Start teaching good saving and spending habits early with flexible parent controls.
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The Greenlight card gives you granular control over your child’s money by allowing you to set spending limits for specific stores. Plus, it has unique features like a savings account that earns parent-paid interest and an investing platform where your kid can invest in real-time with your permission. But these perks come with an unavoidable monthly fee.
Get this card if you’re a parent who wants to control how and when your kids use their money.
Choose another card if you want a card that doesn’t have a monthly fee.
Rhys Subitch is a former writer and editor at Finder who tackled topics across the site. With half a decade of experience researching, editing, and writing for a Fortune 500 company, university, and several independent publications, Rhys brought readers the most up-to-date and curated information on all things finance.
As a parent, you want to set your kids up for success any way you can — and that likely includes teaching the value of earning, saving and investing money at an early age.
The Greenlight card is best for parents who want granular control over their child’s spending. The app lets you set spending limits for specific online and in-person stores, plus you can indicate how much “fun money” they can spend out of their total account balance each month. The app also comes with a savings account that has parent-paid interest and an investing platform that teaches your kid firsthand the power of compound interest.
Greenlight‘s biggest downside is the flat monthly fee. There are other prepaid cards — such as BusyKid — that offer a lower fee. But Greenlight’s features outweigh this fee if you want more say in how your child spends their money.
Enter the verification code that’s messaged to you and click Next.
Enter your email address, create your password and select what your kids call you and click Next.
Enter your child’s name and mobile number — or name and birthday if they don’t have a mobile number — then select Next or Add another child.
Enter in your personal information, accept the cardholder agreement and click Next.
Set up funding and submit your application for verification.
Kids who want to sign up before their parents need to be at least 13 years old, but there’s no age minimum for a kid who’s signed up by a parent. The primary accountholder needs to meet these requirements:
At least 18 years old
US citizen or permanent resident of the US
US address that isn’t a PO box
The primary accountholder will give the following information when they sign up:
Full name, mobile number and home address
Date of birth and Social Security number
The parent wallet can be loaded by:
ACH transfer from your bank account
The child’s prepaid debit card can be funded by:
Transfers from the parent account
Direct deposit from the child’s employer
How long will it take to get my card?
The card should arrive five to seven business days after the parent account is verified and approved.
How much does Greenlight cost?
Greenlight costs $4.99, $7.98 or $9.98 a month depending on which plan you choose. This is a flat price that includes debit cards for up to five kids:
Depending on your Greenlight plan, you can take advantage of these eight benefits:
Investing platform for your kids. When you upgrade to Greenlight + Invest, your kids can now research ETFs and stocks and get in on the action by purchasing shares — and fractional shares — of their favorite companies. There are no trading fees and parents approve every trade.
Priority customer service. Cut down on hold time by jumping to the front of the customer service line when you upgrade to Greenlight Max.
Identity theft protection. The entire family gets identity theft monitoring, automatic security alerts and identity restoration services through Experian.
Cell phone protection. Greenlight Max users get reimbursed for damaged, lost or stolen phones for up to five kids. This perk is unavailable in New York.
Purchase protection. Get reimbursed to replace or repair items that are damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase or delivery that you bought with your Greenlight card. Purchase protection is unavailable to New York residents.
Savings reward. The basic Greenlight and Greenlight + Invest plans earn a 1% savings boost per year, and the Greenlight Max plan earns 2%. The rewards are paid monthly, and they’re only available on balances up to $5,000.
Cashback. The Greenlight Max plan earns 1% cashback on debit card purchases, which is deposited into your kid’s savings account each month.
Referral bonus. For each successful referral you or your kid make, you’ll earn a cash bonus and so will your referral.
Is Greenlight Max worth it?
Greenlight Max is worth it if you think you’re going to need extra security and want faster access to customer service. But if you’re only after the investing feature, it may be worth it to upgrade to the Greenlight + Invest plan instead, as it’s $2 cheaper.
If you’re not sure whether Greenlight Max is right for you, try the basic plan first and then decide if your child is ready to graduate to an investment platform or if your family needs extra security and protection.
What age is Greenlight card best for?
Greenlight’s average age ranges from 9 to 14 years old, according to a customer service rep we spoke to. Technically there’s no age limit to use the card and Greenlight is good for kids age 8 to 17 — though it really boils down to what your child is ready for. If your kid is ready to start handling real money, Greenlight is a good option as it allows you to control your kid’s spending and add limits to specific stores. But if you want your child to use their card through a digital wallet, they’ll need to be at least 13 years old to use Apple Pay and at least 16 to use Google Pay.
WATCH: Our Greenlight prepaid card review
What you’ll like about the Greenlight card
The Greenlight card has general kids’ prepaid card features, such as parental controls and the ability to create chores and pay allowances. But it also has these noteworthy features:
Two categories you can fund. Deposit money in two categories: one that can be spent by your child anywhere and anytime, and the other that has parental control features. As the primary cardholder, you can receive alerts when purchases are made or declined, requests come in, balances get low and more.
Investment feature. Choose the Greenlight + Invest or Greenlight Max plan and your child can invest with real money in real time. They’ll need your approval before they can make any trades.
Parent-paid interest. Encourage savings by setting up an annual percentage yield rate that you pay toward your kid’s general savings. It’s based on the average daily balance of the general savings and pays out monthly.
Savings rewards. The basic and Greenlight + Invest plans earn a savings boost of 1%, while Greenlight Max earns 2% on balances up to $5,000. Although Greenlight doesn’t call it an APY, it’s calculated the same way savings interest rates are.
Real-time extra funds requests. If your child’s out shopping and needs to make a purchase that exceeds the funds they have, they can send you a request for additional money in real-time. Any transfers made from the parent to the child’s wallet are instant and free.
Flexible plans. You can have up to five children on one parent account. Plus, you can customize your child’s card with a photo of them for a one-time fee of $9.99.
Few fees. Greenlight doesn’t charge any purchase, reload or withdrawal fees — although you may pay ATM operator fees. If your card gets lost or stolen, the first replacement is on Greenlight, and any after will cost $3.50.
What to watch out for
While the Greenlight card can be an effective teaching tool, there are a few potential downsides to consider.
Monthly fee. You’ll pay anywhere from $4.99 to $9.98 a month for Greenlight. Keep in mind, though, this is a flat fee that includes up to five debit cards for kids.
Not accepted in several countries. Check the list of countries where the Greenlight card isn’t accepted before you send your kid across borders with it.
Direct deposit is limited. Your child can receive direct deposits to their card from their employer — but not from other income sources, such as Apple Cash, PayPal, Venmo or the state or federal government.
If you’re looking for a prepaid debit card with minimal to no fees, you’ll want to keep looking. As always, compare your options when choosing a prepaid debit card.
Case study: Caroline’s experience – November 2020
Caroline Fisk Fisk Educational Consulting
I began giving my children an allowance when they were around nine and 11. They’re very different in their abilities to manage money. My older daughter always lost cash. Also every time we would go out, they would want something and I would tell them to use their own money, which of course they wouldn’t have with them. The Greenlight card made it possible for them to spend their own money when they wanted to without having to ask me.
We have been using the card for about two years now. The first thing I’ll have to say is that customer service is excellent. If your child loses their card, they’ll replace it quickly. When I call for help, I get a real person who actually works directly with the company. It actually shocked me how nice and genuine they were when I called them because I was expecting the typical large bank experience.
As a parent it has been so much easier not having to try and keep up with my children’s allowance cash or birthday money getting lost. It’s also so much easier for the kids to know where their money was spent and how much money they have left to spend. Since we are becoming so cashless as a society it’s a good lesson for them to learn about using a card.
My daughter loves Greenlight as she has a way to manage her money. She now knows to check her balance before spending. When she is out and has an impulse buy she knows to see if she actually has the money. By checking her account she now questions whether she really wants an impulse buy item. The various features to save, spend and give to charity also teach her how to use her money.
We also use the chore feature where I can list additional chores for her to do for extra money. When she completes the chores, Greenlight will notify me to pay. She has lost the card several times and it’s so easy to turn it off and get a replacement. She also loves that she can customize her card with a picture of her dog.
Is Greenlight safe?
Yes, Greenlight is a safe option for kids. It’s a legit product and definitely not a scam. The Greenlight card has an EMV chip in it, which helps keep your data safe and secure each time your child makes a purchase. As a parent, you can set spending controls that are just right for your child, and you’ll get instant notifications each time they spend money. Together, these features help make Greenlight a safe option for your child. Through Greenlight‘s Max plan, you also get identity theft protection and cellphone protection that covers damaged or stolen phones.
Greenlight card reviews and complaints
Greenlight is currently not listed on the Better Business Bureau website; however, it earns 1.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on 43 reviews. Most complaints have to do with not receiving the debit card in the mail and random charges. Some also claim that there are no spending controls; however, we spoke to several customer representatives who confirmed that there are spending controls.
4 Greenlight alternatives
Not sure if Greenlight is the best choice for your family? Here are other accounts to consider with similar features.
Chase First Banking. This is a good alternative to Greenlight if you want a free option. Chase First Banking is powered by Greenlight, but it won’t cost you a penny. You’ll have free access to Greenlight’s best features, but parents must have a Chase checking account to open this account for your child.
BusyKid. This account is a good alternative if you want your child to invest. Unlike Greenlight, which charges $7.98 monthly fee for the Greenlight + Invest plan, BusyKid offers investing at just $19.99 per year, which is about $1.66 a month.
Current. If you like Greenlight’s parental controls, Current is a great alternative to consider. You can block ATM access, set spending limits based on categories and restrict which stores your kid can buy from. Current costs $36 per year, which is about $3 a month.
Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking account. Greenlight offers up to 2% annual savings bonus, which most prepaid debit cards for kids don’t offer. But if you’re after an account that compounds on a monthly basis, look at Alliant’s Teen Checking account, which earns 0.25% APY.
Compare Greenlight to other debit cards for kids
Use this interactive table to see how Greenlight compares to other debit cards for kids. Sort the table by monthly fee and ATM withdrawals to find a card that suits your needs.
How do Greenlight‘s fees compare to the competition?
Here’s how Greenlight‘s fees and limits compare to other leading prepaid cards for kids:
Greenlight‘s fee & limits
How it compares to other kids’ cards
$4.99, $7.98 or $9.98
The lowest tier is average, but the higher tiers are more expensive than other prepaid cards for kids.
Most cards for kids don’t have an ATM withdrawal fee.
Cash reload fee
Most cards don’t have a cash reload fee.
Card replacement fee
First one free, then $3.50
This is average, but you’ll find other cards — like Akimbo — that offer $0 or up to four free cards before you see a fee.
Maximum card balance
$10,000 per parent account
$5,000 per child account
This balance is higher than what most cards for kids offer.
ACH transfer limit
$200 a day
$300 a month
This limit is lower than what you’ll find with other cards.
Debit card transfer limit
$20 to $500 a day
$20 to $2,500 a month
This transfer limit is higher than most.
Direct deposit limit
$100 a day per child account
$500 a day per family
$5,000 a month per family
This limit is pretty standard with most kids’ cards.
ATM withdrawal limit
$100 a day per child
$500 a day per family
This is average, but Famzoo and Akimbo offer higher limits.
$1,000 a day per family
$5,000 a month per family
This is limit is lower than the average you’ll find with other cards.
I got my Greenlight card. Now what?
Now that you have your card in hand, here’s how to make the most of it:
Download the app for you and your child. Check balances, transfer funds, monitor chores and more from your smartphone.
Encourage your child to set up their savings. The general savings account also comes with savings goals that you can set and work toward.
Sign up for direct deposit. Children who already have a job can set up direct deposit and have their hard-earned check go straight into the prepaid debit card’s anytime fund.
Contact customer service with any questions. Call the number on the back of your card or 888-483-2645 with questions — Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. You can also email through its site.
How can I reach Greenlight‘s customer service?
There are four ways to reach customer service:
Visit the Help section of your Greenlight app to send a message directly to customer service.
Send an email to email@example.com.
Call 888-483-2645 to speak with a representative.
Frequently asked questions
As of May 2019, the Greenlight card can be used in all countries except for:
Antigua and Barbuda
Central African Republic
The Democratic Republic of Congo
Republic of Korea
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Lao, People’s Democratic Republic
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Moldova
Papua New Guinea
Republic of Congo
Sao Tome and Principe
United Republic of Thailand
Trinidad and Tobago
You can set limits — or greenlights — in a number of ways, including:
The amount they can spend
Specific stores where they can spend
Yes. Your child can freely move money from their spend-anytime account to savings, but to move money from savings, they’ll have to send you a request.
No, but they’ve partnered with Chase to offer Chase First Banking℠, which is a checking account for kids.
Kids’ debit card ratings
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
We analyze top debit cards for kids and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. We rate kids’ checking accounts by these factors: Monthly fee, features, ATM access, customer support options, and availability. We also consider APY as a factor only for those that earn interest. We rate prepaid debit cards for kids by these factors: monthly fees, features, customer support options and account availability.
At Finder, we value and respect our editorial independence. We keep our reviews completely factual so you can use them to make better decisions. While we may receive revenue and referral fees from advertising and affiliate links, advertisers do not approve our reviews.
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