The best debit card for kids aims to teach your child how to manage their money. When searching for a card, you have two options: a prepaid debit card or a debit card attached to a checking account. Kids’ prepaid cards typically charge a monthly fee, but you’ll gain access to chores and allowance features. On the other hand, debit cards that come with a kids’ checking account typically don’t charge a fee, but their financial education tools come in the form of quizzes or are non-existent.
We researched over 35 debit cards for kids that have nationwide availability, simple fee structures, unique financial literacy features and parental controls that allow you to set boundaries, as needed.
This article was reviewed by Marguerita Cheng, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and award-winning advocate for ethical financial planning for over 20 years.
The Gohenry debit card is the best personalized card for kids from age 6 to 18 because it lets your children choose their own personalized card from a set of designs Gohenry provides. For instance, they'll get to choose from a picture, pattern or color. You get to decide where they use the card — online, in stores or at ATMs — and can view where and when they spend it in the mobile app. The Gohenry card offers a free trial and lets you set up recurring or one-time chores, each with its own dollar amount. You'll also never have to worry about overdraft fees because purchases that will exceed your child's balance will automatically be declined.
Free trial. Give Gohenry a test spin with a 30-day free trial.
Parental controls. Create savings goals for your kid to work toward and set weekly or one-off spending limits.
Custom tasks. Create recurring or one-time chores with their own payout amount, and your child can mark them off the list as they're complete.
Monthly fee adds up. Unlike other prepaid cards that charge a flat monthly fee for the whole family, you'll pay $3.99 for each Gohenry card, which can add up if you have more than one kid.
One funding option. As of right now, the only way to add funds to Gohenry is with a connected debit card. You can't deposit cash, e-deposit checks or do an ACH transfer.
Limited loads per day. You can only add funds up to three times a day for a maximum of $500 a day across all subaccounts, which may require you to plan ahead if you have multiple cards to load.
The Greenlight debit card is the best debit card for parental controls because it lets you set spending limits for specific retailers. Greenlight doesn't have any minimum or maximum age requirements, but it's intended to help kids learn to save, spend, earn, give and even invest. There are three plans to choose from, and all come with tools to help your child manage their money. But the two highest plans come with an investing platform that lets your child buy real stocks with your permission. Greenlight also stands out because of its maximum card balance and transfer limit are higher than most cards for kids. Plus, accounts with balances below $5,000 earn a 1% or 2% savings boost per year, depending on your plan.
Funds are split between two categories. Funds in the Spend Anywhere category can be used at any store your child wishes. The other category has parental control features that allow you to designate money for specific stores.
Saving and investing tools. Set up a savings account that has parent-paid interest or earns a savings boost of 1% or 2% on balances up to $5,000, depending on your plan. Your child can also invest money in real-time.
Minimal fees. You won't pay any transaction, reload or withdrawal fees with Greenlight, although you may pay ATM operator fees. If you lose your card, Greenlight gives you your first replacement for free, and any after that is $3.50.
Monthly fee. Although you'll pay at least $4.99 a month for Greenlight, this is a flat fee that includes cards for up to five kids.
Limited direct deposit. If your teen is old enough to have a job, they can get direct deposit on their card. But they can't receive payments from Apple Cash, PayPal, Venmo or the US government.
The BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Debit card is best for parents who are looking beyond chores and allowances. Busykid offers a way for your kid to save, donate, share, spend or invest any earned allowances. Although Greenlight also offers investing, you'll need to upgrade to its $7.98/month plan to use it. Meanwhile, Busykid is cheaper and includes its investing feature at no extra cost. Other standout features include allowance automations and excellent customer service.
Affordable. While most debit cards for kids cost about $50 a year, BusyKid only costs $19.99. This annual fee includes one free prepaid card.
Money management options. Your kids have the option to save their money with parent-paid interest, donate it to any of the 40+ charities available, use the app to buy stocks or use their Busykid spend card to make purchases.
Parental permissions. Your child has the freedom to move money between the spend, save and share sections in their BusyKid account themselves. But they'll need your permission to move money to their Spend card.
Cost per card. The BusyKid family subscription comes with one free spend card, but you'll pay $7.99 for each additional card you need.
Limited parental controls. Unlike the competition, you have no control over how your child spends their money once it hits their BusyKid Spend card, which means it's ideal for parents who have already established trust with their kid.
The FamZoo prepaid card is best for traveling abroad because you won't have to worry about your kid paying foreign transaction fees on international purchases while you're on vacation or a they're on a school trip. FamZoo is open to kids of all ages, and it offers a free 30-day trial. It also lets you assign dollar values to specific chores, and it gives you the ability to set up mock stocks so your kid can practice investing. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees with this card, and you'll receive detailed information about any declined transactions.
Real-time requests. Your kids can request extra funds in real-time, which is helpful if they're out with friends and need extra cash on the spot.
Focus on saving, spending and giving. Your child's account is split into three subaccounts for saving, spending and giving to encourage them to develop good money management habits.
No foreign transaction fees. FamZoo Kids traveling abroad won't pay any foreign transaction fees on international purchases.
Monthly fee. Famzoo costs $5.99 a month — and there's no way to waive it. But your first 30 days are free, so you can try before you buy.
Fee for 5+ cards. If you need more than four FamZoo cards, you'll pay a $2 shipping fee for each one over this limit.
Limited cash deposits. The only way to add cash to your Famzoo card is at a GreenDot or Mastercard rePower location, both of which cost money.
The Copper debit card for teens is linked to a full-fledged checking account. Copper is free to use and there are no ATM fees or overdraft charges. And although it doesn't have an integrated chores feature like many other debit cards for kids, parents can set up recurring transfers that instantly deposit cash into their kids' accounts. Plus, the mobile app includes interactive quizzes, articles and other resources to enrich your teen's financial literacy.
No fees. There's no monthly or overdraft fee and no minimum balance requirement with Copper. Your kid can also use the Copper debit card at Allpoint and Moneypass ATMs without paying a fee.
Improves financial literacy. The Copper app features financial quizzes and other resources to help your teen be more mindful about their saving and spending habits. Kids can even earn extra cash for completing some of the quizzes.
Integrated savings. Copper lets your kid create multiple buckets to save up for long-term goals. Your teen can also set up automatic deposits into their savings buckets and invite friends and family to contribute funds.
Negligible interest. Saved money only earns 0.001% APY, which is virtually nothing.
Cash deposit fee. Copper doesn't charge any fees when your kid deposits cash at participating retailers, but some businesses may charge a fee of up to $4.95.
The Jassby virtual debit card stands out for its no monthly fee and intuitive money-management app. It's also a great option for kids who don't need a physical debit card. There used to be a monthly fee and free six-month trial, but these were done away with after Jassby became a free virtual debit card. Your kid also gets access to the Jassby Mall, which is an in-app marketplace that includes more than 20,000 products from retailers including Apple, Starbucks and Nintendo.
No monthly fee. Unlike other kids debit cards, you don't have to worry paying a fee every month.
Parental features. The adult on the account can award one-time bonuses, freeze their kid's debit card and set spending limits in the mobile app.
Jassby Mall. The app has a built-in Jassby Mall where your kid can buy products from popular retailers like Starbucks, Apple and Nintendo.
No physical card. Jassby is a virtual debit card only, which could be a disadvantage if your kid shops at a place that doesn't support mobile wallet and contactless payments.
To be eligible for the Chase First Banking account and debit card, you’ll first need to be a Chase customer. The account is powered by Greenlight, so it works similar to its most basic account. But while you’ll pay $4.99 to use Greenlight, Chase First Banking is free. The account is geared toward children aged 6 to 17, and the mobile app lets you assign chores, manage allowances and create multiple savings goals. The account also includes ATM access and there’s no minimum balance requirement.
No monthly fee. Unlike many other kid-centric bank accounts, there's no monthly fee for Chase First Banking.
Built-in chores and allowances. When you open a Chase First Banking account, you can use Chase's mobile app to assign tasks to your child or automate their allowance.
Parents are in control. You can restrict your kid's spending, limit their ATM access and get spending alerts. Plus, your child can send you real-time requests for cash that you can instantly transfer to their account for free.
Must be an existing Chase customer. You can't open a Chase First Banking account unless you already bank with Chase.
No support for multiple parents. You can only link one parent's account unless you share your login credentials with your partner.
Missing features. This account doesn't support digital wallets, direct deposits, bank-to-bank transfers or mobile check deposits.
The Mazoola virtual debit card is the best free debit card for kids because it has absolutely no fees. It also offers standard features like the ability to set chores, allowances and savings goals. The Mazoola app makes it easy for your kid to track savings goals in the account, so they can monitor their progress as they get paid. And this account supports peer-to-peer payments, allowing your kid to quickly send funds to friends and family.
No fees. Unlike most debit cards for kids, Mazoola is 100% free to use. Plus, your kid can't overdraft as any purchases that would put their balance in the red are declined.
Savings tools. Your child can set up savings goals in the app and fund them as they complete chores and earn money.
P2P payments. Your kid can send money to other friends and family in the Mazoola app using peer-to-peer payments.
Not available on Google Play. Mazoola has an Android app in the works, but as of February 2021, it's only available to iPhone users.
New app. Mazoola is a new debit card for kids, so it's too soon to tell what parents like and don't like about it.
The Step Banking app is best for building credit because it combines the features of a debit and credit card. The unique Smart Pay system offered by Step lets your kid establish a positive credit history but prevents them from making purchases that exceed their balance. This way, you and your kid never have to worry about overspending or getting hit with overdraft fees. And unlike most debit cards, the Step card is protected by a zero-liability policy from Visa, meaning your kid will never be responsible for charges they did not authorize.
Builds credit. Step Banking is unique because it lets kids build credit history even before they're old enough to apply for a credit card on their own.
No fees. Step doesn't charge a monthly fee for its card, and there's no minimum balance required to keep the account open. There are also no overdraft charges or ATM fees.
Adults can set up recurring payments. Adults, which Step calls 'Sponsors', can set up recurring deposits into their kids' accounts via the mobile app.
Atypical ATM withdrawals. When you withdraw cash from an ATM, Step doesn't subtract those funds from your account. Instead, your ATM withdrawals are considered cash advances, which may be subject to interest and finance charges.
Kids can't fund the account. The only way to add money to this account is through direct deposits, bank-to-bank transfers or apps such as Venmo. Neither you nor your kid can deposit cash or checks into the account.
The Goalsetter Cashola Prepaid Debit Mastercard is best for kids aged 6 to 16. It offers financial quizzes like competitor Copper banking, but offers added features that ensure that your kid is taking at least one financial quiz a week. Other standout features include a way for family members to auto-save or round up purchases toward the balance in the account.
Savings goals. Your kid can create financial goals toward vacations, gifts and more. Plus, you have the option to set up auto-save and round-ups.
No monthly fee. You won't pay a dime for your child to use this account. If you'd like to give, you have the option to pay what you can.
Financial quizzes. This account stands apart from other accounts that offer quizzes because you can choose to freeze the card when your child doesn't complete at least one quiz a week.
No ATM access. Unlike other prepaid cards like Greenlight and Famzoo, your kid won't be able to withdraw money from an ATM with this account.
Not transparent. The account markets itself as being fully transparent, but you don't have access to the fees unless you create an account or reach out to customer service.
Inactivity fee. You'll pay $1 a month after 12 months of no transactions.
If you or a member of your family are in the military or work for the Department of Defense, the Visa Buxx card from Navy Federal Credit Union lets you give your kid spending power without handing over your credit card. There are no fees to open this account or keep it active, and it includes parental controls you can use to monitor your kid’s spending habits and limit the amount of cash they can access. However, this card doesn’t include allowance or chores functionality, and if you don’t have any ties to the military, you won’t qualify for an account.
Parental controls.You can track your kid's purchases, check their balance and reload the card online or over the phone. You can also limit ATM access and restrict how much cash your kid can get back from participating retailers
Zero-liability protection.Your kid won't be held responsible for confirmed fraudulent transactions as long as you notify Navy Federal within 60 days of the statement date on which the fraudulent transactions first appear
No monthly fees.There's no monthly fees to keep the account open.
Eligibility criteria.You must be a current or former member of the military, work for the Department of Defense or have a family member who meets either of these criteria to qualify for membership in this credit union. Your child must also be at least 13 years old
No integrated chores or allowance.Unlike several other cards on this list, including Greenlight and BusyKid, this card doesn't include integrated chores or allowance features.
The Teen Debit Card from Current gives you the power to track your teen's chores, automate their allowance and monitor their transactions all from the palm of your hand. The parental controls let you set spending limits, deactivate the card and block ATMs withdrawals or purchases from specific retailers. Plus, the chores feature can teach your kid to negotiate by letting them propose a different amount of compensation for certain chores. And this card includes an automatic round-up setting that can help your teen reach their savings goals even faster.
Savings round-ups. Purchases can be rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference will be deposited into the savings goal of your choice.
Parental controls. Adults on the account can set spending limits, block ATM access, disable the card and select which stores their kid can shop at.
Separate funding sources. Divorced parents or parents who like to keep their finances separate can link individual funding sources to this account.
Annual fee. This account requires a $36 annual fee, which is $3 broken down into 12 months. This is pretty average, but you'll find cheaper options out there as well.
Overseas fees. If your kid uses this card outside of the US, they'll pay a 3% transaction fee and a $3 ATM fee on top of what the ATM owner charges.
Alliant's free checking account for teens is geared toward kids aged 13 to 17, making it best for high school students who already have a handle on how to save and spend. Balances in the account earn a commendable 0.25% APY, and there's no minimum deposit required. The debit card can be used at 80,000 ATMs across the US without any fee, and Alliant will reimburse up to $20 in out-of-network ATM fees each month. Plus, you won't have to worry about your kid spending thousands of dollars because the account is limited to $100 in ATM withdrawals and $300 in purchases per day.
Solid interest rate. Your kid can earn 0.25% APY if they opt out of paper statements and receive at least one electronic deposit each month.
No monthly fee. There's no ongoing service fee to use this account, but you may need to make a one-time $5 donation to the nonprofit Foster Care to Success to qualify for membership.
ATM network and rebates. Your kid will have free access to 80,000 ATMs, and if they do use an out-of-network machine, Alliant will reimburse up to $20 in fees each month.
Limited locations. Alliant Credit Union only has two brick-and-mortar branches, and they're both in Illinois.
Few parental controls. Compared to other debit cards for teens, this one has relatively few parental controls.
Till Financial is best for low fees because this debit card doesn’t have any one-time or recurring charges, which is rare for an account that comes with both a physical and virtual card. Till’s focus is on helping kids become savvy spenders, though the account also includes integrated savings goals. Plus, Till provides parents with plenty of ways to contribute to the account and share access with other family members.
No fees. Till doesn't charge a fee to open or maintain an account. The only fees associated with this account are for international transactions, overseas ATM withdrawals and replacement cards.
Virtual and physical cards. Some debit cards for kids are strictly virtual, but Till offers both virtual and physical debit cards for free. You can even get multiple cards if you have more than one kid.
Advanced options. Till lets parents contribute to their kid's account in several ways. In addition to one-time transfers, you can choose to match your kid's savings efforts, set up automated allowance payments or enable parent-paid interest on savings goals.
No Android app. Till's app only works on iPhones and the iPod Touch.
Few support options. Till doesn't offer phone or chat support. If you need help with your account, you can email email@example.com or contact a representative via social media.
Not compatible with all banks. Till is compatible with many of the most popular banks in the US, but some smaller banks and credit unions may not be supported.
Can the fee be waived?
ATM transaction fee
Paper statement fee
Foreign transaction fee
What’s changed in 2021? While you may find Akimbo listed on competitor best lists, we removed it from our list because we spoke to two customer representatives who confirmed that the card is currently unavailable. We added Navy Federal Credit Union’s Visa Buxx card to our best list and the Mango prepaid card to our list of alternatives. We also added selected Current’s debit card for kids as the best card for savings round-ups, we chose Alliant Credit Union’s teen checking account as the best account for earning interest and Till account as the best card for low fees.
8 debit cards for kids alternatives
Although you might find these popular cards for kids on other sites, they didn’t make the cut on our list because they don’t offer comprehensive features or unique educational tools for kids.
1. Capital One Money
This free account for kids age 8 or older, earns 0.1% APY and it’s one of the few accounts that supports ATM deposits.
Why we didn’t choose it: Unlike other kids’ debit cards, Capital One Money doesn’t offer comprehensive hands-on education tools for kids. Instead, it offers a financial resource hub with articles. If you can do without educational tools, Capital One is a good alternative for its 0.1% APY, as most prepaid debit cards don’t offer interest unless it’s in the form of parent-paid interest. But if you’re only after an interest-bearing account, consider Axos Bank First Checking, which earns 0.1% APY with ATM reimbursements and no fees.
A prepaid Mastercard tied to a chore app that includes features to boost your kid’s financial literacy. Parents can also activate automatic transfers and get real-time notifications about their teen’s purchases.
Why we didn’t choose it: Kachinga is a very basic prepaid card for kids. Like most cards, it offers spend, give and donate options and a way for parents to set up chores and allowances. But you’ll pay $36 a year or more depending on how many kids you have. For the lack of features, the cost is not worth it when compared to other cards, which gives you more for your money. For instance, BusyKid offers more options like investing for $19.99 a year depending on the amount of kids.
3. Revolut Junior
A prepaid card with parent-paid bonuses, spending analyzers and task tracking. But adults must have a personal Revolut account to get started.
Why we didn’t choose it: Revolut Junior offers a lot of the same features you’ll find with other prepaid cards, like parent-paid bonuses, chores and allowances. But to open an account, parents need to open a Revolut account and the amount of cards you need for your family depends on which Revolut plan you choose and how much you’ll pay every month. For instance, if you have two kids, you’ll pay $9.99 a month, which is equivalent to $119.88 a year. This would make it one of the most expensive cards if you have multiple kids. Meanwhile, competitor Greenlight offers up to five cards starting at $4.99 a month or $59.88 a year.
A wearable payment bracelet that comes with a one-time prepaid card or a reloadable option. It costs $25 to activate, but your kid can customize their bracelet color.
Why we didn’t choose it: Looking beyond the stylish band, there are no standout features like chores, allowance or other educational tools for kids. And while it’s marketed as a contactless payment option for teens, our writers tested this product and found that it isn’t 100% contactless. While making a purchase, the checkout keypad is used twice: once to enter the PIN and again to decline cash back.
An allowance app that teaches kids how to earn, spend and save. The debit card option is currently only available in the UK, but the company is looking to expand to the US.
Why we didn’t choose it: While it’s a popular debit card in the UK, it’s only available as an app in the US. You have the option of a free plan or a paid plan at $2.99 a month or $18.99 a year, but neither option comes with a debit card for US families. If you’re after a free app that teaches kids how to manage their money without using a card or actual cash, this is a good option especially since Busykid’s free option was recently discontinued.
A card for teens that lets them create savings goals, earn money on chores and allowances and complete financial quizzes.
Why we didn’t choose it: While there’s no monthly fee to use the card, it didn’t make our best list due to its its return policy, lack of savings categories and user limitations. Wingocard has a return policy that disallows you from transferring money out of the account once you fund it. And unlike other debit cards for kids that have different categories to spend, save and give, this one only has a category for spending. And lastly, only iOS users can use this card as it’s not yet available on Android.
7. Akimbo Prepaid Mastercard
You can use this card to help you budget or set allowances for your kids, but it’s currently not available.
Why we didn’t choose it: While you might see Akimbo mentioned on other review websites, we contacted Akimbo’s customer service department and were explicitly told that “Akimbo cards are not open to the public.” Current cardholders can still use the account, but the company is no longer issuing cards to new customers.
8. Mango Prepaid Mastercard
This simple debit card has a pesky monthly fee, but it comes with an optional high-yield savings account that earns a whopping 6.0% APY.
Why we didn’t choose it: Although you may see this card listed in other roundups of debit cards for kids, we didn’t choose it because the only way to avoid the $5 monthly service charge is for your kid to receive at least $800 in direct deposits each month. The card also lacks other features such as chores and allowance tracking.
8 features to consider when looking for the best debit card for your kid
Most kids’ debit cards come with chores, allowance and tools to track your kid’s spending, but they can vary across other features. Here are a few to compare when shopping around for a debit card for your child:
Fees. Most prepaid cards will have either a monthly or yearly fee and most kid’s checking accounts are free. Busykid is a good low cost option if you’re looking for a kid’s prepaid card with comprehensive features and Copper banking is a free option if you’re looking for an account for your teen.
Spending limits and controls. Look for cards that let you cap daily spending and set limits for ATM withdrawals or at specific stores. Cards like Greenlight, even allow you to set spending control limits for specific stores through the mobile banking app.
Shopping online. Consider whether being able to buy online is a benefit or a downside, and opt for a kids’ debit card like Greenlight that can restrict or block your child from spending money at specific stores.
Investing. If you want to look beyond chores and allowances, look at cards like Busykid or Greenlight that can teach your child how to start investing real money.
Interest-bearing. Prepaid cards for kids rarely offer a way for your child to earn interest. Instead they offer a way for parents to pay interest to their child. If you’re after an account that offers financial literacy tools and interest, you’re better off opening a kid’s checking account like Capital One Money or if you’re strictly concerned about interest look at Axos Bank First Checking, which offers 0.1% APY.
Giving. A few debit cards for kids let your child donate a portion of their funds to charity. Some of these cards give your kid a list of preselected nonprofits to choose from, while others let your child choose any charity they like.
Security. Nearly all debit cards for kids offer $250,000 of insurance through the FDIC, but some cards go even further to keep your data and your money safe. Greenlight, for instance, offers identity theft protection, purchase protection and cell phone protection for up to five kids, but only if you upgrade to its Max plan.
Instant transfers. A few cards, such as Greenlight, BusyKid and Copper, support real-time transfers between the parent’s account and the kid’s account, while other cards make you wait a few days for funds to arrive.
What is a debit card for kids?
Debit cards for kids help parents teach their children how to start managing their money at an early age. Kids can save and spend money online or in store all while learning how money works through financial quizzes, chores and allowances. There are two types of cards to choose from:
Prepaid debit cards. These cards allow you to preload your kid’s account, set chores and allowances and apply spending controls. Plus, they offer financial tools to help your child learn how to manage their money. They also typically charge a monthly fee.
Debit cards attached to checking accounts. These cards typically don’t require a monthly fee, but you won’t get as many financial tools as you would with prepaid debit cards. However, there are exceptions like Copper Banking, which offers financial quizzes and Chase First Banking, which is powered by Greenlight, a popular prepaid debit card option for kids.
6 ways kids’ debit cards teach financial literacy
Compared to checking accounts, a prepaid debit card can put your kid’s financial literacy on the fast track by teaching them lifelong financial management lessons, such as:
Budgeting. When your child only has a fixed amount of funds on their debit card, they’ll need to be more mindful about what they buy and when.
Savings. Prepaid debit cards teach your child the value of saving for things they truly want, rather than hastily buying impulse items. And if the card offers parent-paid interest, they’ll develop an understanding of how interest can help their money grow over time.
Spending. Using a debit card to pay for purchases teaches your young one how to navigate financial transactions online or in person.
Investing. When your kid uses a prepaid card to buy something that will gain value over time, they’ll become aware of their financial future.
Giving. Your child can use their card to donate to charitable causes, teaching them the value of helping those in need.
Chores and allowances. By adding a set amount of money to your kid’s debit card each week or month, they’ll be more prepared to use their paychecks wisely when they enter the workforce.
Compare debit cards for kids
Use this table to compare popular debit cards for kids. Sort the list by monthly fee, ATM withdrawal and features to find the best one for you.
If you’re looking for a free debit card for kids, consider these options:
Goalsetter Cashola. This prepaid card offers financial literacy quizzes for kids and has savings round-up options.
Jassby. This kids checking account is free to use and comes with chores and allowances. But it’s a virtual debit card so your kid can’t use it at an ATM or at stores that don’t have a contactless payment option.
Mazoola. Just like Jassby, this is a virtual debit card, so your kid is limited to stores that allow contactless payments. This is a good option if you don’t want to worry about your kid losing a physical card.
Chase First Banking. This is a good option if you like Greenlight but want a free alternative. The account is powered by Greenlight, so it has all the same features. But it’s only available to parents with existing Chase accounts.
How old do you have to be to get a debit card for kids?
Kids under 18 can’t open a bank account without their parent or legal guardian. Although there are exceptions, this table shows how old they’d generally need to be.
Prepaid debit cards for kids
5 and up
Checking accounts for kids
13 to 17 years old
Checking accounts for kids typically convert to a standard checking account once your child turns 18. However, prepaid debit cards for kids allow them to continue using it even after turning 18. Although 13 to 17 is the typical age range for debit cards attached to kids’ checking accounts, there are exceptions like Chase First Banking, that allow kids as young as six to use the account.
It’s also important to note that mobile payment apps have a restriction on age as well. You can’t use Apple Pay unless you’re at least 13 and you can’t use Google Pay unless you’re 16 and older.
Can an 11- and 12-year-old get a kids’ debit card?
Yes. Although many banks and credit unions only offer debit cards for kids age 13 and up, some financial institutions offer debit cards for kids who are much younger. For instance, Chase First Banking is available to kids as young as 6 years old. But if you’re not a current Chase customer and don’t plan to become one, you’ll want to consider prepaid debit cards, which are a bit more flexible when it comes to age requirements.
Is my child ready for a debit card for kids?
Your child may be ready for a kids debit card if they often ask to borrow cash or have started earning money on their own — whether through an allowance or a paid job. A debit card like Greenlight can help them master the art of spending, saving and investing wisely.
“Age 12 is a good benchmark to start getting them used to tracking their spending and paying by card — not to mention keeping hold of the plastic without losing it,” according to Nate Tsang, Founder and CEO at WallStreetZen. “At the end of the day it depends on the child. You’ll see parents giving their kids prepaid debit cards before they even turn 10, but you have to decide for yourself when they’re ready, and how much they can feasibly carry without misunderstanding the way these cards work,” he adds.
But if your child isn’t ready to handle real money just yet, consider a simulated bank account like Bankaroo or RoosterMoney. These apps use virtual money to help young children learn how to spend and save until they’re ready to upgrade to a real debit card for kids. You can also teach your kids about money by using everyday things like Halloween candy, a board game or app. Kids can start forming early money concepts as young as three to seven years old, according to a study by the University of Cambridge.
Is an allowance a good idea?
It depends on how you and your child view allowance and the role it plays in your home. For instance, allowance should be earned, not simply given. It should be considered a motivating factor that encourages your child to help out around the house or do well in school. It shouldn’t be viewed as an automatic payment your kid receives regardless of their behavior. For more tips, check out our complete guide to incorporating allowance into your household.
Is a debit card for kids a good option for teens?
Yes, a debit card is a good option for teens to develop healthy money habits. But which card you choose depends on what your teen is ready for as some cards have less parental controls, which gives the user more freedom to move their money without approval. If you want to have more control over your teen’s spending, consider a prepaid debit card for teens. But if you want them to have more freedom, you can them open a teen’s checking account.
How can I transition my child out of a kids’ account?
It depends on the type of account. In many cases, prepaid debit cards for kids will continue working after your child turns 18. If you want to upgrade your child to an account for adults, look at free interest-bearing checking accounts such as Ally Bank Interest Checking or Axos Bank Rewards Checking.
If you have a kids checking account, the account will automatically transition to a standard account once they turn 18 in most cases. For instance, the Alliant Teen Checking account will automatically convert to the Alliant High-Rate Checking account. These accounts often have monthly fees and are less forgiving when it comes to overdrafts, so it’s best to contact the bank directly to avoid unnecessary charges.
6 reasons debit cards for kids are safe
Debit cards for kids are safe for these main reasons:
FDIC insured. Like most banking products, debit cards for kids are insured up to $250,000, so you’re guaranteed to get your money back if the bank or the partnering bank fails.
COPPA-compliant. Most debit cards for kids are COPPA-compliant, meaning that they must clearly disclose what type of information is being collected and obtain parents’ consent. Under COPPA, this also means that they must put measures in place to maintain confidentiality and security of the information. But, this doesn’t prevent them from sharing information to other parties.
Lock/unlock cards. Most cards for kids have security features that allow you to lock and unlock the card if it goes missing.
Extra protections. Some debit cards for kids like Greenlight Max, offer extra security features like identity theft, cell phone and purchasing protection.
Attached to spend accounts. Prepaid debit cards for kids that have a separate spending and savings bucket, allow you to transfer money from your spend to your savings bucket through the app without your card. If your child’s card is stolen, they’ll only have access to the funds in the spend account. And if you move funds out of it and into their savings, anyone who finds the card won’t have access to any funds.
Virtual cards. Kids debit cards like Mazoola and Jassby are virtual cards. These cards have no monthly fee and are a good option for parents who don’t want to worry about their kid losing a physical card.
What if I’m divorced?
Most debit cards for kids give all parents on the account equal access to funding sources. This means if you’re on the account with your ex, they could potentially see your bank account information. You have a few options if want more privacy.
If you both want the ability to set chores and allowances, BusyKid is your best option. It supports two separate parent accounts with separate funding sources where you don’t have access to each other’s bank account information.
If one parent simply wants to add funds to their child’s account and nothing else, you have two card options.
FamZoo. All parents have access to each other’s accounts in FamZoo, but you can get around this by leaving the spot for Parent B blank, then sharing the routing number with the other parent so can make ACH transfers to the card.
GoHenry. The main parent on the account can share a “giftlink” with the other parent, which allows them to add up to $350 to the kid’s card each month.
How can I get a kids debit card?
You can open most debit cards for kids online. But keep in mind that if you decide to open a kids checking account as opposed to a prepaid card, you’ll need to open it as a joint account between a minor and an adult.
Once you get a debit card for your kid, you can load the card by transferring money from your checking account. You’ll then be ready to start using all the features available. You’ll find that most prepaid cards for kids like Famzoo, Busykid and Goalsetter Cashola, offer more features than regular checking accounts for kids. Some features include chore tracking, automated allowances, spending controls, investing and financial literacy quizzes.
Can I set up a debit card for my grandchild?
Yes. If you’re a grandparent who wants to give your grandchild some spending power, you can sign them up for a kids’ debit card with you listed as a joint owner on the account. However, if you want to transfer ownership of the account to one of your grandchildren’s parents, you may encounter some issues. For instance, Greenlight doesn’t currently allow a primary account holder to remove their name from a kid’s account, even if another adult is added as a co-owner. FamZoo, however, does support such transfers and will allow you to completely disassociate yourself from your grandkid’s account, but you can only do this by calling a FamZoo support specialist.
If your grandchild already has a debit card that their parent or guardian signed them up for, you can usually fund the account quite easily. A few popular debit cards for kids, including FamZoo and Gohenry, let your grandchild share a link that allows family and friends to fund the account without having to join the account as a co-owner.
4 things to do before getting a debit card for kids
Don’t apply for a kids’ debit card before following these four steps.
Decide what features you want. Some debit cards for kids include integrated chore management and automated allowance payments while others have financial literacy quizzes and granular parental controls. Determine what features are most important to you and your kid before choosing an account.
Do your homework. Once you’ve decided on the features you want, research and compare your options. No two debit cards for kids are identical, but odds are there’s a card that checks all of the boxes that are important to you.
Talk to your kid. Have a serious discussion with your child about the responsibility that comes along with having a debit card, and ensure they have at least a basic understanding of spending and saving.
Prepare to apply. Most applications will require your and your kids’ Social Security number, your driver’s license details and your contact information during sign up.
What are the pros of a debit card for kids?
A kids debit card comes with these five benefits.
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.
Financial literacy. Prepaid debit cards help teach your child how money works and the importance of savings.
Pays allowances. Most cards for kids allow you to pay an allowance and assign chores to your kids.
What to watch out for
Before choosing a kids debit card, consider these limitations.
Not good for large purchases. Accounts for children generally have much lower debit card spending limits than adult accounts.
Monthly fees. Most prepaid debit cards for kids require a recurring subscription fee. Most kids’ checking accounts are free to use, but they usually lack features such as chore and allowance management.
No interest. While some kids’ checking accounts earn interest, most kids’ prepaid debit cards don’t unless it’s interest paid out by parents. But Greenlight card is an exception as it offers savings bonuses that work like APYs.
Age limits. If your child is younger than 13, you’ll find more options when you look at prepaid cards for kids. But if your child is between 13 and 17, you can expand your search to kids checking accounts.
Cash reload fees. A few debit cards for kids like FamZoo, charge a fee for loading cash onto the card. If you or your kid want to frequently fund your card with paper money, look for an account like Till that doesn’t charge this fee.
4 options beyond debit cards for kids
If you’re not set on a comprehensive debit card for your child, here are some other options to consider, depending on their age:
Kids savings account. Help your child get a jump start on their future with a kids savings account. Most offer competitive APYs and low fees and minimum deposits. They’re a great option for any age.
The best debit card for kids helps your child learn how to manage money responsibly — and lets you track their spending so you can see if they’re meeting their goals. 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.
Frequently asked questions
What if my child makes a transaction I’m not happy with? You can’t request that your bank reverse a transaction unless you can prove the transaction was fraudulent. But, you can keep an eye on your child’s spending via the mobile banking app. And many cards can be frozen from the app so that your child can’t continue to spend if you aren’t happy with their purchases.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
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