The men of Gold & Silver Pawn have become staples on TV. Now, they want to move into people’s wallets.
The “Pawn Stars” — Rick “The Spotter” Harrison, dad Richard “Old Man” Harrison, son Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison and best friend Austin “Chumlee” Russell — last week launched a prepaid debit card with their faces emblazoned across the front. The limited-edition MasterCard is branded with the Gold & Silver Pawn name and is being offered through Redwood Hills Financial Group.
“For centuries, pawn shops have provided financial services to consumers who don’t have a traditional checking account or credit card,” store owner Rick Harrison said. “Our prepaid debit card is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing for years in our shop — giving good people some financial ‘wiggle room’ and direct access to their money.”
Customers need only an ID to sign up for the card. Credit history is not a factor.
Unlike regular credit cards where money is essentially borrowed, the debit card must be loaded with funds before it can be used. Customers can directly deposit their paychecks to the card or transfer cash at Western Union. It can be used anywhere MasterCard or debit cards are accepted.
“There’s a large portion of the population that have bad credit and can’t even get a bank account,” Harrison said. “You need a credit card for just about everything these days. It’s basically a necessity, and a lot of people are locked out.”
Redwood Hills approached Harrison with the idea several months ago. He researched the company to make sure it was legit, he said, and demanded one condition: low fees. “I’m not going to associate my name with anyone ripping people off,” he said.
The finance group does charge fees for using the debit card. Customers pay $2.50 for withdrawing cash from an ATM, for example, and $14.95 if they overdraw the account. But the fees are lower than those charged by several other companies. Redwood Hills waives its monthly $9.95 maintenance charge if a customer sets up direct deposit, and account-to-account transfers are free.
The debit card is a fitting side project for the pawn stars. The audience the Harrisons hope to target in many ways mirrors the crowds that line up for their Las Vegas shop (at least before it because a tourist trap). Both are mainly people hard hit by the economic downturn.