How to Make Your Own Pre-Paid Debit Card – And Suze Orman’s Approved Card

There’s been a bit of a ruckus with the release Suze Orman’s pre-paid debit card — the Approved Card.

Her card joins other celebrity cards such as the Rush Card and the Kardashian Card.

The problem, many claim, is that pre-paid debit cards come with fees to use them.  With Suze’s card, people are claiming that she is just profiting from her audience.

I’d like to show you an alternative to pre-paid debit cards.  In fact, I’m going to show you how to make your own pre-paid debit card!

First though, let’s go over what a pre-paid debit card is.

What is a Pre-Paid Debit Card?


Basically, a pre-paid debit card is a card that you put money on to spend with, almost like a gift card.  The card isn’t typically attached to a bank account, like a standard debit card is.

It’s typically used by people who don’t have checking accounts, don’t want to use credit cards or cash, or to give to someone so they can only spend a certain limit (like giving one to your kid in college).

It can be one way to control your spending and make sure you don’t go over budget.

But with the use of the card there typically comes a number of fees, some which can be: cost for the card itself; monthly usage fee; fee for not keeping a minimm; fees for checking your balance at an ATM; fees for calling customer service; general ATM fees; and more.

A pre-paid debit card can have its uses but there are ways to achieve something similar without the fees.

How to Make Your Own PrePaid Debit Card

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- Head on over to Capital One and open up a 360 Checking account. This is their online checking account.

- Deposit ONLY what you can budget to spend with the card.

- Use card for purchases without the fees of a prepaid debit card.

- If you run out, stop spending until you can refill the card again (when it fits your budget).

There you go, your own prepaid debit card!

And with a 360 Checking account you get no fees*; no minimum deposits; free ATM use at over 35,000 locations; awesome customer service; free bill pay; they will mail out checks for you; and more.

(*for the most part there are no traditional checking account fees and there are certainly less fees than pre-paid debit card have.)

Yes, I know, you need to open up a bank account.  I admit I’m cheating a bit when I say you can make your own prepaid debit card.

But if you plan on using any substantial amount of money for more then one time then you really should have one.

A prepaid debit card is useful to some.  But you need to understand the fees that are attached to most of them.

If you can open up a bank account, like a free online checking account, then you have so many more benefits than a prepaid card can offer.

But I Don’t Want to Spend Too Much

pre-paid debit card

Make your own prepaid debit card and avoid the fees.

I hear you.  A credit card can be wicked tempting.  I’ve had my share of credit card debt.

But why are you afraid of spending too much?

Habits are hard to change, for sure, but in the long run you need to understand your spending and get a grasp on it.  Avoiding it will only work for so long.

Suze Orman’s The Approved Card

So that brings us back to Suze’s pre-paid debit card.

The Approved Card costs $3 to buy.  After that there is a $3 per month account maintenance fee, which is waived the first month.  ATM withdrawals at an Allpoint location is $2 (waived for 30 days with a direct deposit).  If you need to call customer service your first call is free.  After that your call is $2.

There are more fees you can check out on the Fees page.

What differentiates the Approved Card from other prepaid debit cards is that this card is part of an initiative that will anonymously report your spending activity to TransUnion®, one of the three credit bureaus.

See, an issue with using debit cards for purchases, rather than credit cards, is your activity isn’t reported to the credit bureaus so you can’t build credit with them.

You still won’t build credit with the Approved card though.

The initiative to report spending activity will go on for 18-24 months.  After that TransUnion will determine if it makes any sense to use the card’s spending activity in credit reporting.  So it will probably take about two years before anyone would benefit from this IF it is even determined it should be used in credit reporting.

The card also gives its users a free TransUnion credit report with unlimited updates as well as free identity theft protection from Trusted ID®.

These are certainly interesting additions.  But how useful are they really for a person who doesn’t have a bank account and isn’t using credit cards?  I wonder.  Your card usage doesn’t help your credit score so what are you really monitoring score-wise?

Anyone can use a number of free credit score sites to get a credit score and monitor how their score changes.  Keep in mind, the Approved Card doesn’t give you your FICO score, which is what most lenders use to determine a potential loan.

Summary

If you need a pre-paid card for limited use then a prepaid card has its place.

But if you need a debit card for long-term use, why not get a checking account?  If you want to limit your spending then you can set up an online checking account that only has a limited amount of money.

You can get your credit score for free without getting a prepaid debit card, so while that is an interesting feature of a card, it shouldn’t be the reason you get a prepaid debit card.

What do you think of making your own prepaid debit card? What about Suze Orman’s new card?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you use prepaid debit cards I’d love to hear from you too!

Here are some other takes on Suze Orman’s Approved Card:
Suze Orman Launches Pre-Paid Debit Card, Talks Life Lessons
Suze Orman to Offer Her Own Prepaid Debit Card – NYTimes.com
Personal Finance Guru Suze Orman Offers Prepaid Debit Card | Moneyland | TIME.com
Sorry, Suze Orman’s New Prepaid Debit Card Won’t Rescue Your Credit – Business Insider
Suze Orman’s “Approved Card” Gets Denied; Thinks PF Bloggers Are Idiots | 20 and Engaged
Suze Orman Pre-Paid Debit Card: Can We Afford It? #DenySuzeCard – Girls Just Wanna Have Funds
Suze Orman’s Approved PrePaid Debit Card: Bad for Consumers! | The Debt Princess
Suze Orman’s Card is Not Approved by Me | Thousandaire
Suze Orman’s Approved Prepaid Card Reviewed | MyBankTracker.com
Suze Orman Shows True Colors With Her Approved Prepaid Debit Card

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Published or updated July 26, 2014.

Comments

  1. Interesting thing! Here in Brazil all debit card all free of fees!

    Just the seller pay the fees!

    • jack foley says:

      I think the days of free fees and free banking are coming to a close…

      In my country one has to make 18 transactions per quarter to avail of no fees being charged

      • What kind of fees are you talking about? There are so many different financial products out there.

        And I think we’ll see more free fees and better offers. The economy has nowhere to go but up, and as the economy gets better there will be more competition for our money.

  2. My main chequing account is with a credit union, and as long as I keep a minimum balance of $1000.00, all debit transaction fees are waived. Of course if I use a third party ATM that isn’t part of the the ATM Exchange (www.the-exchange.ca) I’m subject to that bank’s ‘convenience’ fees. By allocating a certain amount of my budget each month into my chequing account, I have created my very own prepaid debit card. And best of all there are no fees!

  3. I love it! Do-it-yourself banking. Great idea. Now why couldn’t Suze Orman think of that?

  4. If GreenDot can make a prepaid debit card without fees, why couldn’t Suze Orman?

    I like the idea of a PPD for college students or high school students but get one without all the fees. It’s ridiculous for a woman who tries to help people spend their money wisely would promote a product that takes so much away from them.

    • PS. Thanks for the linkback to my own post! Nicely done with this one.

      • Agreed. Prepaid cards have a place, but for the most part they are loaded with fees. It was certainly an “interesting” product for Orman to release.

        Biggest disappointment was her twitter feed and the attitude towards those who questioned the card. In a day where money is a huge issue for many of us, we should be promoting discourse, not calling people names for questioning products loaded with fees.

  5. What a novel idea! Open a no fee checking account and use the associated debit card. Refill as needed :) Glen, you are onto something here ;)

  6. The real story here is how Suze treated anyone on twitter who would dare to disagree with her. She got really aggressive with PT and 20 and Engaged. She threw a few jabs my way too.

    • And why do that?

      It really made no sense. If you want to help people then help them by explaining why you think a product is great. Sway us. But calling people names, as adults, doesn’t make for a great way to help people. I lost a lot of respect for her last night, even if it wasn’t actually her tweeting.

  7. This is such a better option and beats Suze’s prepaid debit card by a long shot. All we asked was that she chose a better option and not sell out for $3/month and other outrageous fees like paying your bill and checking your balance! She could’ve defended her card. But name calling and arrogant/snide remarks? Ridiculous.

    • You know, if she really created a card that had little or no fees then it could change the playing field and perhaps it would be a good card for many to use. But with all of those fees — I can’t think so.

      And the credit score issue is so up in the air you can’t claim it will actually do good. Only her card is getting tracked, not all prepaid debit cards. That will be a small sample, statistically, unless she can convince people to use her card and it’s fees. Conflict of interest?

      Make the fees non-existent and you really have a chance to change the face of credit and debit. I wouldn’t even mind if some fees stayed. But as it stands, that card is just not good for most people.

  8. Great point, Glen. A prepaid card is really no better than attaching a bank account in the way you’ve described.

    I find it hard to believe that many people need hand-holding in the form of a prepaid card from Suze to get their finances straightened out. At the very least she could educate her followers about the free or cheap alternatives rather than giving them something with fees.

    • Look, at times personal finance is easy — spend less than you earn and such — but other times it can be difficult, especially on where to start.

      But I agree she could be doing bigger things by not having fees or by promoting a different product.

  9. Linked this article in my” Stay Away from Suze Orman’s Approved Prepaid Debit Card” post http://everythingfinanceblog.com/2012/01/stay-away-from-suze-ormans-approved-prepaid-debit-card.html

  10. Maybe a silly question but how do you get your money on these pre-paid card anyway?

    • Not a silly question at all!

      -You can set up a direct deposit (though I think if you can do that you can open up an online checking account);
      -you can transfer fund from a bank account or another prepaid card (again, if you have a bank account do you need a prepaid card?);
      - or you can go through a retail location such as MoneyGram® Express Payment® (only $3.50 to reload and that’s a “special” deal) or Western Union®, though these option will cost you to add funds.

      Great question Nicky and thanks for bringing it up!

  11. I thought the part about including the TransUnion credit score was interesting, and not that talked-about on the blogs. Then again, you can get that for free (no $3 fee) at CreditKarma.com, plus free credit monitoring. All in all, paying the fees for this card probably isn’t that practical for most people.

    Plus, I agree with the other bloggers about the most interesting story being Orman’s Twitter manager’s reaction. I wonder if that person got a good PR talking-to.

  12. Setting up your own saves that $3 per month fee. Makes sense to me!

  13. I have to agree with you guys on this one. Her past advice versus this card just don’t match up, and if that wasn’t enough to make me scratch my head, calling highly respected financial bloggers idiots!? Sorry Sue, but you’re not looking so good. What gives!?

  14. With just the other options you’ve outlined here, I don’t see any incentive for anyone to pick up the Suze Orman special!

    It was rather sad to see some of her reactions to criticism. Part of the challenge of coming out with something like this is dealing with detractors, and she could have done much better.

    • You can’t claim that people come first then go and call anyone names who questions the fees that are on this card. People first doesn’t mean My Way or the Highway.

      She could have also created a product that would sell itself. Rather she has a card that is full of fees that her audience will jump on because many practically worship her.

      The really big shame is the influence she has over her audience. Her subtle apology on Twitter was surrounded by other people’s tweets saying she was probably right in calling people idiots; people who didn’t follow the original conversation.

      This is a dangerous attitude and it’s this type of hero-worship, for lack of a better term, that will get a lot of people to sign up for her card and pay her fees.

  15. All I can say is WOW!! I used to read Suze’s books when I was younger and tune in to her show on CNBC. Recently I turned it on after not watching for years and was disappointed. She seems to no longer offer the practical advice she once did. Now it seems she is always pushing something, regardless if she has her hands in it or not.

    Now with her own debit card (and how she acted on twitter) I think I can safely say I’m no longer a Suze fan.

    • Yup. Used to be a fan too. Read one of her books and it contained a lot of useful information. Liked the show for a while too.

      But after her actions — truly disillusioned with her.

  16. Ron Noonan says:

    Better idea to open up another checking account in a bank that does NOT have your other accounts. Reason= If your debit card is stolen, your other accounts can not be tampered with by the “off set” ability of the bank.

  17. I am not a fan of approved credit cards. As you say spending responsibly starts with establishing good spending behavior. If you are looking to re-establish there are other ways like paying your bills on time!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    My husband and I have been using the Green Dot VISA cards for 1 1/2 years and I LOVE it. Our credit is so-so thanks to foolish mistakes of our late teens/early twenties, student loans, etc. but not so bad that we can’t get a checking account. We banked with TD & Bank of America for years but I found myself CONSTANTLY overdrawn. We live paycheck to paycheck like most people so sometimes we’d cut it close on funds until payday. But we both kept an eye on what we spent so we didn’t spend what wasn’t there. We both had the mobile banking apps but just when I thought we were fine, some purchase my husband made days before would finally show up and suddenly things bounced. Then I’d notice that the bank would rearrange my transactions the next day so that the biggest purchases came out first, not by what time we did them. So they could slam us with more of those $33 fees for silly little $3 and $4 gas station purchases. The banks would just say it wasn’t their fault. That its up to the merchants when they report the transactions. So it could take as many as 5 business days before it showed up. We’re both college educated people but dealing with the banks made me feel like an idiot. I’ve probably lost close to $700 in those 5 years. So I tried out the Green Dot card and its been heaven ever since! We joined their VIP club so we pay $4.95 per month but are reimbursed all ATM fees. So at $2.50 a trip, 2 ATM withdraws and it’s paid for itself. Both of our paychecks are direct deposited for free. We each have a card (I did pay $10 for the 2nd card). Customer service has always been super friendly. They are in India so it’s tough to understand sometimes but they are true to their word. We once used an ATM and it gave us $10s instead of $20s. The ATM company said to call our card company. Green Dot had the money credited back to me within 3 days. If I ever need to withdraw more than $4oo in a day, I can do cash advances at the bank, which I also get reimbursed for, making it free. And best of all, with the Green Dot app, it tells me EVERY transaction made within MOMENTS of making it. Keeping my husband and I always on the same page. Makes me wonder why Green Dot can report everything accurately and instantly, is the bank is full of crap, trying to trip people up and get more money out of them???

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