American Express has debuted a prepaid debit card aimed at college students. The Campus Edition card has no monthly, annual or activation fees. Users are limited to one free ATM withdrawal a month. After that, customers will incur a $2 charge every time they withdraw their cash.
The card will be sold through Barnes and Noble, which operates some 600 bookstores on U.S. campuses. Customers can also reload the card through Green Dot’s MoneyPak program.
The new card is one of many recent forays by American Express into the burgeoning prepaid market. And the Campus Edition, aimed at the young and still-in-school, represents yet another expansion by the company beyond its traditional customer base. In March, the charge-card giant debuted bluebird, a prepaid card sold only at Wal-Mart locations. Last year American Express began selling prepaid cards through Target. And earlier this year, American Express launched Serve, a digital-payments platform, compete with a person-to-person payement system for Facebook.
Prior to 2009, college campuses were prime locations for issuers to market credit cards. But regulatory reform, specifically the Credit CARD Act, changed that by banning such activity within 1,000 yards of a college. As a result, card issuers are increasingly turning to prepaid to make inroads with college-campus consumers.
Other features of the College Edition card include text-message alerts on card balances and personal-finance articles by well-known writers such as David Ning and Jean Chatzky.