The 12 Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens
It can be hard to teach kids how to spend and save responsibly, but it doesn’t have to be. A debit card can be a valuable educational tool, especially when the child is on their own with parent-installed railings.
Debit cards represent the first path to financial responsibility because they begin to give children control over their spending and give them an early insight into managing money on their own.
This article will discuss some of the best debit cards for kids and teens to help you choose one that works best for your child’s needs!
What is a child debit card?
Children cannot open their bank accounts until they reach the age of the majority in their state, often 18 years old. Parents can choose one possible path: open a sub-account from their bank account to provide their children with a card.
Before receiving a card, your child will likely need to be at least 13 years old.
However, these accounts may not come with the personalized spending controls, parental supervision, or feature-packed mobile apps that many newer debit cards for kids provide. Some new apps even let you block the card or limit where your child spends money.
These cards also work effectively as prepaid debit cards because you can set parental controls. Traditional banks or prepaid debit cards may not allow you to do this beyond keeping your account balance at a certain level.
Can I get a debit card for children under 13?
Typically, you think about your current situation and start evaluating options based on what you know. Therefore, the most likely place they would start thinking about getting a debit card for their son would be her bank.
Although the rules vary by financial institution, some do not allow minors to have debit cards in their name before 16. Others choose to offer them to children 13 years old or younger.
But even if you can get one from your current bank, you don’t want to hand your child a debit card. You may like more information and control over your spending to introduce good habits.
Such options include having a joint prepaid debit card with your child, allowing both to manage money together and agree on what the card can use.
These cards give kids the control they’re looking for over their cash and allow parents to monitor spending, and offer helpful guidance when needed.
Traditional banks often don’t have these controls available to you, making this a difficult task without the necessary tools to oversee account management.
Instead, a new generation of financial companies has emerged to empower parents to make money decisions with their children and equip them with the skills to manage money the way they’d like.
Let’s look at some of the best debit cards for kids and teens. Then we can look at the features of the best-prepaid debit card programs available for kids and how you can sign up.
What are the best debit cards for children and teenagers?
We’ve compiled a list of the best debit cards for kids and teens that should work for your needs below. Look at each one and compare which one makes the most sense for your needs.
1. Highest Rated Overall: Greenlight
- Price: 1 month free trial, $4.99/month after
- App Store Rating: 4.8
Greenlight gives parents control over where their children can spend money by limiting the stores where their cards work. Parents can receive alerts when money is spent on the Kids Greenlight Debit Card and how much.
In addition, parents can open a children’s investment account for their children to invest in stocks and index funds for the first time.
Greenlight works like a prepaid debit card, allowing you to transfer money to the card for your child to pay for at approved locations.
You can choose how much money to load on the card, and your child will be authorized to make approved purchases, as long as a money balance supports the card.
Greenlight charges $4.99 per month for up to five children. Replacement cards are $3.50 each but are free the first time. If you need to replace your card quickly, you can get express delivery for $24.99.
The company also offers a personalized card for $9.99/year with your photo or design.
Greenlight offers interest (the only prepaid debit card for kids and teens that does), and you can also set up “interest paid by parents” between you and your child. It allows you to pay the bill and pay interest on up to five children’s accounts.
If your child asks for extra money to add to the card, you can have them take a picture of the purchase they want to make and get your approval. It gives you control and allows children to discuss with you why investing is a good or bad idea.
If your child has a job, you can also add your funds to the card through direct deposit.
The Greenlight Debit Card is a good option for parents looking to teach their children the importance of saving money and making wise financial decisions.
This financial product can be an effective learning tool to help kids understand why saving should be a priority and help parents simplify paying for an allowance or keeping track of homework.
It’s also a fast-growing app many parents have used to raise financially savvy kids. The product has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age six or later.
The Greenlight Mastercard debit card for children offers the best combination of features among all the cards we reviewed, including its easy mobile app.
Who says kids can’t have their debit cards? Today, there are many options for parents, and our best option is Greenlight.
Our choice of investment and debit card for children
- Greenlight offers flexible parental controls for each child and real-time notifications of each transaction.
- Greenlight is the only debit card that lets you choose the exact stores where kids can spend on the card.
- Parents can use this app to teach them to invest with a custodial account through Greenlight Max.
2. Best for customer service: go Henry
- Price: 1 month free, then $3.99 per child/month
- App Store Rating: 4.7
goHenry is a child banking app paired with prepaid debit cards for parents to monitor and manage their child’s account balance. You have an online account linked to individual accounts for each of your children.
You can manage all the money held in each account through the company’s app and online account portal.
Each child will receive their own go Henry debit card paired with parental controls that you can set for your children.
What’s excellent about goHenry is the ability to spend only the money available on the card, which means you don’t need to worry about costly overdraft fees or racking up debt.
You open a goHenry account, receive your children’s debit cards in the mail 7-8 business days later, set up an automatic transfer of weekly allowances to your children’s accounts, and can set one-time or weekly spending limits.
It will keep your kids’ spending in check, and you can lock/unlock the card as needed and choose which stores your kids can shop at.
Over time, the controls provided by the app and the guidance it offers can help your kids build good money habits into earning, saving, spending, and finding.
goHenry is one of the best kids debit cards for customer service. They offer 24/7 phone availability, email access, and social media engagement, ensuring users can get their issues resolved quickly and with little hassle.
The product has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age six or later.
- Price: $19.99/year, $7.99/year for each additional card
- App Store Rating: 3.7
You are looking for a way to teach your kids about money through chores, earning an allowance, and managing your money on kids’ prepaid debit cards?
BusyKid is an award-winning, parent-approved app that educates kids about money. It’s a way to teach your kids how to manage their allowance and learn important money lessons.
The BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend card allows them to spend their money in stores or online with just a swipe of the card. You can even set up automatic savings. The product has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting sooner rather than later.
Your child will be able to earn real money by completing chores and chores around the house each week while learning valuable financial skills like budgeting, saving, and giving back.
Plus, they’ll have fun earning rewards from brands like Disney in BusyKid’s weekly challenges!
BusyKid is an interactive and easy-to-use debit card homework app for kids that will help them learn and practice critical real-life lessons from the palm of their hands.
They can earn, save, invest, donate, or spend while having fun! And it couldn’t be simpler.
Parents set homework, and the assignment is directly deposited each Friday!
- Earn – Kids can earn by completing tasks assigned by parents
- Save – They can automatically save up to 10% of their weekly allowance.
- Donate – They can give back by donating 1% of what they earn to charity.
- Spend When they’re ready for independence, BusyKid has a Visa prepaid spending card, so kids never run out of cash on hand.
To receive payment, parents must approve the Payday text message sent through the app each Thursday if their child is to receive payment on Friday.
BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Reloadable Debit Cards come through Visa®, and there is an annual fee of $7.99 per card beyond the first one that comes with the account. Other fees apply for various other actions you can take through the app and with the card.
Finally, BusyKid also allows children to invest their earnings through the application, which other apps also allow. You need to set up a separate Stockpile escrow account to do this.
BusyKid is an award-winning, parent-approved app that educates kids about money by providing four main features:
- Earn – Kids can earn by completing assigned tasks
- Save – You can save ≤ 10% of your allowance automatically
- Donate – You can give ≤ 1% of what you make to charity
- Spend – Visa Prepaid Spend Card available, so kids never run out of money
4. Best for Financial Education: FamZoo
- Price: Free trial, then $5.99/month per family
- App Store Rating: 4.6
FamZoo is another service for parents interested in opening prepaid debit cards to manage their children’s spending.
It works by having parents release money into their child’s account and then making the card work with a loaded balance. Money can load onto the cards at any time.
FamZoo acts like a regular checking account with a linked debit card, except FamZoo makes sure the account can’t be charged overdraft fees, saving you money.
Adults can monitor the transactions that are made. After a free trial, this app costs $5.99 per month, but the price goes down if you pay upfront.
FamZoo is our top choice for education due to its robust library of financial education that enhances its overall value.
The product has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting sooner rather than later.
5. Best for Long-Term Growth: Acorns
- Price: Acorns Lite: $1/month, Acorns Personal: $3/month, Acorns Family: $5/month
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Acorns have become one of the best financial apps for minors and young adults, offering a robust money management platform that extends beyond investing.
The full suite of offerings includes the ability to set up custodial accounts for minors to invest, regular and retirement investment accounts for adults, and a linked debit card bank account.
If you enrol in the Acorns Spend product (available on the Acorns Personal and Acorns Family plans), a bank account is created that offers FDIC insurance protection for up to $250,000.
Plus, use Acorns’ “Round-Ups” feature that rounds purchases to the nearest dollar, reversing the difference between the transaction amount and the total dollar. The service claims to help users invest an average of $30/month using this feature.
While not a free stock trading app, Acorns offers you the following subscription options:
- Acorns Lite ($1/month): Includes the Acorns Invest plan, which invests spare change through the famous “Round-Ups” feature, earns bonus investments and provides access to financial education articles.
- Acorns Personal ($3/mo): Everything in Acorns Lite (Investing), plus it also includes Acorns Later for tax-advantaged investing options like Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and Acorns Spend with linked debit cards for kids and teens. This service acts as your bank account, offering free withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs nationwide and no account fees or purchase fee costs, plus the ability to earn up to 10% bonus investments.
- Acorns Family ($5/month): All in Personal Acorns (Acorns Invest, Then and Spend), plus early Acorns. It allows you to open a custodial account for your child and start investing for them as a minor.
The service is also offering a $10 Signup Bonus for people who open an account for a limited time. Learn how to get free stocks and how to start investing money.
- From acorns, mighty oaks grow. Grow your oak!
- In less than 5 minutes, get investment accounts for you and your family, plus retirement, checking, ways to earn more money and increase your knowledge.
- Famous for investing spare change automatically through Round-Ups, this all-in-one financial app helps younger generations start investing sooner.
- Just $1, $3 or $5/month. (Free for college students)
- Bonus: Get $10 to start
6. Best Free Debit Card for Teens: Axos Bank First Checking
Axos Bank First Checking is the ultimate starter checking account for teens that comes with a debit card. The banking world can be a little scary, but not with the simplicity and power of the Axos First Checking Account.
The account functions as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.
Parents and teens can manage nearly every part of the banking experience through a convenient mobile app or online desktop portal. Perfect for modern families who are always on the go.
Axos Bank’s first checking account gives teens their first taste of financial independence by giving them their checking account (that pays interest!) and free teen debit card that has daily cash withdrawal limits of $100 and $500 purchase limits.
It provides safeguards against teens getting carried away with the money they have in their accounts.
Plus, you can have up to $12 off domestic ATM fee refunds per month without monthly maintenance, overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees, essentially making the account accessible!
The account has the highest level of security through biometric authentication techniques such as fingerprint readers, voiceprints and facial recognition (availability of smartphone features pending).
The product has a minimum age requirement of 13 years and will convert to an Axos Checking Account after reaching the age of majority.
- Joint checking account for teens ages 13-17
- No monthly maintenance, overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees
- Debit card with account alerts
- Earn up to 0.10% APY
- Domestic ATM fee refunds up to $12 per month.
- Daily transaction limits ($100 cash, $500 debit)
7. Best for Product Features and Innovation: Current
- Price: $36/teen per year
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Current is a banking app designed for all families. The Current app lets you track your teen’s spending in real-time, set limits on how much they can spend, and even block specific merchants on Visa-enabled prepaid debit cards.
You also get peace of mind knowing your money is safe because it’s not cash. The company doesn’t charge any fees or interest on student accounts, so there are no surprises when the bills arrive.
Current helps parents teach teens financial responsibility while giving them away to learn without having cash lying around the house and all its temptations.
That means less worry for both parents and children! With Current, your teen will be able to do everything from paying her friends to buying groceries at the store, all securely with just their phone from her!
And teens will have the opportunity to learn budgeting and financial responsibility from a young age. It will allow them to increase their savings and get one step closer to financial independence.
The product does not have an expressly stated minimum age requirement, but the marketing points towards a teenage account as the target audience. Therefore, you may be able to open an account below this age for your child.
- Instant money transfers and spending notifications
- Develop financial responsibility for teens
- Parents can set spending limits and block specific merchants
- Families can manage their money together, saving for goals and working toward financial goals.
8. Best for approaching finances for the first time: Stash
- Price: Beginner: $1/mo, Growth: $3/mo, Stash+: $9/mo 1
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Another app to grace this list twice is Stash, a leading all-in-one financial platform that offers a mobile-friendly bank account 6. With no hidden bank fees, no minimum deposit or balance requirements, and no access to ATM fees7, Stash can be a healthy option for consumers who prefer to bank and invest through the same platform.
You’ll earn Stock-Back ® rewards at places like Walmart, Amazon and more when you make qualifying purchases with your Stock-Back ® card.
If you’re a young adult, you may want to use Stash to invest money with regular automatic transfers or even “round up” purchases you make on a linked debit card so spare change goes into your wallet.
Stash also offers financial education resources that can help you improve your financial education. It covers numerous topics such as investing, money management and planning.
Stash bank account details:
- Minimum deposit and balance requirements: There is no minimum daily balance requirement, but you need to open a Stash Invest account to use your Stash Online Banking 7 account.
- Yield: None, but you’ll earn Stock-Back ® rewards on every eligible purchase made with the Stock-Back ® card 8.
- Rewards and incentives: Earn Stock-Back ® rewards on every eligible debit card purchase. Earn 0.125% Stock Back ® rewards on everyday purchases and up to 5% Stock-Back ® rewards for purchases with select merchants eligible for Stock-Back ® bonuses. You can get paid up to two days sooner when you direct deposit your payment into your Stash bank account and enjoy free complimentary access to thousands of ATMs.
- Potential Fees: Out-of-Network ATM Fees.
- Stash is a personal finance app that simplifies investing, making it easy and affordable for ordinary Americans to build wealth and reach their financial goals.
- Upon signing up and making a $5 deposit, Stash will also provide a $5 Signup Bonus.
9. Best for Allocation Management: RoosterMoney
- Price: Virtual Rooster: Free, Rooster Plus: $18.99/year with a 30-day free trial to start
- App Store Rating: 4.7
RoosterMoney is an app that allows parents to track all of their child allowances in one place, offers fun activities for kids, and aims to develop good money habits.
The app helps parents graduate their children through key monetary milestones by using a star chart in their younger years to teach as a rewards system and eventually introducing a bespoke payment card that grows.
The app wants money to be part of the conversation and hopes to help you achieve this with your children. Dispelling this taboo at an early age can make children confident with money.
10. Best for Financial Automation: M1 Finance
- Price: Free trades, M1 Plus costs $125/year
- App Store Rating: 4.6
M1 Finance is an all-in-one super app that does it all. The app allows you to invest, borrow and spend, and open an M1 Finance custodial account to enable your children to use it as an investment app.
They even allow custodial IRAs, making this one of the best custodial accounts. However, the service requires you to sign up for M1 Plus. Be careful when the company puts this on promotion, so it’s free for you to try.
As for money management and linked debit cards, if you have money in the app’s free checking account, it comes with FDIC Insurance Coverage and is part of the entire secure finance M1 finance app experience.
- M1 Finance’s Smart Money Management gives you choice and control over how you want to automatically invest, borrow and spend your money, with available high-yield checking and low borrowing rates.
- Special Promotions: Until September 2021, open an account and deposit $1,000 within 14 days to receive a $30 Bonus and get one free year of M1 Plus ($125 value).
11. Best Free Debit Card for Kids: Jassby Virtual Debit Card
- Price: Free, possible monthly inactivity fees after six months
- App Store Rating: 5.0, only 4 ratings
Jassby is a free mobile wallet app that families can use to manage chores, allowance payments, and money spent on debit cards.
The app allows parents and guardians to share money with their children while teaching them valuable financial literacy skills. The service is currently only available as an iOS app.
Jassby works by letting kids spend their allowance at the Jassby Shop or anywhere Apple Pay is accepted using the Jassby virtual debit card.
The store includes gift cards for stores and companies that kids are likely to want to use their allowance. Places like the Apple App Store and iTunes, Nintendo, the PlayStation Store, Microsoft’s rewards program, and other sites
There are clothing stores, electronics retailers, restaurants, entertainment, and more. You can also donate the allowance money to several qualified charities found in the Jassby store.
Accounts using Kids’ Fully Contactless Debit Card payments have no monthly fees if at least one Family Jassby Virtual Debit Card makes a purchase each month.
If no activity occurs after the first six months of account opening, Jassby will assess a monthly fee of $2.99 for each calendar month.
Finally, Jassby offers online e-learning resources to teach kids about personal finance and other fun activities. For example, you can purchase a codeWizardsHQ online coding class package perfect for kids and teens ages 8-18.
Jassby claims that all eLearning programs found in the Jassby store are family-friendly and can be paid for by having an assignment earned and saved through the Jassby app.
12. Honorable Mention: Nationwide Bank First Checking
With a highly comparable teen checking account product like First Checking from Axos, Nationwide First Check also acts as an ultimate starter preventing accounts with a debit card for teens. We think they both deserve free spots on this list for their features and price.
Like Axos First Checking, this Nationwide account functions as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.
Packed with the same features and functionality, the only distinguishing feature is the ability to start earning interest with a $0 account balance. As of summer 2021, this equates to 0.1% APY, a competitive rate for a simple teen checking account and debit card product.
- Joint checking account for teens ages 13-17
- No monthly maintenance, overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees
- Debit card with account alerts
- Earn up to 0.10% APY on $0 account balance
- Domestic ATM fee refunds up to $12 per month
- Daily transaction limits ($100 cash, $500 debit)
What features should a child debit card provide?
Choosing the best debit cards for kids can be a difficult task. They’re not just little kids anymore, and they need to learn how to manage their money as teenagers and eventually adults.
When choosing a debit card for children, there are many factors to consider, such as monthly fees, ATM withdrawal limits, availability of direct deposit, instant money transfer, access to the child’s account to set spending controls, overdraft fees, rewards programs and much more.
Below, we run through all the features to look for in debit cards that kids and teens can use.
1. Direct Deposit
One of the best features available on children’s debit cards is direct deposit. Direct deposit means a child’s paycheck will go directly into her account, rather than just getting an envelope from work and then giving it to mom or dad for money management.
Direct deposits are also good because they can help a parent manage when money needs to go into the bank account and when they know they need to transfer money for any expected expenses.
Some teen debit cards allow free early direct deposit if you also open a premium checking account. It allows teens to get paid faster than regular direct deposit.
Some debit cards deliver paychecks up to two days faster than traditional banks when you sign up for a direct deposit.
Despite instilling a sense of delayed gratification in your kids to develop their long-term thinking and money management skills, waiting for your hard-earned money to hit your account shouldn’t always be something, you have to do.
After all, if you earned it, why should you have to wait?
2. Current account
Opening a child or teen checking account can teach your children the importance of financial responsibility and give them their first taste of money management.
The great thing about opening a checking account, or even just putting money into one, is that it teaches future generations how to save responsibly and spend wisely. It will also be a great way to teach your child the importance of budgeting and how much to save.
The problem with opening a checking account for children is that most banks require parental permission on behalf of the minor before opening an account.
You will need to be around at the account opening for them to do it themselves. Additionally, the best debit cards for kids also require ongoing parental involvement, such as setting parental controls and monitoring activity through a mobile app.
Checking accounts today are different than they were in the past. Now, most banks have moved many of their essential services online. As a result, you no longer need to go to a bank to handle many of your money transfers, payments, or other transactions.
Having a digital checking account capable of performing various necessary financial tasks has become increasingly important.
3. Savings account
The best debit cards for kids aren’t just about teaching responsibility. They are also a savings account in disguise since the money is withdrawn from the linked checking account on the card itself, and all transactions go through it.
They are learning how to manage this account can teach kids how to save and budget their money for the short term and toward long-term goals.
However, most banks require you to be 13 years or older to qualify for a digital account linked to a debit card.
That’s why it’s essential for parents or guardians with children who will soon be teenagers to look into bank accounts with a connected debit card now.
If your teen is interested in learning more about how money works, saving it, and spending it responsibly, they should consider adding checking and savings accounts to their financial repertoire.
4. Transfer money instantly
The instant transfer capability is beneficial for parents with young children. When the kids are too young to have a job, or your teens are too busy to go to the bank with you, it’s up to the parent or guardian to give them some spending money each week out of their pocket.
Many parents use this to pay for allowance or monthly chores. The instant transfer capability eliminates the need to make a trip to an actual bank, which could be difficult for kids without transportation or adults pressed for time.
Additionally, it helps parents see how much money they give their children and can help them determine if they should provide more or less as time goes on.
This feature is invaluable to any parent of busy young children. In addition, the instant transfer capability also helps parents who want to teach their children about financial education because children learn to work for their money and associate earnings with work, not something they receive without earning.
Kids need to know what earning and spending money is and how much they have in their account. Many kids’ debit cards offer this helpful feature because a quick “reload” option helps parents stay on top of things even when pressed for time.
5. Mobile app
In today’s modern world, everything has gone digital. Many parents have found it much easier to keep track of their children using a mobile banking app.
Teens can open their bank accounts with the help of a parent, earn money to deposit into the account, and then access the funds to make purchases on behalf of themselves or others, all from one mobile app.
Mobile apps also allow teens to take charge of their money because they are responsible for tracking their spending and can see the balance of funds in their accounts.
Parents can control how much money is available to use in a mobile app by setting parental controls that include daily limits, time restrictions, spending limits and more, making it easy to teach kids about financial responsibility from a young age.
6. No overdraft fees
Most prepaid debit cards can avoid overdraft fees by declining charges when the bank account has an insufficient account balance.
Since overdraft fees are typically the most expensive fee associated with a bank account, this is a great feature to consider when choosing prepaid. Cards or debit cards linked to a bank account.
By having spending controls, parents can monitor the financial management of children. With apps that let parents take control of the card, kids can’t spend more than a predetermined amount in any period or location.
That means no overdraft fees: If the teen debit card doesn’t allow you to spend above a preset limit (such as the remaining account balance), kids won’t have the ability to buy something that triggers an overdraft fee.
For example, Busykid Visa Prepaid Spend or Greenlight Mastercard Debit Card for Kids have no problem with overdraft fees because you can’t spend money that isn’t loaded on the card.
Another method of avoiding overdraft fees comes from using prepaid debit cards for kids and teens. Like a debit card with spending limits set above the account balance, prepaid debit cards don’t let you spend what you haven’t loaded onto the card.
Both cards place guardrails on overdraft fees, protecting the kids (and yourself) from costly fees and other bank account problems.
7. Low monthly fees
Many children’s debit cards have account subscription fees that you pay to open and maintain an account with this banking provider.
These monthly fees have become a common way for banks to make money.
These monthly fees (or annual fees) are expected given the low account balances children and teens are likely to carry on their accounts.
Banks generally make money by taking deposits held on account and lending them to borrowers. They charge an interest rate to the borrower at a higher rate than they borrow from the depositor.
This difference, called the net interest margin, accounts for the bulk of bank profits.
However, many banks have also sought interest-free income in one-time or monthly fees and services. Items like overdraft fees, account fees, minimum account balance violation fees, and more.
Because most kids will have low account balances and still require automated financial assistance for their needs, many teen debit cards choose to charge monthly fees as an avenue to earn income.
Fortunately, many of them offer value-added services beyond what many traditional banks have, making them worth more for peace of mind for parents.
Having parental controls, setting spending limits, maintaining shared access to the mobile app, and more provide parents with an attractive value proposition.
8. Main controls
Parental controls are one of the key features a teen debit card should have. It is easy to set up and can be tailored to any parent’s needs by choosing which notifications they want, setting spending limits, determining which merchants kids can visit, and more.
Different transactions need different monitoring levels, so parental controls allow for customization, making it easy for parents who want a specific view of their children’s spending activity. You won’t get them on a free kids debit card.
Parental controls also allow automated allowance payments, setting tasks to complete, notifications for all online and offline purchases, and viewing expense reports.
These parental controls differentiate between a traditional prepaid card and a card offered by a conventional bank.
9. Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids
A reloadable debit card for children, also known as a prepaid debit card, works to help children make purchases without the risk of overdrawing or encountering a charge for spending money against a balance.
Regular debit cards allow you to spend money in the linked account, while reloadable debit cards for kids only will enable you to spend money loaded on them.
You can periodically add money to your card balance on reloadable prepaid cards, allowing you to spend money when you need it.
However, these cards under normal circumstances may charge fees for loading a card, using them, or other one-time or monthly payments.
The reloadable prepaid debit cards for children mentioned in this article may assess these monthly fees, although the circumstances matter. Some charge a cash top-up fee, but not for transferring funds to the reloadable card balance via bank transfer or debit card.
10. No minimum balance
Many parents are looking for prepaid debit cards that don’t have a minimum balance requirement, but there’s more to it than just lowering the monthly fee. You want the best of both worlds: comfort with little or no maintenance required.
When you open your account, there may be an initial activation and issuance fee, which some issuers have for free if you’re a student. For example, Acorns does not charge monthly fees to college students with a .edu email address.
It makes Acorns attractive accounts and a money app for teens entering college or interested in learning how to invest as a teen.
The best cards for kids have no minimum balances because they often have low balances earned from homework and assignments, gifts on holidays or birthdays, or from a part-time job or other teen online jobs.
11. Money Management Features
Spending money is one of the most stressful parts of being a child. You have to budget your allowance decide what all those funds mean to you in terms of buying clothes and supplies or saving up for something big, but it never seems like enough because there are so many things on your bucket list!
A linked bank account and card can help you by giving you a budgeting tool to help you spend money wisely. Many offer unique savings capsules, categories, or other terms to set aside money for both short-term and long-term teen money goals.
Additionally, some kids’ money apps also can invest in kids’ stocks or other teen investment goals.
12. Interest paid by parents
The interest paid by the parents is a great advantage of some children’s checking accounts since it can help parents incentivize their children to save money. It’s a way to teach your child the benefits and responsibilities of managing money, setting goals, and saving money to reach them.
Parent Paid Interest is an annual percentage rate you set for your child’s overall savings in the Greenlight App. Your account will earn interest on the first of each month, and all you have to do is set up a transfer of money to your account from your parent’s wallet.
Greenlight calculates and pays interest monthly based on your child’s “Total Savings” average daily balance for the previous month. It represents the total amount saved between Overall Savings and Savings Goals.
With interest paid by parents, you can choose how much interest your savings earn. If you want them to earn a lot, you can set their Parent Paid Interest to pay 100% interest.
But if that’s too expensive and you’d rather pay a legitimate interest rate, you can set the amount as low as 1%. It depends on you!
This feature will show your children the power of saving. You can show them how savings grow with each month’s payment.
13. Set saving goals
Closely related to the interest paid by parents is the desire to set savings goals. Saving from a young age can enforce delayed gratification or the idea that things are more satisfying when they are worked and earned later in life.
There’s also something about saving that instills responsibility in your child. They will begin to understand what it means to budget, diversify savings, and invest for better returns.
These accounts can teach your children to save money by setting savings goals, capsules, or categories. These cash envelopes are a system that involves saving every time you get paid, but in different denominations and at other times of the month.
It will help them understand that they can’t just spend all their money on things they want right now because they need to save for other priorities later.
14. Set spending limits
When you sign up for a bank account as an adult, your spending limits are likely to be relatively high. You’ll start with $500 or so at first and can go up to about $5,000 or more if you have a good credit history.
For children, however, it might not make sense to give them so much freedom during their early years before they can develop strong money skills.
Parents can set spending limits per day, week, or month. For example, parents can set limits of $25 per day for children to spend on things they want and need.
Some people have done better with cash, while others might be more comfortable using cards. Money provides a spending limit that can help them avoid impulse purchases.
Fortunately, with the spending limits parents can set on these cards, you’ve installed a cash-based mindset in a cashless society.
15. Control over how kids spend money online
A common feature of this new era of children’s debit cards is the ability for parents to control how the money in their accounts is spent.
It includes money spent online and offline and pre-screening eligible merchants or even removing a handful from accepting card payments.
16. Financial education tools
You’ll want apps that can teach, inform, and increase your child’s understanding of finances. That means coming with tools for wiser spending.
Life gets busy, and keeping track of your finances can be time-consuming. You don’t always have to watch where and how you spend your money.
Many of these apps come with information to highlight spending insights based on your history, budgeting tools to manage your money, savings categories and goals, and more.
These help manage money develop a sense of ownership and understanding of children’s finances. Many also receive information through videos, articles, tutorials, and explanations through financial education resources.
Be sure to review the content covered and browse the available resource libraries to select the most important topics to cover.
17. Free ATM withdrawals
Online-only banks had an early problem: how to offer cash to their depositors without a physical location to provide fee-free ATM withdrawals?
Many leaders in the space developed a more effective solution than traditional banks: free ATM withdrawals at huge network ATMs. That means reimbursement of ATM fees for tens of thousands of ATMs across the country, not just your bank’s.
Check to make sure your child’s debit card has free ATM withdrawals and the ability to control how much they can withdraw or handle on their own.
18. Rewards Programs
When you spend money on the card, you may receive rewards points for other expenses. These cards come with many of the same benefits as a credit card, such as cashback on purchases.
As your kids get older and take more responsibility for their spending, these debit cards could be perfect for teaching them how to manage money responsibly without using an expensive line of credit or overdraft.
These points can also encourage children to save for larger purchases, gifts, or other significant expenses.
Acorns invented it; everyone else has copied it since. “Roundup” is just a fancy term for rounding up your purchase to the following dollar amount.
The idea behind Round Ups is that small amounts of money saved regularly will eventually add up and result in much more significant savings in the future.
Roundups are a simple way to teach your children how compound interest works. By rounding up your purchases, you’ll save small amounts of money over time and eventually earn more significant rewards with the same strategy.
It is a powerful savings tool for any age group as it helps introduce them to saving and investing in an easy-to-understand format that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse them.
Kids can invest these rounded-up dollars and see compound interest take off to another level.
Greenlight also offers “Round-Ups” to passively make the most of your savings.
20. Ability to donate to charity
It is also essential for children to understand the importance of giving back. Some of these accounts allow easy donations to a charity with the swipe of a screen and the tap of a few buttons – with parental permission, of course!
21. Safety for parents and teens
Most of these digital apps allow you to pause or replace your app card if it’s lost or stolen. Having this card becomes more secure than carrying cash and secures EMV chips transactions.
Additionally, it will have mobile apps requiring fingerprint identification, facial recognition, and even multi-factor authentication for a secure banking experience. You can keep your banking information private with your Prepaid Mastercard or Reloadable Prepaid Visa Card.
22. FDIC Coverage
All bank accounts must have FDIC coverage or insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which protects against the loss of a depositor’s funds in a bank failure. It is an essential feature parent should look for when choosing a debit card to give their child.
23. Manage household chores and manage assignments
These debit cards for kids and teens tend to have apps that can help you manage household chores and manage weekly or monthly allowances.
The apps come with tools to build, manage, and employ a chores and allowances system, which allows you to assign and pay for all your household chores.
Be sure to review the functionality of each system and whether it meets your needs. Some allow one-time, instant payments for completed tasks, while others only allow fixed or floating weekly or monthly payments.
24. Investment Options for Compounding Returns
Some of these apps also come with additional investment features by establishing associated custodial accounts and the ability to invest in stocks.
Some companies offer limited investment options by design, ensuring that your child can only invest in suitable, diversified investments, such as index funds or ETFs.
It prevents children, especially older ones, from being traded in securities under multiple headlines for unusual market activity. For example, GameStop and the market mania it created in early 2021 due mainly to a Reddit subforum touting the stock as a strong buy.
Others like Greenlight allow individual stock investment, but these purchases and sales must go through parental approval before the trade is made.
Additionally, Greenlight also limits its ability to buy and sell companies with at least $1 billion in market capitalization, which could prevent penny stocks and other risky small-cap names.
5 Money Lessons Debit Cards Teach Kids
Debit cards can do much more than teach your kids how to save money, manage it, budget it, invest it, give it, and spend it their own. Committing money through a debit card requires taking out a checking account, something that stores value, and converting the funds within the budget into purchases.
For this reason, turning an account’s stored value into a valuable actionable resource to spend and manage through a debit card requires learning responsibility.
With such power, children can develop financial responsibility. Such important lessons include:
- Distinguish between wants and needs. As children get older, they need to learn the importance of distinguishing between wants and needs. Any well-seasoned budgeting expert will tell you that it’s a balancing act. Many people recommend the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, which requires thinking about allocating your money to wants and needs. This rule requires that you divide 50% of your money for necessities (housing, utilities, food) and then 30% for wishes, with the balance falling into savings (20%). A debit card forces you to live within your means, making it impossible to use tomorrow’s dollars to finance today’s purchases. These card limits can help develop a stronger sense of financial literacy as you navigate these everyday decisions with today’s dollars,
- Appreciate what you have. Closely related to the distinction between wants and needs comes learning to appreciate what you have. Doing so will make you more fulfilled and satisfied with your life, not always wanting more. When you find things you want but can’t easily finance with your current financial firepower, you can look for alternatives to enable purchase. Debit will not allow this to happen. By finding satisfaction with what you have, you can learn to appreciate your situation and generate happiness.
- Financial responsibility. When you add up these essential characteristics, you have developed a sense of financial responsibility in your child. These principles above represent some of the most critical monetary values a child can learn from a young age. Done well and consistently, and this should lead your child to a financially secure life.
- Financial Freedom. By fighting the desire to rely on expensive credit and instead use only what you currently have. You can start working toward or maintaining financial freedom—falling into the debts of other squares directly with finding financial freedom and making decisions in your life without motivation solely with money. Kids who can stay out of debt early on and never worry about falling into it will have more financial peace of mind daily.
- Financial statement. For most, finding financial balance is a lifelong journey filled with ups and downs and needing constant attention. Put plainly, finding financial balance is a process and certainly not a one-time outcome or event in your life. It is the culmination of financial decisions that have enabled you to find the financial circumstances that are right for you. In the debit versus credit perspective, you are based on your current means and not tomorrow’s capital.
Pros and cons of debit cards for kids
There are several benefits to getting a debit card for your child, such as instilling financial responsibility and teaching kids about money. Still, there are also some downsides to be aware of.
- Learn about budgeting. Set your child up with a weekly or monthly allowance and explain that the money has to last for some time. It will help them understand saving for a rainy day, making their money last, and better balancing and needs.
- Avoid carrying cash. An excellent example of this is if your child needs to purchase while at school (on a field trip to the bowling alley, for example) and there is no ATM nearby. Or, you don’t want them carrying around a lot of cash that can easily be lost or stolen. Federal consumer protections provide some protection against purchases you didn’t make and against liability if made in error or through a stolen card.
- Security. If your debit cards are lost, you can deactivate them and deny any future lost funds. Plus, it has EMV chips, multi-factor authentication, password-protected accounts, and parental review and approval to block any unwanted spending attempts. Parents remain in the driver’s seat even though they may not be physically present with their child when making a spending decision.
- Parent control. Reviewing your children’s bank statements or accounts linked to a debit card or prepaid card can reveal spending habits. Parents can set limits on locations and amounts with some cards, giving these cards more control and benefits.
- Share invoices with your children. These debit cards come with apps that allow kids to share communal bills as part of their recurring expenses. Costs like a cell phone bill, car insurance payments, or sharing a Disney+ subscription can come from certain debit card apps mentioned above.
- Loans for parents in purchases of great value. Like you can make ongoing bill-sharing arrangements with your kids, you can also share big-ticket purchases by having your kids pay them over time like a consumer line of credit. It can teach your kids how to manage loan payments on items like a new cell phone.
- Establish an emergency fund. Because many of these financial products come with a paired app that lets you manage how your kids’ earnings are appropriated in different groups. (for example, save, spend, give, invest), you can also work with them first to set up and fund an emergency account for themselves. It can create financial security while at home and follow them out into the real world when they finally leave the family nest. Establishing this need early on and in a controlled environment can lead to healthy money habits that last a lifetime.
- Open a Family 401k Plan through a Custodial Roth IRA. Many parents will use these cards to handle homework and assignments and bank paychecks from their children’s first jobs. That means kids can contribute to Roth IRAs, locking in low tax rates to fund a secure retirement later. Parents can match all the money earned by their child and contribute this up to the amount of income earned by the child during the tax year, leaving the child to spend their earnings however they want. For example, if your son makes $1,500 over the summer as a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool, she can contribute $1,500 to a custodial Roth IRA through an app like M1 Finance .and let them keep their earnings to spend as they wish. You can’t both contribute funds above your earnings, but you may be able to split it between yourself and your child. Maybe $750 of your money goes into the IRA, and $750 of your money goes in.
- Easy spending. If you gave your child a debit card linked to your savings account, he could blow your money. A common concern among many parents is the ease with which their children can spend money. So consider opening a separate children’s savings account with checks.
- Monthly fees. A feature of most prepaid cards or debit cards for children is that they can come with monthly or annual fees. It can be a significant hurdle when considering which might make the most sense for your children.
- ATM fees. Be sure to avoid cards that charge a fee every time you want to withdraw cash.
- Recharge fees. Some cards charge reload fees to add money to the prepaid card.
- Invest in Account Custody Expenses. Not all of the above cards come paired with a reversal interface, but some do. Some charge account fees for opening a custodial account and maintaining it.
Kids debit cards vs. children’s prepaid cards
A standard debit card is connected to money in a bank or credit union account. A prepaid debit card requires you to load money to use the funds in a store or online.
Prepaid debit cards act like “stored value” cards because their value is tied to the card itself and not within a financial institution. These debit cards for teens and other minors act as a hybrid of these traditional financial products.
Debit cards and prepaid cards have benefits. The best option will depend on what you want from a card. A debit card is a card that people can use to buy things. It is connected to your bank account.
It can be a great way to start using money before having your own savings account. A debit card is also free or comes with a low monthly fee.
One drawback to a traditional bank account from a significant bank or local credit union is that parents can’t keep a close eye on their children’s spending due to a lack of notifications, spending controls, or setting spending limits.
While you may have account login details and look for statements that arrive in the mail or your inbox, a prepaid card gives you more oversight and control compared to traditional banks.
The best debit cards for teens offer these parent-centric features to give them the comfort of knowing they can put rails on their kids ‘ money habits. They act like prepaid cards in that you can’t spend what you don’t have.
With a prepaid card like those mentioned above, you can limit your children’s spending and block them from using the card at specific merchants. You can also receive instant notifications and alerts when they use your card. The downside, though? Prepaid cards come with fees.
Parents of younger children should consider prepaid debit cards for the money controls, and reserve bank accounts for teens or young adults who understand how to handle money and have the financial literacy tools necessary to be independent.
Can children have prepaid cards?
Prepaid debit cards can serve as a grand entry into the financial world for kids. They only allow you to spend the balance held on the card while facilitating the transfer of the allowance earned through the performance of household chores or simply as part of a set payment schedule.
Getting kids started early with a prepaid debit card can help them get a head start on navigating the financial system as they get older, giving them familiarity with different financial products and institutions.
Additionally, these can help guide them on how to manage their money digitally rather than physically, though handling physical cash early on may lead to a more concrete understanding of money later on.
Once kids have mastered how physical money works and its concepts, moving to a digital-based prepaid debit card could serve as an excellent next step
It is especially true as physical cash may not work as effectively as plastic when ordering items online, which has become the default method of purchasing goods and services these days.
Most prepaid debit cards require the child to be 18 years of age or older (or, as noted above, 16 years of age or older). However, you can also avoid this situation by using adding your child as an authorized user on your existing prepaid debit card.
It gives your child access to a prepaid debit card under their control, allowing them to monitor card activity and set spending limits.
What to do before you get a child debit card
Keep these things in mind before opening a debit card for your child:
- Monthly fees. The best debit cards for kids shouldn’t have costs associated with their online portals for checking out kids’ spending or educational tools that manage money.
- Major card networks. One of the best cards for your child to use is backed by a major credit card network. Companies like Amex, Mastercard, Visa, or Discover. Your child can use the card as a debit or credit card when needed.
- Parent control. An online account that allows you to see where cash flows and when it changes hands and will enable you to monitor your child’s spending habits is a wise investment for security purposes and to teach them strong management skills.
- Prepaid card. For starters, you may want to consider a prepaid debit card. You can also link a new card to your existing accounts as another authorized user. The new card will access those accounts as your child spends.
- Credit scores. There are several ways to load money onto a children’s debit card. For example, you could buy a convertible credit card for kids and put whatever money they want on it; however, pay off your balance each month to avoid interest charges. Not paying your monthly balance could be bad for your credit score.
Can a child 8, 11, 12, or 16 years old have a prepaid debit card?
Banks and credit unions have different policies on the minimum age required for an account holder to open an account and issue a connected debit card.
Some financial institutions start at age 8, 11, 12, or even 16, while other banks offer cards aimed directly at parents with young children or teenagers. Parents must decide which prepaid card or traditional account works best for their needs.
Are kids too young for debit cards?
We know kids as young as eight can get a debit card, but should they?
Research has shown that children develop lifelong money habits at the age of 7, which means that the earlier they can start learning about money, the better.
That same research suggests that children begin to form opinions and perceptions of money as early as three years old when they first learn to count and observe how their parents and guardians manage their money.
Because children’s debit cards can provide crucial help in developing financial awareness on numerous personal finance topics, equipping them with cards with parental controls and supervision from an early age makes a lot of sense.
It can also foster a sense of independence to make your own decisions, with guardrails you can provide, mind you. It will give them confidence in how they behave and plan for today’s needs versus tomorrow’s needs.
Debit cards can make kids feel like adults without actually being them: probably a nice tradeoff that everyone wants to make. Parents want their children to mature, but they may not leave the nest too soon.
Plus, you can trust your little ones (or teens) to make good decisions away from home when they inevitably leave.
Is a children’s debit card a good option for teenagers?
Yes, it may be good to get a debit card for your teenager. However, which card you choose will depend on the environment your child can tolerate.
Some cards provide less parental control to give the teen more freedom to spend money without parental approval, as long as it’s within the budgeted spending limit.
Consider a teen prepaid debit card for more control over your teen’s spending. If you want them to have more freedom, you can open a teen banking app.
Are children’s debit cards safe?
And it is. Children’s debit cards are generally safe due to two main features.
First, debit cards offer many more consumer protections than cash. An essential advantage of a prepaid card over money is the liability and fraud protection from federal law.
Some offer purchase protections, though you may face some difficulty in disputing unauthorized transactions or correcting errors seen on your account.
Second, most debit cards allow you to pause or replace the card if lost or stolen. As the first reason, debit cards are secure, having a card becomes more secure than carrying cash and secures transactions with EMV chips.
Additionally, the cards above come with mobile apps that require password protection and possibly fingerprint identification and facial recognition.
Some even require multi-factor authentication where you must enter a code sent to the phone linked in the account to access your account for a secure banking experience.
It would help if you still took all necessary precautions to protect your personal and account information. This means:
- protect your PIN
- store your card in a safe place
- please don’t shake it while in public
- do not disclose account information to people who do not need to know
- keeping an account safe and secure does not contain common words or phrases such as “password.”
- limit the use of ATMs to branded banking networks
- not using public wireless access to make purchases on your card.
Do kids and teen debit cards collect personal data?
Each company’s policies regarding collecting sensitive personal data such as names, ages, email addresses, GPS location data, transaction information, and more
However, through their privacy policies, some reserve the right to share this personal information with advertising, marketing providers, insurance companies, collection agencies, and other service providers.
This information may also collect to serve personalized ads and content now or in the future.
The rules around this are stricter for children under the age of 13 thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. This two-decade-old law requires companies to receive “verifiable parental consent” to collect data from minors.
Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the law, states consent must be “clearly and understandably written, complete, and must not contain unrelated, confusing, or contradictory materials.”
However, granting this consent is not different depending on the account subscription by age.
As a result, please be aware of the data you will be given access to through your account. If you have concerns about how this data will be collected, processed, or used by the company or its affiliates and partners, please consider whether registering for an account is the right option.
In today’s digital world, providing access to your personal information has become more regular.
Ensure you are aware of your rights under COPPA (or any extensions seen at the state level, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 ) before proceeding with an action to open a children’s debit card or any other financial product.
What other investment accounts for children should I consider?
If you want to accomplish specific goals with these funds, you have other options.
- 529 plans. If you want to save money specifically for college or other qualified educational expenses, consider opening a 529 account with a company like Surety Instead.
- Custodial Roth accounts. If you want an early start on saving for your child’s retirement, consider a Roth Child Custody IRA. It allows children who have earned income to contribute at a presumably lower tax rate than when they are adults and make more years of compound returns. Companies like M1 Finance offer these accounts for children.
- Trust funds. If you want more flexibility regarding when the money is transferred and not just the age of termination or the age of majority, consider opening a trust fund.
Should kids handle cash?
Children learn best with their hands and by experiencing things in person. Starting a savings account or goal with a physical piggy bank can materialize the concept of savings in their minds.
This tangible aspect makes it accurate to them and gives them a connection to money.
However, given enough time, you can move this money management into the digital world, relying on what has become an increasingly digital world.
However, it is not necessary to completely abandon one for the other. Having money in cash and on your card and account can make good financial sense.
However, we found that initiating a digital account transfer from your account to your account is much easier than driving to the bank to get money from the ATM.
What happens if my child loses a debit card?
Fortunately, the FinTech applications associated with your cards make it extremely easy to lock your cards, keeping any potential fraudulent activity away from someone who finds the card before you do.
You can block the card, cancel it, and request a new one. Some apps require a fee, while others do it for free.
Fortunately, losing a card is meaningless if you take the right actions right away, unlike losing a wad of cash, which can’t be recovered. Therefore, cards make handling money easier, safer, and more secure.
Can kids get personalized debit cards?
Kids can get a debit card that has their name on it and a photo of their choice. By allowing this, children and teens are more likely to connect with their cards and the responsibility they represent.
Also, the unique card can make it less likely to lose or misplace your card and more likely to keep track of the balance. They will have something in their possession that they are proud of and represents a unique style.
When they use the card, kids see what’s in their bank account or a reminder message about spending limits. They can talk to their parents about using their personalized card responsibly and saving for big purchases like a new cell phone, laptop, or even paying for college tuition.
What documentation do you need to open a debit card for kids and adolescents?
As financial services companies, the federal government requires these card companies to “know” their customers using a specific protocol called ” Know Your Customer,” or KYC. This widely used electronic identity and information check meet regulatory obligations under the USA Patriot Act of 2001.
This process verifies your identity at account registration by matching your name, address, and date of birth against a public records database such as the one available through one of the three major credit reporting agencies.
By verifying your information to establish that you are who you say you are, this check is not a credit check, which means neither your nor your child’s credit scores will be affected.
You may see a notification that a financial service has verified your address, but this will not affect your credit.
Depending on how long you have lived at your current residence, you may need to upload additional information if you can only meet a partial match based on public record databases. It could involve uploading a copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID.
The information you provide in your initial account application to these debit card providers must match these documents.
Once you have uploaded this information, it may take 24-72 business hours to verify this information. You should receive an email notifying you if you pass from the service provider, which authorizes you to open the account.
Do teen debit cards offer contactless payments?
As a result of COVID-19, many card providers have accelerated their cardholders’ ability to use contactless payment technology. It includes debit cards for teenagers and children. Many of the cards listed in this article can use for contactless purchases and store payments.
However, before you make your first contactless purchase, you may need to use traditional chip and PIN functionality, verifying that the card works. After this point, you may have the ability to use the contactless card for future purchases, although you may face maximum limits per transaction.
For more details on contactless payments and payment maximums, contact your provider or read their terms of service.
The 12 Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens