Opinion: Russell Simmons’ Rush Card – Good or Bad for Blacks?

June 17, 2010  |  

by Uju Okasi

Black households compose 21% of the 10 million Americans that are considered “unbanked”– unable or unwilling to open checking, savings or credit card accounts.  While some find themselves on a Chex Systems database used to deny services to individuals with previous account delinquencies,  others, wary of the complex fee matrix  imposed by many financial institutions, choose to opt out of banking on their own.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons reaches out to this population with the Rush Card, a debit card intended to provide African-Americans with a means of financial control and convenience.  But the Rush Card has come under fire as critics question the card’s value to the black community.  For example, professor of finance at Syracuse University, Dr. Boyce Watkins, is unimpressed with the purported mission.  During an interview with radio program, “The Takeaway”, he stated, “It’s a very interesting sort of idea here.  [Simmons is] saying ‘I’m giving everyone access to the American Dream,’ but I never really knew the American Dream consisted of having a piece of plastic that puts people further and further in debt.”

It’s worth clarifying a few things about the service.  Many assume that the Rush Card is a credit card, but it is in fact a pre-paid debit account.  Due to whatever restrictions or mistrust bar working class African-Americans from traditional banking, their options for financial transactions lie in check cashing, in-person payment, and manual cash management.  Not only does this slow people down, but, as Simmons’ points out, this may even cost consumers time off work as they attempt to deliver bill payments in person.

The Rush Card extends the conveniences of direct deposit, expense tracking and online payments to individuals in desperate need of alternatives.  Since the card is prepaid, it is impossible for the holder to overdraw their account and incur fees.  The account also offers an optional feature, RushPath to Credit, which reports successful cable, utility, telephone and other bill payments to credit reporting agencies.

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Diane



  • Chris

    D. Mark Crawford….are u serious? Any person with a tiny bit of financial responsibility/education can see straight thru this scheme. Its a ahame, only because its marketed towards blacks who don't understand money management or those who simply don't know any better. Its sad to say but Russel Simmons is only living his "American Dream". To screw anybody anyway he can out of every dollar LEGITIMATELY. What he is doing to blacks is what any other race would do to their people. Exploitation. "Oh look at me im black just like you. I made phat farm, i brought u def jam and all other things that dont make a positive effect on black culture. Including this rush card.". Hahaha!! i laugh at this man. Every transaction costs a dollar lol. Lord only knows how many transactions i make with my debit card thru my bank. Actually its a credit union and they PAY me everytime i swipe my card as debit. Its a small percent, i think 1% of the transaction? Then its added up at the end of the month? I dont know but i know the most i have gotten back at the end of the month was like $10. Just for using the "debit" option every time i purchase something!!! And this dude wants to charge people $1 per transaction? That's not an American Dream its a NIGHTMARE!!!

  • coperkat

    rush card sounds good,wen u go and try to use it like u-haul gas ,etc…. they don't mess with debit… alot of companys ],ok it's good for you on the pc , suppose you don't have access to one or not computer leterate a lot of us are so russell simmons u need to check out your (name) rush card cause it's not all that i truly was on it but after yesterday im still pissed

  • D. Mark Crawford

    I tried to read through as many comments as possible. The the naysayers, I'll say this, financial responsibility must be assume in our community. Financial education and maturity is essential and I too believe that a MAJOR credit card as checking AND savings accounts are all necessities. For those who applaud the service… You should. The Rush Card makes a way for those who may not be as mature financial. On the flip side, I have 2 or 3 major credit cards, and well over 10 checkings and savings… MY interest in the Rush Card lies in assest protection and Identity protection… on several occasions I've been a victim of fraud, companies taking money that they aren't supposed to be taking, and me being left to fight with the bank to get my money back. I just recently had a fraudulent transaction that left one of my account $1,000 in the negative. Luckily I have other resources to pull from. Simply put, banks and business can't all be trusted. The Rush Card provides a level of protection that many can find useful. Online purchases are the way of the world… but do I really want to give my American Express card to a online vendor who I really dont know anything about. Or perhaps I try a new product and overlook the fine print that say this is a 30day trail and you'll be charged $500 on the 31st day lol. I've been through it all and learned the hard way. Where a person can only take what's availabe. I know if i want to purchase $100 worth of music from iTunes this week, I can go put a $100 on my rush card and that's that! Russell Simmons is simply just promoting an additional option. Not trying to bring the communinty down.

  • brandon

    the only reason i can see using this card is to purchase something off the internet…most sites require a credit card…say ur booking a vacation or something 1 extra dollar wouldnt hurt 2 much there…but ya 4 everything else its a complete rip off…

  • The rush card? Are you kidding me….not no, but hell no, what a joke!

    You can get a better deal at Walmart! EVERYtime I see that commercial I laugh.

    You are better off without that card. I wont let my friends get involved with that card…..please do the same.

  • Lisa

    The Rush Card is a rip off and it is indeed a form of predatory banking. No one should EVER have to pay fees just to spend their own money. That is insanity at the highest level. Russell Simmons is no better than white folks who take advantage of poor people who don't know any better. He and Magic "Rent-A-Center-Man" Johnson can go and kick rocks. Black folks need to wake up, like YESTERDAY!

  • George Recco

    Russell Simmons, SELL OUT.

    >>The prepaid debit card exemption was designed to satisfy Russell Simmons…The compromise is a win for Simmons, who owns a debit card company…Simmons charges consumers exorbitant fees to allow them to put their own money onto a prepaid debit card. (His card company's website lists the thicket of charges a user of his cards must pay.)<<


    • Miss GOOD MONEY

      What Else Is New?

  • Hall

    I think everyone needs to really consider what we say. While you all may not like what the RushCard charges, but who really thinks about that. I have a RushCard and it doesn't bother me at all to be charged $1.00 for transactions. Yes, Russell Simmons is very smart and he has found another way to make money, and whatever the case, HE found the way. Let's stop hating and start appreciating him for going that lil step in helping not only Blacks, but whites, hispanics, and the other races that use this card have a way to have direct deposits or a card they can use for online and other purchases. Too many times we get caught up in shaking our finger at what someone does, when we don't loo at the entire picture-RushCard only charges $1.00/transacion; many of us spend triple that on things we can not afford. Also, did you know that at the end of the month, you get a cas back reward just for using your RushCard? Think about it, it may not add up to what you have spent, but that's not the idea-it gives you some freedom to do what you wouldn't have the opportunity to do if you had no card. Also, did you know that the RushCard reports to credit bureaus? You may not care now, but it may help you in the future. My last point, if you don't like the fees, go to the ATM and take your money off at one time and you won't incur those other fees… We need to think before we speak; educate before we throw the hate; and learn to live with what we have NO control over. Russell Simmons is doing his thing…it's time for you to get off your rump and bump something other than your gums…just my thoughts…

    • Lisa

      @Hall, are you serious?? So you would rather give Russell Simmons $1 EVERYTIME you swipe that card? I bet if you added up all of those $1s and the other fees associated with that card on an annual basis, you would be pissed. It would probably be enough to pay your rent or make a car payment. That's what's wrong with us a people. We don't understand money, how it works, and how much we waste. I bet white folks wouldn't touch this card with a 1,000 ft pole, which is why Russell markets it to us. WOW!!

  • DaRealBlk

    The Rush Card is not good for Blacks or anyone for that matter execpt Russel Simmons. It's all about making money for Russel Simmons.

    • Miss GOOD MONEY

      Just Like Any Other SELF HATING ****

    • beeall

      you are right the rush card is not a good card my husband have $1000.00 on the card and they will not let him get it .it is my husband money and they lock the card .russel simmons hope this make you happy.you know this wrong.


    FINALLY….Someone is saying what I have thought from the first time I saw a commercial for this RUSH CARD. This card and the fees associated with it don't help anyone but Russell Simmons. If you really are trying to help people that have bad debt or have mismanaged checking/savings account in the past, you would start by having them contact their creditors to try and clean up the bad debt, so they can get their credit straight. Having good credit opens many doors and you don't need Russell Simmons or the Rush Card to make this happen. Start by paying your current debtors on time, and work to get past debts paid off, then you can manage your own financial situation. The Rush Card is almost as bad as Magic Johnson advertising for Rent A Center.

  • Shana

    The Rush Card is no different than those pre-paid debit cards that they give to customers at Jackson Hewitt. African Americans are heavily targeted in both instances and of course, there's fees, fees, fees. That's how the rich get rich and the poor get poorer.

  • rasfanta

    simmons just wants to use us like any other credit card thief. he sold his soul for the right to put out that card , put that visa logo on it and gain entrance into the world of finance. Better stay true, simmons, or you will have the same result as them. In the end, payback is a bit–h. simmons needs to get involved, in meaningful way, with his peeps in the emerging countries whose approach is different, right now anyway.

  • Rose Cooper

    A $1 dollar service fee is entirely too much for a single purchase. Credit unions will do the same for no/minimal fee, mostly for holding a $100 balance. This is not helping struggling people who can't realistically afford the fees. Taking advantage, IMO

  • @Necce… Get you head out the clouds for a second..How can a card that charges a 1 dollar service charge even if you by a 50 cent bag of potato chips be good for anyone.. A dollar for every single purchase..even if you go to the ATM you pay atm plus Rush Fees Russell is Doing the smart thing and taking Dissociative measure ..the same you seem to be doing with rational thought.

    • DarlingNikki


      Predatory/shifty/shady practices to me. I don't remember them adverstising the additional fees on the commercial that I saw on BET (and other black networks)–sounds suspect.

    • Wake Up…

      Also it cost 20 bucks just to activate the damn card…ridiculous

  • Stop It!!!

    Black folks better wake up and get their finances in order! I can't tell you how many people I run into who refuse to open an account, or can't open an account. It is critical that you have credit cards to build your credit, and bank accounts to handle a multitude of activities. People are stuck on a certain mindset, without credit cards or bank accounts, you will not get far. The key is being responsible, and spending within your means, and paying your bills On Time. It is not hard to do. One little slip up can ruin your credit. Wake up people. The Rush Card is not necessary, just get your finances in order.

    • rightsfighter

      what the h*** u rasis people need to wake up or stay dead it ppl like u who get us fired up and u non-whites better straighten the facts or get beat down

  • Necce

    Mr. Simmons is serving a needed market just like the Greendot or other debit cards. He needs to look at his fee structure , set up a website and offer financial management 101 and keep educating his customrs. Make his fee structure the same as Greendot Card and beef up his customer service. Excellent Customer service will keep your customers and will also bring in more customers Perhaps he could hire and train some black people and give. them jobs. With so many college students out of work, I know he could find some with strong financial backgrounds. I applaud any black entreprenuer who is trying to do business with his community. Just get it right, keep it professional and look at your competitors and offer the same or better products. Black people will support him but he has to do it right. If he does he will make millions. Go Rush Card!

  • Annelli

    Obviously, this card isn't being pandered towards whites or non-blacks. When will african amercians wake the hell up and release that most compaines that use black celebs to endorse their products only want our money….most of these compaines probably don't have a single black in upper management.

    • Wake Up…

      That's so true! You hit the nail on the head!

    • Seven

      Amen!!! Look around, pay attention, count the numbers of African Americans employed at businesses you purchase. If you shop somewhere or eat some place and speanding your hard earned monies and you do not see African Americans working in some capacity, don't be afraid to inquire why are there no African Americans employed?

      Wake up is right!! When we stop exploiting our own, others will too.

    • Miss MONEY


  • T

    Its a prepaid debit. You can get the same from your bank without all the fees.