Suze Orman gets into the prepaid card game -- and out of the good graces of the CU Industry?ShareThis
by Ron Daly
Remember a while back when Suze Orman went to bat for the NCUA as an "educator"? She wanted to get the word out about how NCUA served the same function for CUs as the FDIC did for banks. A noble goal, and helpful for those who are confused about what all those letters mean on the bottoms of loan promos and direct mail pieces. It raised the question, "Is Suze Orman the right spokesperson for CUs?"
Well, it's a false dilemma, really. See, Suze Orman wasn't hired to promote CREDIT UNIONS, she was hired to promote NCUA and their capacity as the insurer of cu deposits. But people read "Suze Orman" and "NCUA" and interpreted that as "Credit Union Spokeswoman".
I really don't know how to make heads or tails of this. Sure, Suze Orman has a lot of brand equity, specifically with the "underbanked", but to lend that equity to a prepaid card? She's taken the road the Kardashian sisters weren't able to walk a little over a year ago; the only difference being that Orman actually seems to understand how money works and the Kardashians...well, the less said, the better.
An Associated Press story claims that the aim of the card - which Orman has (reportedly) already pumped $1 million of her own money into in development costs - is to boost the credit scores of users through a deal with TransUnion. This new breed of credit score would reward users who previously paid for things with cash or other prepaid cards, but Business Insider doesn't seem to think so.
According to the PR Newswire press release, the card comes with "Suze Orman's advice and tips on personal finance," (which are delivered...how?) and is also "insured up to $250,000. The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC". So, there's a bank involved somewhere along the line, but a few steps removed...
I guess the question is, has this move soured your opinion of Suze? Some of the choice tweets on the topic I read over yesterday and today:
Yes, much has been made of the $3 monthly fee, which is actually low compared to cards like the Kardashian Kard. But a card that preaches better finance management while taking out $3/month to "cover costs"? Would "Pre-Card Suze Orman" approve of that?
Ron Shevlin from the Aite Group always has great links and thoughtful reads on the topics of the day, and he found one by Ron Lieber in the Times. In it, Orman swears she won't be making much money on the card and certainly doesn't want to be making money off of the "99 percent's backs" (her words). She insists that if the rates increase dramatically, she'll kill off the product. But surely there's some reward for her, considering how much she's already invested...what is it?
This reaction is one of the more damning, in my opinion. Ondine Irving has worked with Suze Orman in the past to get the word out about credit union credit card programs and has been a pretty big Suze Orman "stumper". She's not happy with these new developments. I sense she won't be the only one.
I'm eager to hear your comments on this in the comment section.