MeCard Prepaid Cards for kids?
New payment cards for under 18's by MeCard
Whether you are for or against the concept, there’s no escaping the fact that it is becoming increasingly acceptable for younger adults to flash the plastic. Is this a step forwards, a progression in the way that we perceive our finances and financial responsibility? Or is it a step too far, pushing a generation of 13-18 year old into facing some very adult responsibilities?
Anyone venturing to take part in the debate must first be made aware of the differences between the average credit/debit card and the increasingly popular prepaid card. Bank accounts, credit checks, and high interest borrowing all belong under the umbrella of credit/debit. Prepaid cards are not linked to a bank account, there is no overdraft facility and no credit check needs to be performed. Best compared to a gift card, but re-loadable with a chip and PIN function.
The new prepaid MeCard is a MasterCard offering, thoughtfully marketed towards parents and teenagers. It is the latest example in a trickle of prepaid cards for youngsters, which have begun to infiltrate the market. Parents must sign up for a primary card and then a teen card for each of their 13-18 year old. Online accounts are used to manage the money and these are cleverly linked, with parent able to view balances and transactions of the younger family members’ cards.
Well this certainly takes a little of the sting out of the situation. Handing over control of the personal finances from parent to dependent is traditionally a large step. A concept such as MeCard allows this hand over to occur gradually, a half-way point is created. MeCard also boasts chip and PIN protection, which is certainly safer than carrying cash.
Parents are right to be worried about card fraudsters and ATM crime. The need to educate teenagers about these possibilities should be observed. The bottom line seems to be that if precautions are taken, the freedom of choice that prepaid cards such as MeCard offer gets the thumbs up here.