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Suze Orman's prepaid card launches debate

By , CardRatings contributor
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Another celebrity credit card has been announced, but this has the backing of some of financial responsibility's most powerful players. Suze Orman, along with Bancorp Bank, has launched the Approved Card, a prepaid MasterCard, according to CNN.

Orman backed the card with $1 million of her own money; there are no other partners. The Approved Card joins other celebrity-backed cards, such as the Lil Wayne or Kardashian card, but Orman believes her card will be a better financial management tool. She told CNN that her card "is a better, cheaper alternative to the prepaid cards already out there, most of which are criticized for having a plethora of associated fees."

The Approved Card isn't fee-free

But Orman's card has a number of fees, too. According to Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com, Orman's card is "nothing special" and there are other prepaid cards that offer better benefits. Walmart has a prepaid card that gives a $10 bonus for signing up, and the $3 issuance fee is waived for online applications, Arnold told CNNMoney.

According to CNNMoney, fees for the Approved Card include:

  • $3 initial card fee
  • $3 monthly fee, after the first month
  • $2 ATM transaction fee
  • $1 ATM balance check fee
  • $1 if card is declined
  • $2 for each paper statement
  • $3 for replacement card
  • $2 for each call to customer service, after the first one each month

Huffington Post points out that you'll pay a loading fee of $3.50-$4.95 just to transfer money to the card through Western Union or MoneyGram.

Direct deposit and bank transfers of at least $20 a month will waive ATM fees, but not the other fees. The Approved Card is a member of the AllPoint ATM network; any other ATM use will incur separate fees. Customers can't deposit paper checks; Money Gram or Western Union are the only ways to transfer those kinds of funds, hence the variable loading fees.

Perks of the new prepaid card

Perks of the Approved Card include unlimited free access to credit scores from TransUnion. Orman defended her new card, which despite its fee schedule still ranks as one of the least expensive prepaid cards, in an interview with the Huffington Post, saying there was no conflict of interest with her TV show which offers tips on fiscal responsibility. Orman claims the card is just another financial tool consumers can use, much like the books she sells.

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