Many prepaid debit cards are loaded with fees. And the BabyPhat Rush Card is the worst out of a bad lot.
It's even more expensive than all of the RushCards, costing $14.95 just to own, while the three other Rush cards top out at $9.95
"The BabyPhat card allows its holder to make a statement," said a RushCard spokesman. "Its distinctive pink facade is adored by those who want panache with their purchasing power."
That panache costs: If you choose a monthly plan, you're going to pay $9.95 per month plus a $1 per transaction if you use the card as debit instead of credit. Plus, there are hefty ATM fees and other charges.
If you instead choose the "pay as you go" plan, you avoid the monthly fee and instead pay $1 every time you swipe your card -- up to $10 per month. If you don't use your card for 90 consecutive days, you get hit with $1.95 fee. And the ATM fees are even worse.
"This is what I call the "plastic tax" because you're so desperate to use plastic you'll accept almost any terms," said John Ulzheimer, personal finance expert at SmartCredit.com.
And you're paying to use your very own money. Unlike a credit card, where a bank extends you credit, prepaid debit cards only allow you to spend what you've already deposited on the card.
Plus, even the worst credit cards report to the credit bureaus, so you can use them to build your credit. But prepaid cards don't even do that.
"If you're using this card because you're in a pinch credit-wise, this isn't going to help you re-enter the world of good credit," said Ulzheimer.
But a spokesman for RushCard said 2.5 million consumers use its cards, attracting customers who are fed up with major banks or unable to open accounts. The BabyPhat Card is the most desired design, according to the company.
"As the prepaid debit card pioneer, the RushCard is committed to providing a better banking alternative for middle-class Americans who are affected by exorbitant, non-transparent bank fees," he said. "RushCard is a financial empowerment tool that helps people manage their money better while providing access to financial services for all working Americans."
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