Make no mistake about it, this is a celebrity-endorsed/created prepaid card, albeit better than other celebrity-endorsed cards, but “a rose by any other name...” Based on Orman’s interviews, I thought the Approved Card would be simple and straightforward. The card is actually rather complicated, but not all together bad.
The Approved Prepaid MasterCard Overview
The Approved Card from Suze Orman is For:
- Suze Orman fans looking for a prepaid card
- People looking for alternatives to traditional credit card and debit cards
Credit Rating Required: No credit check required
- Fewer fees than other prepaid cards
- Optional email/text alerts with your balance either daily, after a transaction, or both
- Up to 6 sub-accounts, including a designated Emergency Fund, with balances that are unavailable until you call to move the funds into the Primary Account
- You can't pay at the pump for gasoline purchases
- You can only add money from bank accounts under your name
- The monthly fee isn't waived with a minimum balance
- Card Purchase Fee: $3
- Monthly fee: $3, waived the first month
- Reload fee: $0 or $3.50 if you reload from a MoneyGram Express location
- Over-the-Counter Cash Withdrawal Fee: $2
- Customer service: $2 per call after one free monthly call
- Usage Fees: $0
- ATM Fee: $0-2 depending on the transaction, plus fees from the ATM owner
- Currency Conversion Fee: 0%
- Bill Pay Fee: $1 with paper check, free otherwise
See the Approved Card's Fee Schedule for a complete list of fees.
Maximum Balance and Load Limits
- Maximum balance is $9,999 including sub account balances.
- Direct deposit load maximum of 8 per month and a total of $9,000.
- Cash load maximum $950 per day or $9,500 per month.
- Maximum spending limit of $2,000 in a 24-hour period or $9,999 in a 30-day period.
- ATM withdrawal maximum is $500 in a 24-hour period or $5,000 in a 30-day period.
The Approved Card Review
There are three ways to load money onto the card: direct deposit, bank transfer from an account with your name on it, or cash via participating MoneyGram or Western Union locations. If you transfer or direct deposit at least $20, you won't pay an ATM fee at AllPoint ATMs for 30 days. AllPoint is a surcharge-free network of ATMs. Check their website to see if there are any ATMs convenient to you.
You can create up to six sub accounts, one of which will be your Emergency Fund. What makes these sub accounts attractive is that the balance can’t be accessed until you move the funds to your primary account. However, the maximum balance limit of $9,999 may not allow the card to house your entire emergency fund and your primary account funds, too.
Staying aware of your balance can be easier if you opt to receive daily or weekly email or SMS balance alerts. Alerts are sent at 8 a.m. EST, so you can start your day knowing your account’s available balance. (Of course, you can always login for that information.) You can also opt to have an alert sent after each transaction.
As part of The Credit Project, the Approved Card will send your transaction data to TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. Over several months, the bureau will aggregate the data and determine whether everyday debit card transactions can be used in credit reporting and scoring. The card’s website says transaction data will be sent anonymously, won’t be listed on your credit report, and that you can opt-out.
With the Approved Card, you’ll get one year of free daily access to your TransUnion credit report and credit score, your VantageScore, ID theft risk alerts, debt analysis, and $25,000 in identity theft insurance. The Approved Card's website says you’ll be able to sign up for these services once you’re billed for the first monthly fee, or 30 days after you’ve activated the card. Many trial credit monitoring services begin to charge after the trial is up, but a rep for the Approved Card has informed me this isn't the case with this trial service. Watch your account transactions to be sure.
The Approved Card from Suze Orman will cost at least $36 per year as there’s no way to waive the monthly fee except for the automatic waiver in the first month. But, you can easily avoid any other fees, including ATM fees and reload fees.
While The Approved Card definitely beats out other celebrity-endorsed cards, like Russell Simmons' RushCard and the now-cancelled Kardashian Kard, it's not as cheap as non-celebrity-affiliated cards, like WalMart MoneyCard and the CapitalOne Prepaid Card. If you sign up for The Approved Card, you’re essentially paying for sub accounts, text alerts, and potentially-free ATM transactions. But $36 per year and you can't swipe at the pump? Personally, I'd pass.