On Sept. 24, 2007, UniRush Financial Services LLC reported that Cynthia Williams, a cardholder of the BabyPhat Prepaid RushCard, won over $14,000 in a tax refund sweepstakes sponsored by Visa U.S.A. Earlier this year, Williams elected to have her federal tax refund deposited directly to her RushCard, which automatically entered her into the sweepstakes and gave her the opportunity to win 10 times the amount of her refund, or up to $25,000.
In 2006, Visa launched the sweepstakes to promote the prepaid RushCard designed to provide individuals without a bank account a means to safely and easily manage their money. The RushCard is a venture of Visa and UniRush LLC, the financial services company co-founded by Russell Simmons, co-founder of the hip-hop record label Def Jam and creator of the men's clothing line Phat Farm. Traditionally, low income, unbanked consumers have had their tax refunds cashed at check cashing businesses. The legal rate from state to state for check cashing is up to 3% of the face value of the check. Fraudulent check cashing operations may charge upward of 10%. And then individuals have to bear the risks of carrying around large amounts of cash.
But in the case of the RushCard, direct deposit of the tax refund to the card is free of charge, according to the Visa RushCard Web site. And the consumer is no longer obligated to handle huge sums of paper money.
According to UniRush, another advantage of direct deposit of your tax refund to the RushCard is speed. While it may take several weeks for the paper refund checks mailed by the Internal Revenue Service to reach the refund recipient, consumers who use direct deposit to their RushCard may receive their refund within two weeks or less.
Visa, MasterCard Worldwide and Discover Financial Services LLC have rolled out prepaid card programs with various incentives to attract the estimated more than 48 million consumers in the United States who lack access to traditional bank accounts.
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