Is the prepaid American Express Pass Card a good idea for 2013 or not?
Prepaid cards have surged in popularity over the past several years. Some get them because they can’t qualify for normal credit card, but others get them because they like how a prepaid card forces you to not spend more than you have.
American Express thought it would be a good idea to take the prepaid card a step further and create one specifically designed for teens. Let’s review the AmEx Pass Card to see if it makes sense…
August 16th 2013 update: The Pass card is no longer available. For a good alternative to it, check out this one:
The below review about the Pass Card is left up for historical reference only. Therefore, any information contained below may be outdated and inaccurate.
AmEx Pass = prepaid reloadable card
Unlike other prepaid cards on the market, the Pass Card was created specifically with both parents and teens in mind, with benefits that both will like. Here’s how It works…
1. Loading the Pass Card
The parent can add money using their American Express card or bank account. This can be done 24/7 through the AmEx website or over the phone. You can set up automatic deposits (like the same amount every month) and/or you can add funds whenever you wish.
2. Using the Pass Card
The Pass Card can be used for purchases anywhere American Express is accepted (which is pretty much everywhere nowadays). The Pass Card can also be used at ATMs – one free withdrawal per month and $2 per withdrawal after that. The ATM benefit is optional and can be turned on/off by the parent. Also, the card can be suspended (and re-activated) whenever the accountholder wants, so if you’re the kid, you better be nice to your mom and dad, ha!
3. Both teen and parent can view activity
The account’s spending history and balance can be viewed online by both the teen and the parent.
Pass Card benefits?
The American Express card benefits are what really sets it apart from the others on the market. Here’s a look at the benefits which are included at no additional charge:
Arranging Roadside Assistance: When needed, your teen can call the AmEx Pass Card customer service number and they will arrange roadside assistance. Please note that this benefit isn’t actually paying for the cost of roadside assistance, it is just a free service to arrange/dispatch it.
Purchase Protection: This is a benefit found on AmEx cards and to be honest, I was surprised to see that it was also included on the Pass Card. If eligible purchases made with the card are accidentally damaged or stolen within 90 days from date of purchase, this benefit will provide up to $1,000 coverage to repair, replace, or reimburse the item.
Global Assist Hotline: It’s unlikely your teen will be jet setting around the globe, but if he or she happens to be 100+ miles from home, like outside of the United States (i.e. school or church trip) this hotline is here to help. This service can provide your teen advice for a lost passport, locating English-speaking medical and legal services in the area, and a whole lot more.
Fraud Protection: You and your teen won’t be responsible for fraudulent activity if the card is lost or stolen.
No Overdraft Fees: It’s not possible to spend more than the amount loaded on the Pass Card, so you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees.
Requirements and fees?
The person that opens the account (i.e. parent) must be 18+ years old. The cardholder needs to be at least 13 years or older.
The membership fee used to be $3.95 per month. Good news… now there’s NO MONTHLY FEE for the card.
If the optional ATM feature is enabled, then there will be that $2 per transaction fee (excluding the first free one each month) plus whatever fees the actual ATM operator charges.
For reloads, you can do them for free if you do it thru your bank account and direct deposit.
Signup Bonus for 2013?
When it first launched a couple years ago, American Express offered a couple different promotions – one for $25 and the other for $50 – on new signups for the Pass Card. Unfortunately as of 2013, those promo codes are no longer available. The reason they don’t do the signup offers anymore is probably because now, you get the card without a monthly fee. However if they ever bring back a bonus in the future I will be sure to update this review.
I’m normally not a fan of prepaid cards, but this one seems to be a good value when you consider the costs are comparable to others, plus you are getting a lot of extra benefits and American Express customer support. Now that they axed the monthly fee, I think you really can’t go wrong with it.
8/16/2013 update: As mentioned the Pass is no longer available, so check out the new AmEx Serve prepaid card.