Today, the Kardashian sisters are putting name and celebrity status behind a Mastercard prepaid card. The sisters, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, are the latest in a line of celebrities who have launched branded prepaid cards, including Russell Simmons, Lil Wayne and Amar'e Stoudemire. [Disclosure: the Amar'e card is an UPside Visa Card. operated by Plastyc, where I am the CEO.]
- You sign up for an account online by confirming your identity with a social security number. There's no credit check. If you are minor, a parent can sign you up.
- A handful of days later, a card, imprinted with your name and account number arrives in the mail.
- You load money onto the card in multiple ways such as having parents transfer money from their checking accounts, having paychecks direct deposited and by using cash to buy GreenDot MoneyPacks or to swipe your card at a Moneygram location.
- You spend money in stores or online as you would with any other piece of Visa or Mastercard plastic.
- You check your accounts on the Web or your cell phone.
- Activation fee: this is the fee that some cards charge you just to begin using the card.
- Monthly fee: this is automatically charged each month to keep the account open. Some cards waive or reduce this fee with a minimum balance.
- ATM withdrawal fee: this is on top of any fee charged by the ATM network.
- Transaction or purchase fee: this is a fee that some cards charge each time you use the card, regardless of the amount of the purchase.
- Fees for loading money in the card from a bank account or another card of from a parent account.
Another item to look at are features. Some cards have most of the features of a traditional bank account, including the ability to issue paper checks. Or they have features aimed at specific demographics, such as mobile payments, budgeting tools, or parental controls for teenagers. Make sure the prepaid card has the features you want.
Shopaholics beware! Money and emotions are a dangerous mix. Most celebrities do not need to watch their spending, but most of the rest of us do.
If you like the idea of a reloadable prepaid account but you don't like the fees or features of the celebrity card you're reviewing, check around. There are many, good alternatives.