Hello Little Consumer
October 3, 2004 1:04 AM   Subscribe

Hello Little Consumer The popular Hello Kitty brand -- commonly found on stationery, purses, pajamas and other items for children -- will soon start appearing on a new platform: a MasterCard debit card. Target age group: 10 to 14."Freedom! You can use the Hello Kitty Debit MasterCard to shop 'til you drop,"
posted by brian (43 comments total)
paging t r a c y.
posted by The God Complex at 1:22 AM on October 3, 2004

An interesting visit to Puroland, the Hello Kitty theme park.
posted by Meridian at 3:51 AM on October 3, 2004

I love Hello Kitty, but I've never figured out why anyone would use a debit card.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:14 AM on October 3, 2004

I'm not a hello kitty fan, but I've never figured out why anyone would not use a debit card.
posted by birdherder at 7:25 AM on October 3, 2004

Meridian, Schultz has an interview with a Puroland employee on the current page now.
posted by kenko at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2004

Slight derail: Does Hello Kitty actually *do* anything? I mean, is it just an icon, or is there a tv show to go with it, or something. And if not, if all it is is something that shows up on backpacks and baseball caps, what's the appeal? Why do you "love" it, JoanArkham?
posted by jpoulos at 7:49 AM on October 3, 2004

She's just so cute! That's the whole appeal.
posted by dabitch at 7:51 AM on October 3, 2004

Hello Kitty is cuteness as a product in and of itself.

I'm sure that's what kids need nowadays -- something that looks and behaves like a credit card. Financially speaking it's a bit like "baby crack", isn't it?
posted by clevershark at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2004

My 11-year-old has a better credit rating than I do.
posted by mischief at 8:34 AM on October 3, 2004

Why do you "love" it, JoanArkham?

I dunno. Cause I'm a geek?

There are, in fact, Hello Kitty animated cartoons for kids but I've found them unwatchable.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2004

paging t r a c y.

i was all over this last week, heh.

I've never figured out why anyone would not use a debit card.

canadians are massive debit card users, seems we rarely carry cash anymore, according to some recently gathered stats the toronto star published. damned if i can find the article now tho'.
posted by t r a c y at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2004

(altho' i should probably clarify that the debit card use that's so popular in canada is bank issued - tied to your various accts, not pre-paid cards such as the mc hk card)
posted by t r a c y at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2004

I use debit cards a lot. Moving to the U.S. from Canada I was amazed that at the time a debit card wasn't a widely accepted means of payment. Writing cheques seemed archaic as did carrying wads of cash and I didn't have a U.S. based credit card since my Candian credit rating did not apply in the states.
posted by substrate at 12:29 PM on October 3, 2004

Actually debit cards ARE widely used in the USA... only US debit cards are affiliated with either Mastercard or Visa, so it looks like a credit card transaction.

It's infinitely more practical than the Canadian version IMHO, because you can use your debit card whenever you'd otherwise use a credit card, including online. The only instances where things don't work out so well are situations that require some sort of deposit, like renting a car, etc.
posted by clevershark at 12:43 PM on October 3, 2004

huh...? it's only online canucks can't use their bank debit cards, in meat space we use them like a/instead of a cc all the time - plus my main cc is attached to my debit card, so no need to switch cards out for the rare transactions that a debit card isn't accepted. annoyingly, dairy queen doesn't take debit cards at their drive thru' window. i wanted that strawberry shortcake blizzard so badly we parked in the drive thru' and ran in to pay in-store :-D

lately i've noticed a lot more online merchants letting you use paypal which is great because you can pay from your bank acct instead of using a cc.
posted by t r a c y at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2004

Hello Kitty has always reminded me of a sort of Japanese Mickey Mouse -- they're visually appealing, but completely devoid of personality. I'm told that Mickey is popular with kids because his design incorporates so many circles, and Sanrio characters seem to have the same thing going on. That said, I was always a little grossed out by Mickey (he looks like a bug!) and I'm not really taken with Hello Kitty either.. still, it seems that millions of people love both, so there has to be something about them.
posted by Hypharse at 1:14 PM on October 3, 2004

I admit I'm pretty clueless when it comes to finances...I just use my credit card for almost everything and pay it in full every month. I can see its advantage over cash though.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2004

I noticed in the UK everyone was using their debit cards for everything--even tiny purchases, like for coffee or for the subway. I can't imagine the stores like it, having to pay fees each time. (Most places here have minimum purchase reqs, i find.)

Is this a prepaid credit card (like Russell Simmons' Rush card), or just a regular bank debit card?
posted by amberglow at 1:38 PM on October 3, 2004

it's prepaid and not available to hk addicted canadians *sulks* but i was able to buy some as presents for american girl friends.
posted by t r a c y at 1:44 PM on October 3, 2004

I don't find that that many places have minimum purchase numbers anymore - definitely not chain-ish type places, like big grocery stores, etc. I have used my debit card for $3 purchases when I'm out of cash, and I always forget that I actually have a checkbook, I use it so rarely.

I've never really got the appeal of hello kitty either. I don't think she's cute... she's just bland. With a bow. meh. I do remember thinking it was mildly cute that people my age had hello kitty purses and stuff, like 10 years ago, when she wasn't as widely known, and it seemed sort of half-ironic, half-geeky (just the japanese factor, I think). But that was definitely a momentary blip, probably even more brief than my thinking lunchboxes-as-purses were cute.
posted by mdn at 1:56 PM on October 3, 2004

My debit card -- the type I've had for years and years -- has the Visa or Mastercard logo and accepted everywhere credit cards are. The purchase is immediately debited from my checking account. Some merchants like gas stations and grocery stories will ask if I want to use the card is a debit [enter pin] or credit [sign...unless they're like *$ and have done away with requiring signatures on credit card transactions under x dollars].

I would imaging the Hello Kitty is a pre-paid debit card. Many places are selling those now for 1) kids or 2) people who can't get a checking account and qualify for a debit card.

Oh, and the lowest thing I ever charged was 12¢ at a gas station [the pump was broken and after pumping a drop of gas it stopped]. I kept the printed receipt for a long time as a souvenir. As it happened I was using an Amex card which has the higher transaction fees for the merchant so I'm sure both Amex and ExxonMobil lost money from me that day.
posted by birdherder at 2:06 PM on October 3, 2004

10 years ago, when she wasn't as widely known

25 years ago i had a hello kitty lunch box purse - it was very underground club kid at the time. nowadays my hk fetish is all about the stationery. which reminds me, i have to write shane, i promised (in the threatening sense, heh) to unleash my sushi letterset on him, hehe.
posted by t r a c y at 2:22 PM on October 3, 2004

Hello Kitty makes about half of Sanrio's yearly profits, or about a half-billion bucks (USDollars, I think, as I'm quoting the figure out of Giant Robot Magazine #31.)

Yuko Shimizu, who created for Sanrio in 1974, is practically unknown today. She has nothing to do with Hello Kitty anymore . She currently has five cats, has had cats since she was three, but does not credit her cats as inspiring Hello Kitty. Her new creation (2003) is Angel Cat Sugar, who "heals all the pain in the world and tenderly nurtures all the sufferers of the world."

t r a c y, where's your "Hello Kitty Overkill" snapshot? ;-)

I use a debit card, not a CC, all the time. It's just an electronic check, eh? Although, in the States, some cards cut you off when you're out of funds, and others let you go over so they can charge NSF fees. U.S. banks are fee-happy right now, and it's pretty dirty.
posted by Shane at 2:47 PM on October 3, 2004

Oops, that should be who created Hello Kitty for Sanrio in 1974.
Ooh, cool t r a c y, I mail!
posted by Shane at 2:51 PM on October 3, 2004

I use my debit cards all the time too. Basically, I get all the convenience of a credit card (ie. not needing to write cheques or carry loads of cash), but I can keep track of what I'm spending. Because (here in the UK, anyway) the debit cards are bank-issued, it's effectively the same as going to the cashpoint, getting money out from my account and then spending it -- except much quicker, and usable on the web too.

The only places that tend to have a minimum spend are little local newsagents and such, who'll ask you to spend £5 before they'll take a debit card. Big chains don't care -- the cheapest thing I've bought with my debit card is a drink in WHSmith's (I was thirsty with no cash and no cashpoint...). It cost 60-something pence, and they took the card happily.

Anyway, I like my debit card. It mystifies me why people want to use those debt ("credit") cards -- not only do they not tell you how much you've spent until the end of the month, but you get to pay interest too! Really, why the heck would I want to get a bill for what I've spent every month? It sounds sort of like getting a contract phone instead of pay-as-you-go, but using credit cards doesn't get you stuff like a free phone, free text messages, cheap calls, etc. So why do it?
posted by reklaw at 3:18 PM on October 3, 2004

I'm sorry, I just feel that this thread on unexpected Hello Kitty merchandising would be incomplete without a reference to the Hello Kitty vibrator.
posted by Zurishaddai at 4:04 PM on October 3, 2004

San-X's characters are more fun though. They're like Sanrio characters with psychological problems. Sorry for the Japanese link but the English site seems to be down at the moment :-)
posted by clevershark at 5:18 PM on October 3, 2004

you get to pay interest too!

If you pay your bill in full every month, then there's no interest charged. I have a card that doesn't have an annual fee and gives me 1% cash back for what I spend over the course of a year. Thanks, Visa!
posted by orange swan at 5:19 PM on October 3, 2004

zurishaddai: hey it's a shoulder massager ! Can't you recognize one ;) ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:13 PM on October 3, 2004

Yeah, no interest if you just, you know, pay for what you bought, AND my CC outfit makes running tallies available 24/7 on the web.

Pay for it when the bill comes and it's in your financial interest (heh) because you get to keep making interest on the money in your account from the time you buy to the time the CC company gets paid.
posted by NortonDC at 6:31 PM on October 3, 2004

Regular debit (Canadian style) is far superior to the American version because it's just your bank card. You don't have to go through and process to get your debit card, you just use it and 98% of stores accept debit transactions. Are the American versions even pin-activated or can somebody use it if you lose it?

I can't use mine online, but I can pay my visa from my bank account (online) anyway, so it's not like it makes much difference.
posted by The God Complex at 7:03 PM on October 3, 2004

I'm confused about the difference between American and Canadian debit cards. Living in America, I can either use it as a Mastercard for credit card transactions or as a debit card. Either way I either have to enter my pin or sign and the money comes directly out of my account. I can use it anywhere that takes credit cards, but I don't have to pay interest.
posted by Apoch at 7:55 PM on October 3, 2004

I realise that you pay no interest on a credit card if you pay the bill for what you buy. How many people do that, though? The whole point of the system is to try to tempt you to spend more than you can afford. Debit cards avoid this pitfall entirely.
posted by reklaw at 9:07 PM on October 3, 2004

My credit union issues debit cards that are tied directly to my checking account. Even better, it's tied to a line of credit. Once I'm out of checking account money, my debit card automatically turns into a credit card with the *limit* set up in advance by my line of credit. It's genius. And I've never had to pay one of those damn overdraft fees I've occasionally racked up at other banks in my starving student days.

I don't see why anyone would want a debit card with a preset amount, even with HelloKitty. The genius of the debit card is it's a digital checkbook, plus, in my case, a credit card.
posted by Happydaz at 10:09 PM on October 3, 2004

I always use a credit card online, simply because if someone manages to steal the details they can't drain my bank account and I don't get inconvenienced while it all gets sorted out.

Also (reklaw) a CC is useful even in the UK if you don't have a regular monthly income and are dependant on the whims of clients for exactly when you get your hard-earned moolah. (Otherwise I don't see much point in them either.)

To complete on-topicness: Hello Kitty has always induced a violent reaction in me.
posted by cell at 12:55 AM on October 4, 2004

For those wondering about Debit Cards in Canada, and the fees, here's how it goes:

- The store pays between 10 and 20 cents per swipe of a debit card.

- Stores pay between 1.65% - 3% (or more) of the purchase price for a credit card swipe.

- Most transactions at my store are plastic based. And that's odd indeed, considering my line of business is much more cash friendly (my customers like their privacy). I'd say at my store 75% of all sales are done on plastic. I could be wrong, but I think we swiped about 3,000 debit cards in a year.

- Credit cards work entirely different from debit cards, although usually the same machine accepts them (not always, though, for example, walmart has two different machines). After the swipe, you have to, of course, sign the recepit. The debit is against your (generally negative) credit card account, to be paid up next month. You can put money *into* your credit card, but only people with F- credit have to do that. While it is possible to PIN your Credit Card, over hundreds of swipes I've never experienced one like this yet.

- When a debit card is swiped, the customer enters a pin code, which is transmitted to the head office and/or checked with the PIN stored on the card for verification. If the pin is clean, the transaction is green. That's it. No signatures or anything like that. The money comes straight from your account. Most banks will allow a certain number of these transactions per month (called "interac") and if you go above that limit, you, the customer, will be charged a fee per interac use ($0.25 - $0.50).

- Most Canadian Credit Cards won't work in an ABM without being authorized and re-coded for that. They can then take PINs. Usually the PIN will be set up to only be required when the card is in an ABM.

- All our Debit Cards work in ABMs worldwide. Most ABMs outside your local branch of your local bank will charge you extra fees. Also, to really rape your wallet, your bank may charge you specialty interac fees for usage in an ABM not run by your bank. And so on... If you're really unlucky, you could pay $2.75 or more to get your money out.

- Debit Cards offer absolutely none of the extra protection provided by Visa, et al. It's just like cash. Once you've spent it, it's not coming back.

- Virtually all your banking is done with a debit card. When you set up an account nowadays you're asked if you want statements mailed or if you would rather use a passbook. If you get them mailed, your debit card number serves as your account number.


BTW: Running a shop in Canada without a swipe terminal is suicide. Even the most crappiest minimarts have them now. The only time I carry more than $20 cash is to pay wholesalers. The wholesalers in my business love cash more than any other payment method. :-D
posted by shepd at 6:05 AM on October 4, 2004

You don't have to go through and process to get your debit card, you just use it and 98% of stores accept debit transactions. Are the American versions even pin-activated or can somebody use it if you lose it?

A typical Mastercard or Visa debit card in the States is free when you open an account, no credit check, and you enter a four-digit PIN# whenever you use an autoteller or buy something. Unless the shop processes your card as if it is a CC, in which case you sign the receipt and do not enter a PIN. A debit card can be processed as if it is a CC, and in fact some stores will run your debit card as a CC if for some reason it isn't processing as a debit. You can pay at a most stores and tell them it is a CC and it will process just fine as a CC.

So conceivably, if someone stole your card, they could use it by telling shops it is a credit card, getting past the PIN requirement (although some card-readers automatically differentiate between credit and debit cards and ask for a PIN.)
posted by Shane at 6:57 AM on October 4, 2004

I'm holding out for the Beer Chan debit card.
posted by Otis at 9:05 AM on October 4, 2004

It's a damn good thing the fees are outrageous, or I would be all over this.

Hello Kitty fans: check out my downstairs bathroom. (t r a c y and JoanArkham, I'm sending this link directly to you.)
posted by etoile at 10:57 AM on October 4, 2004

In the States, usually, or at least often, your bank's ATM card doubles as a debit card. I've actually talked to people who didn't know this.
posted by abcde at 11:43 AM on October 4, 2004

Like Happydaz, I use a credit union and they just recently ended the practice of having the debit card also be used as a cc (for reasons stated above). At most stores, I enter my pin but don't have to sign. At Starbucks, they just swipe it and hand me a receipt, I think because the amount is usually under a certain limit.

I also never worry about overdrafts. You shouldn't either.

Oh, hello kitty. Yeah, no different than any other character out there that has tons of merchandise.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:49 PM on October 4, 2004

At Starbucks, they just swipe it and hand me a receipt, I think because the amount is usually under a certain limit.

This is actually entirely at the discretion of the merchant. They've just decided that they'll make more money by streamlining the purchase process than they'll lose on the occasional stolen card transaction. (If you stole a credit card, would you go to Starbucks? Naaah.)
posted by kindall at 2:30 PM on October 4, 2004

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