Chair of charity launches new pre-paid debit card

Steve Round, the chairman of homelessness charity the Big Issue Foundation, has launched a new pre-paid card that small charities could offer to their members as an alternative to affinity credit cards.

Many major credit card companies are willing to enter into deals only with organisations that offer access to affluent members, but the foundation's Community Card - a top-up debit Mastercard under the Maestro brand - is being hailed as an option for groups of any size or membership.

"A lot of charities have used affinity credit cards in the past, but they are putting people into debt," said Round, who is also an adviser to Charity Bank. "The problem with credit cards is that half your members won't even be eligible if their credit rating isn't good enough. This idea is much more inclusive."

The card is currently being piloted by Rainbow Saver Anglia and Ipswich and Suffolk credit unions, which are charging £3 per month to cover transaction fees.

However, Patrick Cox, founder of the Small Charities Coalition, warned: "On paper it's a good concept, but it needs a lot more work before it's ready for small charities to use."

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