The Kardashian sisters’ debit card may have been short-lived – the card was in existence for just three weeks before widespread outrage over its high fees convinced the sisters to drop it.
But the Kardashian card fiasco may prove to have a lasting impact on the growing prepaid debit card industry. UniRush, the prepaid card company founded by hip-hop star Russell Simmons, announced recently that it is lowering some of its fees in light of the high introductory costs that landed the Kardashians in so much trouble.
“In part it may be due to the Kardashian card” experience, says Ben Jackson, a senior analyst on the prepaid industry for Mercator Advisory Group. But the fee change-up may have more to do with the industry’s efforts to get ahead of threats from Congress and federal regulators to give prepaid debit cards increased scrutiny, Jackson says.
UniRush announced the new fees on Jan. 5, just a month and a half after the Kardashians put the kibosh on their kard (OK, that’s the last k-based alliteration I’ll pull for now). Under RushCard’s old fees, customers paid $19.95 to buy the card, plus $1.00 every time they used the card up to $10 a month, and $1.95 every time they used an ATM.
The Kardashian card cost $100, although the card was around for such a short time that Jackson doesn’t know of anyone who actually succeeded in purchasing one.
RushCard’s new plan offers customers a broader range of cards to choose from, with initiation fees ranging from $3.95 to $14.95, according to a company press release. The other fees remain unchanged. Ram Palaniappan, the general manager of UniRush, did not return calls seeking comment.