T-Mobile VISA Card

The Uncarrier wants to be the Unbank of prepaid debit cards

T-Mobile has been playing "bank" for some time now with its 24-month financing of devices, and now it wants to expand that reach to purchases and customers of all kinds. "Mobile Money" is a new initiative from T-Mobile to help with the struggles of banking in the U.S. faced by an estimated 68 million people who don't use "traditional" bank accounts.

Mobile Money isn't much different than other prepaid debit card programs — you simply load money onto the card through a variety of sources, and use the card anywhere VISA is accepted. You can make purchases, withdraw from ATMs, cash checks, setup direct deposit into the account and use it as if it were a bank-issued debit card.

Where the "Uncarrier" (er, Unbank?) vision of T-Mobile comes in here is that this is a smartphone- and T-Mobile-focused service. You'll be able to manage your account, cash checks and find ATMs through an Android app linked to your account, deposit money at T-Mobile stores with no fee and benefit from lower fee structures if you're a T-Mobile wireless customer.

T-Mobile Mobile Money AppJust like other prepaid debit cards there will be fees, however. T-Mobile shows off the fact that there will be no fees for many things if you're a wireless customer, but you'll still pay for card reloads under $300, pay $2 for "out of network" ATM transactions, pay to expedite mobile check deposits and generally be nickel-and-dimed for many transactions. T-Mobile likely isn't false when it says its fees a lower, but be cautious in thinking this is a "free" service.

If this seems like an odd arena for T-Mobile to step into when it clearly has important things on the wireless side to tend to, you're not alone. From the standpoint of building brand recognition with folks who are cost-sensitive, this certainly makes sense, and we're sure a good number of people will actually take advantage of this. But how much does this distract away from T-Mobile's objectives as a carrier? Only time can tell how this one will play out.

Source: T-Mobile; (2)


Reader comments

T-Mobile doesn't just want to be your carrier, now it wants to be your bank


This is unacceptable and complete nonsense. Yet another company trying to get their hands in your pants- it's not about providing financial services, it's about gathering data and who buys what when and where.

How is it any more unacceptable than another financial service?

You can choose not to use this Mobile Money if you don't want or need to.

Can't believe there are 68 million People who don't use traditional banks in the US? The probability they will start to use this mobile method of banking is rather low but good try, IMHO. Mobile payments are very useful here in the UK, when you e.g. travel a lot across London (Tube, bus).

[...] new BYOD hero: www.smartman.mobi

It'll probably be like PayPal where a person deposits money into T-Mo accounts and then T-Mo will keep all the interest from all the accounts, just like what PayPal does. PayPal also doesn't release your money easily or in a timely matter either taking weeks to get it out. I've read about people having thousands of dollars in PayPal and couldn't retrieve their money for weeks because of the fact they are collecting and keeping the interest on it. We'll see if this is what T-Mo does.

Prepaid banking bases on a need of quick making small payments on the go. PayPal started to offer such possibility in the UK not long time ago. I know there are high street shops in London accepting PayPal payments on the go (not only online). T-Mobile follows this kind of service but I doubt that 68 millions of not banking Americans are their prospect Clients even not in the nearest future...

[...] new BYOD hero: www.smartman.mobi


I like hookers =D

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

So long as their reasonably priced, and they please!

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10:1 says they're betting on immigration reform being passed soon... In a country of 300 millionish, there's no way that number is right unless they are counting illegals or kids under the age of 15.

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Carriers are the Pimps and we are the hookers, they take are money to provide us with their services and protection. They use you abuse you and throw you away and care absolutely nothing about you except how much you earn for them.

I'm sure Google has more information than these cards could ever get. If this is too much for you, you should stop using Google then.

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I actually work in the banking industry and you'll be surprised of how many people has prepaid cards. The prepaid card industry is growing so much right now that American Express jumped in with Bluebird and Chase jumped in with the Liquid card. These are top financial institutions in the U.S.

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Are you guilty of something? My goodness the way people get worked up when they oversight things is just sad. Get some help if your a freak, don't go bashing on the honest carrier.

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And you were doing so well T-Mo...
That's ok.. for my $360.00 a year phone plan we're good.. Real Good.
But lets not loose site of the ultimate prize.. I don't see this advancing your climb to the top of the food chain.
Still.. T-Mobile Forever.

Kinda missing the point here guys

T mobile is about broke, this is a good way for them to gain money off of the the fees but that is not the biggest way. This gives them liquid capital to play with.

You give them 400$, but spend maybe $100 a week. That gives them all kinds of play money. Sure they have to be able to back it, but in the mean time they are making money on interest, and the whatnot

Not a bad move for a cash strapped company.

Sprint likely will not continue the program though and keep things focused on improving service when the time comes.

Sprint will likely not continue UN-carrier either.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

I think in a lot of ways they will.

At the very least they will keep the momentum for prepaid (why mess with what is working) and the unlimited.

I spent some serious time with the stupid framily plan tonight and factoring in discounts I see quite a savings. The plans are not bad and a hell of a lot better than ATT/VZW.

What do you think they would get rid of?

I had 6 phones with unlimited everything with one of those phones being a one-up and paying 400 a month with no discounts. After switching to Framily, and figuring out who gets unlimited data and etc. with my 7th line (using easy pay), I'll be paying 265 before taxes! Worth it in my book!

wow mine is not that comparable since I do not have those kinds of lines, but I am saving enough to keep the wife happy about my phone habit. I still need to figure in the corporate discount the wife gets but it is significant enough to buy me a phone outright by the end of the year...

I'm not saying you're wrong but I don't see how T-Mobile can possibly be broke or cash strapped. These cell carriers rip consumers off blind with their unnecessarily high cost plans and products that break a year after they are purchased. I pay this company $3,120 a year for service alone and that's for a minimum phone plan. Multiply that by the total amount of their customers, if they are broke, they need a new accountant.

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Ahh. I remember when Metro PCS had their own prepaid cards. Sounds like a re imagined play from their book. Companies make the most money from "poor" people anyway. This just smells like another way into getting deep in pockets.

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AT&T has a credit card called Universal card. You need to have excellent credit, but its pretty good on the discount you get for the services you pay for anyways. Do you think there will be such a thing for T-Mobile?

Its simple - they've found a new way to gouge people, one everyone else has known about for years. Banking fees that penalize low wage earners.

Shame on you T-Mo.

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Shame on you for posting that comment. As someone had already said you don't have to get this card.

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I think what we need is uncable companies and drop the traditional way of selling cable by bundling.

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Comcast already sells cable TV and internet separately if that's what you mean.

Unless you meant channels?


I'm pretty sure, they're referring to individual channels, as the big cable companies absolutely refuse to sell channels a la carte.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Note 3, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

It's up to the person if they want this card. If you have a reason to not have a traditional bank account its an option. Most bank debit cards have some conditions attached to them. I was recently in california and a lot of places charge you an extra dollar to use a debit card. Everyone has thier hands in your pants, it's up to you to say who's hand you want in your pants. Be advised no matter what course you take someone has thier hand in your pants and on your wallet. Thats why there is such a push for "mobile pay using NFC, not because they want to advance some new convienient form of payment, they want in your panties!! Buyer beware!

That's why I always swipe my debit as a credit. I get protections, a little cash back, no fees, and don't have to punch in my PIN.

But are they FDIC insured? need more details before I can judge this. It would certainly be weird walking into a T-mobile store and ask them to deposit a check.

They would probably be more convenient than TD bank though, especially weekends

Don't have to be FDIC insured on a prepaid card... Don't need a SSN either... That's why they are a favorite of the not-so-legal crowd...

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Rabobank (a huge Dutch bank now in America) offers visa cards at 5.25% to 5.99%.

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I think a lot of the people who are calling this stupid or dumb, or whatever, are missing the point of this. T-Mobile is not looking to replace your bank, they are just providing an alternative to the NUMEROUS PrePaid Debit cards (and Visa/MasterCard Gift cards) out there that have all kinds of fees, even fees if you DON'T use the card, or fees just to have the card in your possession. The people using these PrePaid Debit Cards are people who can't get a bank account or don't want to use a traditional bank account for some reason. Maybe someone who bounced some checks, or has bad credit, or something else bad happened in their life. So they're not able to get a bank account, yet they still need something for their money, rather than just deal in cash, or going to a Check Cashing place all the time and paying fees just to cash your paycheck or getting money orders for everything. This card that T-Mobile is offering cuts out a lot of those fees, (here's the fee chart for the T-Mobile card: https://t-mobilemoneyservices.com/NeedHelp/Fees) and it just gives those people another option.

Mostly, it is catered toward T-Mobile customers (probably PrePaid T-Mobile customers) who aren't able to get a traditional bank account. It's not meant to be marketed to the general public, because most people really won't have a need for one, and in fact, is less convenient than their regular bank. I would also bet that if someone who isn't a T-Mobile customer needs this Prepaid debit card service, that they may in fact become a PrePaid or Post-Paid T-Mobile customer in the future, because they may have to go into a T-Mobile store to put money on their PrePaid debit card for free. So, it could be another avenue for T-Mobile to get new customers.

That being said, American Express already has a PrePaid card like this, the Bluebird card (https://www.bluebird.com/) with a lot of fee-less transactions as well (their fee chart: https://www.bluebird.com/#fees), however that's just an American Express card, and I'm sure there's a lot of places that don't take American Express.

If you Google prepaid debit card, you'll find HUNDREDS of different companies trying to take your money with all their fees for these cards. There are TONS of options out there to choose from. So why is T-Mobile bad, or stupid for trying to offer an alternative to the fee-heavy cards?

It seems strange for T-Mobile to get involved in the prepaid business, but I'm sure some of their customers will find it useful.

I have traditional checking and savings accounts, so the outrageous fees that most prepaid cards charge sound like highway robbery to me. However, I think AMEX prepaid cards allow users to load cash from checking accounts for free, so there are ways to avoid the fees with some cards.

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Without a bank, there are no mortgages, car loans, or anything else. I'd love to drop my banks, but its not feasible for me to at this time. Credit Unions are a nice alternative to the banks.

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