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Magic in Your Wallet

3 July 2012 by

Magic in Your Wallet

That title was just begging to be written, but it’s true nonetheless – Magic Johnson has officially entered the prepaid debit card game. The Magic MasterCard was unveiled to the media last week.

The question is, how does it rank against its other celebrity-endorsed counterparts? Keep reading as we explore the Magic MasterCard while also taking a look back at both hits and misses in the fast-growing financial sector.

OneWest Bank

First, Magic’s debit MasterCard is now teamed with OneWest Bank so that customers without the traditional banking options have a way to “function in today’s society”. There are a few hits with this prepaid card, but there are also a few stumbling blocks too, especially when mirrored against other similar bank products.

OneWest Bank, many may recall, was once IndyMac, one of the biggest losers in the 2008-2009 mortgage scandal – and it was also one of the first to collapse after IndyMac mortgage customers stopped paying on their ARM mortgages. Worried the bank was failing, customers lined up for street blocks with the goal of withdrawing all of their money. Ultimately, it cost FDIC around $10 billion. But that was then and this is a new day.

Celebrities

In the past, celebrities have assumed if we wanted them on our TV screens and part of our fragrance collections, then surely, we’d want them in our wallets. That’s been proven to be anything but true for most of the celebrity-endorsed prepaid debit cards. Consider the Kardashian Kard or Usher’s prepaid card or even heavy metal KISS, who has its own prepaid card. Suze Orman entered the game recently and while her card really didn’t change the prepaid card game and even, according to some, costs consumers more of their money (despite her insistence that it was to save money for consumers), she has managed to keep it from flopping in its entirety. So far, anyway.

Magic Fees

So how does the Magic card stack up? First thing consumers should know is there is a $4.95 monthly fee. Aside from that, there’s also a $4.95 activation fee along with a fifty-cent fee any time you request the assistance of a teller. The monthly fee falls on the lower end of prepaid card fees, but it’s still higher than American Express and its new prepaid card, which has no monthly fees at all. Suze Orman’s card has a $3 monthly fee. Green Dot and the RushCard come in slightly higher at around $6 a month.

Magic Cardholders also enjoy two complimentary out-of-network ATM withdrawals each month. After that, however, each of those transactions will cost $2.50. For transactions considered in-network, your ATM withdrawals are free. Keep in mind, too, that if you contact customer service, you’re going to be charged $2 every time after the first one each month. That’s quite a hefty price just to talk to someone or ask a question.

You can carry up to $10,000 on the Magic card with a maximum daily purchase limit of $1,500. For ATMs, cardholders can withdraw up to $500 each day. Finally, maximum load limits are at $5,000 a day and $10,000 a month. Adding money is easy and often, it’s free. Going the direct deposit route won’t cost you anything and cardholders can also load money via a Green Dot Money Pack for $4.95 per load.

AMEX

If you’re looking for a prepaid debit card that’s not going to break the bank, the American Express prepaid card might be a solid choice. It’s quickly become the first choice for many consumers looking to avoid all those pesky fees. Plus, there are benefits with this offer you won’t find elsewhere.

The AMEX prepaid card is a fine substitute for cash without the endless fee structures. Of course, there are no overdraft fees since you won’t be able to spend what you don’t have. You don’t have to have a strong credit score, since it doesn’t require a credit check.

The American Express logo also introduces a lot of great benefits, too. You’ll enjoy purchase protection, fraud protection and even roadside assistance – these are protections offered for all card members.

Loading money is easily accomplished online, over the phone or direct deposit. And as we mentioned the fees are nearly non-existent. American Express certainly picked the right time to enter into the prepaid debit card market.

While the Magic card has its own benefits, and it’s likely to hold its own in this increasingly competitive market, the same rules apply: consumers should do their own research to ensure they’re choosing the right prepaid card for their unique needs. Double check fee structures, especially ATM fees and if there are any fees for speaking to a customer service representative. With more and more Americans carrying these cards, you can be sure this particular area of the financial sector will continue to grow at warp speed.

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