Kim Kardashian, sex tape star turned reality star and sister of reality stars Kourtney and Khloe (plus mother Kris), has sold her likeness to something called the Kardashian Kard. (It’s like “card” but with a “K.”) This prepaid MasterCard spin-off is for anyone 18 and over who hopes to learn the basics of financial planning with a piece of plastic that includes a photograph of three pretty, famous women on the front. Best of all, there’s no credit check or employment verification — you just sign up. For some reason, the scrooges at Slate do not like this idea.
In a Friday afternoon evisceration of the idea, on both superficial and substantial levels, Slate first chastises the Kardashian Kard’s launch party, which was sponsored by “the first Mediterranean luxury vodka.” You see where this is going.
Basically credit cards — thanks to new federal laws and financial regulations — are becoming a thing of the past because they allow Americans to handily screw themselves into huge amounts of debt. But credit card companies, evil as they are, do not want to lose new potential customers. Enter the Kardashians, who don’t care about you or your bank account:
But for the industry, the most worrisome trend may be that young Americans are turning away from credit products, full stop. “There are a lot of under-35-year-olds who have never had a credit card,” says Gail Hillebrand of Consumers Union. Prepaid debit cards are a way for the financial industry “to tap into the young consumer market.”
Enter the Kardashian Kard, which not only appeals to young consumers but also has more fees than the Kardashians have reality shows. First there are the upfront costs. For a six-month card customers pay $59.95, or $99.95 for a 12-month card. (The median fee for similar, non-Kardashian-festooned products is $10.) After those six or 12 months, there is the $7.95 monthly fee to keep using it. Users pay a $1.50 fee to withdraw cash at an ATM and a $1 fee to check their balance. They pay $1.50 to speak with a customer service representative. If they lose their card, they have to pay $9.95 to replace it. If they want to cancel their card, they have to pay $6.
In short, if it’s not a total scam, it’s close enough. Fees are carefully designed to add up, because teenagers are usually irresponsible, and if you lose the card, you might not even get your money back.
To be sure, Kim Kardashian likely has no idea about this small print and signed off on this “project” because a suit told her to. But make no mistake: that doesn’t mean she sucks any less.
Tap That Asset [Slate]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 21, 2010