Recovering from anything – whether chemical addiction or bankruptcy – requires you have both a personal willingness to change and a little specialized help from people with the right tools. The Next Step credit card could be one such tool.
A prepaid MasterCard is nothing new in today’s economy. Many people use them to establish their credit history and others use them to rebuild credit. Some people simply prefer them over traditional credit just so they can avoid many of the traditional hassles that come along with credit (payment due dates, late fees, processing charges, etc.).
The Next Step Prepaid MasterCard, however, is a very special kind of prepaid card designed to help addicts in recovery. While it obviously can’t help with cravings for alcohol or drugs (or other compulsions like gambling or shopping) the designers of the card share that it could very well help to keep a recovering addict from “backsliding” into their previously damaging habits.
This powerful new tool was designed by former New York real estate broker Eric Dresdale, New York restaurateur Louis Fisher, and Los Angeles marketing professional Ryan Jaffe, who became friends during alcohol and drug treatment in Delray Beach, FL. They equally realized that the best way to stop themselves from scoring their drug of choice was to simply limit their access to cash. Thus was born the Next Step Card.
The Next Step Card is very simple. It works to help fight addiction by providing the user with customizable controls that can block things like ATM withdrawals or use at places commonly attributed with addiction: bars, liquor stores, casinos, escort services, tattoo parlors, piercing salons, and more. Every card also requires a co-signer, which could be (and, perhaps, should be) a sponsor who can not only help to set daily spending limits but can also monitor transactions to ensure that their loved one is not falling off the wagon. Similarly, this measure ensures that the recovering addict cannot trade the card for cash, a common practice among addicts in possession of gift cards.
Like most prepaid cards, the Next Step MasterCard has an initial setup fee and a monthly service charge. Unlike most cards, the monthly fee for this particular card is on the high side of the scale. Of course, as an addict who probably used to spend much more than $15 a month on their particular drug of choice, the $14.95 monthly fee is nothing to shake a stick at.
To put things in perspective, Dresdale recounts
The basic idea was modeled after those meal plan cards they have in college. We eventually discovered that a prepaid debit card would give us the ability to incorporate all of these tools and functions to promote healthy spending and help these cardholders stay away from impulsive spending.
While the strategy is sound, Jaffe remembers that it was not easy approaching MasterCard with the idea.
It wasn’t an easy sell because the truth is, there really hasn’t been a card to date with this many restrictions and this many tools,
he says, continuing on about the way they designed the card to eventually wean users off of itself.
Obviously, from a business standpoint, it would be great (to keep customers), but having been in recovery and understanding the importance of being self-supporting, we want you to get away from this card. We don’t want you to be on this card for a year.
Indeed, this was probably the hardest aspect to sell but MasterCard is smart to take a chance on it. Time will tell, though, how effective the card will be, especially since addiction experts warn of the crafty nature of addicts to find a way to score, even with such excessive restrictions.