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Has Suze Orman lost her cred?

Her new prepaid debit card has underwhelmed many observers. And her Twitter response to critics was classless.

By Karen Datko Jan 13, 2012 7:20PM

Suze Orman, a wealthy TV celebrity who offers tough love personal-finance advice, has taken her share of shots in the past. "Bad advice from Suze Orman" and "I don't hate Suze; I just disagree" are headlines that have appeared here at MSN Money.


But that's nothing compared with the war of words between Orman and a bunch of personal-finance bloggers on Twitter regarding the merits of her new prepaid debit card, The Approved Card. Orman even referred to popular PF blogger Philip "PT" Taylor as an "idiot." Seems like she needs a thicker skin. 


First, a bit more about that prepaid card: It's not the best one on the market, but it's far from the worst. Yes, it has fees (you can find the full list here) but they're not as onerous as some other prepaid cards. It also gives you free unlimited access to your TransUnion credit reports and credit scores for a year, although keep in mind that the score is not a FICO score -- the score you should care about -- and you can get those things free from Credit Karma without signing up for a prepaid card. 


In a post on his blog, PT criticized the fees and also the claim that the card is an "easier, smarter way to be debt free." He wrote: "As opposed to what? Cash? It's certainly not easier or smarter than a no-fee bank debit card."


He also disputed Orman's claim that her card may someday help people improve their credit scores -- an effort by Orman that has drawn praise from other PF writers. PT wrote:

The credit project is dead on arrival. Your activity on this card will be anonymously reported to one of the credit bureaus (TransUnion), in hopes that they will one day consider it for inclusion in your credit report. This will never happen. Debit or prepaid spending has absolutely nothing to do with credit and your ability to be viewed as credit-worthy.

Things got ugly on Twitter after that.


Post continues below.

Briana Myricks of 20 and Engaged tweeted:

I'm so disappointed @SuzeOrmanShow. Suze Orman's Pre-Paid Debit Card - The Approved Card via @ptmoney

Orman responded:

 @20andengaged Too bad you choose to believe an idiot over me- you just keep following others and see where it gets you –

Free From Broke jumped in:

@20andengaged @SuzeOrmanShow @ptmoney Suze, why resort to words like "Idiot?" Why not promote what you think are benefits of yr card?

PT added:

@freefrombroke @20andengaged @suzeormanshow Wow. I'm speechless. Thanks, Briana and Glen.

At that point, "Twitter went wild!" Myricks wrote on her blog. "PF bloggers came to the rescue and voiced their opinions, infuriated with someone we thought was a genuine person. Boy, were we wrong!"


The next day, Ron Lieber of The New York Times also left some choice remarks.

Hi @suzeormanshow Insulting me & others makes u seem small. Odd, given the big deal ur product is. As I said in the NYT, I hope you succeed.

Orman said:

@ronlieber Ron- I would never insult YOU- you are a great reporter and I admire the piece that you did- it was honest and thorough! Sorry

He replied:

@SuzeOrmanShow Ur apology=inaccurate. Never insult? "Ron Lieber, I wud take good look in mirror b/c something isnt quite right w you sir."

Oh, yes, that's what she said. Then the apologies came, to Lieber and others.

For anyone I called an idiot I too am sorry. I should have known better. That never should have happened so again I admit that I was wrong"

She added, "@MJTM @PTmoney Even you PT-- I am sorry I admit that i was wrong." You can see the entire exchange here.


Not a good day. Meanwhile, Orman is getting bashed on other fronts.


Writing about celebrity-endorsed prepaid cards, Tim Chen wrote at Forbes, "In their eagerness to capitalize on a trendy and morally dubious market, Suze Orman and Lil Wayne will only deepen the financial woes of the unbanked."


Others are uncomfortable that someone who dispenses personal-finance advice for a living -- "Approved!" "Denied" -- has ventured into the prepaid card market. Felix Salmon wrote at Reuters:

Of course, there are questions associated with this product, too. Ron Lieber is worried about Orman's journalistic integrity, on the grounds that she has a weekly show on CNBC: "if I tried to introduce my own card," he writes, "the ethics editor would laugh me out of the New York Times building". I'm not particularly bothered by this, although I am a little bit uncomfortable about her longstanding move into financial products more generally, which long predates the Approved Card. For instance, Suze Orman's FICO® Kit Platinum will cost you $49.95 -- a much worse deal than the Approved Card.

What's your take? Has Orman let you down? Is she a personal-finance expert in your book, or just another TV celebrity?


More on MSN Money:

Jan 13, 2012 7:44PM
Suze Orman has let me down. I, like many other PF Bloggers, has recommended her books and show in the past. It was one of her books that got me to start working on my own problems. She lost some respect from me when she started promoting the FICO kit. She lost a bit more when I learned of her prepaid debit card. She lost every, single, bit of respect I had left when she turned to immature, name calling as a result of criticism.

She clearly thinks herself better than anyone else in the financial community. Her feelings for bloggers not being "legit reporters" is disappointing as well considering bloggers often have her products advertised on their sites.

Her apology felt completely emotionless and was probably only done because her pr team was trying to smooth things over. It failed, in my opinion.

I did tweet her myself and ask her to respond to the criticism and she replied "that is a good idea." I'd be interested in seeing if it comes to fruition.

Jan 16, 2012 4:27PM
if you need to call someone on TV to ask if you can afford something......YOU are the idiot!
Jan 16, 2012 5:17PM
I always like the callers who need to show off their networth and feel validated.  "Suze, we bring home 29 thousand a month, have no debt, and are due an inheritance.  We want to call out  for a couple of pizzas for dinner.  Can we afford it"?
Jan 14, 2012 2:11PM
You mean Suze doesn't really care about me or my financial health and is only out to build her empire and make tons of money? She is no different than a politian, build up a brand so you can milk the naive. Please people, start thinking for yourself through education and stop looking for gurus, prophets, and celebrities to lead you to salvation.
Jan 16, 2012 4:04PM
I stopped listening to Suze Orman Year ago when she stated on Oprah that low income people shouldn't own cars. They should lease as if a low income person can afford a lease, car insurance, maintenance, gas and whatever else comes up. It was poor advise and I felt that it was not realistic. I just never agreed with her and for all I know the company she has the card with is paying her to endorse it, so I will never take her advise.
Jan 14, 2012 4:27PM
They all sell out eventually.  However, living within your means is not rocket science.  You don't need Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey to tell you "no".  All it takes to live debt free (health issues or loss of job excepted) is common sense, a little self-discipline, knowing how much your take-home pay and fixed expenses are, and an understanding of how compound interest works. 
Jan 16, 2012 3:52PM
This woman is the most annoying salesperson I have ever encountered anywhere in my 58 years !!!! Orman,,, you are denied !!!!!!  If she cared at all about her fellow waitresses, she would help many of them attain a better life and not be willing to rip them off. Wake up people,,, you paid for her trip to South Africa to get married to her partner. Do they charge too much at our courthouses ?????  
Jan 16, 2012 2:11PM

As a mortgage broker and banker for almost 16 years, it actually bothers me greatly the few times I've watched her show to hear her give advice on mortgages and credit that in a word, is simply, wrong.

People take this womans advice and then I have to discount her and tell them the truth. Unfortunately they still want to believe the famous person on TV.

Jan 16, 2012 12:56PM
She's a hard core liberal who is off on most everything.  I just saw her on Saturday on CNN Money and she is laughable.  How this woman is a "money expert" is beyond me.  She went off on older people having to much bonds in their retirement accounts ranting "what happens when the mortgage rates go up, your return is very low".  Sorry Suzy, your a buffoon, the Fed aka Bernanke has already said "I won't change the current low rates until after 2013".  So in fact we already know that bonds will be good for another 2 whole years.  She is dangerous for anyone to listen to, much less act on.  Truly a woman that is a "manufactured" product based on nothing.  Her track record stinks. 
Jan 15, 2012 4:52PM

Has Suze Orman lost her cred?


Hmmmm, let me see now...Ummmm,....Is this a trick question?

Jan 16, 2012 1:40PM
  Before there was a Suze, or Dave, or anyone giving financial "advice", I realized I didn't need to owe a credit card a lot of money because I wanted something right now!  I bought what I could afford. If I couldn't, I saved up and bought what we needed. The mortgage was paid off early, my kids got a college education, and I paid for it. Retirement came earlier that expected, because of  back pain and an early buyout. Yes, I took it, Had I asked Suze, she would have said "DENIED" because I did not have about a million in my IRA. I have survived, saved, and prospered in my later years because I used my own common sense.
Jan 16, 2012 3:35PM
Suze Orman, 'Dr. Phil' ...... they're both conniving schemers.  Just THINK, people.  That's all you have to do .... THINK.
Jan 16, 2012 11:58AM
I don't believe Orman has lost any credibility.  You must first have credbility to lose.  She has been a joke of a financial advisor and been exposed by those in the know for years.  She relies on her fabricated reputation not to help people, but to sell books and other finacial products at inflated prices.  All very basic information and products that you could get from your local bank or credit union for free.
Jan 15, 2012 12:42PM
I stopped listening to her as soon as I found out she only preaches and doesn't practice what she preaches. The worse person PBS could indorse. Tough love advice is fun to listen to by a lot of voyeurs that also like to listen to TV court shows. She just states the obvious, any one who is a little finical savvy could come up with the same info, just not as glitzy. I'm getting tired of seeing this type of person getting rich when they offer so little. I wouldn't do any thing to help her get an extra cent from any type of support that is mis-perceived from me. Same category as a Kardashian.
Jan 13, 2012 7:49PM
Suze is a waste of hair.  In real life, she is rude, impolite, and thoughtless.  She is a fake.
Jan 16, 2012 12:54PM
People really need to quit looking to TV personalities for life coaching.  Seriously, do you think any of these people have your best interests in mind when they are shilling for their latest book or program?  They are paid endorsers that benefit by duping as many people as they can into buying their products and watching their shows. 
Jan 16, 2012 1:40PM

If this isn't selling out then I don't know what is.  Had Orman hooked up with a card offering above and beyond what others were offering then this backlash probably would not have happened to the degree that it has.


It appears to be a move based on making money using her name while charging consumers excessive fees to people who have trusted her for sound financial advice.  I believe the Suzy Orman brand is irreparably tarnished.  People had come to expect a certain degree of moxy and sound financial advice from her, but this move smells of corporate greed.  

Jan 13, 2012 8:47PM
Ormon has made millions buy selling people things that they want to hear.  If you bought her product, you lost money twice...once by buying it; twice by trying to implement it.  Time's up for your business, Ormon.  Close it down and go away.
Jan 16, 2012 2:48PM
She is an opportunistic shill who ranks right up there with Cramer.  Two idiots who harvest wealth from the financially illiterate.
Jan 16, 2012 3:56PM
How can someone lose something they never had?
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