In case you missed a lot of the hoopla in the personal finance world, “guru” Suze Orman has recently debuted a branded prepaid debit card called the Approved Card that she’s built from the ground up. Suze boasts that this card is “better than cash” and gives you reasons why the Approved Card is the smart choice for you, including staying debt free, claiming it’s safer than cash, FDIC insured, free identity protection, free credit scores, reports, and monitoring, and a low monthly fee. Personal finance bloggers were skeptical of why someone who once talked down on the Kardashians for a prepaid card was debuting their own. The card comes with a lot of fees also, including, but not limited to:
- $3 monthly fee
- $2 ATM withdrawal fee (waived for 30 days with qualifying direct deposit or bank transfer)
- $1 balance inquiry fee (waived for 30 days with qualifying direct deposit or bank transfer)
- $2 over-the-counter cash withdrawal fee
- $2 per call customer service call fee (you only get one free call per calendar month)
- $2 paper statement fee
- $9.95 per transaction same day bill payment fee
That’s a lot of fees! She mentions that she’s trying out a Credit Project, where she works with TransUnion and sends your transaction information to see if including that data will affect your credit. There’s a lot of questions left and unanswered and people left unimpressed. Never mind the heated Twitter debate between Suze and multiple personal finance bloggers which resulted in name calling. So what other personal finance products are there that Suze could have endorsed or branded instead of this Approved Card that could’ve really helped her fans:
PerkStreet Checking Account
If Suze was really gung-ho about working with Bancorp, I think a great product she could’ve backed was the Perkstreet Checking Account. As a former customer myself, PerkStreet’s checking account offers, well, perks! Things they offer that the Approved Card lacks include:
- 2% cash back on non-PIN debit card purchases (for your first 3 months or with a balance of $5,000. After 3 months or under $5,000, 1% cash back)
- 5% cash back on PowerPerks categories
- No monthly fees for active account holders
- Free online bill pay
- Access to 42,000 ATMs (as opposed to Approved Card’s 35,000)
An in-house solution that she overlooked. She could’ve offered her branded card through PerkStreet and still market staying out of debt and teaching financial responsibility, and saving money for your emergency fund.
This probably wasn’t an option because Credit Karma is completely free. So free, in fact, they don’t ask for your credit card. Credit Karma does daily credit monitoring, gives you your TransUnion credit score for free along with a credit report card, which grades you in different parts of your credit report:
- Open credit card utilization
- Percent of on-time payments
- Average age of open credit lines
- Total accounts
- Hard credit inquiries
- Derogatory marks
- Total debt
- Debt to income ratio
You get to see where you stand as far as your credit score compared to the nation in different age groups, and use a Credit Simulator to gauge where your credit score will be if you consider multiple factors. One thing Suze may not approve of is the fact that Credit Karma gives you personalized credit card offers based on what they think will save you money, rebuild your credit, and even secured credit cards. But this looks like a much better deal than the Approved Card’s offer.
Personal Finance Calculator
If Suze really wanted a tangible product that people could hold in their hands, and something to make money off of, I think a personal finance calculator would have worked well. We went over the Personal Financial Calculator for Dummies that allows you to calculate when you can pay off debt, how much is needed to pay off debt, how long it’ll take to build your emergency fund, and how much you need to buy a house. Aren’t these all things that Suze advocates for? The 10 digit calculator retails on Amazon for $29.99, which would’ve been a one time price for consumers instead of nickel and diming them with fees here and there.
A Suze branded personal finance calculator could have included buttons and settings to find out if you’re approved or denied for things that you want, just like she does on TV. You could insert your account balances, your amount of debt, and your income and come up with the same calculations as she does. It would be like Suze in your pocket, a genius plan that she must have overlooked.
There are so many products that Suze could have endorsed or created, and it seems as if she decided to go with a card that takes more money than it makes. What do you think?