There are tens of millions of Americans who are among the "great unbanked" in our country. These hard-working Americans can't take their paycheck and direct deposit it into a bank because they've been banned from having an account -- usually for 5 years -- after running afoul of the ChexSystem.

So what are their options? Well, they can go to a check casher and pay big fees to cash their payroll check -- plus more fees if they want to pay a bill or get a money order.

Wal-Mart has a different solution in mind...and it's one that Clark calls the "best deal in America -- without question."

At Wal-Mart, you can take your paycheck and deposit it onto a stored-value card (aka pre-paid card) for a monthly fee of just $3. That's vastly cheaper than going to a check casher. And you can use it anywhere that the Visa card logo is shown -- not just at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart's stored-value card also removes the threat of personal hazard to the holder. Thugs are known to prey on those people who go to check cashers. They hide out nearby and jump them for their wad of cash when no one is looking.

Any way you look at it, the Wal-Mart option is a winner for those who don't have bank accounts.


 

I have received several questions about secured credit cards, which can be a great way to build up credit if you don't already have it.

Secured credit cards come in all flavors. There are legit ones and there are really crummy ones. I usually find that credit unions are among the best places to get a legitimate secured card.

The basic way it works is you put money on deposit with a bank or credit union, and they use that as collateral for the card. You can only charge up as much as you have on deposit. This allows you to build a credit history where you previously had none.

Here are three things to look for in selecting a secured card:

- A reasonable annual fee
- No application fee
- After 12-18 months of paying on time, be sure the issuer will upgrade you to a traditional credit card.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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