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Young, Gullible, and Broke: Suze Orman’s Debit Card FAIL

In case you missed it, Suze Orman recently announced the “Approved” prepaid debit card. Now, if you’re new here, you may not know how much I hate Suze Orman. But now she has given me even more reason to dislike her, which I didn’t think was possible.

The Approved prepaid debit card is NOT a smart choice, whether it has Suze’s name on it or not. 

I’ll tell you why:

1. You pay a minimum of $36 a year in fees. Yep, $3 a month just to own the Approved card, and that’s if you don’t incur any of the other potential fees, like bill pay fees, paper statement fees, ATM fees, etc. This makes no sense when so many banks and credit unions offer free checking accounts with debit cards.

2. The “benefits” are things you can get on your own. After reading multiple articles about the Approved card, this is my understanding: You get unlimited access to your TransUnion credit report and TransUnion credit score (which should NOT be confused with an actual FICO score). Well, guess what? You can access your credit reports once a year for FREE at, and you can sign up for TransUnion’s Credit Karma if you’d like an estimated credit score. Oh, and you are also enrolled in a “credit monitoring service,” which is one of those useless things that no one understands. Zippity doo dah.

3. Debit cards don’t improve your credit. If you’ve ever listened to Suze Orman, you’ve heard her harp about FICO scores a million times, and how VITAL it is to improve your scores. One of the most interesting “features” of the Approved card is the following:

When you agree to be a part of The Credit Project, we will anonymously share Approved Card transaction information with TransUnion so that they may help us understand whether including this data in your credit report would impact your access to credit products.

But guess what? “This data will not appear on your TransUnion credit report at this time.” Which I interpret as, “We want you to think this card will improve your credit score, but it won’t.”

4. Suze herself hasn’t recommended prepaid cards until now. From page 96 of The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, & Broke (published in 2005):

I don’t think prepaid cards are a viable option, either, since they also aren’t going to help you build a reputation at the credit bureaus. If you can’t get a regular credit card, you are to get yourself a secured card and use it as a stepping stone to a credit card.

Yeah, funny how they weren’t a viable option until she found a way to make $3 a month from millions of people who trust her to tell them how to get out of debt.

5. Suze (or whoever runs her account) lost her shit on Twitter last night. Responses to PT Money’s post about the Approved card, as well as comments from others, led to a mini Twitter soap opera. Several of my fellow bloggers were blocked by @SuzeOrmanShow for daring to question the Approved card. A few choice tweets:

Gee, just the kind of financial guru I want to listen to – one who freaks out on anyone who dares question her complete 180 from her previous advice about prepaid cards.

What This Means for You

Suze Orman may seem like a financial genius, but remember that she doesn’t offer advice from the goodness of her heart. She earns her living encouraging people to make certain choices, like buying her books and FICO kits and paying $3 a month to use her prepaid debit card. She is selling you information that you can easily get for free (and in a much less annoying format).

Don’t be fooled by claims that using the Approved card could “someday” improve your credit. The credit bureaus have never accepted debit card usage as proof of creditworthiness and I doubt they’re planning to start. If your credit sucks like mine, the only way to change that is (1) time and (2) responsible use of credit that actually counts toward your score.

Maybe bank accounts aren’t an option for you for whatever reason. If that’s the case, I can point you to countless online resources for help finding something that does. I’m not saying the Approved card is the worst in the world – I’m just saying you can do better for yourself.

My thoughts on Suze’s fee-riddled card and crappy attitude? DENIED!

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Amen, Andrea!  Agree with you 100%.  This may end up turning out just like the Netflix fiasco, Verizon fees, Bank of America fees, etc.  It is an ill-conceived idea that runs counter to what Orman supposedly believes.  It is a poorly disguised money grab from people who may not know better.  It is absolutely wrong and you and our fellow bloggers are right to call her out.  PS–I dislike her, too.

    • Oh, I could only hope that this card ends up biting the dust. I don't really see it happening, though – too many of her loyal fans were tweeting how excited they are about the new card. It makes me sick that they trust her and she's profiting from them.

  2. I loved watching this on Twitter, it was awesome! you are very right though, no defence or justification.  I hope it doesn't take off for everyone's sake.

  3. I was watching this unfold yesterday from the sidelines.  It will be interesting today to see what, if any, changes there are to the tune of whomever runs the twitter account (I assume it's not Suze, but who knows).  I would think that someone as successful as she has been (whether one agrees with her or not) would be smart enough to realize that what was posted from her twitter account could be a PR nightmare.

  4. It's so shameful. I actually liked Suze, but this is weird. There is not one redeeming factor to any of this, the card or her reaction. I have watched the show before and she swears she is the one tweeting, which makes this all the more disgraceful. 

    • I echo everything your saying Niki. I too liked Suze and watched her show from time to time, but this is just ridiculous. I also hear her say she's the one behind the Twitter account, so I'm not only a little shocked, I'm appalled. It's just sad.

  5. I saw all of those tweets on Twitter about her, and I definitely think that prepaid cards are so, so dumb. What's the point? And for a financial guru to be advocating one? Ridiculous.

  6. I'm not surprised.  I've thought for years that she was a bit full of herself, and now she finally proves me right and goes into full-diva mode: bringing a product to the market with her name on it then issuing personal attacks on those who would dare disagree or question it.  

    I think she forgets where she comes from, as well as the fact that many of the bloggers she dissed USED TO BE the same people to whom this card is intended to be marketed to, so they do have a very good understanding of what they are talking about.

    Bottom line, she may have picked a fight she can't win in the long run.

    • This!  She was one of the reasons I started my blog and to say I've lost respect for her is an understatement.  The gall of her to disrespect us in that manner because we aren't main stream media.

      Hopefully her supporters will catch one soon enough..

  7. I have never really had an issue with Suze Orman, but if she is going to call PT an idiot than I am going to change my opinion of her REAL FAST!  Dumb move on Orman's part to attack one of the most likeable people in the PF blog sphere! 

  8. I'm not surprised either. They are just a profit maker. And I love the arguments on Twitter, it's hilarious that she believes what she's selling.

  9. The most surprising thing to me is how she reacted to the whole situation. When you start calling the PF blogging community names and dogging on them, you know you've hit a nerve. We might not be as popular or well known as she is, but people like @PTMoney:twitter  have affected more lives, personally, than she ever will. 

    Once you start losing the PF bloggers' approval, it's only a short time till she will lose a lot more fans.

  10. I really hated Suze Orman before, but this is just ridiculous! I don't even understand the concept of a prepaid debit card. (We don't have them in Canada, I don't think.) Like, how in the world does this differ from just putting money in a chequing account? And those fees are INSANE. $3 a month and then$2 for each and every time you USE the card. What?

    It's amazing how unprofessional she is on Twitter, too. Wow.

  11. Andrea,

    I received an email recently from the estate of my distant cousin in Nigeria.  The executor of his estate was willing to give me a lump sum in return for periodic monthly payments for a year.  He said it would help my credit score.

    Do you think Suze would approve?  (I wish I could Twitter-size this story)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Great post Andrea!! I completely agree!! I use to support her but she lost some of my respect with her constant promotion of the FICO score and now this. I will not be recommending anything from her again.

  13. CommonCents says:

    finally!!! Talk about stupid took me forever to try and comment! FYI your post is cut off again so I can't read it and it sounds like a good one! I don't know what's causing it but I thought I would let you know!

  14. ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?! I can't believe those tweets are real (but I checked just to reassure myself). This card is total crap, and her comments pretty much prove it as she just resorts to name-calling instead of an actual conversation.

    Thanks for calling calling this out, Andrea!

  15. I actually didn't mind Suze Orman and I read her book for the broke young and whatever and I actually learned a lot from it.
    HOWEVER, this latest move with the debit card makes me look at her in a completely different way. It just goes against everything she stood for and now you know for sure that she's just in it for the money. what a way to let down everyone.

  16. People have got to stay away from the card. Can't believe Suze is promoting this crap.

  17. Had to link to you in my article: Stay Away from Suze Orman’s Approved Prepaid Debit Card

  18. Steve Stewart says:

    WOW! People are pretty passionate about this. I wrote my own thoughts on this in a post where I explained each of the "9 reasons why Suze thinks the Approved Card is the smart choice for you". As I looked into each "feature" I found no real benefits:

  19. Mackenzie@therandomp says:

    Sorry, I am late to the whole Suze Orman debacle. I am truly shocked by this whole thing and her behavior. When you resort to name-calling like a child on a playground, that is ridiculous…

  20. I wish 1) she would've thought of a different product, and 2) she would've chosen different words, or heck, not respond at all. It was so unnecessary. Phil got his apology, and so did "all the other idiots out there". Wonder how many there are…

  21. Ha! Enjoyed the tweets. I am surprised she actually answered (or whoever did.) You soooo right. Why would I pay $3 a month in fees? To make someone richer? I'd rather buy myself a latte for $3. Credit bureaus don't even look at your debit card to estimate your score. Where did this idea come from? And who listens to it?

  22. Thanks for your post- I get that you're not in agreement with this card… but what I don't get is assuming this strategy doesn't work for anyone (and I know that's not what you said but it does seem implied).  I get your point with the different shortcomings… but  once again personal finance is just that personal.  So for some people that might not be hip to the game and know all these perks are accessible to them without paying a fee are now going to reap the benefits by paying what I consider a nominal fee.  
    Yes I'm a Suze Orman fan, but I'm also a fan of Dave Ramsey, many PF Bloggers and my own financial advisor, I think its always good to keep in mind that I can appreciate that they might all say or do things I'm not in agreement with but there are some things I do agree with.  

    • I agree that some people may not know they can get those things for free. That's why I'm letting my readers know that they can. My biggest gripe with the card is that it fools people into thinking it will improve their credit. I've already gotten traffic today from people searching "will the suze orman debit card help my credit" and there are people all over Twitter talking about how it will raise their credit scores. People are paying $3 a month for a benefit that isn't even going to happen. And I doubt Suze will promote services like free checking when she can shill her card instead. That's what bothers me about the whole thing – people trust her and she's taking advantage of them.

  23. CommonCents says:

    I figured it out! My settings were messed up! I agree with everyone, this is just a money grabbing thing for her. I have never really liked her but this is a low thing for her to. Make her a sell out! IMO

  24. Suze just burned her reputation.  I predict she'll be off the air soon unless she apologizes to her viewers. 

  25. Nice stuff Andrea!  Will tweet 🙂

  26. I'm pretty sure most of us are going to say the exact same things…that this card is crap, that she's a hypocrite, that she's using her power as an "expert" to make money off of her followers, and that she must have been drunk when she was using twitter last night.  Maybe she was at a bar?  Someone should have DENIED her a drink.

    Am I going to get sued for libel on this?  Suze Sues?  Hope not.  

  27. Holy crap, Andrea. I should watch more TV.  I had no idea who this lady was until now. In all fairness- we don't have her screaming on TV in Canada, at least I don't think that we do. But it was funny to read up on it today. Its sad to see people change their stance on things when money starts being involved.

  28. I have always liked Suze Orman and have read all her books.  I find her entertaining to watch on TV.  I was shocked and disillusioned when she "sold out" with this debit card. 

  29. Alisha Howard says:

    *sigh* Oh Suze. Sad to say it, but she lost my respect long before this.

  30. I like that Suze Orman brings money and debt to the attention of many previously oblivious Americans.  I really attribute her influence to my early interest in personal finance- but this is just silly.  For awhile she ranted about a "back to cash" movement to help people in debt, what a great idea.  Why not advocate for that now?  If you're trying to help people get smart with their money- superfluous fees and a card that doesn't establish credit (really, if you don't have credit, save the hassle and go with cash!)  and really is like a hassle/fee laden gift card seems silly. 

    Go back to cash or get yourself a giftcard to your favorite stores…look ma, no fees!

  31. John Ulzheimer says:

    I have been openly challenging Suze to a debate about the merits of her card, the fees and the insinuation about credit reporting.  No response yet.  Suze card has 20 fees, Lil Wayne's Prepaid debit card issued by Discover has 7, RushCard (Russell Simmons' brand) has 17, Amex has 1. 

    • I've been watching! Hopefully she'll stop being so defensive and talk to you. People have a right to know what they're signing up for. Especially when I've had search referrals today for "will suze orman's debit card fix my credit" – it makes me absolutely sick.

  32. Anonymous says:

    The is the 2nd thing in quick succession that has caused me to raise my eyebrows at Suze.

    I watched her first Money Class on OWN and my jaw literally dropped when she advised people to put student loans above all other debt because they are non-bankruptable. However, if you don't have enough to pay minimum on student loans and minimum on credit cards, you'll be sued by a credit card company which may cause you to file bankruptcy and what do you have left? Student loans! It would have been better for her to mention hardship deferral until you can get back on your feet.

    I agree that she has turned 180 from the smart advice she previously used to offer. Her new phrase should be, "Suze First, then money, then people, then things."

    • Random Reader says:


      Her point is, that if you have to make a choice between making a student loan payment and a credit card payment – make the student loan payment.  If in the long run, you're going to claim bankruptcy anyway, making a credit card payment is just throwing money away.

      I'm speaking from experience, I've done the student loan deferrals, and it made matters worse for me in the long run. I didn't claim bankruptcy, but tried to make my credit cards payments, but my credit tanked anyway, and my student loan debt just kept getting higher and higher, while I tried (and finally succeeded) to get out of credit card debt.  I should have claimed bankruptcy and put my cash into student loans.  It took my credit score just as long to rebound from my tanked credit score as it  would have if I claimed bankruptcy right away.

  33. How can she possibly defend this card? She is preying on her followers! She seriously scares me. 

  34. Never did care for Suzee Orman.

  35. Random Reader says:

    I know I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to clear something up.  Suze knows that debit card usage isn't reported to credit agencies.  This card is a trial for debit cards to begin to use this information towards credit scores.  So, while this information will not be used currently, it will help to persuade the three credit agencies to begin using this information (to help people get back to using cash only).

    I was reading a later blog entry by miss Andrea, where she goes with her cousin to the bank and mentions that we are responsible for knowing what triggers a fee on our bank accounts.  Isn't this the same thing?  Yes, there is an unavoidable $3 fee.  But all other fees are avoidable if you read the terms (I did, and it doesn't look that hard to avoid the other fees).  Also, this card isn't run by The National Bank of Suze Orman – it's backed by Transunion (I think).  I'm sure there was a lot of negotiating, and perhaps she had to settle on a $3 a month fee.  If you think of all of the people who are going to cash checks at Check Cashing places, and spending a fortune on those fees, this could be less and actually help.  

    I don't think this card is truly intended for readers of this blog (seems to be lower-middle/middle class persons).  I think this card would be good for the poor and very poor.I like Suze, she has great advice for beginners, and for those who are too lazy and stupid to figure stuff out on their own (I'll freely admit to being one of these people while in my early 20's).  I watch her show, and I while I don't agree 100% with what she says, I think she has helped a lot of people (also, the kids on Can I Afford It? crack me up).But I totally agree that her twitter language is unacceptable.

    • My argument is that the credit bureaus are unlikely to ever use the information in credit scoring. How you spend your own money has nothing to do with how you repay what you've borrowed from someone else. It's misleading to lead people to think otherwise.

  36. I find it interesting that Ms Orman as she likes to call herself tells her audience not to trust financial advisors, but isn't she one?

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