US Bank Convenient Cash Card Review: Are The Fees Too High?

Fees and prepaid cards go together like bread and butter. But how high is too high?

In the US, the fastest growing payment method is the prepaid debit card. According to Businessweek, over 7 million were in circulation as of 2012.

That number seems somewhat low to me (relative to the 300+ million Americans) but regardless, one thing I’m confident of… there are a lot of people using them and that number just keeps getting bigger.

Lately the big banks have been hopping on the bandwagon, coming out with their own prepaid cards. The US Bank Convenient Cash Card is one of the latest entrants into the field, but how do the fees compare?

How much does it cost in 2013?

Here’s a review of the fee schedule. Starting with the most common fees which you will almost certainly encounter…

  • $3.00 – Enrollment Fee
  • $3.00 – Monthly Service Fee

Next, here are the fees which are avoidable, but you will encounter them if you’re not careful…

  • $2.00 – Non U.S. Bank ATM Withdrawal
  • $1.00 – Non U.S. Bank ATM Balance Inquiry/Decline
  • $3.00 – Monthly Paper Statements (avoid by enrolling in online statements)
  • $3.00 – Teller Withdrawal
  • $2.00 – Per Call For Live Customer Service (first 2 calls each month are free)
  • $15.00 – Card Replacement Fee

Lastly, here are the remaining fees which you are less likely to encounter, especially if you don’t travel internationally…

  • $3.00 – International ATM Withdrawal
  • $1.50 – International ATM Inquiry/Decline
  • Up to 3% – Surcharge on Foreign Transactions
  • $30 – Expedited Card Replacement

Even though there are a lot of fees, I think it’s safe to assume most won’t be applicable to you. There are no fees for non-PIN based transactions and purchases (like how you would pay with a credit card at a store). The only time you start getting in trouble with fees is when you are doing PIN-based transactions at non US Bank ATMs and the like.

So in a nutshell, if you use the Convenient Cash Card strategically and conduct all of your ATM transactions at US Bank locations, the minimum amount you pay will be $39 for the first year and $36 per year thereafter.

How does it compare?

When compared to the popular Rush Card and Mango Prepaid, the US Bank Convenient Cash Card fees are a bargain! However, the American Express Prepaid still beats it hands down:

So as you see, the American Express still reigns king of the prepaid world. But for those seeking a Visa or MasterCard, then this US Bank card offers one of the lowest fee structures around. It’s comparable to the Walmart Money Card and remains significantly cheaper than Chase’s Liquid, PNC’s SmartAccess, and Region’s Now Card.

The biggest drawback is…

…that the Convenient Cash Card won’t help you build/rebuild credit. It’s just a prepaid card; not reported to the credit bureaus and therefore won’t show up on your credit report.

So that brings us to the question… do you really want to be stuck in the prepaid rut for the rest of your life? Or would you rather be on track to rebuilding your credit?

No matter how crappy your credit score may be, you can still get approved for a secured credit card. Why? Because you are guaranteeing the risk with your own collateral (cash). It operates in a somewhat similar manner as prepaid, but has distinct differences:

  1. Security Deposit: With a secured credit card you put up a refundable deposit as collateral. This amount becomes your credit limit. For example if you add $700 to your account, your credit line will be $700.
  2. Monthly Bill: Unlike a prepaid card, you will have a monthly bill to pay. It operates like a normal credit card in that you can either pay your bill in full (to avoid interest) or over time (and be charged interest).
  3. Credit Bureau Reporting: Unlike a prepaid card, a secured card is reported to the credit bureaus each month. It shows up on your credit report just like any other credit card.

And don’t forget your security deposit is refundable. You will receive the money back whenever you choose to close out the account.

With some secured cards, the total fees you will pay per year are actually less than the US Bank Convenient Cash Card. So the obvious choice is that it makes sense to

Review written or last updated in 2013

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

They have been horrible to deal with. Had an issue where a US Bank ATM malfunctioned and
It put a $600 hold on my fund. It was a technical error and they refused to issue my money for 8 days.
They even charged me $2 every time I called customer service to check on it.
I closed my account and will NEVER use them again. Would not recommend!

I guess I have been lucky: I have had this card for almost 2 years and am thrilled to have an option that I can have my paycheck direct deposited to, check my balance online, few/low fees and there are US Bank ATM’s all over, so I can get cash free & fast!

They are the worst to deal with. LOST my debt card and reported it lost and order new card, but had no luck with trying to get cash at the bank until new card was in my hand. That took 8 business days , so I was without any cash for that long. There was a few thousand in the bank, but they refused to give me a penny. WHAT A BUNCH OF JERKS GO SOMEWHERE ELSE WITH YOUR BUSINESS

Beware. Went to Atm on a Friday night card declined called customer service answered all their questions because I had a supposed fraud hold then was told since it was after hours on Friday I couldn’t access my money until sometime Monday I am stuck with nothing

I had this card for two years. I thought it was great until a month ago. Someone used my card in a different state during the same time i was using it locally to where I live, and the bank notified me later than evening that I had suspicious charges. I was thankful, at first, on day one. I was told that the charges had to clear the pending status then I could dispute them. The next day I called and was told that the rep from the night before didn’t put in a replacement card after all. It took three different days calling before a third rep actually replaced the card. To make things WORSE, someone on their end reactivated the card I clearly told them had unauthorized charges. This means whoever stole my card info could had started using the numbers again and drained this card. I didn’t get a new account number assigned, because two different reps told me that the theft was only with the debit card so any direct deposit or funds in the account were safe. That may be true ideally but since they reactivated the same fraud card instead of sending me a new card, my funds were not safe. It took me two times explaining that to a rep before it finally clicked in her head that reactivating a card that was compromised is not right. I finally was issued a new card. I submitted the paperwork they said they needed for me to be reimbursed my money. I even included a police report. It’s now three weeks later and my funds are still not back in my account. It’s totaling almost $500. I can’t even get anything in writing that they received my disputed charges. Use this choice at your own risk. A real bank put the money back into accounts tempoarily while they research what happened. These people will hold your money for 30 – 90 days before deciding whether or not to give you your money back even when there is a police report stating it was fraud. I can’t be in two states at the same time using the exact same debit card. It’s better to go to a real bank and ask if they have a second chance checking account. Your money is not safe with this card.

WARNING everyone to stay away from us bank prepaid cards. The headache of carrying this card is beyond belief. If you ever purchase something and return it us bank prepaid will freeze your account. Then you have to fax over your receipt, plus no other deposit can come through for day which you then have to call them back to reactivate. Then if you ever purchasing anything online most times it wont go through. I can go on and on and on please say away and find another prepaid card.

I am shocked by the customer service provided by this card. As soon as I get my current issue resolved, I am closing my account for good and switching to Chase Liquid. My current issue is that I used this card for a hotel stay (mistake!! do NOT use this card for a hotel stay). After checking out, I realized that the amount still on hold was greater than the amount shown on my receipt. I contacted “customer service” and was told they hold an additional % for “incidentals”, which is a joke because the amount authorized by the hotel WAS for incidentals. I spoke to the accounting department for the hotel and they advised that they have sent an authorization release, so nothing should still be pending. When I spoke to “customer service” again, to ask how much longer the hold will be on my account, they advised that regardless if the hotel releases the authorization or not, they will still hold my funds for an additional 22 days. That’s outrageous. They won’t even consider a direct written or verbal authorization from the hotel to remove the funds. On top of that, I found out that I am now being charged for each call I make to “customer service”. I am outraged. What is wrong with companies these days to think that it’s okay to charge a fee for customer service?!! I am completely done with this account and with this company. I am making the move to Chase Liquid, where I am treated as any other Chase customer and won’t have to pay to get customer support!

I am going through this right now! It was a hotel I had canceled the reservations and they processed my card by accident. They are holding 130.00.! I hate this company they are the absolute worst.

Quite frankly I think this card is rip off no matter what the fee’s are. I used this card to pay for my daughter’s hotel stay to see her husband graduate from Navy Boot Camp and was shocked to be told that the card company “holds” themselves a 15% incidental fee, which is usually the hotels business to hold any incidental fee. I also learned that 20% would be held on all charges to a restaurant or beauty salon. I find that the more I use the card the more money they make by their “holds” as they claim and it certainly is frustrating. I would advise anyone who wants to use this card to beware and go simply get a card from a “business” that is not scamming your money. I have learned my lesson, and paid dearly for it.

I have just started using the US Bank cash card. I haven’t had any problems yet. The fees don’t seem that outrageous to me

Lol better pay close attention. Ever notice there is no updated balance next to each transaction like a real account would? This makes it easier to steal from you. That way when you call to demand to know why your balance IS NOT accurate and where is that $15 you were hoping to feed your children with they tell you, ” Mam that is what your account says.” They have been laundering the same $15 and some change for almost a year! Taking it then putting it back every 4 days. No point in balancing my check book since its not accurate! Customer service is a joke! They will only tell you what you can look up on your own account online! And charge you to do so! When you want to speak to a manager they refuse to send! I am recording all my calls with this company and take screen shots of them using my card while I haven’t touched it in over 30 days! This is a SCAM, and I am getting the IRS and or FBI to shut this laundering bs down!!!!!

I have had nothing but trouble with my “Convenient” Cash Card. I was advised to sign up for it by my employer, as a way to “hold” a travel-related advance. Terrible, terrible mistake. Once abroad I found that a fraud hold had been put on the card. It took literally dozens of phone calls (costing a small fortune) before I could get a connection to their “risk” department and carry out a conversation; other numbers I called in the US had nearly flawless connections. I was told that I could only unlock the account if I provided a raft of information not available to me out-of-country. When I arrived back, I asked how I could close down the account, and was told (I am not kidding here) that I would have to make 12 trips on 12 different days to a US Bank facility to withdraw down the account. Eventually I “escalated” and was put on the phone with an “escalation specialist” who admitted that they could cut a check in 4 weeks, but if I hadn’t been a royal pain they would never have told me about this option. Keep me in your thoughts, as I wait to see if they send that check (a $15 charge). I would love to be able to charge people $15 for every check I write! But then, I’m not a bankster.

The Kaiku Visa Prepaid card issued by First California Bank has fees lower than US Bank’s Convenient Cash. Neither, Kaiku or Convenient Cash has lower fees than Amex’s Bluebird. But Bluebird suffers from poor customer service from Amex and Walmart. Simply too many negative reviews of Bluebird online to be ignored.

You mention prepaid cards not being able to rebuild your credit. I think that may be a good thing in some cases. Credit cards aren’t the only way to improve one’s credit and they may not be the best way. If the person using prepaid cards is doing so because of bad decisions made in the past maybe prepaid not having an impact on their credit score is good. At least until they’ve changed how they use credit.

You know some secured cards are almost as difficult to obtain as unsecured cards. Try getting a Wells Fargo secured card with poor credit, see if you’re approved.

I, personally, think the U.S. Bank Convenient Cash Card is simply a checking account option WITHOUT the checking account. And for $36 a year, you really can’t beat that–heck, most bank institutions charge that in 3 months with traditional checking accounts! That in itself makes it one of, if not THE most, competitive prepaid cards out today. And since traditional checking accounts don’t regularly report to credit agencies (that step is usually taken ONLY if your account defaults), I’m not bothered by the fact that the U.S. Bank Convenient Cash Card doesn’t either.