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TPG contributor Jason Steele takes us on a tour of the benefits and limitations of two more prepaid debit card products today – the RushCard and RushCard Live – and how you can use them to maximize your points earning using them in combination with Green Dot MoneyPaks.
Green Dot MoneyPaks appear to be the most widely available funding source for checking and debit card alternatives these days. MoneyPaks can be purchased at thousands of retail locations, and used to fund about 200 different prepaid cards. (Note: Green Dot has their own prepaid cards, but MoneyPaks are an entirely separate product). In the past, we have introduced this topic, and covered Green Dot MoneyPaks vs. Vanilla Reloads, The Best Green Dot Compatible Reloadable Prepaid Cards, and Strategies For Maximizing Green Dot MoneyPaks.
For those who are lucky enough to find a retailer who will sell you MoneyPaks with a credit card (Thank you, Rite-Aid!), your first priority is to find a compatible prepaid card that offers bill payment services, few fees, and doesn’t shut you down. The idea is that you cash out your MoneyPaks by paying your credit card bill, or any other you choose. Until recently, Account Now met those qualifications, but then they just shut down the accounts of many customers who were doing so. In addition, the 247 Card recently announced that they will stop accepting MoneyPaks after September 3, 2013. These developments are of little concern when there are nearly 200 other cards to choose from, and the H & R Block card is one nice alternative, although there are also now some other choices.
Enter the RushCards
Another good way to pay bills using MoneyPaks appears to be the RushCard and RushCard Live products. You might recognize these cards since they’re endorsed by hip-hop business magnate Russell Simmons, and according to their terms and conditions, these products are perfect for this particular use. Nevertheless, my experiences with these cards were decidedly mixed.
First, I tried the standard Rushcard. This card can be ordered online, with the most basic version incurring a one-time fee of $3.95. Choose the “Pay As You Go Plan”, and there are no monthly fees. The card’s bill pay feature is free, and there is a $1,000 load limit per 24-hour period. So if you load two $500 MoneyPaks at noon, you will have to wait until after noon the next day to load two more.
Unlike some other prepaid cards within the MoneyPak network, loads to this product take about five minutes to appear on your account, and you will get an email confirming the load. There does not appear to be any limit to how much money can be issued when paying a bill. ATMs can be accessed in-network for free, or out of network for a $2.50 fee. That said, there is little reason to use an ATM when you can use the bill pay system to issue a check to any person or business.
Since the cardholder agreement makes no mention of any weekly or monthly load limits, you would be forgiven for thinking that there are none. However, I have learned through trial and error that there is a $3,500 weekly load limit, although there do not appear to be corresponding monthly limit or total limits.
The bill pay interface is easy to use, and I have paid my credit card account and even had checks issued to individuals at their home address. I have been using this card only for bill pay for several months, with no problems whatsoever. Finally, cardholders can receive a referral bonus of $5 when new cardholders use their referral code. If you would like to use my referral code, it is JASONSTEELE6.
Russell Simmons has also lent his endorsement to a similar product called RushCard Live. While the standard RushCard is issued by Bankcorp Bank, RushCard Live is offered by Green Dot Bank. So this is analogous to both Citi and American Express offering reward credit cards co-branded with Hilton hotels; same brand, entirely separate card issuers.
At first, things looked good. Like the H & R Block card, cardholders can receive a temporary card immediately at a retail location. I purchased my RushCard Live at Rite-Aid, but these are also available at CVS and 7/11 stores. In addition, purchasers can load up to $500 on their temporary card at the register, and add another $2,000 worth of MoneyPaks that day, in accordance to its stated $2,500 daily load limit. I was able to quickly set up bill pay and issue payment to my credit card issuer.
The next day, I was unable to load my card using MoneyPaks. Then, my permanent card arrived in the mail a few days later, but it could not be activated online. When I called to activate my card, I was connected straight to a supervisor who informed me that my account had been closed to due to my “pattern of activity.” I lost no money since I had immediately used my initial deposits to pay bills, but it was clear that this company did not want any of my business.
Like Green Dot Prepaid cards (an entirely separate product than MoneyPaks), the RushCard Live issued by Green Dot Bank is nearly a total waste of time. I say nearly because I was still able to quickly load and unload $2,500 worth of spending, and I didn’t have to waste any time dealing with the problem of getting back any frozen funds. In contrast, when Account Now closed accounts, it still accepted funding through MoneyPaks, and then cardholders had to request a check for the balance and wait for it to arrive. According to this thread on FlyerTalk, many are still waiting. So if you do decide to try to use RushCard Live, use up your entire balance immediately using their bill pay service just in case you do get shut down.
So if you are interested in maximizing the MoneyPaks using one of the RushCard products, get the standard RushCard version and skip the RushCard Live. If you are looking for a quick way to load and unload a few MoneyPaks, your RushCard Live account is unlikely to remain open for long.