Mindless celebrity worship and personal finance are two great obsessions in American society right now, and they’ve just had a disastrous run in with each other in the form of the prepaid Kardashian card. Whether you follow celebrity news and gossip devotedly or write about business and finance, like Hubby and me, you have heard of this abomination.
As you can tell, I think this venture into capitalism is a horrible idea. Perhaps the Kardashians and their handlers thought it would be a good business move to introduce the concept of credit and money management to youngsters in baby steps, offering college women, high schoolers—and worse, teens—a prepaid and presumably re-loadable card that they can use to buy downscale, Made in China, knock off goods. Let me tell you why Hubby and I think that the target market for these cards is very unlikely to keep up with the Kardashians if they get themselves roped into this shameful money grab.
The card is loaded with endless fees, as this report from CNNMoney.com explains:
While regular bank debit cards are typically free and don’t charge any fees, a 12-month Kardashian Kard costs $99.95 just to own, including a card purchase fee of $9.95 and 12 monthly fees of $7.95. After the first year, consumers must continue to pay the $7.95 monthly fee.
On top of these initial fees, it costs Kardashian Kard users $1 every time they add money to their card, and it costs $1.50 to speak with a live operator. If they want to pay their bills automatically using the card, they’ll be charged $2 per transaction.
The fee schedule on this thing violates many sound rules of good money conduct. If a youngster does not understand the inner workings of the card and wants to get someone on the line to explain it, why should that ring up a fee? Someone needs to explain the difference between the $99.95 ownership fee and the $7.95 monthly ripoff to hold the card after the first year. It gets worse:
“The cards are touted as safer than cash and easier than a regular bank account, but in the end it’s going to cost more than a bank account and there is more risk assumed,” the story quotes Gail Hillebrand, a senior attorney at Consumers Union as saying.
That’s because, like the new Kardashian MasterCard, prepaid cards are loaded with charges — including activation fees as high as $40, monthly fees of up to $10, paper statement fees of as much as $5.95, inactivity fees up to $9.95 and customer service fees as high as $3.95.
And most prepaid cards don’t offer the same protections as debit and credit cards.
If fraudulent charges appear on your account or your card is lost or stolen, you might not be able to get your money back. And because your card is not associated with a bank account, your money is also less likely to be FDIC insured, meaning that there is no guarantee you will get your money back if your card issuer fails.
The Kardashian sisters might as well have taken one of their hands, manicured while avoiding any useful work that might benefit anyone, and slapped their future groupies/slaves—sorry, let me use my marketing language, “guests”—across the face. It’s not enough that these women have a mindless TV show. Now they’ve turned to using their popularity to do little more than separate the working masses from their assets.
Think I’m joking? Who do you think is more likely to sign up for one of these rhinestone encrusted silver-plated handcuffs? Will it be the daughter of parents who are financially savvy and can sit down with her and work out why the math does not work, or a young girl who probably idolizes this trio and doesn’t have that kind of financial education at home?
“Prepaid card issuers started out by targeting the lower income and under-banked, and now we’re seeing the teen market and college market being targeting,” said Hillebrand.
Gentle readers, you don’t need to be savvy about politics and the debate about the widening wealth gap in this country. One plain and simple way to avoid your daughter accruing thousands of dollars in every fee imaginable and having her credit tarnished from an early age is to bypass this silliness. Why should the Kardashian sisters profit at the expense of the working and middle class? Let them get respectable employment, already.
It’s a great deal for the Kardashians, who get a significant cut of the fee revenue generated from the cards and get to extend their name recognition.
“None of these celebrities are going to get rich off of these cards — they’re already rich to begin with,” said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group. “For the most part, this is an absolutely incredible publicity play.”
If a mailer for the card comes in the mail, shred it without even opening it. Otherwise if your daughter or sister signs up for the card, she will face a fee for not using it enough, and yet another punch in the gut (sorry, fee) for canceling the card.