The prepaid Rush Card from Visa http://www.rushcard.com/index3.aspx
lets you get your direct deposit two days before pay day.
At first I though it was just funny and sad that you could sell a service to people based on the fact that they really needed their paycheck two days early. Then there is the sadness of inequality because those of us with checking accounts tend to get direct deposit two days early anyway, so this is specifically for people who can't get a checking account.
But wait, I thought, a lot of banks offer free checking if you have direct deposit. Then I thought of some people I've known who don't trust bank accounts because government entities can remove money from them or freeze them without your consent (I don't know how likely this actually was for these people or whether the gov't can't also do this to pre-paid cards).
So I'm looking at this as a way for people who have serious problems they're trying to work out and are afraid of the risk of going into debt. I guess. It's nice that they'll save money on check-cashing services. But then I looked at the fee page:http://www.rushcard.com/howitworks/scheduleoffees.aspx#
You pay from $4-$15 just for the card, depending on which fancy design you want on it (one of them has a "Baby Phat" design--do you think they're targeting a certain demographic?). You pay from $6-$10 a month depending which plan you have and how many debit swipe transactions you have. Basically you have the option of a monthly fee or a per transaction fee. Which is not ordinary for prepaid cards. But hey, there's "free" bill pay, so that's nice.
Okay, so it's sort of a mixed bag. When I saw the ad promising to get you your paycheck two days faster I thought I had a winner for the Antimustachian forum, but now it seems like a company trying to nickle and dime folks because of their ignorance (or their precarious financial situation) which I'm not sure is the same thing. I don't necessarily want to say that it's fraudulent but one of the main selling points they use is that it's "a better alternative to traditional banking" because a bank can charge you overdraft fees--but I thought new federal regulations meant you had to opt in to overdraft protection now. So what bugs me about "convenience" products like these is that it takes up time researching them that a person could spend figuring out a less silly option. I dunno.