The RushCard is a prepaid debit card you can load and reload with cash to make purchases, pay bills or withdraw cash at certain ATMs. Unlike a typical debit card, RushCard isn’t attached to a checking account and doesn’t require a credit or banking history check for account approval. It also has no minimum account balance.
Generally, prepaid card companies market to consumers who can’t qualify for a checking account because of a poor banking history. In that regard, they are a popular substitute for traditional debit cards, giving consumers the freedom to use them to pay bills, shop for groceries or deposit their paycheck like anyone else.
But these benefits can come at a steep price, usually in the form of various fees.
In this post, we took a closer look at the RushCard. We analyzed the fine print to out what the card has to offer and what red flags consumers should watch out for.
- The RushCard basics
- How to deposit, withdraw and transfer cash with a RushCard
- The fine print and fees
- How the RushCard protects your money
- The pros and cons
How much it costs to use the RushCard
- There’s a one-time card fee of $3.95 or $9.95.
RushCard offers a variety of different personalized card styles. Depending on the style you choose, the one-time card fee can vary. Most of the cards cost $3.95. The fancier designs cost $9.95. The company is running a promotion now that will refund this fee if you meet certain qualifications: you have to apply for a card before Aug. 31, make a cash deposit, and activate the card before Sept. 30.
- The Rush Unlimited Plan costs $5.95 or $7.95 per month.
Once you’ve set up your RushCard account, you can choose from two membership plans: Rush Unlimited or Pay As You Go.
Rush Unlimited Plan: $5.95 per month with direct deposit; $7.95 without direct deposit
Once you pay the upfront monthly fee, you are able to make unlimited purchases with your card without paying additional transaction fees.
Pay As You Go Plan: There is no monthly fee, but you must pay $1.00 per transaction. If you make more than a few purchases with your card each month, this plan can quickly become more expensive than the Rush Unlimited Plan. On the bright side, both the Rush Unlimited Plan and Pay As You Go Plan have a transaction and international fee cap of $10 per calendar month.
The best RushCard perk
Access your deposits two days early
One of RushCard’s major selling points is how quickly users can access their funds when they are deposited. By signing up for direct deposit, RushCard may credit those types of deposits two days earlier than most traditional banks would process them.
This is a huge boon for customers who live paycheck to paycheck and often have trouble stretching out their funds. However, RushCard’s fine print warns that early deposits of your paycheck are available on a case by case basis. It largely depends on how your employer processes your payroll.
If you direct deposit your tax refund onto the card, you may also be able to get your money as much as two weeks sooner than you would with a paper check.
But this perk comes with an obvious downside: Usage fees. Depending on which RushCard plan you sign up for, you will likely run into fees that can eat away at any funds that are deposited early.
Depositing, withdrawing, and transferring cash with a RushCard
Setting up direct deposit on RushCard is free and the best way to avoid some of the card’s more onerous fees. Besides direct deposit, you can load money onto the card by transferring funds from an existing checking or savings account.
You can also make or request RushCard-to-RushCard transfers to send and receive money from other RushCard customers. There’s no fee to transfer money between your own RushCards and you can use up to four cards at the same time.
Additionally, you can add cash to your account via PayPal or at participating retailers. You’ll pay hefty fees for this service, however, which we explain in the next section. Participating retailers include:
- Ace Cash Express
- Dollar General
- Family Dollar
- Rite Aid
To deposit checks, you can use the RushCard mobile app. Again, you’ll pay a fee for this service (1% to 4% per deposit). Another option is to deposit checks at Walmart, but again, there will be a fee. At the Walmart register, you’ll have to cash the check first (which can cost $3 to $6) and then add the cash to your card.
To withdraw cash or to check your account balance, you can visit any MoneyPass in-network ATM for free. Using an out-of-network ATM will cost you $2.50 per transaction and $0.50 per balance check on top of the fee charged by the ATM operator.
The RushCard bill pay service is free.
The fine print and fees
We’ve touched on a few of the RushCard fees, but let’s dive further into some of the details of the fine print.
One area that deserves attention is the cost of loading cash on to your RushCard with the third-party merchants that we discussed above. It can get expensive if you go to these third-parties every time you need to refill a card. The fees range from $3.74 on the low end and go as high as $5.95.
Here’s a fee breakdown for a few of the merchants we discussed above:
- MoneyPak: $5.95
- Walmart: up to $3.74
- MoneyGram: up to $4.95
- Western Union: $3.95
Check deposit fees
Remote check deposits from the app aren’t free either, unless you don’t mind a 10-day wait to access your deposit. Ingo Money handles remote check deposits for the RushCard. If you want your funds immediately (within an hour), you will be charged from 1-4% of the check’s value.
There is no fee if you opt to wait 10 days to access your funds.
Other sneaky fees
RushCard charges fees for inactivity, international transactions, and currency exchanges. The fees vary depending on your plan.
Pay As You Go Plan: If you don’t use your RushCard for 90 consecutive days, there’s a $1.95 maintenance fee per month until you use the card again. It’s also a pretty terrible deal if you plan on using your card abroad. The plan carries a $2.00 international transaction fee and a currency conversion fee of 3%.
Rush Unlimited Plan: No international transaction or maintenance fees. However, there’s a currency conversion fee of 3%.
RushGoals is an optional account offered by RushCard as an option for saving toward certain financial goals.
This account may sound like an online savings account, but it really isn’t. In fact, the RushCard website takes care to avoid referring to RushGoals as a savings account. Unlike most savings accounts, these accounts earn no interest at all and they are not FDIC-insured, which means any funds set aside there will not be protected in the event of a loss.
The main perk of RushGoals is a break on RushCard fees. So long as you keep an average $500 balance in the account, you will receive $24 per year ($2 per month) as a refund for your RushCard fees. Considering it can cost about $3 to $6 just to reload your card and $2.50 to use an out-of-network ATM (on top of the ATM surcharge), the $2 per month earned is unlikely to make a remarkable dent in your card fees.
Ultimately, RushGoals is not the best option if you’re looking for a place to keep your savings. If you start off with a balance below $500 in your account, you won’t see a benefit at all.
There are far better ways to save than with RushGoals. For a list of high-interest online savings account alternatives that don’t require a minimum balance, check out this post.
How RushCard protects your money
Are prepaid cards like RushCard a safe place to store your money?
You may have noticed RushCard in the news recently. Last October, thousands of RushCard members were unable to access money on their RushCard for several days due to a system upgrade glitch. Social media erupted with complaints from cardholders unable to pay bills or access to their money. The debacle led customers to file a class action lawsuit against UniRush (the parent company of RushCard).
The suit has now been settled. RushCard founder Russell Simmons apologized to users publicly, although UniRush admitted no wrongdoing. All of this brings to light how important it is to make sure your money is safe with your financial institution. After all, anything can happen.
An issuer of a prepaid card may not be a bank or an FDIC-insured company. If you lose money with a company that’s not FDIC-insured, you may not get all of your money back. Fortunately, the RushCard is FDIC-insured through MetaBank. So, if UniRush went out of business, up to $250,000 of your money on the RushCard would be insured.
However, the fine print states the RushGoals offer is not a product of or endorsed by MetaBank, meaning those funds will not be covered by FDIC insurance in the event of a loss. That’s one more reason to skip RushGoals and try opening a savings account elsewhere.
Pros and cons
Con: The one-time card fee and monthly fees. You need to pay $3.95 or $9.95 just to get the card. Then you’ll fork over at least $5.95 monthly or $1.00 each time you swipe it until you reach the $10 cap.
Pro: You can get paychecks from your job direct deposited two days early. You may or may not qualify for this benefit depending on when your employer reports payments. According to the RushCard terms, it’s possible to get your money up to two days earlier based on a review of how traditional banks typically handle authorizing deposits from employers. Early deposits seem to happen on a case by case basis.
Con: The service fees to load money on the card. If you add cash to the card at stores you can expect to pay for it.
Pro: No international transaction fees for the Rush Unlimited Plan. This isn’t a reason to go out and sign up for the card, but it is one of the better terms.
Con: The remote deposit fine print. The convenience of remote deposit is made inconvenient by the amount of time you have to wait for funds unless you pay a fee.
Pro: Free bill pay. RushCard does offer a bill pay service that is free. You can also use bill pay for free.
Con: The RushGoals account. Using an account for savings that just earns credits for your prepaid card isn’t the best option for long-term savings.
Who will benefit most from the RushCard?
The RushCard and other prepaid cards are closest that customers with poor banking histories can get to a traditional bank account. But you shouldn’t fall back on prepaid cards unless you’ve considered other products first.
For instance, the Opportunity Checking account from Wells Fargo gives customers with a bad banking history a second chance. BBVA Compass Bank also has a second chance banking product. Find out more about second chance banking products here.
If you must use the RushCard, enroll in the Rush Unlimited Plan, sign up for direct deposit to fund your account, stick to in-network ATMs, and use bill pay to avoid unnecessary fees.