Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Teen Spending Meets the 'Stored-Value Card'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Teen Spending Meets the 'Stored-Value Card'

Article excerpt

Parents may employ widely different tactics in navigating the complex issues of the teenage years. But when it comes to monitoring teen spending, many agree: You can't be too vigilant.

Some of the biggest credit-card companies have created products over the past year that they say will help parents keep tabs on their offspring's outlays - and also help teach teens about managing money.

Prepaid stored-value cards look like credit cards, but they're not. Parents fund the cards by calling a toll-free number or going online to transfer money from a bank account or from a credit or debit card of their own.

Interest appears high. About a half million people visited a website set up to promote Visa's Buxx card ( within two weeks of the card's September 2000 launch, according to Kenny Thomas, director of corporate relations at Visa USA. The company now gets 5,000 to 6,000 requests a day for information about the card.

Visa has also launched versions called PocketCard and M2card. A stored-value card from American Express, the Cobaltcard, is being introduced nationwide. And MasterCard reportedly has a version in the works.

Depending on the card, certain kinds of purchases - such as cigarettes - can be blocked. ATM fees, cash back at point of sale, and other costs and services vary. (For a detailed, card-by-card comparison, go to and enter "stored-value cards" in the search field.)

"Managing personal finances is a necessity for today's teens, who spend more than $153 billion a year - mainly cash," says Jeff Kann, executive vice president at Visa.

Proponents of the cards point to their main advantage over cash: Using the cards requires a personal-identification number, so the impact of a lost of stolen card is clearly lower than that of lost cash. …

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