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The infamous Kardashian Kard has been Kancelled. We were one of the first to report on the Kardashian sisters’ prepaid card, when they decided to join the legions of washed up former actors and B-list celebrities peddling shady financial products to cash-strapped Americans. But unlike Russell Simmons and his RushCard, or Mr. T and Cash America, the Kardashians folded after less than a month.
It’s been reported that last Friday the Connecticut attorney general became the first public official to speak out against the card, urging consumers to avoid paying the usury fees and accusing the card issuer (University National Bank) of violating consumer protection laws. In a written letter to the bank he stated that the high fees are intentionally targeted at “financially unsophisticated adults,” and then went on to quip, “In reality, no family can ‘keep up with the Kardashians’ using this card.”
It took the Kardashian girls a few days to realize that their illustrious reputations were on the line. As NYDailyNews reports, “Kim Kardashian, meanwhile, seemed completely unfazed – or uninformed by the controversy. On Friday, she tweeted about her music collection, Thanksgiving and gym routine.” But once they figured it out, they pulled out of their marketing agreement, and the card was dead in the water.
We’ve been decrying prepaid debit cards for a couple of months now. Having run the numbers, we can’t help but feel that people who typically apply for prepaid debit cards would be much better off just getting a basic checking account and using a standard debit card. The prepaid, reloadable versions charge monthly or annual fees, as well as ATM fees, usage fees, and reload fees. Meanwhile, many banks offer free or cheap checking accounts, they don’t charge usage fees, and they allow you to deposit and cash checks without having to visit a separate cashing facility. The math was a bit different in the past, when overdraft fees would easily push monthly expenses over the top, but nowadays that practice is effectively illegal (just don’t opt in when your bank asks you too).