Compare debit and prepaid cards for kids
With a children's debit card you can see where your child shops and teach them good money habits.
Compare debit and prepaid cards for kids
You usually can’t open a children’s bank account in the UK until your child is at least 11 years old. You may want your child to have access to some money to spend before they reach that age or you might feel that your child doesn’t need a current account until they hit their later teenage years. Either way, you’d like them to have their own payment card before that.
In those situations, there is a range of prepaid debit cards for kids now available on the UK market. They come with an accompanying mobile app which is there to help teach them good financial skills and help you as a parent keep an eye on their spending. There are bank accounts where a parent can open the account and manage it on behalf of the child until they hit eligibility age – for example, Santander’s 123 Mini Current Account (at age 13, a child can apply directly for this one).
Features of a kids’ debit card
- Spending controls. Many children’s debit cards come with spending control limits that parents can set within the linked mobile app.
- Card lock. Parents can also lock the debit card via the app.
- Choose how your child can spend. Parents can choose if the debit card can be used at ATMs, online or for in-store purchases.
- Spending tracking tools. Many of the apps offer spending tracking tools and features to help your child learn how to manage their money.
How to choose the best prepaid debit cards for kids
Compare the following features when shopping around for a debit card for your kids:
- Check the fees. The costs can vary between different cards. Most prepaid accounts will have either a monthly or yearly fee.
- Spending limits. Look for cards that let you cap daily spending, set limits for ATM withdrawals or block 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.
How do prepaid debit cards for kids work?
Many debit cards for kids are prepaid cards. You can load money onto them from the parent’s bank account using a mobile app that accompanies the physical card.
A lot of these cards and apps come with extra features, like the ability to see how your child spends their money or the option to pay them pocket money for doing their chores.
At what age can my child get a debit card?
Prepaid cards can be available for kids as young as six.
You can let your child keep their prepaid card as they get older or help them open a current account for teenagers when they’ve outgrown the prepaid card.
What are the pros and cons of debit cards for kids?
Before you get a debit card for your child, 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 app and see where they’re shopping.
- Safety. Because you can quickly and easily lock the debit card if it’s misplaced, debit cards are often safer than carrying cash.
- Teaching good practice. Using a prepaid card can teach your child how money works digitally. Some apps are also designed to encourage good finance habits like saving money or finishing chores in order to get pocket money.
- Not a current account. These types of debit cards are prepaid cards and not actual current accounts.
- Not good for large purchases. The spending limits on these prepaid debit cards for kids are generally much lower than those found on traditional adult debit cards.
- Account fees. Some cards come with a monthly or annual fee.
- No interest. These types of prepaid accounts usually don’t pay interest.
- Age limits. Each debit card or app can set its own age limit.
A prepaid debit card that comes with a mobile app can help your child learn how to manage money responsibly, plus it lets parents track their kids’ spending so you can see if they’re meeting that goal. If this is the route you want to go down, there are a number of products available in the UK – our guide on gohenry and similar alternatives explores these more.
However, prepaid debit card accounts aren’t designed to be full current accounts or savings accounts, so you’ll have to weigh up what type of financial account you’re looking for for your child. Check out our guides on current accounts for children and savings accounts for children to help you decide.
Frequently asked questions
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