5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports: Walmart teams up with GoBank to offer online banking

Posted March 3, 2015 6:30 p.m. EST

— The way people bank is changing rapidly as millions embrace online banking. Walmart is getting into the business, teaming up with GoBank to offer customers online banking.

Each account costs $2.95 to open, with a minimum deposit of $20. With an account, customers can pay bills, make purchases and get cash, but Consumer Reports says there may be limitations.

"You won't be able to open a savings account or take out a loan," said Margot Gilman. "Checks are not included. The only physical thing you get when you open the account is a debit card."

Unlike regular banks, there is not a branch or bank officer to consult. Users must log on to their computers or mobile devices to make deposits and pay bills, however direct deposit is encouraged and free of charge.

"You can also make cash deposits with a Walmart cashier, but if someone pays you by paper check, you will need the mobile app to deposit it," Gilman said.

There is a large national network of free ATMs, however they do not accept checks. Consumer Reports says that depositing a check is easy - just snap a picture of both sides of the check and click to deposit. Just be sure to keep the paper check until the deposit shows up in your account.

"In spite of limitations, we think the Walmart checking account is worth considering," Gilman said. "It is relatively easy to open and costs little or nothing for its basic services."

However, Consumer Reports doesn't recommend Walmart's MasterCard. Though there's no annual fee, it has a steep variable interest rate of almost 23 percent.

If you're in the market for a prepaid card, Consumer Reports gives Walmart's Bluebird top rating. There are almost no fees, and its terms are easy to understand.