Showing posts with label prepaid card. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prepaid card. Show all posts

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prepaid Card Use Is On The Rise [Infographic]

For most people the checking and savings accounts that the banking industry provides for us is sufficient. But for a small and ever growing percentage of Americans it doesn't work. For people with a steady income and an ability to maintain a subjective balance, the banking system provides a decent product. For some it just doesn't work. Enter prepaid cards.

Prepaid cards allow the unbanked to have a way to participate in the banking systems requirement for plastic cards. It also allows people to have an amount of money saved that is easy to access through ATM's. While there are still banks that provide a free checking accounts, if you follow their rules, the prepaid card user enjoys no such thing. The unbanked is subject to a slew of fees, which are mostly excessive.

The infographic below demonstrates the statistics of a growing use of prepaid cards.

Infographic courtesy of

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Are Prepaid Cards Finally A Good Idea?

First 4 digits of a credit cardImage via WikipediaLately the emergence of prepaid cards are making a dent in financial circles. When American Express starts to get into the business people take notice. You see these cards more and more at drug stores, supermarkets, and retailers. You usually find them next to the gift card card display racks.

What are prepaid cards?

Prepaid cards are re-loadable cards that can be used anywhere credit or debit cards are accepted. They're popular with people who can't afford a traditional bank account, or who have been turned off by overdraft fees and other costs. They also offer a way for consumers who don't have credit cards to shop online. They come with monthly fees and reloading fees. If you need plastic and don't have a credit card or a bank account, with a debit card, prepaid cards are your only option.

What's the downside?

According to Consumer Reports, there are many fees and charges. They did a study comparing 19 different prepaid cards.

1. Activation Fees

Twelve of the 19 prepaid cards come with activation fees. The worst offender: First Vineyard card and its $39.95 tariff.

2. Monthly Fee

Sixteen of the 19 carry this fee ranging from $2.95 to $9.95. Most of the cards will waive the monthly charge if a direct deposit — think allowance — is set up. But the Green Dot card actually requires you maintain a $1,000 balance or make 30 transactions per month.

3. Balance Inquiry Fee

All 19 prepaid cards charge a fee to withdraw cash. So you shouldn’t confuse this product with a debit card. But 18 of them are really pushing the envelope and taking an additional 45 cents to $1 if you dare to check your balance at an ATM machine.

4. Customer Service

Perhaps the most surprising fee — and the most offensive one — is a charge to speak with a customer service representative. At least two do this and they are BuyRight and Exact card. If they nickel and dime you just for calling, I can’t imagine the companies will be all that helpful if you have a problem.

5. Inactivity Fees

Like gift cards, some of the prepaid cards carry inactivity fees. The Exact card dares to yank nearly $10 off your account every month it sits idle in your wallet.

One thing is for sure, prepaid cards have many fees and gotchas. Make sure you check out all the fees first before you sign up for them. has a nice comparison chart to help you in your selection.

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