Given the outspoken nature of T-Mobile CEO John Legere you have no doubt heard all about their Uncarrier initiatives. We now see T-Mobile extending beyond wireless service with their focus on the customer through their new Mobile Money prepaid debit card and associated banking services.
That’s right, you can setup your direct deposit, visit over 42,000 ATMs for free cash withdrawals, make fee free purchases, and even have your tax refund deposited onto your T-Mobile Visa prepaid card. T-Mobile is not becoming a bank, but they are offering a number of services that consumers traditionally use a bank for with none or very limited fees.
Their supported ATM network looks to be quite extensive with 50 locations within just 7 miles of my ZIP code. You can also take out cash through retailers, just like you can now with your bank debit card. Be careful using it for gas though as merchants may try to preauthorize transactions at the pump up to $125.
While you do not have to be a T-Mobile customer to take advantage of this new Mobile Money service, if you are not a customer you may incur some fairly substantial fees for buying the card, reloading it, and withdrawing cash from ATMs. It is a prepaid debit card though so no credit check is needed for those with credit problems. You will need cash to be deposited to back up the card, but it may be a good way for money to be managed by college students.
In addition to the debit card, you can use their new Mobile Money app on an iPhone or Android smartphone to take photos of checks to deposit into your account, pay bills, add funds, view your account, transfer funds, and find ATMs.
T-Mobile stated they are not new to personal finance as they have been facilitating interest-free smartphone financing options for their customers for some time. I use these services as a way to ease the pain of a huge up-front fee for full price smartphones.
I have outstanding mobile service through USAA Federal Savings Bank, a bank setup for military members, and won’t personally use this new T-Mobile service even though I am a T-Mobile customer. However, it is interesting to see T-Mobile taking their ‘customer first’ philosophy into the area of money management.
These new T-Mobile prepaid debit cards will be available in participating T-Mobile retail locations starting today. Beginning in February they will be available in Safeway stores in the United States.
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