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Most kids won’t qualify for a checking account. But there are prepaid debit cards created for kids that can let them spend while you keep an eye on their habits.
How do debit cards for kids work?
Most debit cards for kids are prepaid cards. You can load money onto them from an app using your checking account.
A lot of these cards come with extra features, like the ability to see how your child spends their money or pay them for doing chores.
At what age can my child get a debit card?
Prepaid cards can be available for kids as young as five. But debit cards linked to traditional checking accounts usually require your child to be at least 13.
You can let your children keep their prepaid card as they get older, or help them open a checking account for teens when they’ve outgrown the prepaid card.
Popular debit card options
Akimbo offers prepaid debit cards that can be used as budgeting tools. You can have a groceries card, an entertainment card and a card for each area of your budget. Because you load money onto the card ahead of time, you can’t accidentally go over.
You can also give an Akimbo card to one of your children. You’ll be able to add money from the app, and you’ll get notifications showing you where and when they spend their money.
This is a Visa prepaid card for kids who are five to 16 years old. There’s a small yearly fee, and parents can reload the card from an App.
BusyKid is set up to work with allowances, and once you set an allowance it’ll be automatically transferred to your kid’s card. You can even set a list of chores, each with a different monetary value. Your kids don’t get paid unless you confirm that they completed their chores.
You can also decide what percentage of it they can spend, share and donate to charity.
FamZoo offers prepaid cards for kids. The app allows you to pay your child an allowance on a regular basis or when they complete certain chores or activities.
As a parent, you can track where your child is spending their money. You can also set an interest rate to encourage them to save — but you’ll pay the interest. If too much is coming out of your account, you can set a cap on how much interest you’re willing to pay your child.
FamZoo also lets you set up mock stocks so that your kid can practice investing. But like with savings, you’re the one who pays anything they earn.
Another prepaid card you can control from an app, GoHenry is for kids aged six to 18. Your children can create their own personalized card, and you can send weekly allowances and bonus money for completing certain chores and activities.
You also get to decide where the card can be used — online, in stores or at ATMs — set savings goals for your child and see where and when they spend their money. It’s all controlled from within an app on your phone.
Greenlight is a prepaid card controlled by an app that allows you to send your child a weekly allowance as well as bonus money for completing certain chores.
One of the standout features of the app is that you can choose where your children can spend money — and how much. Spend Anywhere money can be used at any store your child wishes.
But you can also designate money for specific stores. For example, if your daughter is going shopping with a friend, you can set a spending limit for the store you’re at. Or you can transfer in $20 that can only be used at the pet store so your teen can stop to pick up dog food.
You’ll be able to see when and how they spend money, and you can set up a parent-paid savings account to encourage them to save up for big purchases.
Features of a kids’ debit card
- Spending controls. Many children’s debit cards come with spending control limits that parents can set within their mobile banking app to restrict how much their child can spend.
- Card lock. Parents can also lock the debit card online or via an app.
- Choose how your child can spend. Parents can choose if the card can be used at ATMS, online or for in-store purchases.
- Spending tracking tools. Many mobile banking apps offer spending tracking tools and features to help your child learn how to manage their money.
Here’s what to consider before giving your child a debit card
- Check the fees. The costs can vary between cards and banks. Most prepaid cards will have either a monthly or yearly fee.
- Spending limits. Look for cards that let you cap daily spending and set limits for ATM withdrawals or at specific stores.
- Shopping online. Consider whether being able to buy online is a benefit or a downside, and opt for a kids’ debit card that can restrict or block online spending if needed.
Pros and cons of kids’ debit cards
- Control. Keep track of your child’s spending online and cap the daily limit as you see fit.
- Security. You can monitor your child’s spending in the mobile banking app to see where they’re going.
- Safety. Because you can quickly and easily lock the debit card if it’s misplaced, debit cards are often safer than carrying cash.
- Good practice. Using a debit card will teach your child how money works digitally.
- Not a checking account. The majority of debit cards for kids are prepaid cards, and not actual checking accounts.
- Age limits. Each card or bank can set its own age limit.
Compare debit cards for kids
A prepaid debit card can help your child learn how to manage money responsibly — and let you track their spending so you can see if they’re meeting that goal. But while some prepaid cards let kids save money on them, they’re not a replacement for a savings account. Compare savings accounts for kids and prepaid debit cards to create a banking solution that’s right for your family.
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