April 13, 2013


Justin Bieber: Spokesman for Debit Card Company

Kevin Winter/DCNYRE2013
Kevin Winter/DCNYRE2013

Schools back in session and Justin Bieber wants to teach your kids how to manage money. 

SpendSmart Payments Co., announced on Friday that the pop star will be a brand ambassador for the company and will star in a series called “Real Talk.” According to ABC News, the series is supposed to focus on educating teenagers and their families about responsible spending habits. The idea being that parents can put a certain amount of money on the card and closely monitor the spending habits of their offspring.

In the one video, Bieber spoke a bit about his personal experience with money growing up:
“You know when I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money, so me and my family had to watch the money that we spent,” he said. “I learned if you have $100 or $100 million, if you spend more than you have, you’re going to go broke.”

That's big talk coming from a guy who made $55 million in the year ending in May 2012 alone and is cashing in a cool $3.7 million (plus potential monthly royalties) for the 14-month deal with SpendSmart. Bieber will also get plenty of SpendSmart stock options.

But before you run out to grab your kids some plastic, Consumer Reports would want you to remember that prepaid cards often go hand in hand with exorbitant (and often hidden) fees.

The CEO of SpendSmart, Mike McCoy, defended the card saying the card gives teens “freedom and independence while also teaching them the fundamentals of financial responsibility.”

“More importantly, the SpendSmart Card gives parents control over their teens spending habits, supporting them in instilling valuable financial-literacy fundamentals,” he said.

Parents can also lock the card from their mobile devices and block inappropriate spending.

But Michelle Jun, a lawyer with Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, told the New York Times, “We would not recommend that parents use prepaid cards for their teens. It doesn’t help your teen establish a credit history or a relationship with a financial institution, se we recommend going the traditional route and opening up a checking account at your bank or credit union of choice.”

This may indeed be true, but Consumer Reports did not account for the way Bieber Fever may alter the equation for many parents out there. Yikes!