Most kids won’t qualify for a checking account. But there are prepaid debit cards created for kids that can let them spend in store and online while you keep an eye on their habits.
All of the best debit cards for kids aim to teach your kids how to manage their money. But some do a better job of executing this mission than others. For our best list, we looked at kids prepaid cards that have nationwide availability, simple fee structures, unique features and parental controls that allow you to set boundaries as needed.
We reviewed our top 5 picks for best debit cards for kids and added pros and cons for each account, so you can compare each one at a glance.
Greenlight is perhaps the most robust debit card for kids available today. It's controlled by an app that allows you to send your child a weekly allowance as well as bonus money for completing extra chores.
One of the standout features of the app is that you can choose where your children can spend money — and how much. For example, if your daughter is going shopping with a friend, you can set a spending limit for a specific store. If you want your teen to pick up dog food on the way home, you can transfer $20 to their card that can only be used at the pet store.
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.
Parent-paid interest. Encourage your kid to save with a pseudo savings account that has parent-paid interest. They'll be able to watch their balance grow with an APY that's compounded daily and pays monthly.
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 $4.99 a month for Greenlight, this is a flat fee no matter how many kids you have on your account.
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.
BusyKid is a Visa prepaid card best for kids who are age five to 16. Unlike other prepaid cards for kids, it has no monthly fees. You'll only pay annually if you buy the card.
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. As with most prepaid cards, 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.
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.
Several spending options. Your kids can spend money using their BusyKid Spend card. Or, they can use the app to buy stocks or make a donation to charity.
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.
FamZoo is a prepaid card and mobile app that 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.
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.
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.
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.
Akimbo isn't marketed as a kids debit card, but it still has features that make it an ideal choice for kids who need little financial supervision. The card comes with one main card and up to five subcards, which can be divvied out among family members. You'll be able to add money from the app, and you'll get notifications showing you where and when your kids spend their money.
Instant transfers. You can transfer money from the main Akimbo card to any of the subcards instantly for free, which can come in handy if your kids are in a pinch and need extra cash.
No monthly fee. Unlike other debit cards for kids, Akimbo doesn't have a monthly or annual fee.
Automatic reloads. If you pay your kids an allowance, you can set up automatic reloads so you don't have to worry about it each week.
Subcards cost. Your first subcard is free. But you'll pay $4.95 for each additional one.
Not a complete chore app. Akimbo claims it's a good option for allowances, but it doesn't have integrated chore or task management tools — unlike the competition.
A few fees. Akimbo has a few more fees than other options on our list. You'll pay $0.99 for PIN-based transactions, $5.95 for cash reloads and $1.98 for ATM withdrawals.
Additional Cardholder Fee
Card replacement fee
Features of a kids’ debit card
Like a regular debit card. Your kid can use their prepaid debit card to make purchases online and in person, generally anywhere Mastercard or Visa is accepted.
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.
How to choose the best debit card for my kid
Compare the following features when shopping around for a debit card for your child:
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.
Compare prepaid cards for kids
Use this table to compare popular prepaid cards for kids. Sort the list by monthly fee, ATM withdrawal and features to find the best one for you.
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. Then, your kid can use them to shop online and in-store just as they would a normal debit card. The major difference is that your kid typically can’t overdraft with a prepaid debit card as they could a regular debit card.
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.
What are the pros and cons of debit cards for kids?
Before you get a debit card for your kid, consider these features and drawbacks:
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.
Not good for large purchases. Accounts for children generally have much lower debit card spending limits than adult accounts.
Other fees. They may rack up fees for using out-of-network ATMs or overdrawing their account.
No interest. These types of accounts usually don’t pay interest.
Age limits. Each card or bank can set its own age limit.
Alternatives to debit cards for kids
If you’re not set on a prepaid 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.
Kids checking account. Most kids checking accounts require users to be at least 13 years old to get started. If your child is old enough, they can open an account and enjoy low fees, ATM access and budgeting tools to help them spend wisely.
Credit card. You could add your child to your credit card as an authorized user. This could help them build their credit and learn financial responsibility, but beware of the risks that come.
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.
Frequently asked questions?
This is completely up to you and your individual experience. You might consider giving your child a debit card when:
They start going out for social activities without you present.
When they start high school, or if they take public transportation to get to school
They start wanting or needing to buy things when you’re not with them.
Fraudulent transactions, including those where a thief stole and used the card or where the seller didn’t deliver what they promised, can often be reversed by contacting the bank or card company.
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.
Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs.
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