Suze Orman, the personal finance author and CNBC television host, today announced the launch of a prepaid debit card that she is not just endorsing, but actually responsible for creating.
The "Approved card" from Orman is not attached to a checking account the way most traditional bank debit cards are, but does work very much like a bank debit card. It has a $3 monthly fee, and is attached to Allpoint ATMs, which are nationwide. You just have to sign up for direct deposit in order to qualify for free transactions at Allpoint ATMs. The card also has activity alerts, balance updates, online bill pay, and the option to set up an emergency fund account.
The Approved card comes with free access to credit scores and reports from TransUnion, is FDIC insured, and has free identity theft protection from TrustedID.
Our financial services experts reviewed the terms and conditions of the card, and found that overall, its fees are in line with the better cards in the marketplace. As is the case with many prepaid cards, the Approved card's fees are lower if the cardholder sets up direct deposit or bank transfer to fund the card on a regular basis.
Here is a summary of the fees associated with Orman's Approved card:
- $3 monthly fee (first month is waived).
- $2 ATM withdrawal fee, unless you set up direct deposit or a bank transfer.
- $1 ATM Balance inquiry fee, unless you set up direct deposit or a bank transfer.
- $1 ATM transaction declined fee, unless you set up direct deposit or a bank transfer.
- $3 card replacement fee.
- $2 fee per paper statement.
- $1 fee for bill pay by check.
There is no fee associated with speaking to a live customer service rep for the first call per calendar month, after that it is $2 per call. There is also no fee for paying your bills electronically or to close your account.
One aspect of Orman's new card that differentiates it from most is that TransUnion will collect spending data from Approved card customers. The major credit bureaus do not usually take debit card spending into account when establishing a person's credit score. But in this case, that data will be included for Approved cardholders who participate.
In a press release announcing the new card, Orman writes, "The Approved Card is the single most important thing I’ve done in my career. It’s my answer for all of you who are looking for a better way to bank, use plastic and feel secure that your interests are being put before fees and profit motives."
The New York Times wrote about the card that "Ms. Orman seeks to broaden the debit card market by charging low fees and offering new services," adding that Orman has "put more than $1 million of her own money into the venture and is prepared to add more, since the product may not break even right away."
Welcome to The Approved Card—the card that’s better than cash! [Suze Orman]
TV Adviser on Money Offers Card [New York Times]