Can You Afford That? This Debit Card Will Tell You, And Sometimes Say No

NEW YORK (sbup) – Americans, stung by high credit card debt, are passing on plastic and increasingly turning to debit cards to make purchases and pay bills.

The move to debit cards has been truly remarkable. According to Moebs Financial Services, debit card usage was at 43% of all U.S. annual transactions last year, up from 19.4% in 2003.

The move to debit cards and loss of “float” when writing checks means “the probability that the average consumer will overdraw is immeasurably increased,” Moebs says. That means more $36 checking account overdraft fees, of course.

One debit card provider may have a revolutionary idea on that front.  

The popular technology website TechCrunch.com is out with a story this week saying Mint.com will roll out a debit card that warns consumers that a potential purchase might wreak havoc on their budget.

Say what? A credit card that acts like your mom or dad and admonishes you for impulse purchases?

So TechCrunch.com says.

The site says Mint.com, which has made no official announcement of such a card, wants to plug in “data visualization” tools that tells consumers where their cash is earmarked and whether, once bills and debts are taken into account, a consumer can really afford that cashmere scarf at Bloomingdales or those Yankees playoff tickets on StubHub.com.

TechCrunch notes that Mint.com will add a 2% cash-back feature on the card to entice consumers to use the card, presumably, but not use it recklessly.

Here’s a snapshot of the advertisement TechCrunch found on Mint.com’s website announcing the debit card. The ad was hidden by software coding and not available to the general public, but TechCrunch dug it up for consumers.

Introducing Mint Control Card: control your finances.

Now there’s a debit card that helps you control your financial life and make smarter spending decisions.

Know exactly where you stand.

You’ll instantly know what’s left on your card and where you stand with your budget, in real time, so you’ll always know what’s left to spend.

Stay on-track with your spending.

You can set spending limits in any category you choose, so you’ll never have a negative balance or pay an overdraft fee again.

Make better decisions and save more.

Reach your savings goals faster with controlled spending — plus 2% cash back on everyday purchases — so you can get to where you want to go.

If and when Mint.com rolls out such a card, consumers will have an interesting choice to make. Debit cards may never be the same again.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.

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