Discover Financial Services Inc.'s decision to launch a reloadable prepaid debit card today customized for teenagers is an answer to consumers searching for guidance from credit card companies in unsteady economic times, observers say. "One of the things that customers have asked over and over again is, how can a card company help me?'" Mike Boush, Discover vice president of marketing strategy and new initiatives, tells CardLine sister publication ATM&Debit News. "How can [credit card companies] provide tools, materials and products that help me maintain control and better manage spending and spend smarter?" In this case, Discover's Current Card helps parents and their teenagers track and manage spending while ensuring that their funds are safe, Boush says. At the center of the card's features is a Web-based tool that enables parents to specify where the cards can be used. Parents can set daily, weekly or monthly spending limits on the card and even block certain merchant categories they deem inappropriate for their teenagers. Parents also can limit ATM transactions for the card, Boush says. Spending and merchant limits are key features that differentiate the card from other, similar products, Boush says. The card's Web site also plays a large role in Discover's message of fiscal responsibility for teenagers. The site contains articles about such basic financial concepts as protection against identity fraud, how to start a savings program and budgeting tips. Discover provides 0% fraud-liability protections to the card, and teenagers are eligible for in-store coupons and online discounts when they use the card at participating merchants. Cardholders pay a $5 monthly fee but can save $10 by paying an annual fee of $50. The fees include four free ATM withdrawals per card per month and a 50-cent fee for each additional withdrawal. There are no reloading or inactivity fees, Boush says.

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