By John Wasik
(Reuters) – Can those celebrity-linked prepaid cards really help the unbanked?
Lately there have been a spate of them, from Kim Kardashian’s to Lil Wayne’s. When it comes to that newest one, the Approved Prepaid MasterCard issued by the Bancorp Bank and endorsed by personal finance personality Suze Orman, who is also an investor in the product, less is not necessarily more. There are better alternatives.
First, a disclosure. I knew Orman well before she became brand-name famous (we’re both from Chicago) and she even wrote a blurb for my book, “Late-Start Investor,” in 1998. She’s generally done some good things for financial consumers.
Yet there’s something troubling about an avowed consumer advocate who plugs a product that charges $3 “maintenance” fees (the first month’s fee is waived) and even restricts deposits.
There are countless other products that don’t charge monthly fees and provide incentives for you to open accounts (bankrate.com). I use several myself. Check out your local credit union or community bank. Some institutions also offer “second chance” accounts for those who have regularly bounced checks.