By Willy Staley  Updated on Mon Jul 23, 2012

Kmart Launches Halogen Prepaid Card: It’s a Bad Deal

 

Another day, another questionably-useful retailer-sponsored prepaid card. But this time it’s not Walmart: it’s Kmart getting in the fee-laden game. The Halogen Reloadable Prepaid MasterCard, powered by Green Dot, is now available nationwide at your local Kmart and online. In order to make use of the thing, you had better shop at Kmart pretty regularly — and even then it’s a ripoff compared to newer products on the market.

While Kmart is known for its low prices, its prepaid card is anything but cheap. For starters, it costs $3.95 to purchase the Halogen card at a Kmart location, and $3.95 to load cash at a Kmart location, although the purchase of the card includes the cost of the first load. If you buy it online, however, Kmart will send it to you for free — but you’ll have to pay full retail for the first load.

The card costs $5.95 a month and offers little in return. ATM withdrawals are free at 20,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide, but this is perhaps the only free perk. Out-of-network ATM withdrawals cost $2.50 a piece, and even balance inquiries cost $0.50. To reload the card using Green Dot’s MoneyPak costs $4.95, while reloading at Kmart saves you just a dollar off that price. The card does allow for direct deposit of recurring payroll. It is also accepted wherever MasterCard is accepted.

It offers no benefits or savings at Kmart, aside from the $1 discount on loading fees. A customer using the Halogen card would spend about $14 a month just to load it twice a month and pay the monthly fee, unless they use direct deposit. If they don’t live near a MoneyPass ATM, their monthly costs would grow substantially.

The card is touted as a “brighter way to manage your money” by the retail giant, and the company’s VP of Financial Services, Jai Holtz, echoed this sentiment in prepared remarks: “With the introduction of the Halogen Card, we’re giving our customers a smart, convenient and safe way to manage their money and gain control over their personal finances.”

The value proposition of the card — $1 off money loading costs at Kmart — is muddled to say the least. If you went to Kmart to load the cash on the card, why not just spend cash there? And it’s not a good deal anyway. Chase, a nationwide bank, offers a prepaid card that costs nothing to load, and costs a dollar less per month to use. American Express offers a card with no monthly fee.

Bottom line: Kmart’s card seems cynical and exploitative compared to the better options that are currently on the market.

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Post a Comment

  • Tim

    I received one of these as a gift from a relative. I don’t know why they thought the card was a good idea, as their terms of service are just batty. Figured I might as well use the funds for what it was worth then immediately cancel the card. The card was declined for a purchase within my funds by institutions that accept Mastercard. Customer service offered me no explanation, and disconnected without giving any support whatsoever. Do not trust this card; it gives no benefits, and only hopes to make money off of you.

  • katdancer81

    This card is a rip off. There is no customer service to get a hold of. They wont let you cancel the card at your own request. They refuse to refund money owed. I bought this card as a gift to my niece to teacher her how to use a credit card. Bad Idea!! Stay away from this card! They will only steal your money!

  • Annoyed

    I also received this card as a gift in lieu of cash from a family member. No customer service whatsoever – there is actually no way to speak to a human without providing social security #, name, address, phone number and birth date. Are you KIDDING me!? Just to use a gift card!? And from the comment below it sounds like the card will likely be declined anyway. Consumer Protection Agency should do something about this scam.

  • Glenn

    I might want to get one of these now because Bank of America is giving 10% cash back on a single Kmart purchase. Only I am not sure funding one of these cards would apply. Customer service at BOA could not give me a straight answer.

  • WCF

    I’ve had this card for 9 months now, no problems with it so far.

  • Roxanne Anthony Becker Torres

    Well, my husband & I have one & we like it. So far haven’t been charged Monthly fees because we purchase or load the required amount per 30 day cycle. so it’s not all bad.

  • Roxanne Anthony Becker Torres

    There is a draw back though, you can’t use it to pay your Mortgage. You have to withdrawal an get a Money order, Cashiers Check or Western Union funds. That is a pain because they only allow 400.00 per day without being charged a fee. You can utilize US Bank for your needs & staff is really nice & helpful.

  • Scott

    Not sure what all the complaints are about. I have both the Halogen and the Walmart card. Walmart ALLEGEDLY waives the next month’s fee (3.00) if you deposit 1,000.00 a month. Halogen is deposit 1,000.00 a month or 30 purchases. As for the Moneypass Network, they are at 7-11 stores, so that is not a problem. Walmart’s card charges 1.75 for balance inquiry and 2.50 (recently raised) for out of network transactions, and doesn’t offer Moneypass access.

    In all fairness, I will say I just got the card. I did my first online transaction, and it went smooth as butter.

    One last thing, I got mine at a K-mart store, and the card was free. I just had to load 25.00.

    It’s not the best card, but not the worst by a long shot, IMHO.

  • John

    How do I cancel my befuddled card? I’ve concientiosly used all but sixty cents U.S. of “my money”.–looking to cancel before the $6.95 fee–

  • jorge

    I just got ripped off. They said they couldn’t verify my information so they
    couldn’t send a permanent card. I filled out all the info on line. Now I can’t
    reload my card I have to use it and buy a other and fill out the online again.
    Plus I had to deal with the worst customer service ever. They kept saying
    “I’m sorry” I know that they should at least apoligize. Can’t wait to throw this card away.

  • Doug

    My mom bought four of these cards as a gift for each of my family. We sat on them for a year, figuring that they were “money in the bank”, sort of a rainy day gift or savings. Well, I just went to register them and Green Dot wants more personal information than I’m willing to give. Name sure, address why?, SS# no way, Mobile # you’re kidding. Looking arond on the site, it looks like they collect $6/month, even if you haven’t registered the card. In fact, after they drain the $50/card my mom put on the card, they’ll take you negative to where you owe them money. Unreal what the banks get away with now that they own the government!