Power of plastic: Discover card programs benefit Scouts, Scouting

Ready to lead the charge in your pack, troop, team, or crew?

Check out the Boy Scouts of America’s new Discover card programs, which offer a lesson in financial responsibility for your Scouts and a boost for the BSA.

There are two separate components to the program. Here’s what you need to know: 

Prepaid Discover card for Scouts

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 Scouts’ cargo shorts.

Parents, you can monitor your Scout’s purchases through the online or mobile site, making this an easy way to give your kids an allowance and ensure they don’t blow it all on comic books and candy bars.

The card, issued by UMB Bank, mFunds, and First California Bank, is “designed as a Scout’s first financial tool to teach financial education and responsibility.”

Other benefits:

  • Online and mobile access to the card account
  • Special financial education information for parents and Scouts to discuss
  • Direct ties to earning-related merit badges, such as Personal Management
  • Safety concierge service for Scouts in emergency situations
  • Access to discounts at tens of thousands of merchants nationwide

Learn more: Web site to register for more info.

Discover credit card for Scouters

Moms and Dads, this one’s for you. This Discover credit card gives you the financial security you’d expect with a major credit card company backing your purchases, but it’s got one benefit you won’t find with a typical credit card: it rewards you and the Boy Scouts of America.

A simple swipe of your card means a direct benefit to Scouting. A no-brainer, right?

Learn more: Web site to register for more info.

Benefit to Scouting

According to the Scout Wire post about the program, local councils are expected to earn as much as $10 million through this program over the next five years.

That means better camping facilities, more Scouts at camp, and enhanced opportunities for local councils to deliver the program to Scout units.

Coming soon

The cards aren’t yet available, but registering your name and e-mail address at the links above ensures that when they launch, you’ll be the first to know.

27 thoughts on “Power of plastic: Discover card programs benefit Scouts, Scouting

  1. Having had very negative experiences with a Discover credit card, my advice is to refrain from participating in this program. Discover does not have a positive history of settling disputes and my experiences dealing with their customer service people were very negative. In my opinion, the BSA could have done a whole lot better in selecting a credit card company with which to partner.

  2. I’m with you, Calvin. Although I’m not a big fan of teaching our boys how easy it is to use a credit card at such a young age regardless of the credit card company. If I really needed my son to have a prepaid card of some sort, I would prefer to do a debit card through the bank. I’m thinking this was great marketing on Discover’s side, bad thinking on BSA’s side. Sorry…

  3. No good. Thrifty says nothing about debt. Credit Cards, Student Loans, Car Payments etc. . . No way. Teach them how to live within a budget and how to be a continuous saver, good emergency fund and they will never need a credit card.

  4. I agree, a young person learns to be financially sound when they see the money in their pocket get smaller each time they buy something. The convenience of a debit card is good, but only for those who understand the ‘real money’ behind it. I won’t be promoting this either. Great idea for discover, and I like the thought that BSA could receive funds, but the financial security of our young people is paramount to the future success of this country.

  5. When I announced this as part of my summary of the programming and support coming from the National meeting, I received 29 other postings similiar to the three above. I have never personally dealt with Discover. From the outside, I see some positives here. But I guess I am not looking into the details — nobody has them because the cards have not been issued.

    The biggest question is how do local Councils get a “benefit” from the Scouts using their debit cards? And how about Scouters — do they place their three digit Council number on the receipts or is that done electronically or is part of the card number the Council number so that Discover can figure that out?

    I wish that there was a “sidewards thumb” I can place here. I too don’t want to see Scouts and Scouters wandering around sites like the Summit with wads of money. Whatever happened to that cool RFID bracelet thing which was connected to a credit or debit card…it was showcased (and I used one) during the Jamboree. All I had to do wave my arm and I’ve paid for a cup of coffee!

    The other issue which I did not have an answer for is the percentages that National and the local Council would get per purchase? I asked that same question during the National meeting and the Discover people just asked me to give them my name and email and they will be sending information soon.

    It’s coming up on three months and close to the start of the new program year…I would love to be able to provide better answers than “you’ll have to wait until it rolls out…”

  6. Mike

    When I took Economics in college I had an interesting text with the title of “TANSTAAFL” — There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

    So where is all this money that BSA is going to get going to come from?????


  7. “According to the Scout Wire post about the program, local councils are expected to earn as much as $10 million through this program over the next five years.” – that $10 million is NOT coming out of their profits, it is coming out of fees generated off the card.

    Explain to me how this really supports Scouting’s mission and values? Don’t tell me about non-dues revenue, tell me how this is actually good for Scouts. BSA national, be ashamed.

  8. Yes, Discover really put one over on the BSA, come on guys?! This is not a good idea!
    BSA is being blinded by corporate America, first Excon and Intel and now Discover. BSA
    needs to take a big step back and get perspective!

  9. After being in debt for 35 I have finally decided these things are evil and will suck your money away. Boy Scouts would do better sponsoring Dave Ramsey Couses for the leadership and professionals. I cut up all my credit cards last week.

  10. I would caution anyone looking into this program to stay away, cash is king, but more importantly the fee’s on these types of accounts usually make them a “losing experience” to put it lightly. I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot pole.

    Between this and using Harris Connect for the Eagle roundup that has been going on, it really makes me question some of the decision making going on at the national level.

  11. This sounds like a great way for the BSA and our local Councils to get some additional funding, folks. Can someone please explain why this is not a good idea? I waiting for more details, but it reads that most of you have already made up your minds before the program’s rolled out.

    I would love to have a debit/credit card with the BSA logo and some cool graphics as I pay for coffee, snacks and other less-important things. My bank won’t let me place the BSA’s logo on their card but I can add all kinds of goofy images of my kids or me. I wish that the BSA would provide a printable “permission form” which verifies that yeah, I’m a BSA volunteer (can’t you tell it from the uniform? *smiling*) and that its okay that I can use the official logos in connection with my debit card.

    In the meantime, if someone would please enlighten me (and everyone else here) on why the special Discover(tm) card isn’t a good idea…I’d appreciate it greatly!

    • The only down side is Discover is taken by fewer vendors than Visa/MC/AmEx. I currently use a card from billmyparents.com for my son’s scouting travels and school purchases. I am really looking forward to getting these cards for both my sons’ and their travels to Jamboree2013. Hopefully with this program in the works, Discover will be a card of choice at the Summit so they can use them while traveling.

  12. What a horrible idea. Teach scouts — and adults — to manage money with cash. Spending cash registers a strong emotional response in the brain. Plastic, be it pre-paid, debit or credit, does not affect us in the same way. One reason McDonald’s starting accepting plastic is because it saw the average ticket increase.

    Stay away from this!

    • Eric, I agree cash is the ideal form of payment for most things, but when my council requires pre-payment for activities and I can’t drive to the scout center, checks and credit cards become the common source of payments. Better to start teaching my sons fiscal responsibility with accounts now in high school, than waiting until the marketing vultures get to them with student cards in college.

  13. It’s unfortunate so many seem to have negative experiences with credit cards in general, and Discover specifically. I’ve had a Discover card for 20 years now, and have never had any issue with the company handling charge disputes. In fact, I’ve had very good luck on the few occasions my monthly balance check was lost in the mail and I was charged a late fee (this is before I switched to online bill payment). Discover has also been very helpful when my cc number was hijacked, and has done a great job in its spending analysis/charge authorization service, stopping payment in instances when a big ticket item that was not something I usually purchased was charged to my account. I was both called and emailed, and a quick verification by me cleared everything up.

    As for credit cards, just like any other tool they are not in and of themselves evil. If you stay aware of what you charge (so very easy nowadays with a quick online check of your charges), buy only what you can actually afford and pay off your full balance every month, you can easily avoid falling into debt. Also, although many rewards programs aren’t quite what they used to be, there are still benefits to be enjoyed by spending within your budget and charging most monthly purchases and payments. Let’s also not overlook the convenience of using credit, especially in online purchases, renting vehicles, reserving hotel rooms and a host of other situations.

    Ignoring the benefits of teaching the responsible use of credit or debit cards out of a fear of possible misuse is not far removed from never teaching a youth to drive a car because of the danger of a high-speed accident, or never teaching them to swim because there’s a chance they may drown.

  14. The problem here is two fold. The largest issue is BSA promoting a debit card to Scouts. If this were merely a credit card with pretty pictures being offered to adults, this would be OK. Simply a way for BSA to obtain non-dues revenue. These affinity cards are a bad deal for customers, the money paid to the association comes out of our pockets, of course, not out of Discovers.

    The real problem is BSA geting involved in promoting plastic cards to boys. For me, this is over the top and doesn’t pass the smell test. Not even close

  15. Okay Robert, got it. We shouldn’t be teaching Scouts how to deal with plastic. Never mind our schools already have plastic “meal” debit cards. Never mind that most families give their sons (and daughters) plastic debit cards with small amounts of cash on them so they may be able to purchase whatever they chose instead of handing them two twenties and say “don’t spend it all in one place, eh?”

    I have cards for five different coffee places, so that all I have to do is give them the card, they swipe it and I enjoy a warm or hot cup of joe. Once a month or so, I’ll add more money to the cards, and we move on. No jingle in the pockets and chances are if someone knocks me on the head, they’ve got some pieces of plastic which I can later turn off or transfer to other pieces of plastic.

    At camp, the issue has always been that balance between having “mad money” and having none at all for those things which come up. Sure, your camp can be one of those who will credit whatever the Scout buys and at the end of the week the Troop or the parent can pay what’s due. Or they can simply hand the Scout a card (or bracelet — I really like the bracelet better) and when they come in to purchase — whatever — it is immediately deducted and credited to the camp. No waiting until the end of the week. No writing of checks by Mom or Pop or Meema. That’s what I like about this.

    Been, there, done that. There were several times whereby I truly wished that my Eagle Scout card was an “emergency cash card” in which when I get stranded somewhere, I present my Eagle Scout card and I get gasoline or a place to stay without having to mail them a money order or shoot them cash when I get someplace where I can do so. It was exceptional when people looked at my Eagle Scout card when I was stranded and not only did they help me get back on the road, but they even fed me or hugged me saying “bless you!” or just stayed with me until the wrecker or travellers’ aid got there. Today, you show your Eagle Scout card and it’s like “yeah, I still need $40 from you bub…”.

    But having an Eagle Scout “Discover Card(tm)” would allow me to have one less card in my wallet and my own assurance that if I’m stranded someplace, it would identify me as a Scouter (former Scout, Eagle Scout at that) and I would receive assistance somehow.

    I do question, however — what’s the BSA’s cut and what’s the cut of the local Council?
    And if I used this card X times, is there going to be any benefit to me except that I’m helping my local Council and the BSA nationally? I’m still waiting on those answers.

    • According to the FAQs for council leaders on scouting.org $1 of each monthly maintance fee ($3.95 per card) will be spilt 50/50 between national and local council. That means we can generate $500 a month or $6000 a year for our local councils for every 1000 boys who maintain an account.

    • Mike – I didn’t explain myself well. BSA SHOULD teach financial literacy. Agree totally.

      But how does promoting a high fee card to boys teach financial literacy? Push the card to adults? Fine by me. Make sure people understand what the fees are, but absolutely – push the card to adults.

      If the plan is to teach financial literacy, then teach financial literacy. Pushing card is not reaching financial literacy. Where is the curriculum to go along with the card?

  16. Mike – I understand your perspective. I simply do not believe that BSA ought to be promoting cash cards to kids.

    That parents ought to be teaching their kids about money management – yes. That BSA has a role to play in teaching financial literacy – Yes. BSA promoting a cash card for Scouts and profiting from our Scouts – No.

    • Because National Supply Division doesn’t profit from the sale of overpriced brand name camping items, or crappy foreign-made camping items (and BSA heavily promotes camping, right)?

    • But in today’s world, responsible money management includes the responsible use of plastic, be it ATM card, which many scouts 11-18 aren’t able to obtain through traditional banking means, or a pre-paid debit card. At least with this pre-paid card, when my sons spend the “cash” I give them, I can see where it is going and discuss with them responsible spending habits, rather than hoping they remember what they spend it on when it is all gone.

  17. Learning to be responsible with plastic can be a good thing. Being responsible for the funds (money) that goes on the card from one’s allowance or paycheck and having to live within the limits of the amount on the card is a plus. When the balance is ZERO that’s it. At least until the Scouts earns more money so the card can be plused up with funds. Using the card for purchase at camp. Dealing with keeping track of the card and frustration if it becomes misplaced can also provide lifetime lessons. BSA needs to make sure it gets the most benefit from program ~ 20% from every purchase would seem fair to me (I would like to see the details)

  18. I have to admit, I am excited about this program. My oldest two sons will be attending Jamboree 2013 and I like the idea of them going with a pre-paid card, and in the end why not one supporting the scouting ideals.

    My oldest son attended NOAC 2012. He has a pre-paid card through a program called Billmyparents.com. I like the idea of him have just enough cash for responsible patch purchasing on him. The pre-paid card meant that he had money for airport luggage fees, snacks, coffee, and most iomportantly he could withdraw cash if needed. I also was able to add funds to the card from home, rather than have him take a lot of money on him or have to pay western union fees. And most importantly, if it was lost or stolen, it wasn’t attached to any of our bank accounts so there was limited financial liability if that case.

    And in the end, if part of the fees I pay, right now to other vendors, goes to supporting my local council or BSA, I will be one of the first in line.

  19. Pingback: How to monitor your Scout’s spending and benefit Scouting « Bryan on Scouting

  20. Pingback: How to monitor your Scout’s spending and benefit Scouting | Central Florida Council | Boy Scouts of America

  21. THIS CARD IS A JOKE!!! Worst financial mistake I’ve made in a long time. It was fine for the two weeks my kid was at the Jamboree. But the fees for this card are outrageous!!! My bad for not reading the fine print. I noticed a $4/month charge on my checking account and I had a suspicion it was this card & it was! $4/mo. for a $12 balance? Not to mention the initial fees, reload fees, and of course…the $10 to close this turd of a card!!! Probably cost me $25 for $100 card. The $$ to scouting is a scam! I’ll donate directly and avoid being ripped off! I liked the idea of teaching my kid responsibility, but Discover is soaking us!!! I actually had a credit card with them as well that I cancelled out of principle! BSA should be ashamed for teaming up with Discover and shaking down the parents like this!!! BS is right!

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