Posted by Chuck on August 18, 2014
Manufactured Spending

Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Chuck

54

GoBank Reappears?

For a while, GoBank wasn’t taking new members, but they recently did some revamping and it seems to be reappearing.

GoBank Background

GoBank is a pre-paid card simlar to Bluebird/Serve. You can load the card at Walmart with cash/debit, and it thus can be loaded with a Visa gift card. Many pre-paid cards can be loaded at Walmart, but Bluebird/Serve/GoBank are unique in that they have no monthly fee, and – more importantly – they have a Bill Pay feature, which lets you simply pay off credit card bills and thus complete the MS cycle.

The reason why people don’t talk much about GoBank is because they’re notorious about shutting down accounts of those who engage in “abusive practices” (read: all of us), and thus most of us got shut down. But my understanding is that many of those who use the card moderately were not shut down, despite using the card exclusively for loading in Walmart and unloading via BillPay.

For the past few months, if you tried to sign up for the GoBank card, the system said that it’s currently unavailable for new sign-ups, and that you should wait for a new, better GoBank soon. It appears that the time may be coming.

Is GoBank Accepting New Members?

It appears that they are beginning to accept new members. One caveat: you first need to purchase an elusive starter-card (with a $2.95 fee). When you click the “Open Your Account” tab, the system asks you for your starter-card number, and indicates that you can’t open an account without a starter-card. As of a few week ago, it appears that this starter-kit  is available in 20 Walmart stores in Texas, but presumably they’ll be rolling it out more extensively in the near future.

There may be one other method of getting a GoBank account without purchasing a starter-card, which is to have someone send you money from their GoBank account (minimum of $1), and the system should prompt the recepient to either transfer the money to a Paypal account or open a GoBank account. This definitely used to work, but it’s possible that they stopped this when the new starter-card system came into effect.

One big drawback about the newly-revamped GoBank card is that it has an $8.95 monthly fee, unless you receive Direct Deposit of at least $500 per month. It’s likely that an ACH transfer from a different bank account will also count as a direct deposit, but we don’t know that for sure. This fee is only for new members. As of now, any member from before July 23, 2014 is grandfathered in with no monthly fee.

Could it be that people who were shut down will now be able to re-apply for this “new product” and get approved? Doubtful, but hard to say for sure.

New Limits

There are also new limits which GoBank rolled out. These limits are for new members and old members.

  • In-store loads are limited to $3000 per rolling 30 days.
  • BillPay can only be made up to $5000 a day.

Obviously, the important one here is the limit of $3000 per rolling 30 days, which makes this card inferior to Bluebird/Serve even for Walmart loads. Previously, there was no official limit to how much could be loaded per month, which led many to do excessive loads and get shut down. (As an aside, I hate rolling-30-day limits. They confuse me. I wish it were a calendar month limit, the way Bluebird/Serve is.)

Interesing Facts and Figures

Green Dot Corporation released some interesting data on GoBank in its Earnings Call report (sign-in required).

  • The most  popular method of depositing money into GoBank  is direct deposit. Next is cellphone check deposit, then ACH transfer, then cash deposit.
  • “Nearly 60% of active account holders say that GoBank is their primary checking account.”
  • “GoBank active customers deposit an average of $1,000 per month to their account.”
  • “23% of these customers use GoBank to electronically pay bills.”
  • “GoBank customers are heavy users of the GoBank debit card racking up approximately 19 transactions per month and around $600 of monthly debit card spend.”

I find these figures very interesting. Apparently, we MSers are a marginal demographic in the GoBank system. I’d love to see figures of this sort on Bluebird/Serve.

Our Verdict

New limits always sound constricting, but I wonder if the new limits will make the card more sustainable and will stop the shutdown-syndrom that GoBank had. I’ve had the GoBank card for almost a year and I’ve used it moderately as a backup to my Serve card. I’m very careful not to do weird things, like doing five loads of $100 in one day. I try finding a cashier who knows how to do split-tender, then I do one load of three Visa gift cards (this shows up as one load on GoBank’s end), and then I shelve the card for a few days. I’ve unloaded exclusively using the BillPay feature, but – I guess – since I use it moderately they haven’t shut me down. I love having a backup to my Serve card for the months when I have lots of gift cards to unload. I don’t think I’ve ever done more than $3000 in one month, so the new limit isn’t so terrible for me.

I’m just hoping that they won’t start pushing the monthly fee onto old members. Admittedly, with the monthly fee, I hear a serious question of whether it would be worth keeping the card. For someone who will really use it at a full $3000 a month it may be worth it, but since I just use it as a backup it may not be. I’m nervous to load too much on my GoBank card in one shot because I’ve had problems in the past with their BillPay system being down (though there’s always money orders), and I don’t want too much money tied up there.

What do you think about GoBank? Have you been shut down?



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Adrian
Adrian

I like GoBank. I was able to get into GoBank through the mobile app. I believe that avenue has now been closed with the latest update on iOS and Android. With that method I was able to choose my monthly fee and I think I fall into the old T&C.

Trevor

GoBank was great last year — although I had not one, but two shut down in just about a month… Reckless abandon I suppose… Do you have any indication that folks who had previously been shut down might get another shot? (of course, as you properly state, its not as attractive as it was).

Logn
Logn

Gobank is somewhat useful but marginally….I got warned that loading up lots of loads and using BillPay too quickly to drain the account was a big red flag and they locked me out as a warning. When I called back, they said it was a warning and that my account would be terminated if I continued to do that.

So, if you use this card, don’t load and pay tons of bills right away as that is not “normal” behavior. That will flag it quickly. I asked what is normal behavior and they said, buying stuff..lol Anyway, as I said, it’s usefulness is marginal, especially with the $3000 load per 30 days rolling time frame. They love to keep your money doing nothing as that’s how they make their money-the float.

traderprofit
traderprofit

All right. I’m sick of these financial institutions that close accounts when you are complying with their rules. CAN EVERYONE WHOSE ACCOUNT WAS CLOSED PLEASE FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU here:
http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

A blast of several hundred complaints is what’s needed.
I’ve had great success getting responses to my complaints on other issues.

William Charles

I’m not sure that’s the best course of action. As somebody in engaging in MS, you want to minimize the amount of money your costing a company (to avoid them causing the loophole) whilst maximizing your own profit. You shouldn’t be filing complaints unless you have a valid complaint to make (e.g they are holding your funds).

Ny
Ny

I had no idea what GoBank was and got really excited, then finished the article. Sounded good but as I engage in MS and bank bonuses, trying to juggle direct deposit reqs and potentially a GoBank DD or a shutdown is just too much of a hassle. Luckily I got my mother, father and brother to sign up for bluebirds and jive them to me to manage. That might be an easier route to completing the MS cycle 🙂

Miles
Miles

I opened a GoBank account sometime in the past, but never had a card and never deposited anything. Just now I logged in and was shown this message, “Welcome Miles! Your account has been closed.”

Not sure if it will be worthwhile trying to open another account, given the $8.95/month fee and the tendency of GoBank to close accounts.

Simon
Simon

I just linked my paypal to my new GoBank (that I bought at a local Walmart) and transferred >$500 so we will see if that ACH Transfer avoids the monthly fee. Anyone else have any luck?

Ann
Ann

I am extremely upset. I wanted to use this account because my bank does not have the check/smartphone feature. Paid $2.95 for it – went through a lengthy sign up process….only to be told that I have a limted-access account.

The site did not really explain how this would work. They say limited-access is designated when they cannot verify your identity – which is a load of crap – I am absolutely verifiable. I had credit problems in the past due to an illness – waiting for disability, etc. I have a checking account now (in good shape). I don’t understand.

I sent a question via email to them – what I am told is that – “no, you will not get a personalized card. You can spend the amount you have on the card now (which is my money) and the account will be closed.

They do not promote their product this way. I know I am being petty, but I am insisting on getting the $2.95 added to my balance – HUGE WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.

Oh, and once you are “turned down” by them, you can login to your account – but it immediately kicks you out. The final insult.

Gaurav
Gaurav

Chuck, do you know if there is a daily load limit for Go Bank? Tried to do a $1500 load today (split tender 500×3) and got an error at the Walmart register. Curious if anyone else has tried this. Thanks.

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Mr oppenheimer
Mr oppenheimer

What type of VGCs you can load into GB? Any VGCs? you know how lately OV didn’t work in WM when loading to serve. Do you load VGC at the cash counter or in moneycenter? how many VGCs at a time?

Dheen
Dheen

Has any one tied to send ACH to go bank and are they counting that as Direct deposit?

Chad Neiswonger

DD is only counted as a payment TO your acct FROM a DD source. You cannot send ACH from YOU to YOU and expect it to post as a DD on GB towards your $500.00. I have had a GB acct for going on 3 years and have not experienced one negative issues. The only small issue is they do “fraud flag” your card when using it online too much and you have to call and go through your transactions with the auto system then it unlocks. Happened to me trying to buy a $325.00 vacation package online, after I verified, went through. It does every once in a while decline when you have funds, but that seems to be a glitch in the communication between the merchant, the processor and GB. But wait about 20 minutes and it clears up. When it does happen just get money from an ATM to pay for what you were paying for, then call GB and most of the times they will refund a one-time fee for the issue. I have used my card hard with ACH DD, loads, bill pay and have NEVER been shutdown. But of course maybe it is because I had a WMMC for over 10 years before going with GB and built credibility in their system under my name and social.

Miles
Miles

So is there any suggestion that how can we unload money except BP? Transfer to PP or ACH is safe? Or just swipe many times:(

LaRasha Washington

I have a bank account with GoBank and my tax return was deposited in my account on 2/3/16 and I started making transaction paying bills they then placed a hold on my account because they felt it was my activity was unusual I had to call the number on the back of my debit card to verify my transaction which I did and they removed the hold on my account so I went back to using my debit card. Later that night they placed another hold on my card without notice and I was not able to use my card at all and then next morning I received a email saying ….We’ve identified some unusual activity on your GoBank account. To protect your funds, we’ve temporarily blocked access to your account until we’re able to verify your identity. What you need to do to turn your card back on: Using your mobile phone or computer, submit a photo of your Driver’s License, State ID or Passport at the website listed below. (We’ll give you instructions on how to do this on the website.) When you submit the photo successfully, you’ll receive a confirmation, but we’ll still need up to 2 days to review it.
I did what they asked that same day which was 2/4/16. As of today which is 2/10/16 the hold is still on my account and I have sent them email after email asking them why my account is still locked after the 2 business days. There is no way to contact the bank by phone and the last reply I received today was We apologize for the inconvenience. Your account is currently under review. We will call you as soon as we have an update. This has been such a horrible experience and I’m a single mother of 4 and I have no other money available on top of that I have a disconnection notice for my utility company if my payment is not submitted by 2/10/16 where I had to borrow money to pay it. I have contacted the Federal Reserve and I have a appointment with a lawyer I will be filling a law suit against this bank I hope anyone else that has had problems do the same.

Sara thompson
Sara thompson

Please, I want to file a law suit as well as they rejected my refund after telling me over the phone, and through message that I would be OK, I’m facing eviction. With kids nowhere to go. Now the middle man bank has my funds under review as well, so who knows now when I’ll get my return. I’m not the only person wanting to sue that go bank has screwed over. But if we get enough people we can file a class action suit

Chad Neiswonger

It is not GB rejecting your tax return. This happened to me in 2009 with NetSpend, it is the IRS flagging your return money when sending it to the bank for further identity verification. All I had to do with NetSpend was send a copy of my tax return showing the refund amount, photo ID and a copy of my social sec card to verify I am who I say I am. Within 2 hours my funds dropped into my account. So don’t blame GB it is not them, it is the IRS fighting fraud. You had something on your return that raised some sort of small red flag and they released your funds because it was ACH DD to a credible bank.

Jonathan Coward
Jonathan Coward

The same thing just happen to me too day I ask them where and who was using the card when I had it with no internet transactions.
I was plan on going to Feds myself on Monday

Packetslinger
Packetslinger

Tried to load my Gobank with US Bank issued pin enabled MasterCard at WalMart and received “invalid tender” message from register. Is this something new?

Chad Neiswonger

Try it as credit. But if Walmart is the company giving the “invalid tender” it usually means not enough funds or you entered PIN wrong.

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