If you would just like to read my pros, cons, thoughts, and alternatives to the MoneyPak please skip down to “Conclusion” at the end of this guide.
Gibberish Introduction / Buying the Card
There’s usually only one kind of email from PayPal I like to get – “Instant Payment Received.” Actually, I miss the days when they included “Notification” in the subject, but I digress. Yesterday, I received an email with an intriguing subject, “New! Add money to your PayPal account with MoneyPak” that looked something like this:
It’s now possible to fund a PayPal account using nothing but cold hard cash. As your trusted Chief Correspondent (Think CNN’s Christiane Amanpour with bombs falling over Baghdad in the background), I took it upon myself to head down to the local Wal-Mart and check this MoneyPak out myself. Luckily, my bullet proof vest just came back from the cleaners (blood, should have seen the other guy) so I wouldn’t necessarily be risking my life. Plus, I needed an inflatable to add to my collection and Wal-Mart also happens to be wedged between Check into Cash and the Liquor Store so either way we’re set. If only the Liquor Store took PayPal (I know, I know, PayPal Debit, but work with me here).
Anyway, the idea behind this whole MoneyPak thing is basically that you go to the store, find the aisle where they keep all the good gift cards like Red Lobster and Jack Daniels and look for the “Green Dot” MoneyPak card. Simply take the card to the register along with your cash or credit, tell the cashier how much you’d like to add to the card (Minimum $20 Maximum $500), pay the $4.95 service fee, and away you go. Next, bring the card home, enter the MoneyPak number into PayPal, and the money will magically be transferred from your MoneyPak to your PayPal account.
The card looks like this:
Your receipt will show the amount you put on the card along with the service fee. The email says “$4.95 or less,” but I don’t think you’re going to find it for anything less than $4.95 since it’s printed right on the card.
Transfering the Money From MoneyPak to PayPal via Magic
Transferring the money from the MoneyPak to your PayPal account is a fairly easy process. To find out just how easy it would be I went ahead and opened a new Personal “Buying Only” PayPal account. After the account is created PayPal wants you to add a credit card or bank account, but it is possible to skip this step and head right to the good stuff.
Next, or if you already have a PayPal account, click “Add Funds” at the top.
This will take you to a screen with a pretty little green “MoneyPak” icon. Click it.
If you have questions about MoneyPak or want more information, I suggest clicking the “Learn More” button.
Next, you enter the 14 digit number that you scratched off of the bottom of the green MoneyPak card.
The following screen is where you decide how much of your MoneyPak you want to transfer to PayPal. Remember, after 90 days your MoneyPak is charged a monthly fee of $4.95 per month so you’ll want to keep track of the money on it and disburse it within the 90 days. It took about two minutes after clicking “Fund Account” for the next page to load so be patient and don’t click “Fund Account” again if you get impatient as it might screw up the funding.
The confirmation page is straightforward and should reflect your previous funding choices.
Notice though, that your yearly funding limit is $250 per year. Mouse over the question mark and you’ll see that you have to give MoneyPak your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number in order to raise the funding limit. I’ll cover this more in the conclusion of this guide.
Clicking “Return to PayPal Account” should bring you back to your main account page with your new balance. It took more than four minutes for MoneyPak to redirect me to the PayPal website though, which seems excessive. I was about to give up when it finally loaded, so be patient as you might have to give it a few minutes. Hopefully, as the relationship between PayPal and MoneyPak matures things will speed up.
Your account should show your new balance as well as a payment from “Green Dot MoneyPak” for the amount sent. You should also receive an email with the funding information.
That’s about it. It may take several minutes for MoneyPak to communicate with PayPal throughout the process, but overall the integration is seamless and it should be easy for most users to figure it out without much heartache. Plus, you have me holding your hand and I demand nothing less than success.
Pros: If you have absolutely no access to a credit card or bank account or anyone with a credit card or a bank account then MoneyPak may be your only option to use PayPal online. It’s a somewhat convenient way to fund a PayPal account, especially if you plan ahead or are going to the store anyway. If you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for an e-check to clear or funds to transfer from your bank account to PayPal then the MoneyPak is a faster option. It can be used to pay for items on eBay. Integration with PayPal is simple. The $4.95 service fee isn’t ludicrous.
Cons: If you don’t have a bank account or credit card added to your PayPal account then you have no way to confirm your address. Most retailers that accept PayPal will require a confirmed address, which means you won’t be able to use your cash-only account to pay with PayPal on most websites. Most sellers outside of eBay also require a confirmed address. To prevent money laundering, if you want to fund your PayPal account with more than $250 per year you will have to provide MoneyPak/PayPal with your name, address, birth date and Social Security number. After 90 days, your MoneyPak balance will decrease $4.95 per month, or $60 per year, which means you will want to disperse your MoneyPak funds as soon as you add them. PayPal advertises that it’s the “safest way to pay,” but that is only true when you use a credit card to pay and even then there are still inherent problems with PayPal’s dispute resolution. When you use cash to fund your PayPal account, you are relying on PayPal to retrieve your funds if a problem arises. It may be a hassle to find and go get a card to purchase. The service fee of $4.95 is higher than most other account funding options.
Alternatives: Funding your PayPal account with a bank account is free and adding and paying with a credit card is the safest way to use PayPal online because of the added protection most credit cards may provide. Debit cards also work on PayPal. If you do not have access to any of these, but know someone who is willing to let you use their credit/debit card, you can purchase a Simon Gift Card or Simon Gift Account. To learn how to do it step by step see my guide, Verify and Lift Limit on PayPal Account Without Credit Card or Social Security Number With Simon. Simon Gift Accounts only cost $2 and you can verify your PayPal account and confirm your address by using it. You can then use it to pay for whatever you want just as you would use a regular credit card. Remember though, that Simon cards offer no chargeback protection so you will want to be extra careful when deciding what to purchase and from whom.
In Conclusion: The Green Dot MoneyPak is an interesting new option for funding PayPal accounts. I wouldn’t recommend it since there are so many other options, but if cash is really your only option and you find yourself in a situation where you have to use PayPal then this may be it. Just be aware of the restrictions on a cash-only Personal PayPal account, the cost of the card, and the lack of protection if something goes wrong.