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How old do you have to be to get a debit card?

Age can play a role when deciding between a kids’ prepaid debit card and a checking account.

Depending on your child’s age, they may be eligible for a kids’ bank account, a prepaid debit card for kids or both. And although minors can use debit cards, they’ll need a parent or guardian who is at least 18 years old to open the account on their behalf.

At what age can I get a debit card for my kid?

Age requirements differ between kids’ checking accounts and prepaid debit cards for kids, and card issuers may impose specific limitations. But these guidelines apply to most accounts.

Account typeRequires an 18+ co-owner?Average age range What happens at age 19?
Prepaid cards for kidsYes5+Some cards expire when your child reaches age 18, but others remain valid indefinitely.
Checking accounts for teens and studentsYes13 to 17Many kids’ accounts convert to adult accounts on a child’s 18th birthday, but some student accounts remain active until age 24.

Exceptions to age requirements

Many accounts align with the above table, but there are exceptions. For instance, if you want to get a debit card for a child under 13, you can get the Chase First Banking checking account, which is open to kids as young as 6. Other age exceptions include Citizens Bank, which only offers debit cards to kids age 16 or older. And as for prepaid card exceptions, FamZoo will allow kids 12 and younger to have an account, but they can’t have a card issued in their name. They’ll need to be at least 13 to get a card in their name.

Do debit card age restrictions vary by state?

The only age restriction that varies by state is the minimum age to open a bank account, typically the age of majority. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but it’s 19 in Alabama and Nebraska. In Alabama, you must be at least 19 years old to open a bank account, but Nebraska allows anyone of any age to open a bank account. But, banks in Nebraska have the right to establish their own age requirements.

6 signs your child is debit card ready

Here are some signs to keep an eye out for when determining if your child is ready for a debit card.

  1. Your child is asking you for money. If your kid is constantly hitting you up for cash or your credit card, a prepaid debit card lets you transfer funds in an instant.
  2. Your child asked you for a debit card. Ads for kids’ debit cards are all over TV and social media. If your kid is curious about getting a card, they may be ready for the responsibility.
  3. Your kid has an allowance. If you pay your child a weekly, biweekly or monthly allowance, kids’ debit cards let you automate transfers with a one-time setup.
  4. Your child has a job. Once your kid has entered the workforce — even if only for a few hours a week — they’ll likely want a convenient way to deposit, spend and save their earnings.
  5. Your kid wants to monitor their savings. If your child wants to save up for long-term goals, look for an account that pays interest or lets your kid create several subaccounts for savings.
  6. You want to teach your child financial literacy. The best way to teach your kid about spending and saving is to involve them in the process with a debit card of their own.

Experts say 12 is the best age for kids to get a debit card

While you can start teaching your child basic financial literacy as early as age 3, experts agree that age 12 is the best age to get kids a debit card.

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,” explains 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.

Compare debit cards for kids

Use this table to compare top debit cards based on their fees, features and age requirements.

Name Product Annual or monthly fee ATM withdrawal Features
GoHenry
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
GoHenry
$3.99 per month
$1.50
  • Allowance tracking
  • Custom chore assignments
  • 30-day free trial
  • No overdraft fees
Teach your kids to save with a reloadable card you control, but you pay $3.99 a month.
Greenlight
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Greenlight
$4.99 per month
$0
  • Parental controls
  • Real-time transfers
  • Parent-paid interest
Greenlight is the prepaid debit card for kids that parents manage from their phones with flexible parental controls. For each successful referral, you and your friend get a cash reward.
Step
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
Step
$0 per month
$0
  • No monthly fees
  • Helps teens build credit without interest charges
  • Parental controls and management. Grows with your family
Step banking accounts help teens and kids as young as age 6 to learn to manage money manage their money while building their credit scores. Earn $1 for every person that joins using your unique link or code. They'll also get $1.
Copper
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Copper
$0 per month
$0
  • No hidden fees
  • Instant Transfers
  • Monitor purchases in real-time
  • Allowances paid for doing chores
Copper is a digital checking account that teaches your teen healthy money habits through interactive quizzes and an intuitive mobile app. The teen also receives a free $5 when signing up and completing the savings goal.
Jassby
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Jassby
$0 per month
$0
  • Parental controls
  • In-app mall
Jassby is a debit card for kids, complete with chores and allowance tracking. Plus you don't need to worry about a monthly fee.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Mobile payment apps also have age requirements

Most kids’ debit cards like Greenlight work with digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, but some like the Chase First Banking card don’t work with either one.

But even if the card does work with digital wallets, your kid might not be able to make contactless payments if they’re not old enough. Apple Pay requires your kid to be at least 13, while Google Pay has a minimum age requirement of 16.

2 alternatives for kids who aren’t ready

If your child isn’t quite ready for a debit card or bank account, there are still ways to put your kid’s financial literacy on the fast track.

  • Get them a virtual bank account. Virtual accounts, like Bankaroo and Rooster Money, simulate the fundamentals of money management by allowing kids to track their spending and savings without using an actual debit card.
  • Teach your kid yourself. Take it upon yourself to teach your child the fundamentals of saving and spending by using real-world examples and experiences. Check out our guide for age-specific ways to educate your children about money.

Bottom line

In general, kids as young as five can use prepaid debit cards, while most checking accounts are reserved for children aged 13 and up. There are exceptions, and there are trade-offs as well. Once you’re ready to open an account, follow these steps on how to open a bank account for your kid.

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