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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AmEx GPR card tops comparison site research

An American Express Co. prepaid card offers the lowest yearly fees by far, according to a new online tool designed by payment card comparison website NerdWallet.com. The AmEx Bluebird general purpose reloadable (GPR) card costs $48 in total yearly fees, NerdWallet.com found; in comparison, UniRush Financial Services LLC's Baby Phat Prepaid RushCard Pay Monthly card costs over $284 per year in fees.

NerdWallet breaks down prepaid card costs into three categories: account (activation, monthly and cancellation) fees, cash reload fees and usage (ATM and purchase transaction) fees. NerdWallet's spending profile – against which each GPR card is judged – is comprised of two ATM withdrawals, two online bill payments, two reloads, 10 PIN transactions and seven signature transactions per month.

NerdWallet said AmEx charges $2 for an ATM withdrawal on its Bluebird card. Based on two ATM withdrawals per month, NerdWallet arrived at a $24 yearly total in usage fees. AmEx also charges $1 to reload the card with cash. At two times per month, that comes out to $24 in reload fees per year. Since the BlueBird card doesn't come with account fees, the total yearly fees for the card stands at $48.

Baby Phat loaded up

According to NerdWallet's rate calculator, RushCard charges a $14.95 activation fee and a $9.95 monthly maintenance fee on the Baby Phat card for a total of $134.35 in yearly account fees. In the usage category, Baby Phat has a PIN transaction fee ($1.00), an ATM withdrawal fee ($2.50), an ATM balance inquiry fee (50 cents) and an online bill payment fee ($1.00) for a total of $31 in usage fees per year.

As for cash reloads, Baby Phat charges $4.95. At two reloads per month, reload fees total $118.80 per year. Therefore, NerdWallet said the total yearly costs to Baby Phat cardholders is $284.15.

NerdWallet currently ranks 44 different prepaid cards on its website, with the AmEx BlueBird card ranked first in lowest yearly fees, the Baby Phat card coming in at and the ReadyDebit Control card last, at $384 in fees. Some other notable cards, their rankings and total yearly fees include:

    5. nFinanSe card – $150 10. Walmart MoneyCard – $186 11. Approved Card from Suze Orman – $192 12. Green Dot Card – $195 16. Mango Prepaid Debit Card – $239 29. NetSpend Prepaid (FreeAdvantage) card – $286

NerdWallet based its spending profile on a Consumer's Union report and computed usage fees based on the methodology employed in a Discover Financial Services' 2010 PULSE Network study, said Anesha Sekar, Vice President of Credit and Debit Products at NerdWallet. For more information, go to www.nerdwallet.com/prepaid/ . end of article

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