The Walmart MoneyCard is a debit card that requires no bank account or credit check, and so avoids overdraft fees. Available in either Visa or MasterCard versions, the card can be used not only at Walmart but at any retailer that accepts Visa or MasterCard. Several levels of the MoneyCard are available, including a Preferred Card that differs from the regular card in some of its fees.

You can add money to the card through direct deposit; by reloading it at a register, cashing a check at Walmart, or by using a Walmart money center express machine. There are also options for online bank transfer and to have your tax refund sent to your card account. Here's a look at the available services.

Direct Deposit

Payroll checks or your government benefits can be loaded directly onto a MoneyCard through direct deposit. This service is free, and you can opt to deposit all or part of your check. Employers may notify the bank of direct deposits up to two days before the official "payday," Walmart says, and the retailer says it then transfers funds to the card early.

Walmart Rapid Reload

This option allows you to add between $20 and $1,100 to your MoneyCard by swiping it at the register at Walmart or another participating retailer. There is a $3 fee for the service, but the charge is waived for Preferred cardholders.

Check Cashing at Walmart

if you cash your paycheck or government benefits check at Walmart, the funds instantly load onto your MoneyCard. No reload fees are charged, but there may be a charge for cashing the check. This option is unavailable in New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Using the MoneyCard's smartphone app, there's also the option to deposit checks to the your card account by using your smartphone camera, according to Walmart.

Walmart Money Center Express

These centers are located toward the front of Walmart stores, near the customer service department. They allow you to add funds to your card, check the card balance, purchase money orders, and buy phone cards. Fees apply, depending on the type of MoneyCard and the transaction.

Online Bank Transfer

The transfer typically takes one to three business days, and there is no reloading fee. However, your bank may charge fees on the electronic transfer.

Tax Refunds

If you electronically file your income taxes, you can opt to directly deposit your refund onto your Walmart MoneyCard; no reloading fee applies. You send your card number and mobile phone number to Walmart, which then texts you the direct-deposit information you enter into your tax forms. The standard IRS processing time applies, although e-filing typically allows you to receive a refund more rapidly than filing by mail.

Benefits

The MoneyCard offers many of the benefits found on all Visa and MasterCard debit cards, including fraud protection. Free online bill paying service is also included. You can send money orders, free checks to a landlord, or set recurring monthly payments for bills such as for your auto insurance. These cards also allow you to send funds to friends or family anywhere in the United States.

You can also earn cash-back rewards by shopping at Walmart.com (3% cash back), Murphy USA and Walmart fuel stations (2%), and Walmart retail stores (1% cash back). The limit for cash-back rewards is $75 a year.

Fees

MoneyCards cost between $1 and $4 to buy, depending the card type. The regular card has a $5 monthly service fee, which is waived if you loaded $1,000 or more onto the card in the previous month. The Preferred card has a $3 fee, which is waived if you deposit at least $500 to the card within the month or have payroll or government benefits deposited directly to it.

ATM withdrawals cost $2.50 with the regular card and $2 with the Preferred one, but the Preferred card also allows free withdrawals from 24,000 MoneyPass ATMs. Other fee differentials include a 3% foreign transaction fee with the regular card, compared with 2% for the Preferred one. The Preferred card also allows you to skip the $0.50 balance inquiry fee at ATMs, provided you use one of the MoneyPass ATMs. 

The Bottom Line

The Walmart MoneyCard comes with a number of free services and other benefits, especially for frequent Walmart shoppers. It also offers a convenient number of ways to load money onto the card. However, other prepaid debit cards and mobile banking options offer lower fees, larger networks of ATMs, and more free services. Research your options before you make a final choice.