Do you want your allowance in paper or plastic?

American Express just released the PASS Card from American Express, a prepaid reloadable debit card for teens that aims to simplify how parents and teens manage money…without the need for the teen to have a checking account or credit card. Here’s how it works:

The PASS Card for teens

Parents fund the card by check or electronic transfer and teen cardmembers can spend the money loaded on the card. Because Pass is prepaid, you can’t spend more than you have. That saves you from throwing away money on interest or overdraft fees like you could with credit or other debit cards.

Plus, the Pass Card is a stylish way to pay anywhere American Express is accepted: you can choose from four colors and customize your card with an image of your choice. (It’s also earth-friendly; the Pass card is made from recycled plastic).

The PASS Card for parents

Of course, Amex is hoping that the Pass Card will make parents happy, too. According to an American Express survey, 55 percent of parents give their teens an allowance…an average of $66 a month.

With the Pass Card, both cardmembers and parents can track spending online, in real-time, 24/7. Parents can activate and deactivate ATM withdrawals as needed. If lost, a Pass card is fully replaceable. And, the Pass Card comes with 90-day purchase protection and roadside assistance. That’s nice peace-of-mind for cardmembers and parents alike.

PASS Card fees

Reloadable debit cards aren’t new, but they’re gaining traction as the world moves away from cash. The American Express Pass Card and similar products work like regular debit cards (but without the bank account): you can deposit funds, make purchases, or withdraw cash at an ATM.

The biggest downside to reloadable debit cards is, usually, fees. Some charge a buck here or there for nearly everything. American Express has done significantly better.

There is no monthly fee for the Pass Card, and one ATM withdrawal per month is also free. Additional ATM withdrawals each month cost $2.00 each. There are no reload fees as long as the reloads are done on the American Express website via a linked bank account.

Whether you choose the American Express Pass card, a bank account, or even a credit card, what’s important is that you don’t just spend money, you manage it. That means deciding ahead of time what you want from your money and making a plan to spend and/or save it.


Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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About the author

David Weliver
Total Articles: 353
David Weliver is the founder of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues he faced during his first two decades as an adult. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

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Kirsten says:

I gave my son $200 on his PASS card to get home from college (approx. 500 miles). He swiped the PASS card and was declined. He swiped again and still declined. Each time he swiped, $95 was put on hold so now he is out $190 and has no gas and is stranded in the middle of no where. When I called PASS I spend way too long on hold and had a hard time understanding the ignorant man who was no help. This is not the card for us.
Also, their fees are going up in October.

Leslie says:

Terrible card and it’s no longer free – $4.95 a month so we cancelled. Do not be fooled into thinking you will get American Express customer service. It is outsourced to some company in India. We have had so many issues with these cards that it would be funny if it didn’t take so much time to deal with the Indian Customer Service. And don’t bother calling the real American Express to complain – they will sheepishly tell you that they have no control over it. PASS couldn’t even process a refund to my Amex when I cancelled because my old expired card was listed on their records. They actually asked if I wanted to change my Amex expiration date to the old expired one to get the refund. So they’ll send a refund check from India – in 21 business days. Really this is an awful card and service. I don’t ever write online reviews but I did for this one because it’s just so laughably bad.

Geoff says:

The same thing happened to me. All the sudden, with no warning, I could no longer load my daughters’ card with my Amex card. After 30 mins on hold some Indian lady said I could go to CVS or something and load funds with a voucher, or at least that’s what I thought she said. I’ve been an Amex member for 35 years. No more. All the cards are getting cut up tonight.

Rudy says:

As parents of a 16 year-old, we were looking for a convenient card for my daughter, and PASS seemed ideal. We could connect it up to our AmEx card and fund her PASS card each month. Well, a series of small hassles (can only pay inside at gas stations, slow transfers, etc.) blew up today when we received an email from PASS notifying us that our payment has been suspended. No explanation, and no money. For all I knew my credit card had been declined. So first my wife calls in and waits on hold for a half-hour before giving up. Later I call, speak to the overseas call center, and find out that they no longer accept automated transfers from AmEx!

First, some notification would have been nice
Second, aren’t both cards owned by AmEx? Why yes, yes they are.

Goodby PASS, we’re cancelling, and we’ll make sure every one we talk to knows why!

Sam Victor says:

This is great card in my opinion. As a parent I gave this card to my daughter who in the boarding as a freshmen in a college 400 miles away from home. But some how American Express taking its own sweet time to load the account. After I made a transaction to the pass card, its been over 9 days, The transaction is still pending and has not posted to the pass card, though the amount is withdrawn from the bank account 5 days ago. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!! OVERALL AMX SUCKS!

Fred Buse says:

Pass is a horrible product with horrible customer support from India on a VOIP line with poor quality and you will be speaking to a rep who only reads from a script and knows nothing.
Money will flow from my Am Ex card to my son’s pass Instantly. Bet when I tried to close my son’s card and have the balance refunded back to my card they say it will take 15 days, and it took me 4 calls to get that information out of them.

This product is a BLACK EYE for American Express.

Michele Selvaggio says:

I got a PASS for my sons trip to Italy. I called before he left to make sure there would be no problem using it, and no limits. I was told he could spend all the money on his card with no restrictions. He called me from Europe to tell me he couldn’t get money from an ATM. When I called to check, they said there was a 200 ATM limit. So I trusted AMEX, and my son was stranded in a foreign country with no access to his cash. I am horrified. I will cancel all ties with AMEX as soon as my son is saefly home,

Bfar says:

The PASS card from AMEX is an absolute joke! We got a card for our 16 year old daughter for all the same reasons you mentioned above and their claims that in the event that the card is lost, stolen or has fraud activity, they would restore the card immediately. My daughter used it at a local merchant on Saturday and the clerk was confused by message from AMEX. They called AMEX and AMEX told them their was an 8 day hold on account. Merchant sent my daughter home without purchase only to learn that card had been charged. The call center in India and the Executive office said there is nothing they can do to reverse an “authorization” and we simply need to wait 8 days for the transaction to reverse. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I have been an AMEX card holder for years and I am canceling all of my accounts with them because of their bogus product. Don’t use this card! It does not do what it claims to do. Cash is better!

Ken says:

Does PASS work on to buy AMEX presale tickets? Anyone try it or know someone who tried it online for presale tickets spnsored through AMEX?

hentry says:

thank you
I love capitalism and all the choices but this choice and decision = NO!!

Dave says:

Avoid the American Express PASS card. This is the biggest hassle including all the unnecessary security questions and long application process. AMEX sent the card in my name and it was supposed to be in my daughter’s name. Customer service accused me of “losing” the card when in fact AMEX sent it incorrecly. The $25 bonus came late after a phone call to PASS customer service with escalation to the supervisor level (she hung up on me). The bonus was supposed to arrive in “4 – 6 weeks,” we got it in 8. Just as soon as the money I loaded is spent we will definitely CANCEL this card and certainly will not pay the monthly charge for the privilege of keeping it.

audrey says:

I hated it I canceled it the first week I got it the salesmen would look at the card like wtf is this and u can’t swipe it at gas stations it will decline It!! This card sucks.

luis says:

if you pay inside it will work