I can’t seem to get away from these celebrities who have decided it to be okay to use their fame and influence to delve deep into the pockets of the people of this country to persuade them to pay for things that have no benefit. This common practice of these superstars using their name to promote financial predators has gotten ridiculous and I cannot let any of them get away with at least warning unwary consumers of the dangers and irresponsibility of their products they are promoting.
It started for me when I had to call out Russell Simmons for promoting his RushCard. Then it continued when I had to call out Magic Johnson for promoting a few financial predators such as Rent-A-Center and the refund anticipation loan (Troy Aikman jumped on the bandwagon to also promote Rent-A-Center where those who solicit this establishment have the luxury of spending $7,000 with interest on a $2,000 television).
Now I am scrolling through the internet and see that the Kardashians, of all people, are entering into the prepaid debt card market. The same people who are promote living lavishly on their reality show are now diving into the pre-paid debit market in order to “provide people with something where they could learn their budgets” as stated by Kim Kardashian to reporters.
I have a few questions for the Kardashians since they are so concerned about helping people to learn about budgeting in this rough economy:
Do you think the $99.95 fee to purchase your card for 12 months will help or hurt someone’s budget?
What about the monthly fee of $7.95 that kicks in after the initial purchase period…does that help someone’s budget?
If someone loses their card, does the $9.95 fee they have to pay to replace the card help or hurt their budget? I actually had to replace my card the other day and was able to do so for free through my bank but I guess you feel there are teachable moments in making someone pay for something they can get for free?
If someone’s card is stolen and they need it replaced right away because they have a pressing bill that is due, or need to have immediate access to their money, the whopping $25 that your card charges the people to replace the card and send it overnight…I’ll bet that does wonders for the budget doesn’t it?!
The $1.50 ATM Withdrawal fee, $2.00 ATM Inquiry or Decline fee, the $1.00 Point of Sale fee, the $6.00 Cancel Account fee, the $1.50 fee just to talk to a Service Center Care-Live Operator if you have questions, and all of the other LONG list of fees listed on your site…how do those fees help with your budget Kardashians?
The biggest question that I have to ask you did you even learn about this product before you endorsed it and started to make claims that it actually teaches you about money? This product does nothing of the sort and actually teaches people about what you SHOULDN’T do with your money. Who told you that it would be a wise move to promote a financial product that charges exorbitant fees to hard working Americans who are already having a hard enough time putting food on the table? Didn’t you read the stat where almost 1 out of 5 Americans are having problems with simply putting food on the table? I guess your lavish lifestyle that you lead only causes you to be concerned about the state of most of America when you are scalping them for their last cent just to make a profit for yourself?! Now you are going to pitch a product that is designed to systematically cipher the last few dollars from working class families who actually had faith in you that you wouldn’t steer them wrong? Shame on you!
To the hard working Americans out there, I wanted to leave you with some tips to make sure that you don’t ever have to fall for these types of products again.
Fame doesn’t equal intelligence – Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean that they know what is best for you and your family. It is up to you to research every financial product that you use and don’t base your decision upon someone’s notoriety.
If a product is EVER trying to get you to spend money just to spend your own money that is a usually red flag. I might spend money on water, or might spend money on air to put in my tire…but I will be darned if I ever spend money just to use my own money. Think about it…does that even make sense?
Research other options – There are ALWAYS other alternatives if you just take the time to research them. These financial predators will pitch this product as the ONLY option that you may have and depend upon you not doing the research to find out alternatives. Those who are financially savvy know better. Here are a few alternatives:
Open a bank account and use a debit card that has no fees attached to it. For some, this may require some work as they are considered “not bankable”. Many banks are now working specifically with this population, especially local community banks, so your job is to find a local bank that will work with you. Even if you have to open a “second chance” bank account with restrictions (no writing of checks allowed, no overdraft allowed, close monitoring, etc.).Seek out and join a credit union in your area that has a loan builder program that allows you to establish credit and will provide you with a credit card.
Go to bankrate.com and select a secured credit card that has no fees. Anybody, even those with poor credit, can get a secured credit card. The beauty of a secured card is that it actually has a line of credit and on time debt repayments will go towards improving your FICO score where the pre-paid debit card has no impact on your FICO score.
Spread knowledge to others – It is frustrating to me when people label this as common knowledge then just sit on this information. The one thing that I have learned through life is that common sense isn’t always common. Even if you feel you know of all that was stated in this article, why aren’t you out there advocating that these cards be taken off the market or at least boycotted? MasterCard obviously feels that this is a lucrative market because they continue to find new ways to sell these products. With the onslaught of legislation of banks that has limited their practices you can be certain that banks will continue to promote additional ways to increase their bottom line regardless of how unethical the practices. The community has to become more accountable for the products we are choosing to use AND to spread knowledge and information to other consumers who might not have as strong of a grasp of the information as you. If you are one of the ones who are considering using this card or another similar card…shame on you as well!
In summary Kardashian…stick to fashion and entertainment and leave the financial literacy to the experts. Next time that MasterCard comes to you with this brilliant idea about how they can teach the people how to budget understand they have an ulterior motive to make money at all costs. They are hurting because they feel the new rules do not allow them to gauge the American people for billions of dollars as much as they used to so they are now using you as their new tool to suck the economy dry from its last dollar. Not to say that the American people don’t have a role in this because with adequate knowledge we can put the pre-paid debit card industry out of business. I would love to partner with you to promote some real financial literacy one day. Until then…stop the nonsense!