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Suze Orman introduces prepaid debit card

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jan 9, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: Love her or hate her, Suze Orman is a force in the personal finance business. She is, quite possibly, the biggest personal finance celebrity there is.

So the news today that she’s breaking into the prepaid debit card business is actually news in certain circles. Orman’s promising low fees and free credit reports for her customers.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer has more.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer:  Suze Orman says put your financial life in her hands. Sign up for her Approved prepaid debit card, and you’re home free.

Suze Orman: My goal has always been to save America one wallet at a time. And I believe that this card will absolutely do so.

The Approved Card works like this: Deposit at least $20 onto it every month, and pay just $3 a month. Use the card to pay bills and shop.

Now, other celebrities have put their faces on prepaid cards, but Orman is different. She has a consumer finance show on CNBC. Viewers rely on her for advice. And now she’ll be peddling a prepaid card. Conflict of interest?

Lauren Saunders:  I don’t know if she’s in it to make money.

That’s Lauren Saunders, managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. She met with Orman a few months ago.  She believes Orman really is on a mission.

Saunders:  To prove that prepaid cards can be a viable option for people and can help them on the pathway to financial success.

By building good credit without a credit card. Orman’s card offers free credit reports from TransUnion. She wants consumers to be able to build up their credit scores through debit cards.

Michelle Jun of Consumers Union says that’s unheard of in the financial world.

Michelle Jun:  I don’t know if we could quite call it a game changer but it certainly would shake things up.

But Jun says, even in her missionary zeal, Orman does charge some extra fees. And you should read the fine print before you sign up.

I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

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