Shirley has had bad credit since college, when she got a college loan. She thought the prepaid debit card would be a good way to improve her credit.
"I went to Rite Aid to get the card," Shirley says. "I think it was about five dollars to activate it and you have to call the company and they activate it for you. After that, I used it for a while, but I didn't really know what charges I was paying. I just found I kept reloading it and reloading it. I think I paid a lot in fees though—at least $100."
In fact, according to greendotonline.com, Shirley would have been charged a fee of up to $4.95 every time she reloaded the card at a retail location. She would also have been charged a monthly fee of $5.95, unless she made at least 30 purchase transactions per month or loaded $1000 on the card every month.
Every time Shirley loaded $20 onto her card, she had only $15.05 to spend. When the monthly fee was subtracted, she would be left with $9.10 on her card.
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"I would phone customer service and ask about the fees," Shirley says. "One time, the man I spoke with said they were lowering the [monthly] fee to $5.95 because so many people were using the card. I think at one point it was almost $10 a month.
"I thought the fees were too high. I kept reloading the card, but every time I did, they took money from me. I think I had that card for about six months and it wore me out so I closed the account. I wouldn't go back to it.
"I think these cards are a rip-off. It's like they cheat from people who can't get credit. There needs to be regulations on these fees. I guess these cards can be good and help people to be eligible to buy goods and services, but they shouldn't cheat people."