Young Money Entertainment, the record label founded in 2005 by rapper Lil Wayne, launched on Nov. 10, 2011 the Young Money Prepaid Card in partnership with ACCENT InterMedia and Discover, adding to the list of celebrity prepaid cards that already includes the Russell Simmons’ Rush Card and the discontinued Kardashian Kard.
"We're excited about giving people who may not have access to traditional banking accounts the convenience of plastic," said Horace Madison, Lil Wayne’s business partner, in a statement. "Wayne wants to keep it simple and sleek, but load it with benefits that are meaningful to Young Money cardholders."
Among the benefits of the so-called Lil Wayne Prepaid Card are free direct deposit, free online bill pay, account tools that help cardholders analyze spending and develop budgets, free card-to-card money transfers, and the ability to set text alerts for whenever funds are low, a debit is made, or loaded money becomes available for use.
While such features are standard in today’s prepaid card market, one of the more unique aspects of the Young Money Prepaid Card’s offerings is the free medical savings card that cardholders can print out for free. This card is good for 10% to 85% off on “most medications” from over 60,000 pharmacies, 10% to 60% off on lab and imaging tests, as well as 60% off of competitors’ prices for everyday Diabetes testing supplies, according to YoungMoneyCards.com. In addition, a percentage of the annual proceeds from Young Money Prepaid Discover Card sales will also be donated to youth charities, including Lil Wayne’s own 1 Family Foundation.
Then there are the fees. Right off the bat, people who decide to open the card get hit with a $6.95 one-time purchase fee, which is deducted from the amount of money they first load. Each subsequent time money is loaded, a $4.95 reload fee will be assessed as well. Cardholders will also be responsible for a $3.95 monthly maintenance as well as a $2.00 fee for domestic ATM withdrawals ($3.00 for international withdrawals). Finally, if you need paper statements, there is a $2.50 monthly fee, and if you need a replacement card, you’ll have to shell out $5.95.
Early reactions to the card have been decidedly negative, primarily as a result of its expensive fee structure.
“The Young Money Prepaid Card is yet another example of a celebrity caring more about simply having a self-branded financial product than having a good product,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, a personal finance industry veteran and the CEO of WalletHub, a leading credit card, prepaid card, and gift card comparison website. “People are increasingly using prepaid cards as replacement checking accounts because of the decreasing number of free checking accounts available. While this card does offer key checking account features, such as free online bill pay and direct deposit, the monthly fee and ATM withdrawal fee makes it a bad option for most people. I commend Lil Wayne and Young Money for their commitment to charity and health awareness, but I’d still steer clear of their prepaid card.”
WalletHub recently conducted a study examining the cost of using prepaid cards from the five most prominent issuers. It revealed that the GreenDot Prepaid Card could indeed serve as a free checking account, as long as users load at least $1,000 each month and make ATM withdrawals at any of GreenDot’s 18,000 in-network ATMs. Given that people would likely deposit their paychecks to the card, the minimum deposit requirement should not be an issue. The GreenDot Prepaid Card is therefore obviously a better choice than the Young Money Card.
Don’t feel too bad for Lil Wayne though. The rapper ranks 85th on Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful celebrities in the world, having accrued $15 million in entertainment-related earnings from May 1, 2010 to May 1, 2011. He also has four Grammy Awards, 10 BET Hip-Hop Awards, and four platinum albums.