 in your back pocket.

I think this is going to take a while to take off - but it is eventually going to be huge.


afurrica said...

When I first heard of these, they didn't make any sense, but after reading your post and the MoneyCard website, I feel like Charlton Heston when he found out about Soylent Green.

"It's a bank! Soylent MoneyCard is a bank!"

Mercedes Lopez said...

They charge you to use your own money and then they make interest also from it; pure profit.

thordora said...

They charge you to use your own money and then they make interest also from it; pure profit.

My bank does that to me all the time. Good to see Walmart join in the assrape of the average customer.

FARfetched said...

Sheesh. WTF can this "money card" do that you can't do with a gift card, without fees or any of that other crapola? Security? If so, then you have to determine whether that security is worth the price.

Frankly, after lower-income types finish paying the bills, losing a gift card isn't going to hurt much.

Anonymous said...

this just saddens me
the uneducated, the low income, the "we are already up to our necks in debt" people will buy into this and NEVER EVER EVER get ahead...
People need to stop having faith in WalMart..This is just ANOTHER reason I DON"T SHOP THERE EVER!

Jim Lippard said...

Prepaid spending cards are also already in heavy use by online criminals--you know, the ones that are emptying people's bank accounts with phishing schemes--though I suspect they use vendors that don't gouge them quite so much.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Walmart, being a good ol' Kristian Fundamentalist outfit neglects to read anything in the Bible about USURY. Playboy is out, but milking the poor for every penny is good business.
Granted, Leviticus is all hokum and superstition, but if they can deny Gays rights, then they can live by it, as well.

35 ' If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.
36 'Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you.
37 'You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. (Leviticus 25:35-37)

Anonymous said...

Get thee to a credit union!

Anonymous said...

Well at least the people here without a green card will be a bit safer from the legal citizen thugs.....something positive.

Amanda said...

oh wow. a couple of customers have called our store in the past few days, asking about "walmart prepaid credit cards", and we don't have them yet, so i'm constantly telling people "NO! WE DON'T HAVE THEM." ..but apparently some stores do. i had no idea. haha. i'm sure ours will get them soon enough.

..i wonder if customers at the service desk are going to try and demand to get their money refunded back onto these cards instead of gift cards? i can see it now. "i don't want my cash back, can you just put it on one of those moneycards?"

Jessica said...

Well at least the people here without a green card will be a bit safer from the legal citizen thugs.....something positive.

Can you clarify that statement for me. anonymous? From the way I'm reading it, it sounds like you're saying it's a good thing that people who had no respect for our laws as to sneak in the back door have one more way to not get caught.

Anonymous said...

Gimme a break. If you don't want to pay the fees, don't get a Moneycard. It's that simple, folks.

afurrica said...

You know, upon further reflection, this doesn't sound like a bad deal for many people.

I've known plenty of people over the years who have gotten into arrears with banks over overdraft fees. Now, realistically, one should pay off the fees and move on. That's what I'd do. That's what you'd do. But it's not always what you do if you owe $300 in fees, $450 in rent, your car's got no gas, the cupboard is bare and your paycheck is $600.

What do those people do? They sign their checks over to their girl or boyfriend. They use check cashing services. They end up losing control of their money or paying higher fees than these cards will charge.

If you have a bank, MoneyCards make no sense. There are, however, people for whom this makes sense.

It's also worth nothing that banks routinely charge $10 monthly fees.

I'm not saying "Yay, MoneyCards!" I'm just's interesting.

Ol' Lady said...

I perfer not to pay any fees to use my own money. I keep enough in the bank account to get my service charges for free and I only use a credit card that pays back each month. I also pay the credit card each time I use it so I don't have any interest charges.
Most people live beyond their means and the banks, large corps and who ever else can rapes them for their money...but the people let them...

Anonymous said...

Gladly Jessica. I live in Florida where there are many legal and illegal immagrants because of sugar cane fields, produce etc. and the illegals are preyed upon because they always keep their cash on them or in their homes since they have no access to a bank account due to lack of green card/citizenship. It's not the just the thugs as the police have been known to shake them down too. Never did I say it's a good thing for people to disrespect our laws, what I am saying is just because people are here illegally doesn't mean it's okay to steal from them and kill them in the process of robbing them. Hope that clears up any misunderstanding of what I said =)

Anonymous said...

If I may comment, if they were here legally, they wouldn't have an issue, now would they?

Anonymous said...

"If I may comment, if they were here legally, they wouldn't have an issue, now would they?"
I respect what you are saying. To me your comment is the same as saying to a rape victim "If she didn't wear that outfit she wouldn't have been raped."
As I stated before I do not condone lawbreaking of any kind, even California stops at a stop sign. It still doesn't give a person the right to victimize another because they are here illegally.

Jessica said...

Comparing a rape victim to an illegal immigrant is like comparing an apple to an orange. Sorry for the cliche, but really...
A rape victim never asks to be raped. An illegal immigrant CHOSE to come to this country illegally. Do they deserve to be treated like hell? No. However, having said that they are human beings and deserve to be treated fairly by their fellow man, they can apply for citizenship the RIGHT way, just like everyone else. I'm willing to bet more than half of them don't even bother. And if they get denied, too bad. You wouldn't turn around and rob a bank just because you were denied for the loan, would you? (To use your line of logic, for a second).

Anonymous said...

No Jessica I wouldn't rob a bank if denied a loan, but, I know right from wrong. There are people who would. It is not comparing apples to oranges IMO because the bottom line is what you said "they are human beings and deserve to be treated fairly by their fellow man" and that is my point. To get here legally the majority from most countries cannot afford to pay what is required to flee. Remember most of these people are below poverty level. Again I state I do not believe that gives people the right to disrespect our laws and they should come here legally and apply for citizenship. I do know there are many, many people from other countries who are considered wealthy (in their country) who stay here on a visa or hold duel citizenship, buy property, work to get social security and when they retire sell the properties or rent the properties here, go back home and live the high life, having their social security checks mailed to them back home. The system is definately broken beyond repair IMHO.

Nonchalant Savant said...

Hadn't heard of this thing yet. Thanks for the interesting appraisal.

One of my favorite political commentators has a saying: "The reason why there are rich people and poor people is that rich people keep doing what it takes to be rich, and poor people keep doing what it takes to remain poor."

After looking at the schedule of fees, anyone who signs up for this thing would be guaranteed to be in the latter category mentioned above.

Quacks like a bank? More like "smells like a pig."

John said...

Wal-Mart found out they wouldn't be allowed to open their own bank in Utah, so they started this partnership with "Green Dot", who has been selling these pre-paid VISA cards through 7-11 stores for years.

Wal-Mart has known for YEARS that there's money to be made from dealing in money- hell, banks have been doing it since the mid-1700's. The only real differences are that (1) Wal-Mart is sharing the fees with Green Dot, and (2) Wal-Mart already has thousands of physical locations and doesn't have to pay to build or rent branches, as a traditional retail bank would.

Anonymous said...

Buyer Beware!!!
I got suckered into this, thinking I could Buy the card and just add money as I go Along..!WRONG!
As you open there clever little packet,
you are now told that you must activate the card providing you
Give them your Social Number
and other Personal info
each mo you must pay a $4.94 fee
and another $4.64 at wal mart to add funds.. The Good news is I will be Calling WalMart Headquarters
and letting them know, if they don't refund my Money I will be doing my shopping elsewhere forever!!

CreditCool said...

From the way I'm reading it, it sounds like you're saying it's a good thing that people who had no respect for our laws as to sneak in the back door have one more way to not get caught.
You know, I grew up in Eastern Europe in the eighties. Our family was almost starving. And if the US border would have been somewhere close I think we would have crossed it. Legally or not.
Latin America has been exploited by the US for centuries. Its peopel are caught in a civilization trap. Most of illegal immigrants do not want to break laws. They just want to work.
And as for Walmart - well, that's business!
PS Thank you for a great post.

James said...

Nice article and I agree with you up to the point where you throw everyone who has chosen to deal in cash as the bottom of society.
I earn well over 50k in a midwest state and own my own home, which is valued at 180k, I drive a new car...
I'd not call that bottom of society but middle class. I use this card because I am tired of the bank checking account scam system in place to milk a person for every cent they can.

I use the card because I can accept the terms they offer and if you use direct deposit, which I do, and deposit enough, which I do, you get NO fees.

Watch out boys, people are tired of being ripped off and internet banking and systems like this Wal Mart Money card are going to blast off!

Now, I do use a traditional savings account so I have not totally discarded the banks... just the checking system.

One last note... to those that are complaining about any fees associated with this account.. I think you have to accept some responsibility here... You entered into this financial agreement blind and now you want to whine? At the same time though, Wal Mart employees do NOT understand this card nor have I found them able to answer basic questions about it either so I can understand if you based your decision on info from an employee.
I went online and did my own research.

Anonymous said...

I work from 7 to 6 and drive about 2hrs each way to work. I love the 24 hr option and open everyday. I have never had to pay the monthly fee because if you deposit over 1000 dollars in a month it is wavied. I think I pass about 13 Walmarts on my way to work so that works for me. I still have a saving account and I never keep more than 1k my walmart account I pay all my bills online and I never have to worry about some stealing all my money when I do pay online. I love it it may not for everyone but it is for me.....

Just an Honest College Student said...

I hate to say it but im one of the sucker's they lured into buy this ever so handy knock-off debit card. And im here to say dont do it. I am a college student and the only reason i done it was to buy my textbooks online without risking my bank account info. I know a few people who has had there bank accounts phished and it wasnt detected for up to three weeks, and i didnt wont to take any chances, i have my financial aid check, payroll check, and just what ever else deposit into my bank account and it isnt worth the chance to me. So i deposited $300.00 on to the card, that was about $50.00 or $60.00 more than my books. I bought my books the next day after purchasing the walmart money card;they wound up only being $227.65 and that is shipped and all, now i have $18.53 left on the card right now, and the books is all that was bought. There customer service says that the other $53.82 was there fee's for ordering online, buying the card, and so on. There way 9 different fee's charged to my card a total of $48.65 and $5.17 was unaccounted for. DONT DO IT. Oh yeah there are four walmarts within i would say 20 miles or less of me and would you believe that 3 of them wont take or honor their own cards,The one wal-mart that did take them was built when i was about 2 years old and im now almost 22 years old. Man a twenty year old wal-mart is more advanced than the other three, which was built in the past year or two. Alright there was on cashier told me that they didnt have giftcards that looked like this; there girtcards didnt have the 16 digit numbers on them, and she immediatlly reported me to her manager or supervisor for having a fake giftcard. Now it took me over an hour to get these particullar employees and even the manager to call the head walmart for my area and verify that the cards were really being marketed. The manager immedieatlly appologized and offered me a free reloadable giftcard in the amount of $10.00 whole dollars. Needless to say the "Money Card" got emptied out and then i burnt it ever so slowly, and enjoyed every minute of it. But wait now the account is emptied of cash, and i have no pending transaction and i havent used the card in over a month, but they will not let me cancel the account and they are still charging me there monthly fee of $4.65 or close to that, but wait there is still being other smaller fee's being added everyday, about $15.00 to $18.00 worth in about 3 weeks. (the told fee's after i tried to cancel the account and well to date was equal to $35.87.
So you tell me is it worth it??? I mean what it comes down to is that wal-mart or whoever the cards are issued through charged me 29.89% of that 300 dollars($89.69 in all) to spend money that was mine to start with, but the only difference was that it was in a digital Form. Remember the $10.00 giftcard that they give me as an IM SORRY gift, i still use that reloadable giftcard today and it hasnt got a penny of my money and has not charged me one fee, i mean nothing. I have ran probably $2,000 dollars thru that giftcard and i have spent $2,000 dollars of it. The only difference between the giftcards and the Wal-mart Visa Card is that you cannt use a giftcard at an ATM and you cannot get cash back off of it when your at your local wal-mart, well depending on the cashier your not supposed to be able to, should i say. About 90% of local convience store around my home will also accept the giftcard as a payment, even texas roadhouse,The Red Pig BarBQ,A local shopping mall, finish Line, k-mart, target, about all online stores such as ebay(sometimes) and amazon, and even a local pet shop are just a few i have thought to try the wal-mart giftcard at and they accepted it. I was told by a Wal-Mart head manager that nowhere but wal-mart will accept them, but he is wrong you just need a unaware employee at pretty much most businesses to not notice it say wal-mart purchases only in tiny writing on the Back of the Giftcard. cause if they just will run the giftcard as a form of payment much like a visa debit card it will approve the purchase and just subtract from your total balance on the giftcard, but just cause it has worked for me i wouldnt go into a local resturant with no cash on hand, just the giftcard, because if they by some chance refuse the giftcard you have no way of paying and it's not my fault i only said that it has worked for me in the past.
So the question is----Is the wal-mart visa debit card just a scam, or did i just have a one-of-a-kind problem with it, so to speak.
I dont thank so Wal-Mart wonts your money and they will do anything to get it even charging you to use your own person cash.
Me i learnt my lesson and the giftcard will work for all online purchases for me for now on. Plus some sites like gives you like between 5% and i have even seen up t0 45% discounts for using a Wal-Mart giftcard at there site and not at wal-mart.
I may just be crazy but maybe you should consider what i have just posted, you dont have to believe it just think before you act
(The Final Question is what would Wal-Mart be without our Money??? Surely not the multi-Billion Dollar Empire is it now, They would be broke, just like all there customers. By the way i have nothing against wal-mart; they are conveintent, clean and tidy, and have pretty good prices-well at least on some stuff.)No Wal-Mart based Visa Debit Card for me, now you have to decide.....Peace out

Jonathan Wagner said...

Man, you guys are a bit out of your minds...

Most of the fees are avoidable [still trying to figure out how to avoid the 8.48 (or whatever) to get a temporary card]. Just Direct Deposit more than $1000 a month to avoid the maintenance and deposit fees. Just buy a pack of gum or take money out when you do your normal shopping to avoid ATM fees. Use online/phone banking to avoid ATM Statement fees.

Any questions? Sorry to hear. It's as simple as all that. I hope to return to using the Wal-Mart Money Card shortly, as it means I don't have to spend $2+ to pay my bills through 3rd party sources, as they don't have actual payment centers.

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