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PokerStars, SafeCharge Launch StarsCard Funding Method

Payment services provider SafeCharge announced on Thursday that it has partnered with PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, to launch a PokerStars-branded prepaid debit card. StarsCard is a prepaid MasterCard that PokerStars players can use to make deposit and withdrawals on the poker site.

According to the press release, the StarsCard actually rolled out in the United Kingdom a week ago and will spread to other countries in the future. It sounds like a fairly simple product, from a player’s perspective. A player would link a bank account to the StarsCard in order to fund the StarsCard account. The StarsCard, in turn, becomes the deposit method for the PokerStars account. When it is time to cash out of the poker room, the player can have the funds sent to the StarsCard. That money is then available to be transferred back to the player’s personal bank account.

starscardIt is essentially like having an e-wallet, but with the physical card included. The fact that it is a physical card makes this potentially more useful that an ordinary e-wallet, though, as it can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted. Thus, if a PokerStars player has the need (or maybe not need, but strong desire) to use his funds soon after cashing out, he will not have to wait for another transfer from an e-wallet to bank account. He can just go a store and use the StarsCard.

Since the StarsCard option is integrated right into the PokerStars cashier, it sounds like a very easy way to transfer funds. StarsCard holders can also access their card account information via the web or mobile app.

Summarizing the benefits of the StarsCard, SafeCharge said in the press release, “StarsCard allows PokerStars customers to have a single point of deposit that combines all the convenience of existing options but with additional features for cashing out, spending and sending money to friends and family. StarsCard can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.”

A StarsCard account is very easy to open. Players only need to login into their PokerStars account, head to the Cashier, and in the Deposit menu, select the “Sign up for a StarsCard” option. Provided the PokerStars ID has already been verified, a few registration details later and the account is created and ready to be used. The physical Mastercard is not mailed automatically; that has to be requested separately by registering for it online and costs £4.95 (one-time fee).

PokerStars is promoting the StarsCard by offering a special Frequent Player Points (FPP) bonus for those who use it. Players with Bronze Star through Platinum Star VIP statuses will receive one FPP for every £3.00 they spend using their StarsCard account. Any type of spending counts, be it with the physical card or via online purchases. Those who are Supernova or Supernova Elite will receive twice the FPPs.

At first blush, the StarsCard seems largely unnecessary. For players in the UK, there are plenty of poker funding options that work just fine. Why add another? Why provide another company with bank account information? For many poker players, this will probably be the opinion of the new service and it is a totally valid one. If you have a funding method that works great for you, might as well stick with it. I probably would (if I could play on PokerStars…grumble).

But the StarsCard could serve a lot of players well. Those who spend a lot of time on PokerStars and particularly those who make frequent withdrawals could benefit from something like this. As it is integrated into the PokerStars cashier and is actually PokerStars-specific service, cash outs are likely to be fast (let’s not worry about deposits – these are almost always fast, as poker rooms want to get our money quickly). And technical difficulties aside, once a player has a StarsCard account, there shouldn’t really be any problems with deposits or withdrawals not being accepted.

The physical Mastercard is the interesting part. If a player cashes out to his StarsCard account, he won’t have to wait to then transfer that money to some other account to spend it. The player can head on over the grocery store to buy some food, pay a bill online, or pay for some gas at the pump. It can also serve as a nice way for a player to segregate his poker funds from other personal funds or even PokerStars funds from other poker funds. Players can specifically fill their StarsCard account and set their own limits on their own play. If poker is their fun money, it will be easy enough to actually have fun with that money.

The StarsCard is not for everybody, but it should certainly fill a need for a certain portion of PokerStars’ customers.


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