Kitty debit card

The Hello Kitty Debit Master Card lets little girls shop till they drop. It’s supposed to teach money management.

Hello Kitty’s lesson comes with a cost. The activation fee is $14.95 (and another $14.95 if you renew after a year). There is a $2.95 monthly maintenance fee, a $1.50 ATM-withdrawal fee and a $1-per-minute fee to talk to a customer service agent.

Hello Kitty. Good-bye, money.

“It’s no different than an allowance; just a safer way to manage an allowance because if you’re a parent, you can find every place your daughter spent her money: how much, when and where,” (Legend Credit’s Peter) Klamka said. “You get a higher level of control than just giving your daughter $100 and say, ‘Go to the mall.’ “

I achieved an even higher level control by never giving my daughter $100 to go to the mall.

About Joanne


  1. My mum, while not madly big on allowances, did used to send me off with a storecard cheques made out to various shops in order to buy clothes for myself. She was running a business, and I was rather fussy about clothes so overall it was a great time saver for her. A debit card would have been more efficient as I could have shopped anywhere. So, it’s not necessarily the sign of a bad or extravagant mum to send your kid off with $100 to the mall, it may be just the sign of a busy one.

    I do agree that the fees are ridiculously high.

  2. My mom’s method of teaching us fiscal responsibility was to create “Bank Of [our last name]”. We deposited money in the “bank” by giving it to her, where she would solemnly record it in a notebook, and when we wanted to “withdraw” money she would announce how much interest we had earned. It took me all of a few weeks to figure out she was giving a high amount of interest (close to 100%) so I gave her ALL of my money and just “withdrew” what I needed. So I guess I considered my mom a fee-free ATM.

  3. mike from oregon says:

    Folks (the two that posted) – I just can’t agree that this is a good policy. I’m speaking of the credit card. Now, the two of you who posted had ways in which (and reasons for) funds were handled. While I couldn’t/wouldn’t necessarily say I completely agree with those posted, they were (in my mind), nowhere near the danger zone as this debit card.

    Like a posting earlier where the kids were taken on ‘field trips’ to a mall pet store (which is just helping to ingrain that store’s are where you go to get pets and supplies – ever heard of animal shelter?) – this aclimates a child to get ‘use to’ using plastic to buy products.

    I will grant you that debit cards and credit cards are different, but do you believe that the difference is easy for the target audience that “Hello Kitty” appeals to? Or would such a card enforce that with this card you can just buy stuff? CASH is the ONLY way to go, the kids can see exactly how much they have, exactly how much is going out of their hands and EXACTLY how much they have left. Especially if it’s their money that they earned, they watch it go away and know how hard they worked for it – suddenly, the purchases become MUCH more discriminatory.

  4. Jack Tanner says:

    Mike –

    Ever heard of freedom of choice?

    The animal shelter where I live doesn’t sell pet supplies – and maybe I don’t want a dog that’s older and been abused. Maybe I want a specific purebread. They also don’t sell many other kinds of pets you can buy at a pet store. If you want to go adopt a dog at a shelter it’s your business but maybe someone else wants to go to a breeder or a pet store.

    ‘CASH is the ONLY way to go, ‘

    Well, obviously not. I know many people who never carry $20 in their pocket for safety reasons and actually can still manage their financial affairs. People who blame credit cards for their financial problems are just absolving themselves of personal responsibility. But again there’s a big risk/reward/responsibility matrix and if parents don’t teach their children financial responsibility it hurts both of them. Responsible use of credit is part of financial responsibility.

    ‘but do you believe that the difference is easy for the target audience that “Hello Kitty” appeals to?’

    Unless you live in a cave you would realize Hello, Kitty appeals to just about everyone, hence Kitty’s immense popularity.

  5. Vivacesunshine says:

    Wisdom of debit cards for kids aside, since when is “customer service” defined as paying the company to sort out problems they may have caused? I do not think charging customers $1 per minute to speak to a service representative is actually providing anything like customer service. With all of those fees, I think it may just be better to give your kid a free checking account with an ATM card, if you are so inclined. The only way the Hello Kitty card teaches money management is to not have it. And that lesson costs (for a year, without an ATM fees), almost $50.

  6. I agree with the last post. All the banks we’ve ever used will allow you to open a free checking account that is linked to yours, and have an ATM card that is tied to this new account. We do this for household expenses, and when our kids are older, we will have such accounts for them, too.

    The older kids leaves most of her money with us, but has a wallet and enough of her own cash to buy the things she needs, and the younger one is always with one of us anyplace that she is going to buy things.

    I don’t think that the debit card is a bad idea in theory, but this particular card is lame. I don’t like the idea of giving a debit card to a kid that is young enough that they are nuts for Hello Kitty merchandise, either, although perhaps other kids like the HK stuff into double digits.

  7. Tim from Texas says:

    When one allows the child to use the debit card the child is being introduced,albeit subtly, to the worst way to buy antyhing, that is, on credit.
    I find no reason why children should be pushed into the bad habits and the trance so many adults have that slowly gnaws away their purchasing power. Sure, it’s a great start and a great lesson for children.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If all you have is $20, some muggers will kill you for wasting their time.

  9. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘When one allows the child to use the debit card the child is being introduced,albeit subtly, to the worst way to buy antyhing, that is, on credit.’

    Ummm…not to state the obvious but debit cards aren’t credit. Responsible use of credit is about the only way 99% of us could ever afford to own a home and is the backbone of our economy.

    ‘If all you have is $20, some muggers will kill you for wasting their time.’

    Actually the community police in my city recommend use of debit cards in their literature and credit it for a drop in street crime. It’s also why every gas station and convenience store where I am has those hourly deposit safes.

  10. Tim from Texas says:

    Umm, yes debit cards are not credit cards. Do you really think that the main thrust/goal in introducing debit cards to children is to have them become knowledgeable about debit cards. Please.

    Credit is not the backbone of this country. If anything it is what is going to break the back of this country, if we don’t change our outlook on how we purchase. What is wrong with cash to purchase. I am not going to speak anymore about what should be obvious. Credit is the wrong way to buy anything.

  11. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘Do you really think that the main thrust/goal in introducing debit cards to children is to have them become knowledgeable about debit cards.’

    No – the real goal is to increase sales of whatever their product is. I’ll go real slow – Debit cards and credit cards are two different things.

    ‘Credit is the wrong way to buy anything.’

    OK – so we shouldn’t have mortgages, car loans, student loans, bonds, commercial paper, consumer loans, home equity LOCs? If you don’t think credit obligations are the backbone of the economy maybe you should look at societies where charging interest is not accepted and the economies there. Credit and repayment of debt responsibilites is what our financial system is based on.

  12. Tim from Texas says:

    Look at it this way. If we don’t fix medicare,ss,medicade, and the dead-hand
    legislated entitlements and other outlays, and start making adjustments to pay as we go, then it’s projected that we’ll be in debt to the tune of 73 trillion. The net worth of this country is estimated at 43 trillion. If this occurs, it would mean, for all practical purposes, the chair you sit on at your pc etc. will be totally in hock. Now this might not happen and maybe one could say it won’t, but the risk is there, it is always there when one lives on credit. The countries that lend us all that money may pull back at any time to take care of their needs. Ummmmm I’ll go real slow here uh Jack. Borrowing is always risky.


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