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How to monitor your Scout’s spending and benefit Scouting

With some teens, you might as well give their allowance directly to Best Buy, GameStop, or Cinemark, because it’s going straight there anyway.

There’s got to be a better way. And now, there is. Harness the power of the Boy Scouts of America Discover® prepaid card, which lets you monitor your kid’s daily spending, teach him or her how to create and manage a budget, and do it all while benefiting the Boy Scouts of America.

I mentioned this program last year, but it’s worth repeating: This isn’t a credit card. Instead, it’s a prepaid, reloadable card that’s safer and more practical than the wad of cash in your Scout’s or Venturer’s cargo shorts.

Parents can monitor purchases through the online or mobile site, giving them instant access to increase or decrease allowance and ensure that said allowance is being spent wisely. There’s also a wealth of financial education materials, including videos, games, and budget calculators that families can explore together.

Scouts get the benefit of instant access to their cash, peace of mind knowing they’re not broke if their wallet goes missing, and live safety and emergency services coordinators, available 24/7 if they’re ever in a jam.

And here’s a cool bonus: Local councils get a piece of the action. A portion of proceeds are sent right to councils so that Scouting in your community can thrive.

To learn more or get a card for your Scouts, go to scoutsarethrifty.com.

Now that the program has been up and running, mFunds has answered some frequently asked questions about the program: 

What are the fees?

See the complete fees page for details.

Why are there fees?

Here’s what mFunds says:

Obviously, there are always costs involved with running any business and this program is no exception. We have worked together with the Boy Scouts of America to limit cost and in positioning the fees and cost structure of the product. We are proud that we are offering competitive fees in the prepaid debit card industry for this type of product.

While some fees go towards support of the program (in providing the program benefits noted below), a portion is distributed back to Boy Scouts of America and is shared down to the local council level, directly supporting the Scouts program. The card can be used most effectively if the Scout and parent monitor the card balance through free online tools and do not attempt to overspend the amount of funds loaded to the card.

Why a Scout prepaid card?

Here’s the response from mFunds:

We have strived to work with the Boy Scouts of America to create a product that would support and build upon the tremendous history of the Scouts. We feel we have developed a product that helps young adults prepare for the challenges of their adult lives through financial literacy and with the tools that are available to help Scouts learn how to manage personal finances.

What other benefits does the card offer?

Again, let’s let mFunds weigh in:

  • You can log into the site, go to the “Financial Resources” section, and access a Local Coupons Portal. This portal provides coupons and discounts for participating local merchants. You can also access Financial Literacy Articles from this section, to read and share with the entire family, in an effort to encourage and build financial responsibility.
  • If ever in need of emergency safety services, your Scout can call the toll-free number on the back of the card and select to access the Emergency Services Concierge and speak with a live operator who will assist in coordinating with the authorities, medical assistance, towing assistance, and more.*
  • In case the card is ever lost or stolen, you or your Scout can simply text “OFF” to the mFunds short code (48723) and temporarily disable the card, preventing unauthorized use.**

These benefits and more are included in the program.


FINE PRINT: The Boy Scouts of America Discover® prepaid card is issued by First California Bank pursuant to a license from Discover Network. Discover and the Discover acceptance mark are service marks used by First California Bank under license from Discover Financial Services. mFunds Global Payment Solutions is a registered ISO of First California Bank.

*The personal concierge live operator service does not include actual charges incurred from service providers for specific assistance and services. These services are not provided by Discover or First California Bank.

**The mobile SMS services does not include actual charges incurred from mobile service providers.

13 Comments on How to monitor your Scout’s spending and benefit Scouting

  1. Don Schmidt // May 16, 2013 at 11:45 am // Reply

    You mentioned not being broke if their wallet goes missing. Where do you think the Scout would be carrying the card?

    • Michael Todd // May 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm // Reply

      You can cancel and replace the card; I’m sure the money is attached to the digital account, not the physical card. More than a gift card: much more similar to a debit card, I’d say.

      • I agree, it is more similar to a debit card. But, unlike some debit cards, you’ll have to pay the $5.95 Card Replacement fee.

        • Michael Todd // May 20, 2013 at 10:48 am //

          Oh yeah, I’m not recommending it. Simply helping clear some ambiguity.

  2. Calvin Gray // May 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm // Reply

    I think it is terrible that the BSA is sponsoring this. Of course, the BSA is doing this in order to bring in revenue. My experience with Discover was extremely negative but I wouldn’t endorse a similar program offered by a different credit card company as the BSA should not be involved with this type of program.

  3. NJ Eagle Scout // May 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm // Reply

    BUYER BEWARE…READ THE FINE PRINT! I agree completely with Calvin. I was really disappointed in what I read when I took a look at the terms & conditions (don’t just click YES without reading them first). This seems to be no different than many of the recent debit cards on the news that were marketed towards kids and had exceptionally high fees so they were pulled from the market once the media caught wind of how they were trying to take advantage of kids.

    I would NEVER recommend a card that charges the fees associated with this program. They charge an application fee and even a higher “Account Closure” fee as well as monthly fees. Sad to see BSA promoting this just to make a few bucks. If I were to teach Personal Management to a Scout, this would be an example of what NOT to do if you are going to be fiscally responsible. Hope they come up with a better option in the future.

  4. 1. While the tools sound good, I would rather teach my scout to be thrifty than teach him to us a credit card or even a prepay card.

    2. What’s an allowance?

  5. A Scout is thrifty. Pre-paid cards are anything but thrifty. The fees are crazy and I see no benefit over a teen checking or savings account that you can control the balance of. I would not promote this as a BSA product if I was in charge.

  6. I am a Personal Management merit badge counselor and this will be a great card to show the Scouts what to AVOID. Can’t wait to put the fees and “fine print” in the presentation. BSA should really reconsider the message vs the money the earn. There is a much better way to teach out Scout how to manage funds.

  7. Looks like the BSA are already trying to find new ways to make up for all the money they stand to lose if they vote to abandon the Oath and Law. If this silly little card gambit fails, maybe they’ll think twice before voting to cast out their traditional supporters, eh?

  8. I would never get this card, the fees are outrageous. Shame on the BSA for promoting this. There are many other alternatives that can be use to help teach financial responsibility. This card is just a bad idea.

  9. My husband and I agree with what people have already mentioned about the ridiculous number of fees involved with the BSA Discover prepaid card. This is NOT the type of card that should be recommended for Scouts. It would be better for a Scout to open a youth savings or checking bank account, one that offers free debit cards and doesn’t charge all those extra fees. Our son did this through our bank, and in addition to NOT charging a Card Issuance Fee, they do NOT charge any of the following fees: Domestic Point-of-Sale PIN Transaction fee, Domestic ATM Withdrawal fee, Domestic ATM Balance Inquiry fee, Monthly Paper Statement Fee, Monthly Maintenance Fee, Account Closure fee, or Card Replacement fees.

    Our son’s account has all the same types of parental controls and educational benefits as the BSA Discover prepaid card. For example, one of the suggested benefits of the Discover prepaid card is that Scouts won’t be able to overspend as easily as they could with a regular debit card. But, with our son’s account/debit card, we can easily prevent overspending by setting up spending limits. We can also easily monitor his account, or transfer funds in and out of it without any additional fees.

    In regards to part of the proceeds going to BSA, it doesn’t make sense for a Scout to pay all those extra fees every month, just for BSA to get $1 per card, per month from the $3.95 Monthly Maintenance Fee (to be split 50/50 between the National Council and local councils). I don’t mean to say that BSA shouldn’t get the money, just that it would make more sense for a Scout to simply donate $1 a month directly to BSA. (In fact, he might even be able to donate a little more, considering that he doesn’t have to pay all the extra fees connected to the Discover prepaid card.)

    • Michael Todd // May 20, 2013 at 10:51 am // Reply

      Some great points. Often times local Credit Unions have great youth programs, but even big banks have generic youth programs. Look for deals with your child’s school – then donate a dollar or two (or more!) a month to national (or council, or specific account in their unit like awards, etc).

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