Personal finance advisor, Suze Orman, who hosts the popular CNBC show, The Suze Orman Show, is making a stir among financial experts because of her new pre-paid debit card called the Approved Card. It’s easy to get approved, since you fund it with your own cash up-front, like any other debit card.
Suze claims this card will help people stay debt free and has aspirations that the card will someday be used for credit scoring. She has partnered with TransUnion to launch a pilot program to test if credit scoring using the spending habits of the individual is feasible, but credit experts say it won’t happen: only credit history, not spending history, is relevant to the FICO credit score.
Orman’s debit card is touted as being affordable, having just a $3.00 monthly fee. This is cheaper than some cards, but it is more expensive than others such as American Express, which doesn’t have a fee. Debit cards with no monthly fees can also be obtained from most banks and credit unions. 
In comparison with two similar cards, Russell Simmon’s Rush Card, and GreenDot’s prepaid Visa and Mastercard, Suze’s card places better. The reason: the Rush card can have a $9.95 monthly fee, making it even less affordable, whereas GreenDot’s card waives their $5.95 monthly fee if the cardholder deposits at least $1,000 on the card each month.
The monthly fee, however, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Here’s why: other hidden fees!
The monthly fee is not the only fee. The Approved Card is partnered with the Allpoint ATM network, and when one uses one of their machines, which are placed in drug stores such as CVS, Walgreens, and other retail outlets, they are charged $2.00 per withdrawal. Of course, if one sets up direct deposit or a recurring bank transfer to the card of $20 or more per month, the ATM fees are waived for that month. However, if an “out-of-network” non Allpoint ATM is used, the $2.00 transaction fee remains. Added to that is the ATM’s operator’s fees – totaling $4-5 per transaction for each withdrawal. That is a huge fee for using one’s own money. There are other fees as well, including a $3.50 fee to put cash onto the card at retail spots. There is even a fee of $2.00 if you call customer service more than once a month. Including this and the Card Purchase Fee, there are 20 separate fees listed at http://theapprovedcard.com/fees.
The perks that the card offers are few. One is unlimited access to TransUnion credit reports and “scores” for one year – however, the scores are VantageScores and not FICO scores.
The bottom line – one could probably do better than Suze’s card. A debit card from your local bank or credit union, or from American Express, might do just as well!