3/21/2013 6:45 PM ET|
A prepaid card for recovering addicts
People just coming out of treatment often need financial help, but would-be benefactors can be worried about how money will be spent.
If you've ever had a recovering addict in your life -- be it from drugs, gambling or another vice -- you know giving him or her money can be a squeamish proposition. Will the money be spent the way you hope, or will it end up at neighborhood liquor store?
Such a dilemma may leave you intrigued -- or perplexed -- about the Next Step Prepaid MasterCard, the first prepaid card designed for recovering addicts. It allows a caregiver to put money onto the card, and then monitor how the money is spent. Is it a godsend? An insult to someone trying to regain trust while they reassemble the pieces of their life? Or maybe it's exploitative, given the $14.95 monthly maintenance fee.
Launched last fall, only to experience technical hiccups and be re-launched in December, Next Step is a natural progression in the niche markets prepaid card issuers have been exploring. For instance, MasterCard's BillMyParents card allows parents to put money on a prepaid card, which they can monitor and use to teach their children responsible spending habits.
Next Step takes the concept of parenting and teaching responsible credit card use to the next level: It's essentially a prepaid card for the adult child who still needs some hand-holding and guidance.
Origins of the card
Next Step's three founders, Eric Dresdale, Ryan Jaffe and Louis Fisher, describe themselves as recovering addicts. Their Achilles' heel? Painkillers.
Dresdale, a 29-year-old who lives in Palm Beach County, Fla., had a successful career in commercial real estate. He drank too much, but it was opiates that were his downfall. After spending four months at a treatment center in Florida, Dresdale still had to lean on his parents for financial support.
"My family was freaked out every time they had to send me money," says Dresdale. His mother had good reason to worry. Dresdale didn't relapse, but he spent his parents' money poorly, buying things he didn't need to help mask his feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.
It was during this time, the spring of 2011, that Dresdale, Jaffe and Fisher conceived the idea of a prepaid card for addicts. It took a while, but Dresdale and his two friends-turned-partners eventually convinced MasterCard of the merits.
How the card works
The Next Step card can't be used in liquor stores, nightclubs, casinos, tattoo parlors, body-piercing establishments, escort services or pawnshops.
"So what?" a skeptic might think. "He'll just go to the ATM and take out money and buy whatever he wants."
But the card can't be used to withdraw cash from ATMs or stores that have point-of-sale terminals that ask if the consumer would like cash back. Additionally, the card's guardian can get real-time spending notifications and receive monthly and quarterly reports to get a bigger picture on how the money is being spent.
Caregivers can also set daily spending limits, as well as put a lid on monthly transactions -- say, no more than $20. For instance, if parents think their 24-year-old doesn't need to buy a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks every day, a monthly cap can prevent that.
Or if you don't want the cardholder to spend more than, say, $15 per purchase, you can cap each transaction. The user's photo can be printed on the card, which should prevent a recovering addict from selling or trading the card.
Those safeguards don't mean the prepaid card can't be misused. Shauna Acquavita, an assistant professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Cincinnati, says, "While it may make the family member think they have a sense of control over the money they provide to a person in recovery, if a person wants to use, they will find a way, whether it is exchanging food for drugs, buying mouthwash with alcohol in it at the drugstore to drink, and so on."
Dresdale agrees. "Nothing is 100% foolproof, and we don't tout ourselves as a panacea for addicts," he says. "We've tried to create this to give as much accountability as we can and to be the best option out there, but if somebody doesn't want to use this, they don't want to use this. We don't want to be considered a relapse-prevention tool."
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2, If mom and dad use this master card, I would ask if they are on drugs.
3, This card will not stop a person from getting what they want. Drug dealers and many others will pay 50 cent on the dollar just like food stamps. if there is a will there is a way. All you need is some kind of resource. In the world of addiction's there are many ways to get what the addict wants.
4, All a parent needs to do is open a joint account with there bank and the parent can see every charge and withdraw that their child makes. Without a $15.00 a month admin fee.
5, Money is not the answer to helping your child. Only the grace of God and much prayer and patients. Will free your loved one from the demons of addiction. Don't ever give up on your child. But, trust me master card is only trying to be the master your money. This idea is a joke!
Don't believe the hype my friends!
I'AM A RECOVERING ADDICT; THIS TRULY IS A BAD IDEAL. I BELIEVE WE NEED TO ACCEPT OUR OWN LIVES. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE WORKING FOR A LIVING. BY THE WAY I HAVE WORK. THANK YOU.
if parents are watching how there son /daughter 24 year old man or women is spending there money then i give up.
GROW UP ALREADY i think this card would be good for kids that meaning the word kid under the age of 18 for god sakes or maybe if in school up to the age of 20 anyone older then that please get a life and get off the tit already. and if you have a drug problem double grow the f@@# up !
And shame on anyone who gets a prepaid card of any kind, absolutely idiotic.....you take cash money buy a card with fees and then use it as.........cash......huh.....absolutely idiotic.....if you can't handle the ca****elf then you can't handle a card.....if we don't allow people to make mistakes on their own then how are they going to learn from their mistakes?????
'But the card can't be used to withdraw cash from ATMs or stores that have point-of-sale terminals that ask if the consumer would like cash back.'
That means not available for Walmart or most grocery stores? Food is kind of expensive at convenience store. Interesting theory, but not practical if that is the case.
When you spend actual money, you will save a bunch of $$$ for 2 reasons: 1. You have to already have cash to spend it - that is the way it is supposed to work. 2. Cash is emotional. No one gets the same feeling swiping a card for $200 at the grocery store (or anyplace else for that matter), instead of peeling off a couple hundred dollars of genuine dead presidents; that hurts...
Debit cards are financial methadone, and do not break the habit. Get off the cards COMPLETELY and life will get better almost instantly!!!
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