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Teenagers and American Express. Not two words you typically expect to go together. Until now. The new reloadable pre-paid debit card from American Express, called PASS, is available in bright colors, with the potential to upload a photo onto the card, and is targeted at teens and young adults.
But American Express does not call PASS a debit card — and it really isn’t. This card has several advantages over many prepaid debit cards, which we’ll explore later in the article. Instead, the PASS card is more like a hybrid between a prepaid debit card and an American Express charge card.
It’s a brilliant marketing move on the part of Amex — to begin building brand loyalty at a young age. I’d recommend this card over a prepaid debit card for teenagers at college or even people vacationing. The only downside? The $3.95/month service fee (waived until October 2010) and $1.50 ATM fee.
How this card works: Load it and go. Really. It’s that simple with the American Express PASS card. Sign online, choose your card color, upload a pic if you want, enter an initial load amount between $25 and $2,500, and you’ll receive your card in the mail. You’ll even get $25 free from Amex just for signing up now.
When you make a purchase, this card works exactly like a prepaid debit card, with no pin required for most purchases. You can get automatic notifications sent to your email or phone when your balance hits below $10. You can also check card balances and purchase histories online anytime.
Cardholders (or their parents) can upload funds to the card in realtime over the Internet.
The benefits aren’t quite as good as an American Express charge card, but they are a lot better than most pre-paid debit cards offer. Unlike other prepaid debit cards, which act like cash if you lose them, you will get a refund of your money if you lose your card. Also, you won’t be responsible for fraudulent charges to your card if you report it missing or stolen right away.
You can’t get hit with overdraft fees, either; your transaction will be rejected if you don’t have the funds to cover your purchase.
Other benefits include:
- 24-hour roadside assistance
- purchase protection for up to 90 days after the date of purchase, up to $1,000 per claim
- 24/7 customer service
- $25 free for signing up
- discounts and special offers from merchants in the American Express Rewards Mall
- charitable donation made in your name for eligible purchases through Rewards Mall
- can receive “financial certification” through Junior Achievement and learn more about money management
There is a $3.95 monthly fee for the card, which is waived until October 2010. If you use your card at an ATM machine, you will be charged a $1.50 service charge.
- More benefits than any other pre-paid debit card
- Easy automatic transfer of funds over the Internet
- $25 bonus for signing up
- No monthly service fees until October 2010
- Your card is protected from loss or theft — if you lose your card, you don’t lose your money
- Purchase protection up to $1,000 per claim
- $1.50 ATM fees
- $3.95 monthly service fee after October 2010
- Won’t help build your credit history or improve your credit score
Prepaid debit cards are not a new concept. We explored prepaid debit cards in this article a few weeks ago at CreditShout.