St. Paul Bank Axes Controversial Kardashian Kard
Amid widespread negative publicity, University National Bank in St. Paul and several partners have terminated the Kardashian Kard less than a month after its release.
The prepaid debit card is named after sisters Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian, who star in the reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The card has been controversial since it launched November 9.
Card issuer University National Bank said Monday that the 250 consumers who purchased the card will be notified that their cards will only be active for 30 more days, at which time their remaining balances will be refunded. The bank didn't provide further details about why the card was being pulled from the market.
Instantly after it launched, the card received widespread criticism from the media and consumer groups-in large part because of the steep costs associated with it. Unlike most bank debit cards, which are free and don't charge any fees, fees associated with the Kardashian Kard total up to $100 for the first year of use, and cardholders are charged additional fees for ATM withdrawals and card cancellations, and to speak with a live operator. After the first year of use, consumers were going to be charged an ongoing $7.95 monthly fee.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was one of the card's biggest opponents.
“I am deeply disturbed by this card's high fees, combined with its appeal to financially unsophisticated young adults,” he wrote in letter sent to University National Bank on Friday. “In reality, no family can 'keep up with the Kardashians' using this card.”
In his letter, Blumenthal requested that the bank provide him with specific information about the card, which he said he was seeking in order to ensure that it complied with both federal and Connecticut laws.
A letter written by the Kardashians' lawyer and sent to several companies involved in offering the Kardashian Kard, including University National Bank, indicates that the sisters on Monday terminated an agreement that allowed their names and faces to be used on the card. The letter was obtained by Blumenthal's office, which on Wednesday provided a copy to Twin Cities Business.
“The Kardashians have worked extremely long and hard to create a positive public persona that appeals to everyone, particularly young adults,” the lawyer, Dennis Roach, wrote in the letter.
“Unfortunately, the negative spotlight turned on the Kardashians as a result of the attorney general's comments and actions threatens everything for which they have worked.”