What can you say about a 2-1/2-year-old card that died?
That it was prepaid. And affordable. That it loved Oprah and Forbes. And CNBC.
This week, Suze Orman’s love story with her signature Approved prepaid debit card for budget-stretchers came to an unexpected end. And as with most sudden breakups, neither side is saying much.
Bancorp Bank, which handled the payments end for the reigning queen of cable money advice, would only tell the New York Times that come July 1, Approved cards won’t be.
Cardholders have until that date to spend their balance, after which the bank will issue a check for the remainder. Beyond that, Bancorp declined to comment.
Orman has been uncharacteristically mum on the breakup thus far. The Times reports she could not be reached for comment and no website updates had been made concerning the card, despite her assurance that “I will do everything in my power to always tell you everything you need to know” when she introduced the card in January 2012.
The Approved card baffled some observers right out of the gate with its rock-bottom $3 monthly service fee, half that charged by other celebrity prepaid cards, including the K sisters’ Kardashian Kard and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’ RushCard.
It also broke the mold by not tying the card to a checking account and including unlimited free access to credit reports.
Orman hoped to use her celebrity status to convince the credit bureaus to include, rather than ignore, responsible prepaid debit card use when determining creditworthiness.
“There is something radically wrong here,” she said at the roll-out. “We are rewarding people for having credit and punishing people who pay in cash. I want to change that paradigm.”
Toward that end, she managed to persuade TransUnion, one of the big three credit bureaus along with Equifax and Experian, to collect the spending data of Approved cardholders to see if prepaid debit users deserve a little scoring love.
She also spent at least $1 million of her own money to launch the card.
Suspecting the Approved card sounded a bit too good to be true, Times financial reporter Ron Lieber challenged Orman at the time:
“So I asked her to put her hand on one of the money bibles she has written and swear not to raise Approved card fees in the next 24 months. She said she would shut the card before that happened. ‘I am not going to make money off the 99 percenters’ backs,’ she said.”
Apparently she meant it.