JH Preferred: How I Loath You

Maybe “loath” is to harsh of a word. A good substitute would be “JH Preferred: I Don’t Enjoy Using You, But I Can Somewhat Tolerate Your Nonsense.” The problem is, it’s not as catchy. I ordered a card for myself early February and have been testing it out since. As you can guess, I don’t like it very much.

What is the JH Preferred Card?
The JH Preferred card is a prepaid card offered by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

What Features Does it Offer?
It offers a lot of the same features as many other prepaid cards such as bill pay, cash reloads, and ATM access. The problem is the feature set is terrible compared to Bluebird and Serve.

How Does it Compare to Bluebird?
Bluebird is the card to beat in the manufactured spending world. It offers the best bill pay, the least amount of fees, and is re-loadable via Vanilla Reloads.

JH Preferred has bill pay, however it is not at all comparable to Bluebird. Bluebird gives you the ability to pay everyone from a friend to a credit card company to a mortgage. JH Preferred offers you the ability to pay certain companies, none of which are credit card companies.

JH Preferred doesn’t have many fees, but it does have some including a $3 monthly fee if you do not load at least $1,000 per month. Bluebird does not have a monthly fee.

JH Preferred is loadable via Vanilla Reloads, which is the reason I checked it out in the first place. That is probably the best thing this card has going for it.

Fees and Limits
As I previously mentioned this card has a $3 monthly fee if you do not load at least $1,000 onto the card a month. If you use this for manufactured spending, you will likely have no problem with this, however I don’t like monthly fees at all. It costs $2.50 + whatever the ATM owner charges per ATM withdrawal. Direct deposit is free and PIN/signature purchases are free as well.

The JH Preferred card has the same Vanilla Reload limits as Bluebird. You can load $5,000 a month. You can see the full list of fees and limits on this card here.

How to MS with JH Preferred?
There are a few ways to MS with this card. You can use it to buy money orders, since it has a PIN. You could also use it for cash advances at your bank. I have tried both of these methods with this card and have had no issues. In fact, I prefer to use prepaid cards for money orders since they actually have my name on them. I feel better about having my name on the card, just in case the cashier asks to see the card.

My Thoughts
It has some okay features, most notably the ability to load it with Vanilla Reloads. The only problem is that this card is almost identical to My Vanilla Debit, which has a very high rate of shutting people’s accounts down. Many people on this Flyertalk thread have had their JH Preferred account shut down do to manufactured spending. I have yet to experience this because I have been very slow with my JH card. Many of these people were shut down after loading it with $5k than cash advancing it out.

After hearing about the shutdowns my strategy was to load about $1.5k a week then cash advance or money order it out. I did this for over the course of 3 weeks without issue. Mine and my wife’s accounts are still alive and kicking! I will probably only use this card as a last resort to get some extra MS for the month.

Is it Worth Getting?
That’s up to you. If you don’t mind running the risk of being shut down and possibly having your money sit in limbo for a few weeks, then I would say get it. If you don’t want to run the risk or you don’t need the extra $5k worth of MS a month, then don’t get it. I will keep these cards around, because they will help with my credit card churns.

You can sign up for the card here.

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