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RushCard and Baby Phat Prepaid Debit Cards – Review and Fee Breakdown

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Like any hip-hop mogul worth his salt, Russell Simmons has a wide array of businesses under his belt, from music to movies to clothing. But unlike any other hip-hop moguls that I know of, Simmons has also staked his claim on the world of finance with the RushCard, his own line of prepaid debit cards, some of which even feature Baby Phat co-branding.

While Simmons is known for his charitable work, it’s important to note that this card is not a charitable act to help the underprivileged and unbanked. It’s a business venture by which he profits off of those people who have few other choices. I don’t mean to imply that he relies on shady business practices, because he doesn’t. This card fits the mold for industry standard and isn’t any better or worse than most prepaid debits (check out these other prepaid debit cards for comparison). But before you apply for one, it’s important to understand what you’re getting yourself into and what your other options are.

Breakdown of fees

The point of a prepaid debit card is often to spare yourself the high interest charges you would face by overspending on a traditional credit card.  A prepaid debit has a limited amount of money on it (like any other debit card), and it’s impossible to spend beyond that amount.  However, the money you would save on interest could very well end up being spent on fees instead, since these types of card seem to charge you for just about everything.  Here’s a breakdown of the most important fees for the two types of RushCards:

Monthly plan cards

Pay-as-you-go cards

Bancorp Bank Black Diamond Prepaid Visa(R) RushCard Credit CardBancorp Bank Purple Diamond Prepaid Visa(R) RushCard Credit Card
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Bancorp Bank Baby Phat Prepaid Visa(R) RushCard Credit CardBancorp Bank Prepaid Visa(R) RushCard Credit Card
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One Time Fees
Activation $3.00 $19.95
Monthly Fees
Monthly $9.95 $0
Transactions Fees
Usage Use Your PIN: $1.00
Without PIN: FREE
$1.00 capped at ten dollars ($10.00) per calendar month
ATM Balance Inquiry $0.50 $0.50
ATM Withdrawal Two (2) FREE each calendar month. $2.50 for each ATM withdrawal after first two (2) $1.95
Other Fees
Add Money FREE FREE
Online Statement FREE FREE
Paper Statement $1.00 $1.00
Maintenance $0 $1.95
Fee applied if no Card Transactions or loads have occurred for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days.
Optional Services
Bill Pay Enrollment $2.00 $2.00
Bill Payment $1.00 $1.00
Replacement Card $9.95 $9.95
Card-To-Card Transfer Personal Card-to-Card: FREE
Cardholder-to-Cardholder: $2.95
Personal Card-to-Card: FREE
Cardholder-to-Cardholder: $2.95

Other options

If you don’t want a credit card, consider a traditional debit card rather than the prepaid variety.  Most banks, especially smaller local banks and credit unions, still offer free checking accounts.  So if you can get a free checking account, your debit card will act exactly like a prepaid card, but without all of the extra fees.  You should have to pay no monthly maintenance fees, no per-transaction fees, and no ATM fees.  Russell tries to make the case that many users end up paying more for “free” checking accounts because their banks allow them to overdraft and then charge fees for using money that’s not in their accounts. But these days, they can’t do it unless you tell them to, so if you tell them not to, you’ll just be rejected when you try to overspend and you won’t be charged any fees.

If you can’t get a checking account or credit card because of bad credit, consider a secured credit card instead.  These cards are specifically intended for people who have few other banking options.  They function very similarly to prepaid debit cards, except that they do include credit lines, and your activity is reported to credit bureaus.  The fee schedules are very similar, so you won’t save any money by switching from prepaid debit to a secured card, but you do get the benefit of building credit.

  • patricepeyret

    ''….no better or worse than other cards"? It is actually the worst card from a cost standpoint.
    It is simply the most expansive of all mainstream prepaid cards out there.

    Check the post entitled "Not quite Robin Hood…" on the Starve A Banker blog for a direct comparison http://starveabanker.com/blog/2009/11/not-quite-r

    The RushCard is Robin Hood in reverse: stealing from the underbanked to line Mr SImmons' pockets.

    • nerdwallet

      You're right Patrice, it's the worst card when compared to the few cards shown in that blog post. And it's definitely not cheap, that's why I say that it's not a charitable cause.

      But there are plenty of other cards out there that are just as popular and charge the same fees or worse, which is why I phrased the statement that way.

      No matter how you cut it though, I still don't believe that prepaid debit (regardless of the front man) is the best choice for people with bad credit. You can see my reasons here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-chen/the-unfort

  • Sharon842

    They say that you will getten dollars on the card if you use promo code but I still haven’t received it what a rip off.

  • RGANT81

    I have been a customer of Rushcard for over 3 years now, and I must say that it is the worst thing that I could have ever done in my entire life! The fees and so called “maintenance fees” on top of the ATM terminal fees is truly draining me and my account! I mean it makes so sense, for all this BS*** I could put up with the traditional bank and its crape. What a waste of time! Who ever is thinking is abour getting one or more of these cards, it is helping Russell Simmons capitalize off of you and ultimately your situation. The rich keep getting richer, and the poorer, well you know the rest…
    A Bitter Rushcard Customer

  • MS.V

    Don’t do it……………………don’t get this card……………………….you will not get your direct deposit two day’s early,but it may two to three day’s late…………………….they close on major holiday’s and you will not get YOUR MONEY ON TIME OR EARLY,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,if a holiday falls in the dates to get your direct deposit IT WILL BE “LATE” by two days……………………if you call them they will tell you that text msg. will inform you of your money being placed on your card,with no other information. DON’T DO IT……..

  • MS.V

    Go with the WALMART CARD………….if you must get a prepaid card………………………………