People who loved to hate the recently-discontinued Kardashian Prepaid Card need not dismay; there’s a new celebrity-themed prepaid card in town, and this one includes even more celebrities that can be subject to scorn and derision. Earlier this month, a company called Myplash released its new line of prepaid cards featuring musicians, actors, athletes, cartoon characters, brand logos and even Twilight characters.
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Unlike the Kardashians, Myplash does not even dispute that their prepaid cards cater to teens. In fact, their product is referred to as the “MYPLA$h Teen Prepaid MasterCard” on the company’s website. So these teen spending vehicles that play upon celebrity appeal rather than pure financial merit have received a negative reaction similar to that of the Kardashian Kard, right?
Wrong. Even though the Kardashian Kard was met with such distaste that it prompted Connecticut Attorney General and Senator-elect Richard Blumenthal to announce that he would launch an investigation into the legality of its fees and was pulled just 19 days after its release, the Myplash Teen Prepaid card has flown under the radar. Perhaps this speaks to the supreme celebrity of Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian. Maybe there are simply too many different celebrities associated with the Myplash card to effectively target a backlash against it. Or it could just be that these cards are actually just good products.
In truth, the relative lack of attention garnered by Myplash’s youthful prepaid card foray is the result of a combination of all of the aforementioned factors. Most of the celebrity figures featured on these cards lack the star power and visibility of the Kardashians, and there are too many of them to effectively scapegoat. Similarly, the fee structure of the Myplash prepaid card is not nearly as costly as that of the Kardashian Kard.
The Myplash prepaid card has no activation fee, no fees for purchases and no fees for loading the card through direct deposit or ACH—which is great for parents who wish to put money on their teen’s prepaid card via checking account. And while it does have a $4.95 monthly fee, $1.95 monthly inactivity fee, a $1.50 ATM transaction fee, and fees as high as $1.50 for paying bills, its overall cost is still less than that of the Kardashian Kard, which had a $4.95 activation fee, a $7.95 monthly fee, a $1.50 fee for ATM transactions and a $2.00 fee for paying bills.
Still, can the Myplash card go toe to toe with the best prepaid cards on the market? Well, no, considering that the Green Dot Prepaid Card—one of the most popular cards available—has a monthly fee of only $5.95 and no fees for activation, cancelation, inactivity, purchases, direct deposit, customer support, or ATM withdrawal at over 15,000 in-network locations.
Given the Myplash card’s relatively high costs, should you ever even consider getting one for your teen? Probably not since anyone can get any prepaid card they want and it does not have the lowest fee structure available. However, prepaid cards do serve a purpose in teaching children how to effectively manage their finances.
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Parents seeking to instill financial responsibility into their teenagers should approach the process like they are teaching them to ride a bike. In this construct prepaid cards serve as the financial training wheels and provide your child with his or her own method of spending while letting you monitor purchasing and control how much money is available. After getting the hang of a prepaid card, your teen can graduate to a cash allowance. This step is like having one of the training wheels removed; it provides more freedom while testing ability.
Once financial sense is demonstrated with cash you can open a checking account in your child’s name. With a checking account, your teen will be able to write checks and use a debit card and must therefore avoid bouncing checks and overdrawing his or her account. At this point the training wheels have been removed but your hand is still guiding your child. The last thing to do is simply let go, but before you do so, provide your child with a small line of credit (as an authorized user on your credit card) so he or she can learn to spend wisely and pay for purchases in full every month.
Overall, while getting a prepaid card for your teen is a good first step toward financial literacy, the card you choose should probably not be the Myplash celebrity-themed, teen-oriented prepaid card. While it’s clearly a superior product to its Kardashian predecessor, it is still not the best prepaid card on the market.
In reality, the only features of a Myplash card that make it at all noteworthy are the pictures it bears and the fact that it targets teenagers. Ultimately, if kids want it simply because it has a cool picture, they are most likely not mature enough for financial freedom anyway.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is chief executive and founder of CardHub.com, an online marketplace for credit card offers and gift card exchange.