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You’re Approved for Suze Orman’s card (but only if you already have a card)

Daniel Ray

The irony of it all. Financial personality Suze Orman’s new and controversial prepaid Approved card has a glitch that few in the media have reported on: In order to load the card with your money, you need to already have another form of plastic.

Her prepaid Approved card has generated gobs of press and decidedly mixed reviews, mostly over its fair-to-middling fee structure.

But this one aspect of the orange-hued celebrity’s purple-hued card launch irks me: the discussion of whether it has the potential to do a noble deed — helping those with no bank account (aka “the unbanked”) get a credit score. If you have to have a card to get the card, it’s highly likely you’re already “banked” and the point is moot.

suze-approved.jpgOrman got the credit reporting agency TransUnion to agree to gather data on the transactions for a year or two, and then evaluate it, according to the press release, “to determine whether including this data in a credit report should impact access to credit products.”

She trumpets this aspect of the card as a potential game changer, a helpful tool to get more people credit scores, and therefore access to credit.

“The majority of people who have these cards are called the unbanked and the underbanked,” she told Good magazine. “They do not have a bank account at all — unbanked — and even if they do have a bank account, what’s then happening is that they’re not using all the services that the bank is providing.”

She expanded on that point in a TV appearance last week on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “You have to understand that if all you ever want to do is spend money on a debit card or spend cash, that does not report to the credit bureau. If it doesn’t report, you don’t have a score. If you don’t have a score, your car insurance premiums are higher, landlords may not rent to you, employers may not hire you.”

Scary stuff.

Pretty much bogus, too, because the only way to get an Approved card is to have another card already.

I went through the application process, all the way to the point where you fund the card.
And that’s where it requires a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express card number (click the screenshot above to enlarge).  If you have one of those cards, you’re already “banked” — with the exception of a very few cards that aren’t connected to a bank. And if you’re using a credit card to open your Approved card account, you also already have a credit score.

So to get an Approved card, you already have to have a credit card, in which case you already have a credit score, or a debit card, in which case you already have a bank, or you’re one of the small fraction of people who already has a prepaid card, in which case you’re just trading brands for a card that has a so-so set of fees.

And because most of the people who can get it already have banks, or credit scores, or both,  the data generated by that set of people won’t tell you much.

I don’t have anything against Orman cashing in on her celebrity with a financial product, but an altruistic game changer, this isn’t.

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  • BW

    The Suze Orman card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, not U.S. Bancorp.

  • You are correct, I confused The Bankcorp Bank with US Bancorp. I have deleted the offending paragraph.
    The main point still stands, though: There’s no bank branch where the unbanked can go to get the card.

  • kerry

    You need to see her interview on CSPAN panel “Women, Children, poverty in America” that was hosted by Travis Smiley in regard to building up a good score because it is impossible to do if you pay with debit cards. Paying with your debit card does not build a “credit score” because you are not using a “credit card” and you cannot build a score. I know because my husband destroyed my credit because of his drug use and I had to start all over. THE BANKS WANT THIS TO FAIL BECAUSE THEY WILL LOSE MONEY. THEY DO NOT WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT ALL CREDIT CARDS ARE AN UNSECURED DEBT THAT THEY HAVE NO WAY OF COLLECTING ON ACCEPT GIVING YOU A BAD CREDIT SCORE. AFTER 7 YEARS EVERYTHING IS TAKEN OFF YOUR CREDIT REPORT AND YOU START ALL OVER. I USED CASH FOR 7 YEARS AND IT WAS ALL REMOVED FROM MY CREDIT REPORT AND I DIDNT HAVE TO FILE BANKRUPTCY OR ANYTHING, I then got a secured credit card backed with a savings account and this was how I rebuilt my score. Banks do not want you to learn about this. The only way to STOP AND PAY BACK WHAT THE BANKS DID BY CAUSING THE WORLD DEPRESSION IS BY USING THIS TECHNIQUE. Get a card by Susie and then screw the banks! After 24 months Transunion will then give points to people who use this card so that people can build a credit score. She is doing this so that people can take away the power that BIG BANKS have over people and people will accumulate credits and a good credit score who “pay their bills on time from their bank account and do not accummulate this history on their Transunion credit accounts and credit score. You only accumulate a credit score if you BORROW MONEY and people who have ALWAYS PAID THEIR BILLS DO NOT GET A CREDIT SCORE BECAUSE THEY DO NOT BORROW. This is why she has set up this card. It is all about people who are “POOR” SO that they can build a good credit score so that they do not get charged MORE INTEREST and they are charged more. She wants to stop poor people from being charged more by banks because they are poor. She talks about this about 65 minutes into the 2 hour panel discussion on CSPAN

  • Anonymous

    need one



  • Ibrahim Jah

    I love this womans assertiveness.

  • Fanny Fae

    There is no customer service to speak of with this card. No dispute resolution to speak of and if you do need to actually speak to a customer service representative (in India) it will cost you $3 a call, all but guaranteed. There also is NO NUMBER TO REPORT A LOST OR STOLEN CARD OR SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY ON YOUR CARD!!! You only have the customer “service” number.
    What a joke.
    I recebtkt had an issue where a funds transfer from my paycheck did not get credited and got a bunch of transaction bounce notices. I had received notice of the load that day so I thought nothing of it. Now they cannot seem to find that ACH load. I wrote a complaint letter on the Suze Orman site, and within the hour, I got a call back from a ‘supervisor’ (also in India) who assured me they would find out what was going oin personally and call me back. So far, no call back. Why am I not surprised?
    After this week’s paycheck ACH load, if it happens at all, I am discontinuing use of this card. I cannot believe that someone like Suze Orman has their name attached to this absolute mess. It is the absolute worst credit card or pre-paid debit card I have ever used. Best to use either PayPal, Google Money or any other service. Approved Card is not the way to go. I give it a 0 out of 5 stars.

  • Wayhne

    I recently paid 3.00 and got the card. I then tried to set up my bank account to transfer funds to the card. Entered my act and routing number only to get an email that said that I had to fax the information to them so that my bank account would be linked to them. This was not disclosed before I got the card. It simply states that there is no fee to transfer funds from a bank account to the card. I’m not going to link my bank account to them. Spent the 3.00 and very disappointed.

  • Jeannie

    I’m highly disappointed in her Approved Card customer service. It’s so exhausting waiting over 100 minutes for them to answer. All for nothing since they’ve hung up on myself and my husband more then a few times. There is no area on the site to send emails nor complaints. Does anyone know how to contact them via email?

  • Steven Adrian

    If Kerry thinks Suze Orman set up this service to “help the poor” she/he is very naïve. If this was to assist humanity there wouldn’t be the opportunity for Orman to profit from it. (I don’t recall Mother Theresa getting any kickbacks).