Justin Bieber Prepaid Debit – Fail

Who in their right mind would choose a monkey-abandoning, tantrum-throwing, blame-placing, show-canceling, paparazzi-fighting, silly and immature kid who apparently wasn’t taught to pull his britches up to endorse their prepaid debit cards? That would be SpendSmart Payments Company, which just announced its Justin Bieber prepaid debit card. Why there wasn’t some public relations team begging the company not to do so is a mystery. But then, there’s another question few are asking, but should: why did SpendSmart feel it needed to steer clear of its original name, courtesy of BillMyParents?


Remember, late last year, former Wells Fargo-turned-BillMyParents heavy hitter Michael McCoy reassured folks that this new prepaid card wouldn’t be “dumbed down” in order to cast a wider net. After that, everything went dark. We heard no more about the fee-laden prepaid product, no more about the insanity surrounding how much Bieber was getting paid to become the so-called ambassador of that first debit card product and instead, we began hearing about lying to police, abandoning monkeys in true Michael Jackson style and drug use. But yeah. I could see the nation getting behind a spokesperson…er…ambassador who isn’t even old enough (according to the new CARD Act) to own a credit card.

Comparing the original BillMyParents card with the SpendSmart reveals they’re exactly the same. They’re both being marketed the same, including serving the role as a teaching tool for parents hoping to instill financial responsibility and educating their teens about personal finance. The parents load the Justin Bieber prepaid debit MasterCard for around $3 each time and hand over the card so their teens can shop online, hit the mall or drop $100 on pizza delivery. Parents can also monitor their teen’s spending and even block them from some companies if it’s not in line with what they expect from their offspring.

Justin Bieber Prepaid Debit Card

Bieber, for his part, is expected to hit YouTube with soulful heart-to-heart talks, focusing on teen-aged Bielebers and with please to just do the right thing when it comes to money. We’re guessing he’ll not likely use stories that begin with,

Before you buy the $8 million mansion, let me give you some tips on how I bought my own Hollywood Hills mansion. Don’t anger the neighbors and don’t spit on them either, otherwise, you’ll be using your Justin Bieber prepaid debit card to pull cash for bail.

Nah…he’ll likely keep it kid-friendly,

Hey girl…download my new tunes using your Justin Bieber prepaid debit card. It’s smart financial sense.

And for those who can’t get enough of him on YouTube, they can always take to his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. We’re wondering if there’s going to be an Instagram pop up with him holding his own Justin Bieber prepaid debit card. Hey, for $3.75 million (his flat rate for 14 months of work), I’d get on Instagram and proudly hold up that debit card. Then, there are the royalties and stock options, which truly are magnificent; the monies from the royalties could cover the national debt easily.

Good for the Bottom Line?

Make no mistake, SpendSmart expects a good return on its investment. Its “modern” financial product should be a homerun with preteens and teens alike. Ideally, Mom and Dad will be on board as well. And who wouldn’t? After all, he waxes philosophical with,

If you spend more than you have, you’re going to go broke.

Bieber the Professorial Type?

Perhaps its most aggressive gamble is the hope that Bieber will be able to educate teens on different financial considerations. Yes, that’s a serious statement. And yes, financial experts are doing one of two things: trying to keep a straight face or scratching their heads and mumbling, “What the…”

The fees truly are high, as mentioned, especially the $1.50 ATM fee, which is likely the one place most teens will use their cards. A buck-fifty for every withdrawal makes Bank of America’s catastrophic Occupy-worthy and failed monthly $5 ATM fee seem like kids play. If you’re the parent of a teen, you likely are all too familiar with how many times you’re hit with,

Hey Mom, can you give me your card? I need to get lunch money (or gas or download Bieber’s new tunes…).

That raises another interesting dynamic: Bieber pedals the debit cards, his fans use the debit card to buy his music: doesn’t that seem a bit like, “Hey, buy my music and I’ll charge you twice”? Then again, it could backfire. If the card is inactive for just thirty days, a $3 fee is tacked on each month it goes unused. Teens could buy a .99 cent music download to avoid that fee. Not only that, but it just might be the only way to get around the new convenience fees that many are requiring for purchases less than $10.

Of course, you’ll have to decide in the SpendSmart is a smart way to spend. If you have doubts, here are a few of the latest prepaid debit cards that aren’t as fee-heavy – or at least are chock full of benefits that the fees are worth it – and are absolutely free of Bieber, his hair and his immaturity.

Vision Premier Prepaid Visa Card

Vision Premier Prepaid Visa Card has quickly become a highly-rated and popular debit card choice. Users get free roadside assistance, 1% cash back on their gas purchase, a 5.65% APY savings account and free direct deposit. The ATM withdrawal fee is $1.95, and if by some strange happenstance you do overdraw the account, there’s a $50 fee. Email alerts are free, Buddy Money transfers are .95 cents and card to card transfers are also .95 cents. The complimentary savings account and cash back makes up for the fees, though. It’s rare a prepaid card offers these types of traditional perks.

American Express Serve

This is another relatively new prepaid debit product, and it’s skyrocketed in popularity. A mobile app, no monthly or annual fees, the option of sending and receiving money by email and text are just a few of the highlights with American Express Serve. You can also opt for purchase protection, roadside assistance and entertainment access. You can easily set up “sub accounts” for family members too. This is a great budgeting tool. There is an ATM fee of $2, but again, the absence of other mysterious charges makes it a reasonable solution for many.

PayPal Prepaid MasterCard

PayPal Prepaid MasterCard has been around for awhile, but it’s a smart choice for those who use PayPal and these days, most everyone has a PayPal account. You’ll enjoy real time mobile alerts, free direct deposit, instant transfers and no late payment, annual fee or interest charges. Need to speak with an operator? No problem – you’re never charged just for the need to speak with a customer service rep. It’s accepted everywhere MasterCard is and because it’s backed by PayPal, it’s a solid product that serves the purposes for millions of consumers.

So is the Justin Bieber prepaid debit card right for you or are you with the mindset that this is just another celebrity-backed “brouhaha of the moment”? And for that matter – have your kids mentioned it? Let us know what you think about prepaid debit cards as a whole.

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