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Targeting Teens with Plastic: The Dos and Don’ts of Prepaid Cards

There’s a point in everyone’s life where keeping money in a piggy bank, desk drawer or shoebox just doesn’t make sense. As a teen, choosing where to store your cash can be tough. While opening a bank account seems obvious, you may find yourself drifting toward a prepaid card.

Understanding Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards MAY seem like a smart choice. After all, they can be used anywhere, are safer than cash and you can only spend the amount loaded on the card. Prepaid cards also let you track your spending like a normal bank account. Plus, these cards come in cool colors with celebrity endorsements – even Kim Kardashian wanted you to use her Kardashian Kard for a while (unfortunately, with unbelievably high fees, this card is no longer available)! But be warned: no matter what Kim or the gang from Twilight tells you, these cards can actually be more of a trap than a tool when it comes to your cash.

Making the Right Choice

First thing’s first: don't ever make a decision on who to trust with your money based on stuff like celebrity endorsement, color or “cool factor.” Many prepaid cards have fees as high as $100 a year – that’s WAY more than a normal chequing or savings account offered by your bank!

So why would you EVER consider a prepaid card? Well, some people say that prepaid cards let you work with your parents to develop good spending habits. This can be a really good thing, but it really doesn’t make up for the fact that the fees they carry are way too high. If you want a prepaid card, expect to pay:

  • A setup fee of between $6 and $15
  • A loading fee
  • A monthly fee (that’s EVERY month)

All together, depending on how much you use the card, you could average $70 or more in yearly fees – and that’s not including standard fees like ATM use or transfers.

Better Alternatives

One alternative to a prepaid card is to open a bank account. If you work with your parents and someone at your bank to choose the right bank account for your spending/saving habits, you could avoid paying such high fees. However, if you don’t use your account properly, you may actually end up paying more in fees than you would with a prepaid card.

The other option is a credit card, which can help you improve your credit score (this will help you do things like borrow money for a house or car when you grow up. HOWEVER, credit cards have been known to get a lot of people in a lot of trouble, because they basically allow you to spend money that you don’t have/isn’t yours, and then charge you really high fees called interest when you don’t pay back that money on time. You should NEVER get a credit card without talking to your parents and bank about it first. Besides, most credit card companies require you to be a certain age before you can sign up for one.

Bottom Line

No matter what direction you go (prepaid or traditional checking), don't let celebrities or your favorite role models play a part in your personal financial decisions. There are a lot of ways to learn about money; paying unnecessary fees is not one of them.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How do YOU save your money? Let us know by leaving your comment below!

About the Author

Alex Matjanec is the co-founder of www.mybanktracker.com: an easy-to-use web portal that lets consumers rate and review banks, compare interest rates and learn more about the savings and investment options to best meet their goals.

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Friends grow apart as we grow up and change at different rates. It's fine to stop being friends, but it doesn't have to be in a mean way. The best thing to do is talk to her (nicely). You don't have to tell her she's being childish or you feel as if you've matured more. That would be terrible. Talk about things you guys like to do in common or make plans to try new things together. Or don't mention it at all, but don't just begin ignoring her. Eventually the friendship will fade the less time you spend together. 
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My bff and I were best friends but weve grown apart im getting older and she still wants to do kid stuff I have new friends now I feel like im being mean to her but like doesn't she get the memo I feel both guilty and mad:} Gosh.... put the shoe on  the other foot and see how would you feel if your bff done this on you. You has been bffs for the long time [Im guessing] and your maturing faster than her.  I agrees you are being mean to her if you doesnt discuss how your feeling with her and ignoring / avoiding her or whatever your doing.    She has been the good friend to you and she deserves to understand if you is growing up faster than her.  I really feels sad for how she could be feeling right now. She didnt do anything wrong.  You changed. Not her. Please be nice to your friend/ex friend and let her down gently [if you really has to] ^^ Me opinion  
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