Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

The Approved Card? More like the DIS-Approved Card! January 11, 2012

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yes, I resorted to a Billy Madison pseudo-insult.  I do that sometimes.  But really, it’s the only way to start off this post. With a little bit of humor, before I tear into what may be my “meanest” blog post ever. Maybe.

On January 5, I got an email from Suze Orman. I don’t remember when I signed up to get emails from her, but that’s not the point. She alerted me (and all her other email subscribers) to her People First Movement, set to kick off on January 9th. Well, I can’t say I marked my calendar, but I was curious about what “new financial product” she was excited to tell us about.  I figured she was referring to another financial tracking website.  You know how much I love those :)

January 9th rolls around, and my inbox is blessed with another note from Suze.  She was offering a new pre-paid debit card.  I remember reading that email, and I’m pretty sure I said something to the effect of “HELL NO!” before closing the entire web browser in anger and disgust.

But seriously, I was kind of taken aback.  Suze Orman’s offering a pre-paid debit card.  On the one hand, I think it’s good that she’s making a pre-paid card that, on the surface, seems to have fewer fees than other pre-paid cards, assuming you know exactly how to get around most of them (http://theapprovedcard.com/fees/ for reference), but I still haven’t accepted the basic premise that some individuals can’t get even the simplest bank account, and must resort to using a pre-paid debit card.  I might be out of touch, but shouldn’t a credit union or bank be willing to offer a no-frills bank account?

Then there are the three ways to re-load the card: direct deposit, transferring from another account, or paying Western Union or MoneyGram $3.50 to add cash to the card.  All three of those seem like perfect reasons to NOT get the pre-paid debit card:  If you get direct deposit (from a paycheck), you can probably get a bank account.  That’s usually what banks like to see when opening accounts.  If you have another bank account, couldn’t you use that instead of a pre-paid, fee-laden card? And if you’re using cash, why pay $3.50 to load the cash then a $3 fee per month to use it? (except perhaps if you wanted to keep your cash safe in the non-bank account).

Ron Lieber posted a follow-up about the card, having asked readers for possible good reasons to get the card.  The three he lists here include: being unwilling or unable to get a bank account (for any number of reasons), as a budgeting tool to limit your spending to a set amount, or as a pseudo-checking account for kids.  I guess the other option is if you need to do online transactions or rent a car/book a hotel/flight etc., you’d need either a credit or debit card for payment.

The whole FICO score aspect of this is confusing, too.  It’s unclear (at least to me).  It sounds like she’s offering a free year of credit monitoring/scores/etc. from TransUnion.  Which is basically what you get from CreditKarma, but without having to use her pre-paid card.  Then there’s The Credit Project, where you can volunteer to have your transaction data sent to TransUnion, so they can decide if they maybe in the future want to include pre-paid debit cards in credit scores/reports.  I don’t have much faith that a credit agency is going to change any time soon.

Anyway, that’s a long enough rant. I just am always wary of these pre-paid cards, they seem to take advantage of people who already have trouble with money.  And it seems like Suze Orman is abusing her power as a “personal finance expert” in getting people to sign onto something that may not be in their best interest.  I know a lot of other people have posted their (negative) reviews of the Approved Card.  Let me know if you wrote one, and I’ll link to it!

I want to just finish this by saying that, usually, I’m okay with Suze Orman.  One of the books I read when I was first figuring out this whole personal finance thing was her book Young, Fabulous, and Broke.  And I enjoyed her keynote speech at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in 2009.  I just think that this is a bad move on her part, using her fans’ trust for financial gain.

 

4 Responses to “The Approved Card? More like the DIS-Approved Card!”

  1. Katie Says:

    The funniest part is that she advises against using pre-paid cards in her Young, Fabulous, and Broke book. I guess she still stands by that advice… Unless she’s the one profiting from said cards.

    I’ve never really cared for her, but her insults thrown at everyone who disagreed with her card on Twitter last night were the last straw for me. If she really stands by her product, she should defend it instead of resulting to insults. I know PT has accepted her apology (given today on Twitter), but seriously, I can’t get over her acting that way.

    • Stephanie Says:

      Seeing how insulting she was to anyone who disagreed with her was pretty disgusting. I saw both the offending remarks as well as the apologies. Calling only people who wrote semi-nice things about the card “legitimate”, and calling everyone else idiots was pretty ridiculous.

      So yeah, the card itself, the fact that she’s using her clout to encourage people to use it, and the insults shew threw around are enough to make me stop caring about what she has to say.

  2. [...] Graduated Learning: Life after College, The Approved Card? More like the DIS-Approved Card! An insightful post concluding “I just think that this is a bad move on her part, using her [...]

  3. Suze was one of my first financial inspirations. But,one of my financial adviser friends told me I was relying too much on her advice and steered me towards Kiplinger, which helped me diversify my background reading a bit. She has appeared in a few ads that I’ve never been too bothered by, and I doubt I would have paid much attention to her card, but after listening to an interview she did and seeing the tweets I just can’t picture myself ever paying attention to her again. She’s coming across as mean-spirited and rude – exactly the opposite of what most of us in the personal finance blogging community are trying to be.


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