The 02 Cash Manager is a pre-paid Visa Debit card and is available to anyone over the age of 13. The basic premise is that you top the card up with money and then use it like a credit card. You can only spend what you have on the card, meaning there is no danger of going over your budget.
*Why have one?*
I have been down the credit card route and I am not to be trusted with them quite frankly. Having been put on a debt management plan, getting my finances in order was top priority for me last year. The most obvious advantage of this card was to help me control my spending money. Once a month, after pay day, I work out my spending money, and transfer it onto my O2 card. Then for the rest of the month, that money is mine. Once it's gone, it's gone but I can keep track of it, and it keeps my bank account clear, with enough money to cover my direct debits. As you don't need a credit check to get one, my already poor credit rating didn't suffer as a result of applying for the card.
*How does it work?*
Topping up the card couldn't be easier. Logging onto the O2 money site, you can see your card's balance and then you have the option to "load" your card. You can top up whenever you want - you enter the bank card you are transferring money from and it literally takes seconds for the money to be available on your card. The other option is to set up a regular load - basically like a standing order. I did do that initially but found due to erratic pay days, it was easier for me to manually transfer an amount every month. The only limit is that you can't top up more than £500 a day, or £10,000 a year. For what I use my card for, it's not going to be a problem.
The website is very easy to use and also offers a budget planner, to help keep you on track. Whether you are a new customer or already an 02 customer, you still need to have a user name and password to access the money section. This is for additional security.
The card is easy to obtain and easy to manage. You can check your balance online and add money through their website. You can sign up to receive text messages - for every transaction on my card I get a text message with the amount added to my card and then the total, or the amount taken off my card, the retailer and the remaining balance on my card. The message is instant -literally as I remove my card from the machine. You can use the card as a cash point card, without charge, from any bank's ATM. You can also use it as a credit card, where accepted.
There are only two downsides to this card really. The first is that once you have transferred the money to the card, you can't transfer it back. Whilst you can still access the money through withdrawing from a cash point or online transactions, if you have £8 on your card, and you need the money asap, you can't transfer it back to your bank account.
The second is that because it is a visa debit card, there are websites and traders who will not accept it. As a rule of thumb, if they won't take Visa Electron, they won't take your Visa debit. You need to look carefully at the Visa signs displayed and check that it has debit in small writing underneath. To date, I have had very few problems with using it. My local train station unfortunately is one of them, the other is hotel websites.
As far as I am concerned, this card is an amazing feature and has really helped me with my money. With text messages every time you use it, it means you always have access to the amount, so you can't lose track of it, and it also is an added security measure. If someone was to use my card, then I would get a text message and I would know to report it. O2 money is well run and I have *touch wood* not experienced any real problems with them. When the card first came out and I signed up, they gave all their customers £5 as their systems had been running slowly. As I actually hadn't noticed, it was well received as an extra bonus.
With the recession still looming over us and companies going down the pan one after another, it's easy to see why companies are doing everything they can to cash in on the recession so that their businesses can stay afloat. The 02 Cash Manager account is 02's way of giving something back to the community during these difficult times... all the while making themselves millions of pounds!
02 Cash Manager is a new service offered by one of the leading mobile phone and broadband networks in the UK. Cash Manager is a Visa Debit card which is basically just like any other debit card however it doesn't allow you to spend more money than you have in your account meaning that you'll never go into debt through using it. Cash Manager is available exclusively to 02 customers of 13 years old or over and can easily be set up over the internet.
*** Setting Up***
To set up your new Cash Manager account visit www.money.02.co.uk/cashmanager. You'll be greeted with a home screen where you can view all the benefits in owning a cash manager card. Setting up couldn't be simpler, if you click the clear red box saying 'Get Card Now' you'll be taken to the set up screen where you'll be asked to enter your 02 mobile number, you'll then immediately be sent a 6 digit code via text message which you enter into the website in order to get to the next stage. Upon entering your unique 6 digit code you'll be taken to the details stage, this takes two minutes maximum and consists of you entering your personal detail (address, telephone number etc) you will not be asked for any other bank account details, you only pass this information over after your card is set up in order to transfer money into your new account.
After entering your details you'll be asked to log into your 02 internet account (you're likely to already have one of these if you are on an 02 contract and have set your payments up online), if you don't have an existing account it's not a problem as it only takes two minutes to set one up.
So after you've set up your account, you'll get an onscreen message to tell you that your card should be with you in the post within 3 working days (which it was). With this you'll receive extra information about the 02 Cash Manager Card as well as a welcoming letter with contact numbers incase you need any assistance. Before you can use your card you will need to activate it, this involves logging back into your 02 Cash Manager account and near the bottom of the home screen you'll see the link clearly entitled 'activate my card' clicking on this will take you to a new screen where you'll be prompted to enter the three digit security code found on the back of your 02 Cash Manage card.
*** Making Payments ***
Subsequent to activating your card, it will then be ready to use, however what good is a card with no money on it? This is where you'll have to make a transaction from your bank account into your 02 Cash Manager account. This can be done from the home screen and takes only a matter of minutes by simply clicking 'add money' which can be found near the top of the screen. You'll then be required to enter the amount you want to transfer in GBP (£) and then enter your bank account details including card type, name and security code. This option can either be used to transfer a one off payment or it can be used to transfer a fixed monthly or weekly amount.
This card can be used for anything and doesn't just have to be there as an extra card if you ever need it, you could make it the main source for your bills to be paid or even for your wages to be paid into. Of course for this you'll have to contact your own bank which could be a little more complicated.
*** Home Screen ***
I've briefly mentioned the home screen already but there's a lot more that it has to offer than what I've already touched upon; the home screen can be used to view a list of recent transactions, alter your details (address, mobile number) and has a list of handy numbers that you may need to contact for assistance so it may be a good idea to take note of them. Putting these options aside, I think the best facility that the home screen provides is the mobile updates application. This enables 02 to send you a text everytime you: take money out of a cash machine, buy something with your card, transfer money, make a payment and if you're an 02 pay as you go customer you'll even receive a text to alert you of when your balance is running low, giving you the option to top up there and then or in your own time. This makes the 02 Cash Manager Card one of the safest cards to use as if it's ever used by anyone other than yourself you'll be made aware straight away and can notify 02 for them to hold the account and investigate any crimes which may have been committed.
*** Ease Of Use ***
If you've got an internet banking account set up with another bank then the 02 Internet Banking will be very easy to get used to. I've got a Lloyds TSB Internet Banking Account set up and the 02 Account is a lot easier to find your way around, it's nowhere near as advanced as Lloyds, or any other bank is for that matter which I think is a good thing. 02 have realised that they need to keep things as simple as possible and with that knowledge they're just offering the bare essentials, nothing more, nothing less. I think 02 have got the right idea in leaving the banking aspect to the professionals I.e. loans, mortgages etc and have decided to solely concentrate on giving their 02 customers another banking option which is simple, easy and effective.
As the account is open to 13 year olds and over I feel that this account would be the perfect first bank account for any 13 year old as you can never spend more than what's on your card and the account will coincide with their 02 pay as you go phone giving them the option to top up their phone and receive balance alerts. The account would be perfect for them to deposit their savings or pocket money into for them to save and spend on what they wish. It could also be used for them to put in any wages of Saturday jobs or EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) if they choose to stay on at school or college. Another brilliant aspect regarding the children's account which I don't believe other banks do is restrictions on what they buy, if parents choose they can stop their children from buying products with an 18 rating such as DVD's, alcohol, cigarettes or fireworks.
*** Disadvantages ***
The disadvantages with these cards are the interest rates, which I believe to be zero! This isn't like a high street bank account and you shouldn't expect to make any money off the money you deposit into your 02 account, this is a little disappointing but it's understandable. Another disadvantage are the restrictions regarding the account, you're only able to deposit up to £10,000 a year, not a penny more. Of course it's unlikely that anybody will decide to put all their wages into their 02 account instead of a proper bank account but if they do choose to it could be a problem for them if they earn more than £10,000 a year which most people do.
*** Special Offers ***
Currently there's only one special offer available to 02 Cash Manager Account holders; all you have to do is set up a monthly payment of £50 or more and keep this in progress for two consecutive months then your account will be credited with an extra £5 within three days of your £50 standing order being processed.
*** Budgeting ***
The 02 Cash Manager Card has been specifically designed to help people budget and prevent even more people in the UK from going into debt. A great feature on the 02 Cash Manager website is what they call a Budget Calculator. This works as a pop up which will appear after clicking on the budget calculator link. It will ask you to input any money that goes into your account and any outgoing spends that you make. It will calculate these and tell you how much money you'll be left with or how much more money you're spending than is being paid in. This will help you to cut out any spends that aren't necessary and hopefully save a bit of money along the way.
The only problem that I've encountered while using this function is that it's impossible for it to be 100% accurate as it only lets you input three outgoing spends and it's obvious that people are going to have more than three bills to pay over the course of a month. Hopefully this will be altered over the coming months making it more accurate.
*** Spending ***
Using the card is extremely simple and works in the way that any other debit/credit card does, it can be used to pay for any everyday items and can be used to shop online. I wouldn't recommend using your card to shop online as it's not guaranteed to be as safe as proper banks will be. Banks have set up lots of security measures over the last few years to make internet shopping as safe as possible, 02 have only just set up their Cash Manager Card meaning that it may not be wise to use it for internet shopping unless you are 100% sure that your firewall and virus software is up to date.
*** Withdrawing and Loading Money ***
Card holders can withdraw money from any cash machine, you will not be able to withdraw more than £200 a day from your account. You may not load your card with more than £500 a day, £1000 a week, £2000 a month or £10,000 a year.
*** Conclusion ***
Overall I like the idea of the 02 Cash Manager Card, it's easy to set up and does everything you would require it to do however I think it's got a long way to go before this card can match up to the high street banks. I feel that it should make more special offers to reel customers in as I feel this account may be seen as a bit of a novelty and not a serious bank account. I think the people that will benefit from this account the most are young people (under 18's) so if you're a parent looking for a bank account for your child I would say that it's worth checking this account out and seeing if it's suitable for them.