Money Talks (American Express PASS Card)

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Our Elizabeth is growing up. I know it’s cliche, but it’s happening way too fast. This winter she’s skiing on a downhill ski racing team, which isn’t new, but the fact that she’s moved from a regional program to a mountain program is. Most notable is the fact that we do not have mountains in Edmonton, which means the girl must travel a LOT!


Thankfully, we are able to be with her most of the time, however, when we aren’t, there are certain challenges. The way she handles finances on her own is definitely one of them. Up until this point in her life, she’s been the manager of her sporadic allowance and birthday cash and not much else. She does use my debit card on occasion, mostly when she’s running to the store to buy bread or milk etc. (for me).

Sending her traveling with the team requires a little money and possibly a lot of money and Mr. MK have been talking over how to deal with it. Ideally, if a weekend goes exactly as planned she could need as little as $50, which really you could stuff in an inner zipped pocket and forget about it, but life never seems quite so simple and we feel like there needs to be an emergency fund for things like lost lift tickets or broken equipment or emergency transportation home or accommodation. Money for things we don’t expect to have to buy, but would like to know it’s possible. It’s how to do that safely that we’re trying to figure out.

Some of the things we’ve considered are:

Cash (yeah right)! Although we trust our girl, carrying large amounts of cash just isn’t a good idea. It’s self explanatory …

Joint bank account (with her own debit card) This is probably the option we felt most comfortable with, however, after setting up the account because she is a minor there were several limitations on her account like cash withdrawal maximums, that sort of defeat the purpose. Her daily limit isn’t enough to deal with unexpected expenses. The fees for transactions are more than we had anticipated as well.

Credit Card This too is a viable option but then there is the option of over spending (she is just a kid after all), lost card issues and more.

When American Express approached me about sharing the PASS card with my readers, it really couldn’t have come at a better time.


* PASS is a prepaid reloadable Card parents give to teens or young adults.
* Parents load PASS with funds through an American Express Charge or Credit Card or through a bank, such as a checking or savings account.
* PASS is a better and safer form of currency than cash, credit, or debit.
* Teens don’t have to carry large amounts of cash, and if lost or stolen, funds can be replaced.
* Unlike credit, this is a prepaid card so there’s no risk of overspending.
* An adult, 18 years or older, must register and load PASS online at, after verifying the user is 13 years or older.
* PASS can be used virtually anywhere that accepts American Express.

Online Account Management:

* Online management tools provide control and full transparency into how the Card is being used. Parents can view real-time transaction history and monitor spending, receive email alerts about low funds or notifications when a transaction has occurred, disable/enable ATM access, inquire about Card balance 24 hours a day/7 days a week, schedule reload of funds automatically, and load funds for teen’s immediate access, with loading up to $2,500.
* Teens and young adults can manage their account online, view real-time transaction history, and set up text alerts to receive balance and transaction information.

Benefits and Fees:

* PASS has a monthly membership fee of $3.95 per month, waived through October 1, 2011.
* There are no fees for image upload, activation, reload, balance inquiries, alerts or Card replacement.
* The funds on the Card never expire.
* Parents can disable/enable ATM cash withdrawals. A fee of $1.50 applies for each withdrawal.
* The monthly membership fee entitles Cardmembers to valuable protections and benefits including:
* Roadside Assistance which provides dispatch services including towing, battery recharge, gas delivery, locksmith service and changing a flat tire.
* Purchase Protection against accidental damage or theft of eligible items for 90 days up to $1,000.
* To help teens learn about budgeting and saving, PASS has partnered with Junior Achievement, the world’s largest financial literacy organization.

I think we may have come up with a solution! How do you help your teens manage their finances?

MK xo

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of American Express and received a gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.


Carla · November 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

This is an awesome solution for parents who need a way of giving their older teens funds to learn to manage for unexpected expenses or even to use a budgetary tool. I would have loved to have had this option when my two were away in college. That was one of the most challenging things for us…teaching them to make their allowance last and also getting money to them for emergencies and unexpected expenses.
Thanks for sharing!

Ashley · November 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

Sounds like an excellent program. Once our girls know the difference between a toonie and a penny (Bethany thinks that the “big” ones are best to pick because they’re pretty and to Audrey they’re all just “Mon” – money) it might be something we look at. It would have made band trips easier for me as a kid.

Shelley Condrashoff · November 23, 2010 at 9:43 am

Can you share more photos form your trip?

Candace · November 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

the only thing I found when I used American Express was that it wasn’t accepted half the places I needed it to be …. I would use a prepaid Visa card as they are accepted almost everywhere even when American Express and Master Card aren’t.

Antof9 · November 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

It sounds perfect, and that’s saying something because I don’t even like AMEX much. Sounds like you’ve found a great solution. And yay for your girl growing up and becoming independent!

Kylie · November 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm

That’s a great idea! I remember being only 12 years old when my mother gave me $100 to go shopping for Christmas presents by myself while she shopped for stuff for me in another part of the store…

I had stuffed the $100 bill into the front pocket of my jeans and started looking around the store.

After a few moments in the store, I reached into my pocket to make sure the money was still there. But was extremely upset to find that it had fallen out.

I looked everywhere for it and even retraced my steps with my mother, only to come up empty handed…

lace · November 23, 2010 at 7:09 pm

This sounds like a perfect plan for your family.

I think I’m going to have to go skiing this winter. I haven’t been in years!

Jo · November 23, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Hmmmm……..I kinda like this idea. Definitely a good balance of the two extremes. Sounds like if Liz got stuck with an emergency, you could just go online and put more $$ on the card. I like it!!

Liz, way to go with the skiing! MK, my condolences for your bank account, lol. Hang in there!

Kylie · November 25, 2010 at 8:24 am

Just wanted to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Kim Becker · November 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hey Shelley, I didn’t take any photos. This is from last year :)

Satyavan Raj · November 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Hmm: My method has still been the old fashioned debit card route and constantly reminding to make sure they do not overspend. This seems like a good idea and will check into it. Nice photo. Thank you.

MC · November 29, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Look around the net. If you open one there was an additional free $50 for signing up for PASS.

Jambaroo · February 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Sensible idea – probably good for other purposes too. Like festivals – i never want to take my debit card, but dont want to carry a mountain of cash!

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