CNBC personal finance guru Orman unveils debit card

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Ron Lieber of The New York Times writes Monday about the new debit card being introduced by CNBC personal finance expert Suze Orman.

Lieber writes, “Ms. Orman seeks to broaden the debit card market by charging low fees and offering new services, including unlimited access to credit reports. She has put more than $1 million of her own money into the venture and is prepared to add more, since the product may not break even right away. But her move also raises so many questions that it is hard to even know where to start.

“How can the Approved card make money charging fees on par with those on Walmart’s cut-rate MoneyCard, while also paying a credit bureau for access to its services? Also, can it really be just fine with CNBC, where Ms. Orman has a weekly show, that her card will compete with products from companies she discusses frequently with viewers? And will her followers care that she is pushing purple pieces of plastic that will help her make money from their everyday spending?

“‘I couldn’t be more proud of this card if I tried,’ she said. ‘And it doesn’t really matter what I say. It matters what happens when somebody uses this baby.’

“Their choice to use it may be colored by the opportune moment in which Ms. Orman finds herself. Big banks have offended scores of consumers with new fees and account balance minimums. People seeking alternatives may well find what they are looking for in prepaid cards.”

Read more here.