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

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Such reports help to build the cardholder’s credit.  Parents also find another benefit in the card as they teach their teenagers financial responsibility.  Able to load weekly allowances onto the card, parents allow their children to practice financial management at an early age.

Despite the apparent benefits, some of the harshest criticism comes directly from Rush Card customers. While it saves cardholders from overdraft and other bank fees, it maintains a fee structure of its own.  Monthly plans begin with a $19.95 activation fee (waived for those enrolled in direct deposit) and charges  $9.95 per month plus $1.00-2.50 for PIN and ATM transactions.  The Pay-As-You-Go alternative charges the activation fee and plus $1.00-1.95 for PIN and ATM transactions.

Some customers wonder why they should deal with the relatively confusing fee matrix when Walmart and Greendot have similar products, the Moneycard and the MoneyPak respectively, with overall fees as low as $4.95.

In addition to the issue of cost, many customers complain about Rush Card’s customer service.

In instances of identity theft and missing or undelivered cards, many have found that their reports have gone un-investigated and unresolved.  Finally, heavily marketed to low-income African-Americans, many are critical of the stigma the card carries.

Nothing’s free and the stigma may always be there — but if Simmons aims to cement Rush Card’s place in the black community as a reliable financial service, attentive care towards customers’ needs will have to become a priority.  If not, he’ll see his customers rush right into the hands of companies with a  better grip on service.

monthly Rush Card plan charges no monthly fee but $2.00 for ATM withdrawals and the convenience fee. Some customers wonder why they should deal with the relatively confusing fee matrix when Walmart and Greendot have put out similar products to the Rush Card (the Moneycard and the MoneyPak respectively), with a $3.00 flat monthly maintenance fee and no convenience fee at all.[1] In addition to the problem of fees, many customers complain about the ineffective and unresponsive customer service that supports the Rush Card. In instances of identity theft and missing or undelivered cards, many have found that their reports have gone largely uninvestigated and unresolved. Finally, as yet another criticism, many wonder about the stigma the Rush Card might cast on its users. Because it is a card marketed towards underprivileged African-Americans, some worry that using it might outwardly mark them as poor or disadvantaged because of their race.

Overall, however, the majority of users sing its praises. They enjoy the conveniences it affords them and the control they’re newly able to exercise over their finances. Most argue that the card does not stigmatize them any more than the Greendot MoneyPak, and they are glad to be supporting a black owned business through their consumption. As for the convenience fee, they find it manageable and point out that fees over $10.00 incurred in a month are returned to the balance of card at the end of that month. The majority of customers, however, still decry the poor customer service. As such, if the Rush Card intends to grow to become a powerful tool in the African American community, attentive care towards customers’ needs will have to become a priority for Russell Simmons’ financial company.


[1] These cards may still charge ATM withdrawal fees.

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