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You may have heard about Suze Orman’s new Approved card. With all the bad press about prepaid debit cards, you may wonder why a well-known financial guru like Suze Orman would lend her name to such an item. After all, prepaid debit cards just rip off the consumer, right?
Let’s take a look at how the Approved Card compares to other prepaid debit cards and whether it is a worthwhile card to use or not.
How This Card Works
The approved card has a maximum value of $9,000. This shouldn’t cause any problems, as you probably don’t spend more than amount at one time very often.
Adding money to the card via direct deposit or transfer is free, assuming that the amount is at least $20. Also, for 30 days after each of the mentioned ways of adding money, you’ll have free access to ATM withdrawals from Allpoint ATMs. If you’d like to add money to the card by using cash, you can do so through MoneyGram Express Payment or Western Union. Just remember that you may have to pay their fees to do so.
With this card, you’ll also have the option of receiving daily or weekly texts or emails to notify you of your balance. Also, you’ll receive texts or emails when you make purchases or deposits.
Benefits of the Approved Card
A TransUnion credit report and score is included with this card for one year. This will help you keep on top of your credit.
Also, this card comes with identity theft protection. You’ll be alerted if any potential threats to your identity arise, such as a change in your home address or a bank account opening.
Additionally, this card is the first of it’s kind to share information with TransUnion. This will be aggregate information, so it won’t personally identify you. The claimed goal is to have this information included on future credit reports, which would build credit.
Of course, this won’t do you any good for at least a few years, so I wouldn’t recommend making this a major factor in your decision. However, it is just a potential future benefit that you could contribute to if you wish to help change the way that credit history is viewed.
This card comes with a card purchase fee of $3. There is also a monthly account maintenance fee of $3 after the first month.
There are also potential ATM fees that are associated with this card. They range from $1 to $2, depending on whether or not they are domestic ATMs and if the provider is Allpoint or another company.
As mentioned, you can avoid these fees for 30 days after each qualified addition to your card when using Allpoint ATMs.
If you want to speak with a customer service agent, you’ll get one free call a month. Each additional call costs $2.
Paying your bill electronically won’t cost anything extra. However, paying via paper costs $1 and, when you add the paper statement fee of $2, costs a total of $3.
The rest of the fees are as follows:
- Card replacement fee – $3
- Express card delivery shipping fee – $20
- Expedited or same-day payment – $9.95
- Check copy fee – $20
- Postal reject fee – $25
- Payment inquiry fee – $30
- Check re-issue fee – $15
On the positive side, there is no fee for currency conversions. So, this card can be used abroad without incurring extra fees.
Is the Approved Card Competitive With Other Prepaid Debit Cards?
An endorsement to a prepaid debit card by someone as famous as Suze Orman, particularly because her fame is in the financial world, is sure to draw many consumers to the Approved card. Does it compare well to other prepaid debit cards? Let’s find out!
The table below is a comparison of the Approved card with a few others that are on the market. It takes all required fees into consideration and assumes that you’ll make one customer service call per month, one ATM withdrawal per month and contribute via direct deposit. Also, it assumes that you incur two reload fees per month, if applicable, and pay via mail.
|Card||Key Features||Purchase Price||Estimated Monthly Fees|
|Approved Card||Credit score and report, identity theft protection, e-mail and text alerts||$3||$6|
|Young Money Card||Online financial tools such as budgeting, e-mail and text alerts, medical savings||$6.95||$18.35|
|Vision Premier Prepaid Visa Card||1% cash back on all purchases, roadside assistance, savings account||$9.95||$10.45|
|NetSpend Prepaid MasterCard||No credit check||$0||$12.45|
|Mango MasterCard Prepaid Card||Text alerts, savings account, ability to send money via phone||$0||$16.90|
So, when it comes to prepaid debit cards we can see the Approved card offers better rewards and lower fees than some of it’s competitors.
In fact, it offers a better deal than any prepaid debit card that I’ve seen.
Next, let’s take a look at whether or not it is worthwhile to obtain the Approved card.
Should You Get an Approved Card?
If you are determined to get a prepaid debit card, then the Approved card should be high on your list. As mentioned, the fees are considerably lower than those of many other cards out there and the benefits are better.
However, if you are open to the idea of a checking account and are able to get one, I recommend looking in that direction. With all the bad press about debit card fees in recent months, it is unlikely that the fees on your checking account and a related debit card will be much higher, if at all, than those found on the Approved card.
You’ll get more options with a checking account – such as check writing – and there are generally less potential fees that could snag you. Also, if you call your bank more than once in a month, you probably won’t have to pay anything extra and they probably won’t bill you for paper statements.
If you are not interested in a checking account and already have a credit card to make online purchases with and pay bills, then consider using cash for your daily transactions. Use of cash is free, so you won’t have to worry about any fees.
In the end, the Approved Card is better than its competitors but that doesn’t necessarily make it a solid replacement for a checking account.
Many bloggers who are critical of this card are comparing it with a checking account, which I am not sure is completely fair. However in the end it’s up to you to decide what works best for you, and for those of you who don’t qualify for a checking account or are not interested in one, this may be something to look in to.