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How to Turn GameStop Into Your No-Fee Bank

How to Turn GameStop Into Your No-Fee Bank
Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

More than one in four American households is considered “underbanked,” left to make financial transactions largely outside the normal channels of the banking system. That’s understood to encompass things like prepaid debit cards, payday loans, pawnshops, refund-anticipation loans, and other unorthodox ways of moving money without traditional banks. The academics and government agencies studying (PDF) this worrisome trend have probably never considered GameStop as an unorthodox bank.

A user on the website 4chan.org—a forum notorious for mischief and hoaxes—explained his surprisingly convenient and low-cost method for using the video game retailer as a bank, and it sounds like something that just might work. GameStop allows customers to pay for new games ahead of their official release date, often with small perks such as a code for a special weapon given to those who place early orders. “Now whenever I get paid I go preorder a whole [butt load] of games,” the anonymous user writes. “Whenever I need money, I go to the nearest GameStop and ask for my money back on a game I don’t want and make a withdrawal.”