A financial service for caregivers of older adults
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True Link Financial was launched after the founder's grandmother, suffering from dementia, was swindled out of $40,000 of her savings through credit card scams. This tragedy led to the creation of a senior-specific prepaid card and an investment management service. As a company, True Link has first-hand experience with our aging population's financial vulnerabilities.
Overseeing a family member's finances can be a daunting responsibility. As a caretaker for an older family member, I took a deep dive into True Link Financial to learn about its offerings. This article will cover True Link's services, standout features, and points to consider. I'll also explain the prepaid card customization options and walk you through the application process. Let's get started.
The True Link Visa card is a reloadable prepaid card. Unlike credit cards, which allow users to “buy now and pay later,” purchases on a prepaid card can only be made using the money loaded onto the account. Cardholders can use a True Link Card anywhere Visa cards are accepted, including online bill pay.
I was blown away by the True Link system, especially the numerous ways to customize the cardholder's access to cash, specific merchants, or entire spending categories. As a card administrator, I was able to set over 50 customizable spending rules for how the card can be used (more on these fantastic features later). We'll take a look at the True Link Visa card features below.
Older adults are more susceptible to devastating identity theft and fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigations reports seniors rack up more than $3 billion in losses annually.1 True Link's top-line protections include a powerful ScamWatch database to help protect card users against fraud from suspicious merchants and scammers. In addition to ScamWatch, card administrators can allow or block online or phone purchases along with international transactions.
The Spending Monitor feature allows card administrators to customize where the Visa card can and can't be used to make transactions. You can also adjust settings to permit or block spending categories like “Allow Pharmacies” or “Block Casinos.” You can even enable or prevent purchases at specific merchants like “Allow Target” or “Block QVC.” I found this solution especially useful as my relative tends to overspend when watching home shopping channels.
With True Link's Access to Cash feature, administrators can customize the cardholder's cash access and set a dollar amount on cash withdrawals. Bank and ATM withdrawals, or cash back in a store can be tailored to your loved one's needs.
True Link understands the urgency of keeping card administrators in the loop. Since my relative doesn't live with me, I needed to know when and where they used their card. With True Link, administrators can receive real-time customized alerts via text or email (or both). Alerts include:
In addition to their unique prepaid card, I discovered True Link provides investment management services. Staffed with investment professionals and trust administrators, True Link offers tailored financial planning and investment resources for families caring for a loved one. While some investment and retirement accounts require a minimum balance, True Link’s approach is inclusive to all, with no account minimums. This was a significant win in my book.
FYI: SeniorLiving.org's retirement planning and housing guide takes you through the essential steps you and your loved one should consider when thinking about their future.
Navigating the True Link website was a breeze. I was interested in the True Link prepaid card for a family member, and the entire application process of signing my loved one up took less than five minutes! I clicked the “Get Started” button on True Link's homepage and was taken directly to the card application.
Overseeing a family member's finances is a major decision with many components that need attention. Often, we don't have all the answers at once. I was pleased to see True Link doesn't require you to load money onto the card at the time of application. This allowed me to sit down and discuss with my family what funds could be used to add money to the True Link card. It's important to take time to look at all income options, including drawing upon retirement investments, earnings from Social Security benefits, and family contributions.
The True Link card application process is straightforward. I answered several questions and provided information on me (the card administrator) and my family member (the cardholder). Based on the details I entered, True Link matched us with the best card program for our needs. This eliminated the guesswork and stress of choosing a card on my own.
Next, I created a card administrator account using my email address and a secure password. I'll use this account to manage my loved one's True Link Visa card. The username and login provide me with access to True Link's comprehensive dashboard.
Then, I created two profiles, one for myself and one for my family member. When I applied for the True Link card, I was required to provide my Social Security number and date of birth. This is because the USA PATRIOT Act requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. This is necessary even when you are opening and managing a card for someone else.2
Last but not least, I finalized the card order, which included deciding where to have the prepaid Visa card mailed. I opted for it to be sent to my address so I could activate the card before giving it to my loved one.
True Link is an established company with a decade in the financial industry, and I found their security promise impressive.
All True Link Visa cards are protected from fraud under Visa’s Zero Liability Policy and Regulation E. True Link goes the extra mile to safeguard you and your loved one's identity and funds by:3
True Link's investment management services fall under True Link Financial Advisors LLC. They are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The purpose of this SEC-required registration is to prohibit deceit, misrepresentations, and other fraud in the sale of securities.4
While almost every prepaid card comes with fees, not all fees are the same. Before you choose a card, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CPFB) recommends thinking about how you plan to use the card and comparing the fees on different cards for those particular uses.5 I reviewed True Link's fee structure and appreciated the lack of activation and transaction fees. An overabundance of costs can certainly deplete an account, and that's the last thing we wanted.
The biggest hit to a True Link prepaid account is the recurring monthly service fee of $10. If your budget allows it, there is a way to reduce the cost by paying annually instead of monthly. True Link's annual cost is $99 (a savings of $21).
I've compiled the most common services and related fees in the chart below. You'll find a complete list of costs associated with True Link's prepaid card on their schedule of fees and charges page.
|True Link service||Fee amount|
|ATM cash withdrawal – out of network||$1.50|
|Bank teller withdrawal||$4|
|Replacement Visa prepaid card||$5|
|ATM balance inquiry – domestic||$0.50|
|Funding from a bank account||No fee|
|Direct deposit||No fee|
|ATM cash withdrawal – in-network||No fee|
|Cash back at point-of-sale||No fee|
|Signature and PIN purchases – domestic||No fee|
Cost-Saving Tip: Minimize card fees by using an in-network ATM for withdrawals. True Link uses Allpoint network ATMs, and it's easy to find one in your area by using their ATM locator tool.
Your loved one's finances and investment management needs are unique, so speaking with a True Link advisor about options and related fees is the ideal choice. True Link's team of advisors can be reached at 1-866-984-8576.
Pro Tip: As you assist an older adult with their finances, it's crucial to ask if they have an estate plan. Our estate planning guide walks you through key factors to consider and the costs associated with them.
True Link offers multiple ways to get in touch with customer support.
Good to Know: True Link doesn't leave you hanging if you need assistance on a Saturday or Sunday. Their team monitors and provides email support on the weekends.
While there are countless prepaid cards to choose from, I found True Link's prepaid card features to be unmatched. Standard prepaid cards, such as Netspend and BlueBird by American Express, are reloadable cards that can be used anytime and anywhere. Since I needed to play an active role in safeguarding my family member's finances, I realized a basic prepaid card wouldn't meet the requirements. True Link's fees are higher than some traditional prepaid cards; however, I found the overall value and customizable features outweighed the cost.
True Link Financial is a strong ally in safeguarding a loved one's finances. With standout features like their Spending Monitor and ScamWatch, True Link's prepaid Visa card runs circles around other prepaid cards. Their unique combination of benefits offers critical financial protection without eliminating a person's independence.
Keep in mind that True Link Financial does have a few drawbacks to consider. Their business is 100 percent online, so they won't fit the bill if you're looking for a brick-and-mortar location. And, if you have trouble with your card outside of True Link's business hours, you won't reach a live customer service agent by phone until the next business day. Overall, however, True Link Financial is a promising option for family members and caregivers needing financial solutions for the people they care for.
From the Experts: Our in-depth finance for seniors guide shares important financial considerations older adults (and their families) need to be aware of.
Yes. True Link is a reloadable prepaid card. Money must be loaded onto the Visa card before purchases can be made.
The True Link Visa card helps protect older adults from financial missteps and scams. A trusted family member manages the card and can customize card features like spending limits and blocked merchants.
The True Link prepaid card is issued by Sunrise Banks N.A. in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Yes. Multiple family members can be assigned as administrators and given a specific account access level.
Yes. The True Link card has a maximum account balance of $20,000 and a maximum per day load limit of $5,000.
Yes. There is no limit to the number of True Link Visa cards a cardholder can have.
FBI. (2022). SCAMS AND SAFETY: Elder Fraud.
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. (2022). USA PATRIOT Act.
True Link. (2022). How we protect your money and your identity.
Investor.gov. (2022). Registration Under the Securities Act of 1933.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2020). What types of fees do prepaid cards typically charge?