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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 16, 2006

Prepaid card for teens launched

By Eileen Alt Powell
Associated Press

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NEW YORK A New York-based company yesterday launched a prepaid card that teenagers can use for both in-store and online purchases.

The UPside card, which will carry a Visa logo, was developed by Plastyc Inc., a privately held firm. The company's chief executive, Patrice Peyret, who had been involved in the development of the Mobile 365 messaging service, said the new card is aimed at young people age 13 to 22.

"It's our belief that they need something between cash from mom and dad and a credit card," Peyret said.

Credit cards allow consumers to accumulate debt. Prepaid cards, like debit cards, only allow purchases up to a set limit or up to the cash on deposit that's backing the card.

Carles Guillot, the chief marketing officer, said the new cards could be especially useful for a generation that is very Internet literate. Teenagers spend a lot of time online, including shopping, and parents might prefer having the kids use a prepaid card for their purchases rather than borrowing the parents' card, he said.

And because the new card will be linked to two Web sites one for the child and the other for the parents to track balances and purchases, "it also can be used as a safe tool (for children) to learn about finance," Guillot said. A mobile version is planned, he added.

The assumption is that parents will load the cards with money, perhaps even putting their children's allowances on the cards. But the teenagers also will be able to put their own money from jobs and gifts on them.

The new UPside card also will have a rewards program based on deposits and purchases that cardholders will be able to redeem at participating merchants.

Visa USA, the card association headquartered in Foster City, Calif., offers its own prepaid card for teens, the Visa Buxx card. It has been marketed primarily as a card for older teens, including those heading off to college.

Fees on the new card will include a one-time activation charge of $7.95 and 99 cents a month as well as 99 cents per reload via a bank transfer. As an alternative, parents can sign up for a flat fee of $24.95 a year. The cost for reloading an UPside card from the parents' credit card will be $2.50.