By Chuck Jaffe
Suze Orman debit card raises many doubts
Commentary: Money expert’s ‘Approved Card’ is nothing special
To that end, Orman’s card does provide a pretty fair deal. It costs $3 to purchase and there is a $3 monthly account maintenance fee (the first month’s charge is waived). Withdrawals at ATMs cost $2, but cardholders can use machines in the Allpoint Network without any fee or surcharge so long as they have funded their card account by direct deposit or bank transfer in the last 30 days.
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Allpoint is the nation’s largest network of ATMs, with more than 35,000 units nationwide, mostly in retailers, particularly some big convenience-store, pharmacy and big box-store chains. A consumer who knows where the nearest Allpoint machines are can do exactly as Orman suggests and use this card for no more than the monthly maintenance charge.
To her credit, Orman spells out in detail that costs will rise if you use the card in other ways. (One aspect of the card that has not gotten enough attention is that each card account can support up to four cards, all on the same monthly fee; someone who wanted to get a prepaid card for three children, for example, would pay $9 to purchase the cards, but could run them all on the same $3 monthly maintenance charge, dropping the monthly cost per card to a buck each.)
Orman also makes it clear that she “hates” fees, which is kind of strange because the Approved Card has 20 possible different fees that investors could wind up paying.
Truthfully, if she hates fees, she should have found a way to have a prepaid card that carries, say, just one overarching fee. According to Odysseas Papadimitriou, founder of Card Hub, the best prepaid cards include issues from American Express and GreenDot that have one additional fee and eight potential fees respectively.