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The Chips Ship! Plus Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Hooray!

At 4:15PM Pacific on Thursday October 29, we flipped the switch on FamZoo.com to start shipping cards with EMV chips that also fully support Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay. Hooray! 🙂

Currently, the chip cards are only going out to new families who have registered after that cutover time. I know that’s disappointing to those of you who are existing FamZoo families with the original magnetic stripe cards.

Not to worry though. We’ll have you covered very soon!

All of our existing families on magnetic stripe cards will be upgraded at no charge over the next month or two. It turns out the auto-upgrade is a big effort, and we’re still testing a critical piece of technology from our card processor to clone your existing cards.

When the upgrade technology is ready, parents will see a new sequence of screens in the FamZoo app(lication) where they can:


Preserve Financial Dignity For Your Loved Ones

Elderly woman receiving a hand

Recently, I received one of those heartbreaking cancellation notices we always dread. Jean wrote:

“Unfortunately, my Mom passed away so the card is no longer needed.”

It’s always so sad to hear of a loved one’s passing.

Jean was kind enough to include some additional detail:


How To Reload Your FamZoo Prepaid Card Instantly From Venmo

Venmo Instant Transfer Confirmation

Typically, reloading your FamZoo card electronically takes 1 to 3 business days via ACH transfer. There is, however, an electronic instant reload option that many of our Zoomer cardholders have been using heavily: Venmo Instant Transfers. It’s an excellent alternative to instant cash reloads which must be done in person at a local retailer.

I tested it myself a few weeks ago. Here’s how it works:


What's the Difference Between Prepaid Card Accounts and IOU Accounts?

“Why can’t we get the money out of my daughter’s savings account? It seems to have disappeared!”

We get that panicked question from time to time.

When money mysteriously “goes missing” in FamZoo, an IOU account is almost always the culprit.

In a typical scenario, the parent inadvertently sets up an IOU account for savings and allocates a portion of allowance or chore payments to it. Later down the road, the parent is dismayed to find that no real money has accumulated in the account. Instead, an unanticipated debt has accumulated that must be paid off to the child.

To understand how this happens, let’s back up a bit. Think of the classic money jar system that parents often use with kids for separating spending, saving, and giving.


Why Your Kid's No-fee Overdrafts Carry a Hidden Cost

We never ding kids (or parents) for overdrafts. Trying to spend more than the amount loaded on a FamZoo card results in a harmless decline without a fee. Of course, I hope the decline induces a slight twinge of embarrassment as a reminder to check the balance next time. 😳

So, no-harm-no-foul if our kids repeatedly hammer away at the cards with Xbox, Spotify, and iTunes charges they can’t cover, right?

Not quite.

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Days To Reload? My Kid Needs Money Now!

A new FamZoo parent asked me:

“How can I make same-day deposits to my kids cards? If there were an emergency, for example, and they needed money immediately, is there a way to get money from my bank to their cards right away? Up to 3 business days for a bank transfer seems a little ridiculous.”

Agreed. Up to three business days is indeed ridiculously slow. We can thank the killer combo of fraudsters and crusty old bank technology for that. But I digress...

Are you a Venmo user? Check out this instant reload option.

Most FamZoo parents deal with the emergency cash issue the way I did with my 5 kids: I kept an ample buffer on my parent card so I always had excess funds on hand for an instant card-to-card transfer whenever a financial crisis cropped up.

Then, I’d initiate a reload whenever my card balance dipped below a low water mark. Turning on activity alerts for my Bank of Dad card made it easy to know as soon as the threshold was crossed.

Eventually, I got a bit smarter though.


Reloading Your FamZoo Card: A Little Tricky, Very Secure!

I hear it all the time:

“Bill, I like to think I’m intelligent but... for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to reload this darn card!!!”
“Why don’t you just pull money from my debit card?”

Short response: You are intelligent. The setup is a bit tricky. We do it this way for your safety...and ours.

Longer answer...

As bad as I feel hearing about reload setup struggles, here’s a dialog I’d hate to have even more:

“Bill, my kid (or some random fraudster) just drained my main checking account from your darn app!”

Well, you (and I) can rest easy knowing we will never have that more painful conversation.



Who's Making Unauthorized Purchases On My Kid's Card?

We hear it all the time:

“My child’s card has been compromised! There are fraudulent PlayStation charges!”

Or Prime charges, or Spotify, or iTunes, or... you name it.

99% of those turn out to be inside jobs.


Professional fraudsters liquidate stolen cards quickly and move on with as little trace as possible. They don’t stick around to play online games, stream music, or sign up for Amazon Prime memberships. But kids, their siblings, and their “friends” sure do! 😉

When you see an unexpected charge that your child disavows, the first order of business is to put on your Dad/Mom Detective Hat and follow these seven steps:

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How To Transfer Your Prepaid Card Balance To Amazon

Transfer from FamZoo card to Amazon balance

Looking for a way to quickly unload that $3.54 remaining on your prepaid card?

Most merchants won’t let you split a purchase between your prepaid card and another payment method at checkout. ATM withdrawals and cash back options are typically in round numbers starting at $20. So liquidating your lingering prepaid card balance can be a bit challenging.

If you are an Amazon.com customer, there’s a simple, quick solution.

Reload your Amazon gift card balance with the amount remaining on your prepaid card.

Then, the next time you make an Amazon purchase, you can split the amount between your Amazon gift card balance and your regular payment method.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:


Resolve To Teach Your Kid These 3 Quick Money Lessons in 2020

Uh oh, it’s resolution time again... 😬

How about kicking off the decade with some quick wins for once?

Resolve to teach your kid these three simple but critical money lessons: