Sunday, February 5, 2012

Suze Orman Not Pre-Approved on Her New Prepaid Card

Suze Orman is jumping on the prepaid Mastercard bandwagon with her own card and many experts are not approving. Haven't we seen many times before the celebrity endorsement of prepaid plastic. From Lil' Wayne to the Kardashians, many celebrities are seeing green from these highly lucrative, high fees milking of the un-banked. Those without checking accounts are being told that they need this card to function in the economy.

When a celebrity has to go on television to defend a product it is a bad sign of the public's opinion of such products. Suze Orman has been a respected financial guru for many years and all can agree has taught millions to save, invest and be responsible with money. But the prepaid card in general has such a bad rep. with its high gotcha fees, it sours the public's perception of Suze Orman and lowers people opinion of her. She went on CNN to defend her prepaid card.

The prepaid card itself is basically a gift card with fees. Enrollees in the program pay $3 per month for access to the plastic. After activation, consumers can add money through bank transfers or cash deposits, and then use the accrued money for a variety of purchases. "You can only spend what you load on it," according to Orman's official website. At Allpoint specific ATM's $2.00 per transaction (waived for 30 days with a qualifying Direct Deposit or Bank Transfer of $20.00 or more). Non-Allpoint ATM Withdrawal Fees $2.00 per withdrawal plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator. Domestic ATM Balance Inquiry Fee $1.00 per transaction (waived for 30 days with a qualifying Direct Deposit of $20 or more or Bank Transfer) plus any fees charged by the ATM owner or operator. Though some things are without cost, many are not. For a complete list of fees go to Suze's website here.

To be fair Suze does give a list of ways to minimize fees and use the card in the most inexpensive way. Her list is as follows to have only the $3.00 monthly fee:

  • Sign up for Monthly Direct Deposit or bank account transfer of $20 or more and use an Allpoint® ATM
  • Don’t use ATMs other than Allpoint
  • Get cash back at the point of purchase
  • Avoid using cash to reload; use MoneyGram® if you need to
  • Use, text alerts and our automated telephone system to check your balance
  • Pay your bills online
  • Don’t call customer service more than once a month
  • Don’t make over-the-counter cash withdrawals at a bank

Critics of Suze can agree this prepaid card adventure has tarnished her reputation and made her perceived as just a huckster. When Suze Orman recommends something people would follow her advice because it has always been for the benefit of the people. Now her advice is possibly for the benefit of herself. Her card is not a bad card but it's not a great card either. It's just like all the others. On twitter she got into a name calling fight with some online bloggers, even calling them "idiots", she did apologize later. 

Maybe Suze should stick with writing books and teaching, it has gotten her very far plus endured her to her fans. Suze, your fans deserve better.

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