Prepaid Spotlight: Bill My Parents Spend Smart Prepaid Debit MasterCard

This is the first in a series of Prepaid Spotlights in which we profile some of the more interesting prepaid cards available. Today, we focus on the Bill My Parents Spend Smart MasterCard, a card designed to “give you complete freedom and total control. All in one prepaid, reloadable card”. In today’s economic environment it is essential that parents educate their teens how to manage their money wisely. Cash has the unique ability to disappear without a trace, checks are antiquated and credit cards can get an inexperienced consumer in trouble very quickly. The BillMyParents card is a possible solution – a parent-controlled prepaid debit card.

The Bill My Parents card has a number of features we love.

First of all, from a marketing perspective, we think the name of the card is pure genius. Teens are a large market segment and to provide a product geared toward their financial needs is forward thinking, to say the least. Currently, the minimum age for this card is 13 which, in our opinion is adequate. The enrollment page for this prepaid card is simple. The parent’s and the teen’s full name, home address, email address, mobile phone number, date of birth and social security number are required. As with almost all financial instruments, social security numbers are required to verify the person’s identity in accordance with the U.S. Patriot Act. There are also several graphic designs for the teen to choose from on the sign up page.

The Spend Smart card has several great features designed to benefit the parent and student alike. There is never a credit check. Once the parent’s funds are loaded on the card from another account it is ready to use. There are no Overdraft Fees. Parents have the ability to lock or unlock the card with a simple text message. Also, purchase alerts are sent to the parent’s mobile phone when the card is being used. Funds can be reloaded on the card from other family members or friends. The Spend Smart is also an ATM card should your child need cash.

This sounds like a good point to discuss fees. As with all financial instruments, nothing is truly free. The Bill My Parents Spend Smart card comes with several fees. After reviewing the Cardholder Agreement, we have determined that this card is one of the more competitive cards out there in terms of fees. All cards have fees, some companies disclose them well and others do not. Bill My Parents does a pretty good job of disclosure, but we will point out some of the main domestic fees below. Be sure to always read a card’s Cardholder Agreement before signing up for ANY debit or credit card!

  • Monthly Service Fee – $3.95
  • Card Load Fee – $0.75 per load from bank account
  • Card Load Fee – $2.95 per load from credit card
  • Signature and PIN Purchase Transactions – FREE
  • ATM Withdrawal Fee – $1.50 per withdrawal
  • ATM Balance Inquiry Fee – $0.50 per instance
  • ATM Insufficient Funds/Decline Fee – $0.50 per instance
  • Monthly Inactive Card Fee – $3.00
  • Card Replacement Fee – $7.95
  • Maximum Balance – $5,000.00
  • Maximum Daily Withdrawal – $500.00

In our experience, Spend Smart fees are in line or better than many of the prepaid cards out there that don’t give the added value of parental control and monitoring offered by Bill My Parents. In addition, the folks at Bill My Parents and the issuer, University Bank score high marks with the Better Business Bureau indicating they care a lot about customer service. You should make sure that your teen will use the prepaid card to avoid the monthly inactivity fee. Cancel the card if there is no need for it. As with any card, you should always check the Cardholder Agreement when traveling abroad for additional charges. Here’s where you can find additional information about Bill My Parents Spend Smart MasterCard or other prepaid teen cards.

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