Print 9 comment(s) - last by NovoRei.. on Jan 22 at 6:33 PM

There are no maintenance fees, minimum balances or activation fees associated with the new card

T-Mobile is taking its "UnCarrier" strategy a step further today by stepping out of the wireless realm for a minute and offering prepaid Visa cards for those who may have trouble obtaining one at a bank.

According to T-Mobile, it's launching a new service called "Mobile Money" that will give both the carrier's customers and even non-customers a prepaid Visa card that offers the typical features of a checking account, but minus the big fees (if you're a T-Mobile customer, at least).

The Mobile Money prepaid debit card allows participating users to setup their direct deposit, make purchases without incurring any fees, withdraw cash at over 42,000 ATMs for free and have their tax refund deposited right to their Mobile Money card.

The card is paired with a mobile app for iOS and Android users, which will let them pay bills, view their account, find ATMs, transfer funds, add funds and even take pictures of checks to have them deposited into the account.  

You don't have to be a T-Mobile customer to apply for the Mobile Money card, but being a customer helps keep all the fees away. There are no maintenance fees, minimum balances or activation fees associated with the new card. 

The new service could be a great option for those who have poor credit and can't obtain a traditional checking account with a bank. T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said people who currently use check cashers can save up to $1,500 per year in fees. 

Those interested in the Mobile Money card can sign up starting today either online or in T-Mobile stores. 

T-Mobile's UnCarrier strategy has certainly shaken up the wireless industry. Last year, it eliminated contracts for reduced cell phone plans in March and introduced an early phone upgrade program in July. Then, in October, it started offering a free unlimited international text and data plan.

Earlier this month, T-Mobile said it would pay up to $350 in early termination fees (ETFs) per customer that switched from another carrier to T-Mobile. And just this week, the UnCarrier encouraged customers to write their former carriers break-up letters

It looks like these UnCarrier offerings are working out in T-Mobile's favor, since the carrier announced its best quarter in eight years this month. According to T-Mobile, Q4 2013 saw the addition of 1.645 million new T-Mobile customers, bringing its total for 2013 to 4.4 million new customers. This is huge for T-Mobile, considering it lost 32,000 customers in the same quarter one year earlier.

Postpaid, in particular, experienced a dramatic shift for the quarter with 869,000 new customers compared to losing 515,000 for the same quarter in 2012.

Full fourth quarter results are expected to be released on February 25.

Source: T-Mobile

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By Flunk on 1/22/2014 9:03:25 AM , Rating: 3
"who have poor credit and can't obtain a traditional checking account with a bank"

How bad must your credit be to not be able to open a checking account?

Anyway, can't see how they can lose on this. Pre-paid VISA cards are no-fail because the customer pays in advance.

RE: ?
By quiksilvr on 1/22/2014 10:00:46 AM , Rating: 2
Incredibly bad. But I think the whole lack of any fees is the real benefit here (mainly because it is a pre-paid account).

RE: ?
By amanojaku on 1/22/2014 10:47:16 AM , Rating: 2
Tiffany is offering an interpretation that was never stated. It said nothing about poor credit, which would affect your ability to get a credit card. I am unaware of banks checking credit to open accounts (wouldn't surprise me, though). Instead, many banks have minimum balances and charge monthly fees if the balance is not met. This way, the bank ensures that its only customers are those with money. So, poor people loose out on bank accounts and the associated debit cards, and poverty is also tied to poor credit and the inability to obtain credit (card companies are known to refuse to offer accounts to residents of poor neighborhoods).

From T-Mobile's page:
So, is T-Mobile a bank now? No, we are not a bank! But, we don’t think it’s fair for banks to charge our customers lots of high fees, so we’ve found a way to do it better.
Personally, I'd just open an account with a savings bank or a credit union. It's not that the card is bad, it's just that prepaid debit cards aren't as good as bank accounts that offer cards that can act as credit or debit.

RE: ?
By Samus on 1/22/2014 1:29:31 PM , Rating: 2
All cell phone carriers are banks to some degree. For years people have been able to make purchases with their cell phones, which come up on their bill.

But the pushback from the credit card sector has been fierce so few vendors accept cell phone payments.

RE: ?
By Motoman on 1/22/2014 1:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
In this we are in agreement.

There are plenty of banking options where you can get fee-free checking accounts...that include a debit card.

Maybe it's nice for T-Mo to offer this service...but to imply that there are people who otherwise couldn't get a debit card is ridiculous.

RE: ?
By mhains on 1/22/2014 5:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
Banks report accounts to ChexSystems that have been closed due to non-payment of insufficient funds or other bank fees, too many overdrafts, deposit of fraudulent checks, and other banking irregularities. If you have a negative item reported to ChexSystems, most banks won't let you open a checking account.

RE: ?
By NovoRei on 1/22/2014 6:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
There is another point to this program.

It's for foreign persons, alien residents, and travelers that have a lot of trouble to get the accounts set-up and to eventually pay it.

Going to one US state to another is already like travelling to another country. Imagine actually going from another country to US... add to that outdated laws and outdated financial system. This program will likely help to alleviate one of these barriers.
Worth mentioning that only tmobile seems to have this "forward" vision.

google wallet side effect?
By mike8675309 on 1/22/2014 2:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if this is a side effect or even extension of the Google Wallet card. Seems to be a similar thing. A card you prefund that has limited or no fees. Bancorp Bank issues the google wallet card and it's MasterCard Debit. I wonder who is behind the T-mobile one.

Are they just making their money off the fees the merchants pay?

RE: google wallet side effect?
By mike8675309 on 1/22/2014 2:13:47 PM , Rating: 2
One other thought for people with-out checking accounts. If you have a checking account, then you have a place that creditors can yank money out of when you owe them. Don't have a 'bank' account and creditors can't get your money or at least have a harder time.

Not sure if an account like this one would show up on your credit report. If not, I wonder if it is a fund that creditors can attach?

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