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This article was last updated Mar 28, 2012, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
After realizing that it had one of the worst corporate reputations on the planet, Walmart went on an aggressive public relations campaign in recent years. Management did a remarkable job and turned things around rather successfully. Walmart is now an industry leader in such laudable things as company-wide green technologies and environmentally friendly packaging. The corporation also provides a lot of healthy options in its produce department while giving huge support to organic farmers.
Not only that, but Walmart was the first major player in the USA to offer more sophisticated credit card terminals that accept “pin and chip” style credit cards –even while the banking industry dragged its feet in that regard. I respect Walmart for taking the initiative and making those kinds of positive changes. So I thought I’d take some initiative of my own and review Walmart’s own credit card options.
Walmart currently offers a trio of cards. You can get a prepaid credit card that’s either a VISA or MasterCard, a full-fledged Discover card that offers a rewards program for Walmart customers, or a standard Walmart charge account card. There is no annual fee for any of these cards.
Walmart Discover Credit Card
The APR for purchases and balance transfers on this card is 22.90%, whereas cash advances will cost a 25.90% APR. The Walmart Discover Card is accepted everywhere that Discover cards are honored. But many establishments that accept VISA, MasterCard, and even American Express do not take Discover Card, so that is a factor to keep in mind while choosing credit cards.
- At first glance it looks like you’ll get 1% cash back for all purchases, made anywhere. But when I read the small print in the cardholder agreement I realized that you can earn “up to” that amount. The reward percentages depend on your total spending during a calendar year, and you don’t start earning the full 1% until you’ve spent at least $3,000. Very similar to cards offered by Discover.
- The default earnings rate is only .25%. Once you exceed the $1,500 per year benchmark then you start to earn .50%. But even 1% (the most this card offers) is a pretty low across-the-board rate. So the Walmart Discover Card really fails to deliver when it comes to its rewards program.
- Of course there are some people who will spend enough to hit the $3,000 mark within the first billing cycle of each 12-month period. In that case there may be justification for carrying this card. But that’s not such an outstanding perk when you consider that some cards give you bonus points worth hundreds of dollars for spending $3,000 or less within the first few months of card membership. Many also give you annual bonus points for continuing to use the card.
- There is the 5 cents per gallon of gas benefit which is nice, of course. But it only works when you buy gas at a Walmart station. Meanwhile there are oodles of other gas rewards cards that offer similar rewards with cards that can be used at many more gas stations.
- With this card you can get up to $100 quick cash in $20 increments when you make a purchase with your Walmart Discover card. The cash shows up as a purchase on your monthly statement. Any bank debit card offers this feature, so it’s nothing to get excited about either.
Rewards are given through a rebate check issued each time you accrue $10 in rewards. I don’t like this feature, either, since most rewards cards offer more options. I have a rewards card, for example, that lets me apply my rewards directly to my credit card bill or redeem them for gift certificates. But my understanding of rebates is that they only apply against the cost of merchandise purchased from a store. I assume that you are only able to use this card’s rebates as a credit against the cost of a Walmart purchase.
Walmart Store Credit Card
This is a charge card that you can use at Walmart, Walmart.com and Sam's Club. You make purchases and then get a monthly bill. You can carry a balance at 22.90% APR.You’ll also be able to save a nickel per gallon on gasoline purchased with this card at participating Walmart gas stations.
If you want to get fast cash you can use the card like a debit card, while simultaneously making a purchase inside a Walmart. You’re able to ask for up to $20, $40, or $60 and are limited to one such cash advance per day. The withdrawal of money shows up on your monthly billing statement like a purchase. But if you want to do that why not just use a debit card instead?
Walmart Prepaid Money Card
The Walmart MoneyCard(SM) Visa® Prepaid Card is a reloadable prepaid VISA. Prepaid cards such as this one are popular with consumers who have bad credit and are not able to get a traditional credit card.
- The card is accepted like a regular credit card but you have to make a cash deposit into your card account in order to activate it. In other words you can only spend what you put into the account. That makes prepaid cards more like debit cards than conventional credit cards.
- You don’t have to have a bank account to get the card, and there is no credit check required. There are no late fees or overdraft charges since you cannot carry a balance or use the card unless it has cash in the account.
- There are several ways to reload your card with more money, but unless you use direct deposit or Walmart check cashing services to reload it there is a $3 reload fee. There is no fee to get the card if you do it online, but you’ll have to pay $3 for a card issued inside a Walmart store. There is also a $3 a month maintenance fee with this card.
For people who need a prepaid card due to bad credit, the Walmart Money Card is not a bad choice. Almost all prepaid cards have high fees and lots of miscellaneous charges. But compared to most prepaid plastic this one is pretty reasonably priced. When using this card you can save 3 cents per gallon on gasoline purchased at participating Murphy USA and Walmart stations.
Walmart Credit Card Value
If you are looking for a prepaid card, you might want to compare and contrast the Walmart Money card to others offered by competitors. There are some valid reasons why it is worth recommending. The other plastic offered by Walmart – including the Discover Card – just doesn’t perform well enough. Unless you spend a ton of money at Walmart regularly … you're better off with a high quality cash back credit card.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.