It can be difficult to teach children how to spend and save responsibly, but it doesn’t have to be. A debit card can be a valuable educational tool, especially when the child is in charge of their own spending with guardrails installed by parents.
Debit cards represent the first pathway into financial responsibility because they start to give kids control over their spending and provide them an early glimpse into what it’s like to manage money on their own.
This article will discuss some of the best debit cards for kids and teens in order to help you choose one that will work best for your child’s needs!
- 1 What is a Debit Card for Kids?
- 2 Can I Get a Debit Card for Kids Under 13?
- 3 What are the Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens?
- 3.1 1. Chase First Banking: Best Free Debit Card for Kids and Teens
- 3.2 2. Best Rated Overall: Greenlight
- 3.3 3. Best for Combined Teen Independence and Cost: Copper Card
- 3.4 4. Best for Customer Service: goHenry
- 3.5 5. Best Value: BusyKid
- 3.6 6. Best for Financial Education: FamZoo
- 3.7 7. Best Free Debit Card for Teens: Axos Bank First Checking
- 3.8 8. Best for Long-Term Growth: Acorns
- 3.9 9. Best for Product Features and Innovation: Current
- 3.10 10. Best for Approaching Finances for the First Time: Stash
- 3.11 11. Best for Allowance Handling: Rooster Money
- 3.12 12. Best for Financial Automation: M1 Finance
- 3.13 13. Best Free Debit Card for Kids: Jassby Virtual Debit Card
- 3.14 14. Honorable Mention: Free Teen Debit Card: Nationwide Bank First Checking
- 3.15 15. Honorable Mention: Capital One MONEY Account
- 4 Which Bank Gives Kids a Debit Card?
- 5 What Features Should a Debit Card for Kids Provide?
- 5.1 1. Direct Deposit
- 5.2 2. Checking Account
- 5.3 3. Savings Account
- 5.4 4. Transfer Money Instantly
- 5.5 5. Mobile App
- 5.6 6. No Overdraft Fees
- 5.7 7. Low Monthly Fees
- 5.8 8. Parent Controls
- 5.9 9. Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids
- 5.10 10. No Minimum Balance
- 5.11 11. Money Management Features
- 5.12 12. Parent Paid Interest
- 5.13 13. Establish Savings Goals
- 5.14 14. Set Spending Limits
- 5.15 15. Control Over How Kids Spend Money Online
- 5.16 16. Financial Literacy Tools
- 5.17 17. Free ATM Withdrawals
- 5.18 18. Rewards Programs
- 5.19 19. Round Ups
- 5.20 20. Ability to Donate to Charity
- 5.21 21. Security for Parents and Teens
- 5.22 22. FDIC Coverage
- 5.23 23. Manages Chores and Administers Allowances
- 5.24 24. Investing Options for Realizing Compounding Returns
- 6 5 Money Lessons Kids’ Debit Cards Teach
- 7 Pros and Cons of Kids’ Debit Cards
- 8 Children’s Debit Cards vs Children’s Prepaid Cards
- 9 Can Kids Have Prepaid Cards?
- 10 What to Do Before Getting a Debit Card for Kids
- 11 Can an 8, 11, 12 or 16-Year Old Have a Prepaid Debit Card?
- 12 Are Kids too Young for Debit Cards?
- 13 Is a Debit Card for Kids a Good Option for Teens?
- 14 Are Debit Cards for Kids Safe?
- 15 Do Debit Cards for Kids and Teens Collect Personal Data?
- 16 What Other Investment Accounts for Kids Should I Consider?
- 17 Should Kids Handle Cash?
- 18 What Happens if My Child Loses a Debit Card?
- 19 Can Kids Get Custom Debit Cards?
- 20 What Documentation Do You Need to Open a Debit Card for Kids and Teens?
- 21 Do Teen Debit Cards Offer Contactless Payments?
What is a Debit Card for Kids?
Children can’t open their own bank account until they reach the age of majority in their state- often 18 years old. Parents can choose one possible path: opening a subaccount from their own bank account to provide their kids with a card to use.
It’s likely that your child will need to be at least 13 years old before receiving a card.
However, these accounts may not come with the custom spending controls, parental oversight or feature-filled mobile apps many new debit cards for kids provide. Some new apps even allow you to lock the card or limit where your child spends money.
These cards also effectively function as a prepaid debit card because you can establish parental controls. Traditional banks or prepaid debit cards might not allow you to do this beyond keeping the account balance at a certain level.
Can I Get a Debit Card for Kids Under 13?
Typically, you think of your current situation and start evaluating options based on what you know. Therefore, the most likely place you will start to think about getting a debit card for your child would be your own bank.
Though rules vary by financial institution, some don’t allow minors to have debit cards under their own name before the age of 16. Others choose to offer them to kids who are 13 or younger.
But even if you can get one from your current bank, you don’t want to just hand your child a debit card. You might want more insight and control over their spending so you can introduce good habits.
Such options include having a joint prepaid debit card with your child, allowing you both to manage the money jointly and agree on what the card can be used for.
These cards give children the control they seek over their own cash but also allow parents to monitor the spending and offer useful guidance when needed.
Traditional banks don’t often have these controls available to you, making this a difficult task without the tools necessary to oversee account management.
Instead, a new breed of financial companies has emerged to empower parents to make money decisions with their children and equip them with the capabilities to manage money in a way they’d like.
With that, let’s look at some of the best debit cards for kids and teens. Then, we can look at the features of the best prepaid debit card programs available to kids and how you can sign up.
What are the Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens?
We’ve compiled a list of the best debit cards for kids and teens that should work for your needs below. Look at each and compare which one makes the most sense for your needs.
1. Chase First Banking: Best Free Debit Card for Kids and Teens
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no fees)
- App Store Rating: 4.8
Ready to teach your little ones about money, but not quite sure if you have the time, patience and expertise?
Chase First BankingSM offers simple banking for both of you in one location: the Chase Mobile® App—for free. Manage all accounts with this mobile app and encounter no fees as well as find yourself able to withdraw money on 16,000 Chase ATMs around the country.
At the heart of Chase First BankingSM sits one of the best free debit cards for kids and teens that works anywhere Visa is accepted.
Need insight and oversight into your child’s spending and saving? You can set spend alerts and limits as well as specific locations all in your Chase Mobile® app.
Teach your kids to spend, save and earn — all from the Chase Mobile® app. Chase First BankingSM helps parents teach teens and kids about money by giving parents the control they want and kids the freedom they need to learn.
To get started, you’ll first need to be a Chase customer with a qualifying Chase checking account.
Consider opening a Chase Total Checking SM or Chase Secure BankingSM account to qualify.
- Chase Total CheckingSM also grants access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches as well as a $225 sign up bonus when you set up direct deposit within 90 days of coupon enrollment. You can pay $0 in monthly fees, subject to meeting certain conditions*.
- Chase Secure BankingSM offers the same Chase ATMs and branch locations as well as a $100 sign up bonus when you make stated qualifying activities and meet certain conditions.
Once you open a qualifying Chase Checking account, you may apply for a Chase First BankingSM account for your child.
Read more in our Chase First Banking review.
2. Best Rated Overall: Greenlight
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free 1-month trial, $4.99/mo after
- App Store Rating: 4.8
Greenlight provides parents control over where their kids can spend money by limiting the stores where their cards work. Parents can get alerts when money is spent on the Greenlight debit card for kids and for how much.
Further, parents can open an investment account for kids to get their children investing in stocks and index funds for the first time.
Greenlight works like a prepaid debit card, allowing you to transfer money onto the card for your child to pay for expenses at approved locations.
You can choose how much money to load onto the card and your child will be cleared to make approved purchases so long as a money balance backs up the card.
Greenlight charges $4.99 per month for up to five kids. Replacement cards cost $3.50 each but are free the first time. If you need to replace your card quickly, you can get express delivery for $24.99.
The company also offers a personalized card for $9.99/year with your own photo or design.
Greenlight offers interest (the only kid and teen prepaid debit card to do so) and you also may set up “parent-paid interest” between you and your child. This allows you to foot the bill and pay interest on accounts for up to five kids.
If your child asks for extra money to get added to the card, you can have them take a photo of the purchase they want to make and receive your approval. This gives you control and allows kids to discuss with you why a purchase either is a good or bad idea.
If your child has a job, they can add their own funds to the card as well through direct deposit.
The Greenlight debit card is a good choice for parents looking to teach their kids the importance of saving money and making prudent financial decisions.
This financial product can be an effective learning tool for helping kids to understand why saving should be a priority as well as to help parents simplify paying an allowance or tracking chores.
It’s also a rapidly growing app many parents have come to use for raising financially-smart kids. The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting at 6 or later.
The Greenlight Mastercard Debit Card for kids offers the best combination of features among all cards we reviewed, including its simple mobile app.
Who says kids can’t have their own debit card? Nowadays, there are plenty of options for parents and our top choice is Greenlight.
Read more in our Greenlight Card review.
Related: 12 Best Allowance and Chore Apps for Kids [Easier Family Life]
3. Best for Combined Teen Independence and Cost: Copper Card
Copper Banking was founded with the mission to help teens gain real world experience by giving them access to their money in a way that traditional banks aren’t able to do.
The Copper app and debit card teaches teens how to make smart financial decisions by creating a platform for parents and teens to connect.
With the Copper app, you get easy snapshots of your accounts and, with the Copper Debit Card, it’s easy to shop in-store, online or with Apple or Google Pay.
Plus, users get exclusive access to engaging content curated by a team of financial literacy experts who provide advice and tips on how to take control of their financial future.
Copper is founded on the belief that teens should have equal access to financial education and should be empowered to learn by doing. Cause you’re never too young to get your money right.
Copper Banking Features:
- Send/Request: Teens and parents can easily send and receive money all at the touch of a button
- Spend: Spending using Apple or Google Pay or using the Copper Debit Card. Get a snapshot of all your teen’s spending in an easy-to-read dashboard.
- Save: Gain quick snapshots of your teen’s savings and helpful tips on how to save even more. Set up savings bucks and save for the things that you want.
- Learn: With the help of Copper’s team of financial literacy experts, gain bite sized tips on how you can maximize your money and prepare yourself for your financial future.
Read more in our Copper Banking review.
4. Best for Customer Service: goHenry
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: 1 month free, then $3.99 per child/mo
- App Store Rating: 4.6
goHenry is a banking app for minors that comes paired with prepaid debit cards for parents to oversee and manage their children’s account balance. You have an online account which comes linked to individual accounts for each of your children.
You can manage all of the money held in each account through the company’s app and online account portal.
Each child will receive their own goHenry debit card which comes paired with parental controls you can set for your children.
What’s nice about goHenry is the ability to spend only the money available on the card, meaning you don’t need to worry about costly overdraft fees or accrue debt.
You open a goHenry account, receive your children’s debit cards in the mail 7-8 business days later, set up an automatic weekly allowance transfer into your children’s accounts and can set up one-off or weekly spending limits.
This will keep your children’s spending in check and you can block/unblock the card as needed as well as choose the stores where your kids can shop.
With time, the controls provided by the app and the guidance you offer can help your kids to earn, save, spend and give with good money habits.
goHenry is one of the best debit cards for kids for customer service. They offer 24/7 phone availability, email access and social media engagement, ensuring users can solve their problems quickly and with little hassle.
The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting at 6 or later.
Learn more by reading our goHenry debit card review.
Related: goHenry vs. Greenlight
5. Best Value: BusyKid
- Available: Sign up here (Devices: Android, Apple iOS/iPhone/iPad)
- Price: $3.99/mo, $38.99/yr (up to 5 cards)
- App Store Rating: 3.6
Are you looking for a way to teach your kids about money through chores, earning an allowance and managing their money on prepaid debit cards for kids?
BusyKid is an award-winning, parent-approved app that educates kids about money. It’s a way to teach your children how to manage their allowance and learn important money lessons.
The BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Card lets them spend their money in stores or online with just one swipe of the card. You can even set up automatic savings. The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting earlier than later.
Your child will be able to earn real money by completing chores and tasks around the house each week while learning valuable financial skills like budgeting, saving and giving back.
Plus they’ll have fun earning rewards from brands like Disney on BusyKid’s weekly challenges!
BusyKid is an easy-to-use, interactive kid chore app with debit card that will help them learn and practice important real-life lessons from the palm of their hands.
They can earn, save, invest, donate or spend – all while having fun! And it couldn’t be more simple.
Parents set chores and allowance gets directly deposited each Friday!
- Earn – Kids can earn by completing tasks assigned by parents
- Save – They can save up to 10% of their weekly allowance automatically
- Donate – They can give back by donating 1% of what they make to charity
- Spend – When they’re ready for independence, BusyKid has a Visa Prepaid Spend Card so kids are never without cash in hand.
In order to get paid, parents need to approve the Payday text message sent through the app each Thursday if your kids are to be paid on Friday.
Some fees apply for various actions you can take through the app and with the card as well.
Finally, BusyKid also allows children to invest their earnings through the app. Doing so requires setting up a separate Stockpile custodial account.
Related: Best Greenlight Alternatives
6. Best for Financial Education: FamZoo
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free trial, then $5.99/mo per family
- App Store Rating: 4.6
FamZoo is another service for parents interested in opening prepaid debit cards to manage their children’s spending.
It works by having parents release money into their child’s account and then having the card work with a loaded balance. Money can be loaded onto the cards at any time.
FamZoo acts like a regular checking account with a linked debit card except FamZoo makes sure the account can’t be charged overdraft fees, saving you money.
Adults are able to monitor the transactions being made. After a free trial, this app costs $5.99 per month, but the price goes down if prepaid in advance.
FamZoo is our top education choice because of its strong financial education library which improves its overall value.
The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting earlier than later.
Related: Greenlight vs. Famzoo
7. Best Free Debit Card for Teens: Axos Bank First Checking
First Checking by Axos Bank is the ultimate starter checking account for teens which also comes with a debit card. The world of banking can be a little scary, but not with the simplicity and power of Axos’ First Checking Account.
The account works as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.
Parent and teens can manage almost every part of the banking experience through a convenient mobile app or through the online desktop portal. Perfect for modern families who always find themselves on the go.
The First Checking account from Axos Bank gives teens their first taste of financial independence by giving them their own checking account (which pays interest!) and free debit card for teens that has daily cash withdrawals limits of $100 and purchase limits of $500.
This provides safeguards against teens getting carried away with the money held in their account.
Further, you can have up to $12 of domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month, avoid any monthly maintenance, overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees—essentially making the account free!
The account carries the highest level of security through biometric authentication techniques like fingerprint readers, voiceprints and facial recognition (pending smartphone feature availability).
The product has a minimum age requirement of 13 and will convert to a Axos Checking Account after reaching the age of majority.
Read more in our Axos First Checking Account review.
8. Best for Long-Term Growth: Acorns
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Acorns Personal: $3/mo & Acorns Family: $5/mo
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Acorns has become one of the most popular financial apps for minors and young adults but also offers a robust money management platform extending beyond just investing.
The full suite of offerings includes the ability to establish custodial accounts for minors to invest, regular and retirement investment accounts for adults and a bank account with linked debit card.
If you sign up for the Acorns Spend product (available under the Acorns Personal and Acorns Family plans), it creates a bank account that carries FDIC Insurance protection for up to $250,000.
Further, it uses the Acorns “Round Ups” feature which rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, investing the difference between the transaction amount and the whole dollar. The service claims to help users invest an average of $30/month using this feature.
While not a free stock trading app, Acorns does give you the following subscription options:
- Acorns Personal ($3/mo):
- Acorns Invest: Invests spare change through the popular “Round-Ups” feature, earns bonus investments and provides access to financial literacy articles
- Acorns Later: Tax-advantaged investment options like IRAs
- Acorns Spend: Acts as your bank account, offering free withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs nationwide and no account fees and the ability to earn up to 10% bonus investments
- Acorns Family ($5/mo):
For a limited time, the service also offers a $10 sign up bonus for people who open an account and $75 for establishing direct deposit and meeting certain conditions. Learn how to start investing money and bank.
Learn more in our Acorns review.
9. Best for Product Features and Innovation: Current
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: $36/teen per year
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Current is a banking app designed for all families. The Current app allows you to track your teen’s spending in real-time, set limits on how much they can spend, and even block specific merchants on Visa-enabled prepaid debit cards.
You also get the peace of mind that comes with knowing their money is safe because it’s not cash. Plus, the company doesn’t charge any fees or interest for student accounts so there are no surprises when bills arrive.
Current helps parents teach teens financial responsibility while giving them a way to learn without having cash around the house and all its temptations.
That means less worry for both parents and kids! With Current, your teenager will be able to do everything from paying friends back to buying groceries at the store–all safely with only her phone!
And teens will have the opportunity to learn financial responsibility and budgeting from an early age. This will allow them to grow their savings and move one step closer to financial independence.
The product has no specifically stated minimum age requirement, but the marketing points toward a Teen Account as the target audience. Therefore, you might be able to open an account below this age for your child.
Read more in our Current review.
10. Best for Approaching Finances for the First Time: Stash
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Beginner: $1/mo, Growth: $3/mo, Stash+: $9/mo1
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Stash is a leading all-in-one financial platform which offers a mobile-friendly banking account6. With no hidden banking fees, no minimum deposit or balance requirements, and no ATM fee access7, Stash may be a strong choice for consumers who prefer to do their banking and investing all through the same platform2.
Plus, you’ll earn Stock-Back Rewards® at places like Walmart, Amazon and more when you make qualified purchases with your Stock-Back® card8.
If you are a young adult, you may want to use Stash to invest money with regular automatic transfers or even “round up” purchases you make on a linked debit card so that the spare change goes to your personal portfolio.
Stash also offers financial education resources that can help you improve your financial literacy. It covers numerous topics like investing, managing and planning money.
The specifics on the Stash banking account:
- Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum daily balance requirement, but you do need to open a Stash Invest account to use your Stash Online Banking account7.
- Yield: None, but you’ll earn Stock-Back® rewards on every eligible purchase made with the Stock-Back® card8.
- Rewards and Incentives: Earn Stock-Back® rewards on every eligible debit card purchase. Earn 0.125% Stock-Back® rewards on everyday purchases and up to 5% Stock-Back® rewards on purchases with certain merchants that are eligible for Stock-Back® bonuses9. Plus, you can get paid up to two days early when you direct deposit your pay into your Stash banking account10 and enjoy access to thousands of fee-free ATMs7.
- Possible Fees: Fees for use of out-of-network ATMs2.
For additional details and disclosures, please see the fine print at the bottom of this article.
11. Best for Allowance Handling: Rooster Money
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Virtual Tracker: Free, Rooster Plus: $18.99/year with 30-day free trial to start
- App Store Rating: 4.7
Rooster Money is an app that allows parents to track all of their allowance for kids in one place, offers fun activities for kids and aims to build good money habits.
The app helps parents to graduate their children through key money milestones by using a star chart in their younger years to teach as a rewards system, and eventually introducing a payment card as they get older.
The app wants money to be part of the conversation and hopes to help you accomplish this with your children. Dispelling this taboo at a young age can make kids confident with money.
The debit card through Rooster Money is only available in the UK market.
12. Best for Financial Automation: M1 Finance
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free trades, M1 Plus costs $125/year
- App Store Rating: 4.6
M1 Finance is an all-in-one super app that does it all. The app allows you to invest, borrow and spend but also open a M1 Finance custodial account to allow your kids to use it as an investment app as well.
They even allow custodial IRAs, making this one of the best custodial accounts. The service requires you to sign up for M1 Plus to do this, however. Be sure to watch out for when the company puts this on promotion, making it free for you to try.
As for money management and linked debit cards, if you hold money in the app’s free checking account, it comes with FDIC insurance coverage and is part of the entire M1 Finance financial app experience.
Read more about this app in our M1 Finance review.
13. Best Free Debit Card for Kids: Jassby Virtual Debit Card
- Available: iOS and Android App
- Price: Free, possible monthly fees for inactivity after 6 months
- App Store Rating: 4.6, only 33 ratings
Jassby is a free mobile wallet app families can use to manage chores, allowance payments and money spent on debit cards.
The app allows parents and guardians to share money with their kids while teaching them valuable financial literacy skills. Currently, the service is only available as an iOS app.
Jassby works by allowing kids to spend their allowance in the Jassby Shop or anywhere Apple Pay is accepted using the Jassby Virtual Debit Card.
The shop includes gift cards to stores and companies kids would likely want to use their allowance. Places like Apple’s App Store and iTunes, Nintendo, the PlayStation Store, Microsoft’s Rewards program, and other places.
There are clothing stores, electronics retailers, restaurants, entertainment and more. You can also donate the allowance money to a number of qualified charities found in the Jassby Shop.
Accounts which use payments on the fully contactless debit card for kids have no monthly fees if at least one family Jassby Virtual Debit Card makes a purchase each month.
In the event no activity occurs after the first six months of account opening, Jassby will assess a monthly fee of $2.99 for each calendar month.
Finally, Jassby offers online e-learning resources to teach kids about personal finance and other fun activities. For example, you can purchase a CodeWizardsHQ online coding class package perfect for kids and teens ages 8-18.
Jassby states all e-learning programs found in the Jassby Shop are family-friendly and can be paid for by having an allowance earned and saved through the Jassby app.
14. Honorable Mention: Free Teen Debit Card: Nationwide Bank First Checking
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free
- App Store Rating: 4.7 (Banking services provided by Axos)
With a highly comparable teen checking account product as Axos’ First Checking, Nationwide’s First Checking also acts as an ultimate starter checking account with debit card for teens. We feel both deserve spots on this list for their features and price point: free.
Like Axos’ First Checking, this Nationwide account works as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.
Equipped with the same features and functionality, the one distinguishing feature is the ability to begin earning interest with a $0 balance in the account.
As of summer 2021, this amounts to 0.1% APY, which is a competitive rate for a simple teen checking account and debit card product.
15. Honorable Mention: Capital One MONEY Account
- Price: No monthly fee
- App Store Rating: 4.8
Capital One MONEY Teen Checking acts as a money management account with a debit card and a top-rated, free mobile app for teens.
It’s hassle-free and designed to give you peace of mind as your kids grow into independence.
The Capital One MONEY Teen Checking account offers everything a teen needs to be financially responsible.
Parents can set up the account and use monitoring tools to oversee account activity as the adult co-owner of the account.
All the while, you can also allow your teens to manage money on their own with a debit card parents can lock and unlock.
When it’s time, parents have access to guide kids in making wise decisions for life without being overly protective.
The mobile app allows you to employ parental controls to stay on top of your child’s spending and take advantage of teachable money moments.
You can link external accounts to your teen’s MONEY account—not just a Capital One account as you do for Chase accounts with a Chase First Banking account.
From here, your teen can use their free debit card to access money at 70,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide without maintaining a minimum balance or paying a monthly fee.
Capital One Bank is a Member FDIC.
Which Bank Gives Kids a Debit Card?
Banks understand the importance of building lifelong relationships with their customers. Doing so lowers client acquisition costs while also building a financial connection for all of life’s future financial needs.
This is why Chase First Banking and Axos First Checking have established teen checking accounts with debit cards available to kids. Both come with additional features above and beyond standard bank accounts which work to educate kids on money.
The first bank account with debit card option appearing on this list is Chase First Banking, which remains exclusively for Chase checking customers.
This means you first need to open a qualifying checking account like the Chase Total Checking or Chase Secure Banking products before opening a Chase First Banking for your child.
This kid checking account with a debit card helps parents teach their teens and kids about money. The account manages to do this by giving parents the control they want and kids the freedom they need to learn.
The second bank offering a debit card for kids on this list is the Axos First Checking account.
The account works as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.
Parent and teens can manage almost every part of the banking experience through a convenient mobile app or through the online desktop portal.
What Features Should a Debit Card for Kids Provide?
Choosing the best debit cards for kids can be a tough task. They’re not just little kids anymore, and they need to learn how to manage their money as teens and eventually adults.
When you’re choosing a debit card for kids, there are many factors that you should consider like monthly fees, ATM withdrawal limits, direct deposit availability, instant money transfer, access to the child’s account for establishing spending controls, overdraft fees, rewards programs and much more.
Below, we walk through all of the features you should look for in the debit cards kids and teens can use.
1. Direct Deposit
One of the best features that may be available on debit cards for kids is direct deposit. Direct deposit means that a child’s paycheck will go directly to their account, rather than just getting an envelope from work and then handing it over to mom or dad for money management.
Direct Deposits are also good because they can help a parent manage when money should come into the bank account and when they know they need to transfer money for any expected expenses.
Some debit cards for teens even allow free early direct deposit if they open a premium checking account as well. This allows teens to get paid faster than with regular direct deposit.
Some debit cards deliver paychecks up to two days faster than traditional banks when you sign up for direct deposit.
Despite instilling a sense of delayed gratification in your children to build up their money management skills and long-term thinking, waiting for your hard earned money to hit your account shouldn’t always be something you must do.
After all, if you earned it, why should you have to wait?
2. Checking Account
Opening a kid or teen checking account can teach your children about the importance of financial responsibility and give them their first taste of managing money.
The best thing about opening up a checking account, or even just depositing money in one, is that it teaches future generations how to save responsibly and spend wisely. It will also be a great way to teach your child the importance of budgeting and how much they should save.
The issue with opening a checking account for children is that most banks require parental permission on behalf of the minor before being able to open up an account.
This means you’ll need to be around at account opening in order for them to do it themselves. Further, the best debit cards for kids also require ongoing parental involvement, like establishing parental controls and monitoring activity through a mobile app.
Checking accounts today are different than they were in the past. Now, most banks have migrated many of their important services online. As a result, you don’t need to go to a bank anymore to handle many of your money transfers, payments or other transactions.
Having a digital checking account capable of performing several necessary financial tasks has become increasingly important.
3. Savings Account
The best debit cards for kids are not just about teaching responsibility. They’re also a savings account in disguise, since the money gets drawn from the linked checking account on the card itself and all transactions go through it.
Learning to manage this account can teach kids how to save and budget their money in the short-term but also toward longer-term goals.
However, most banks require that you have to be 13 or older to qualify for a digital account linked to a debit card.
That’s why it is important for parents or guardians with kids set to become teenagers shortly to look into bank accounts with a connected debit card now.
If the teenager has interest in learning more about how money works, saving and spending it responsibly, you should look into adding checking and savings accounts into their financial repertoire.
4. Transfer Money Instantly
The instant transfer capability is really beneficial for parents with young children. When kids are too small to have a job or your teens are too busy to go with you to the bank, it’s up to the parent or guardian to give them some spending money each week from their own pocket.
Many parents use this as a way to pay for allowance or monthly chores. The instant transfer capability eliminates the need to make a trip into an actual bank, which could be difficult for kids with no transportation or adults pressed for time.
Plus, it helps parents to see how much money they give their children and can help them determine if they should give more or less as time goes on.
This feature proves invaluable for any parent of busy young children. In addition, the instant transfer capability also helps parents who want to teach their children about financial literacy because kids learn how to work for their money and associate earnings with work- not something they receive unearned.
It’s important that kids know what it means to earn and spend money and how much they have in their account at all times. Many debit cards for kids offer this useful feature because a quick “reload” option helps parents keep on top of things even when pressed for time.
5. Mobile App
In today’s modern world, everything has gone digital. A lot of parents have found that it’s much easier to keep track of their children by using a mobile app for banking.
Teens can open their own checking account with the help of a parent, earn money to deposit into the account and then get access to the funds in order to make purchases on behalf of themselves or others- all from a mobile app.
Mobile apps also allow teens to take charge of their money because they’re responsible for keeping track of their spending and can see the balance of funds in their account at all times.
Parents are able to control how much money is available for use on a mobile app by setting parental controls that include daily limits, time restrictions, spending limits, and more- making it easy to teach kids about financial responsibility from an early age.
6. No Overdraft Fees
Most prepaid debit cards can avoid overdraft fees by declining any charges when the bank account carries an insufficient account balance.
Since overdraft fees are typically the most expensive fee associated with a bank account, this is an excellent feature to look for when choosing prepaid cards or debit cards linked to a bank account.
By having spending controls, parents can monitor their children’s spending. With apps that allow parents to take control of the card, kids can’t spend more than a predetermined amount in any time period or location.
That means not having to pay overdraft fees: if the debit card for teens won’t allow spending above a preset limit (such as the remaining account balance), kids won’t have the ability to buy something that triggers an overdraft fee.
For example, the Busykid Visa Prepaid Spend or Greenlight Mastercard Debit Card for Kids don’t have issues with overdraft fees because you can’t spend money not already loaded onto the card.
Another method for avoiding overdraft fees comes from use of prepaid debit cards for kids and teens. Much like a debit card with spending limits set above the account balance, prepaid debit cards don’t allow you to spend what you don’t have loaded on the card.
Both types of cards place guardrails on overdraft fees, protecting kids (and yourself) from costly fees and other banking account issues.
7. Low Monthly Fees
Many debit cards for kids have account subscription fees you pay to open and maintain an account with this banking provider.
These monthly fees have become a common way for banks to earn money. For example, this is how Acorns makes money.
These monthly fees (or annual fees) are commonplace given the low account balances kids and teens will likely carry in their accounts.
Banks typically make money by taking the deposits held on account and lending them to borrowers. They charge an interest rate to the borrower at a higher rate than they borrow from the depositor.
This difference, called the net interest margin, accounts for the lion’s share of bank earnings.
However, many banks have also gone after non-interest income in the form of one-off or monthly fees and services. Items like overdraft fees, account fees, account minimum balance violation fees and much more.
Because most kids will have low account balances and still require automated financial assistance for their needs, many debit cards for teens choose to charge monthly fees as an avenue for earning income.
Thankfully, many of them offer value-added services above and beyond what many traditional banks have, making them worth more to a parent’s peace of mind.
Having parental controls, setting spending limits, maintaining shared mobile app access and more provide parents with an attractive value proposition.
8. Parent Controls
Parental controls are one of the key features that a debit card for teens should have. This is easy to set up and can be suited to any parent’s needs by being able to choose what notifications they want, set spending limits, determine which merchants kids can visit and more.
Different transactions need different levels of monitoring, so parental controls allow customization which makes it easier on parents who want a specific view into their kids’ spending activity. You won’t get these on a free debit card for kids.
Parental controls also allow automated allowance payments, setting chores to complete, notifications for all purchases online and off and seeing spending reports.
These parental controls differentiate between a traditional prepaid card and a card offered by a traditional bank.
9. Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids
A reloadable debit card for kids, also referred to as a prepaid debit card for kids, works to help kids make purchases without the risk of making an overdraft or encountering a fee for spending money against a balance.
Normal debit cards allow you to spend money held in the linked account while reloadable debit cards for kids only allow you to spend the money loaded onto them.
You can periodically add money to your card’s balance on reloadable prepaid cards, allowing you to spend the money when you need it.
Though, these cards in normal circumstances can charge fees for loading a card, using them or other one-off or monthly fees.
The reloadable prepaid debit cards for kids mentioned in this article can assess these monthly fees, though the circumstances matter. Some charge a cash reload fee but not for transferring funds onto the reloadable card’s balance through a bank or debit card transfer.
10. No Minimum Balance
Many parents are looking for prepaid debit cards that have no minimum balance requirement, but there’s more to it than just lowering the monthly fee. You want the best of both worlds: convenience with little-to-no maintenance required.
There can be an initial activation and issuance fee when you open up your account, which some issuers waive if you’re a student. For example, Acorns doesn’t charge monthly fees to college students with a .edu email address.
This makes Acorns an attractive money app for teens entering college or interested in knowing how to invest as a teenager.
The best cards for kids don’t have minimum balances because they often have low balances earned from chores and allowance, gifts at holidays or birthdays, or from a part-time job or other online jobs for teens.
11. Money Management Features
Spending money is one of the most stressful parts of being a kid. You have to budget your allowance, decide what all that funds mean for you in terms of buying clothes and supplies or saving up to buy something big – but it never quite seems like enough because there are so many things on your wishlist!
A bank account and linked card can help by giving you a budgeting tool to help you spend money wisely. Many offer special savings pods, categories or other terms to set aside money toward teenage money goals, both in the short-term and long-term.
Further, some money apps for kids also offer the ability to invest in stocks for kids or other teenage investing goals.
12. Parent Paid Interest
Parent paid interest is a big perk of some checking accounts for kids, as it can help parents incentivize their kids to save money. It’s a way to teach your child the benefits and responsibilities that come with managing money, setting goals and saving money toward achieving them.
Parent-Paid Interest is an annual percentage rate that you set for your child’s General Savings in the Greenlight app. Their account will earn the interest on the first of each month and all you have to do is set up the money transfer into their account from your parent’s wallet.
Greenlight calculates and pays interest monthly based on the average daily balance of your child’s “Total Savings” for the previous month. This represents the total amount saved between General Savings and Savings Goals.
With Parent-Paid Interest you can choose how much interest their savings earns. If you want them to earn a lot, then you can set your Parent-Paid interest to pay up to 100% interest.
But if that is too expensive and you’d rather pay a legitimate interest rate, then you can set the amount to as low as 1%. It’s up to you!
This feature will show your kids the power of saving. You can teach them how savings grow with each month’s payment.
13. Establish Savings Goals
Closely related to parent-paid interest is the desire to establish savings goals. Saving from an early age can enforce delayed gratification, or the idea that things are more satisfying when they’re worked for and earned down the road.
There’s also something about saving that really instills responsibility in your child. They’ll start understanding what it means to budget, diversify savings, and invest for better returns.
These accounts can teach your kids how to save money by setting up savings goals, pods or categories. These envelopes of cash are a system that involves saving every time you get paid, but in different denominations and at different times of the month.
This will help them understand that they can’t just spend all their money on things they want right now because they need to save up for other priorities later.
14. Set Spending Limits
When you sign up for a bank account as an adult, chances are your spending limits will be set relatively high. You’ll start with $500 or so in the beginning and can work your way up to about $5,000 or more if you have a good credit history.
For kids however, it might not make sense to give them that much freedom during their early years before they’ve had a chance to develop strong money skills.
Parents can set spending limits by the day, week or month. For example, parents can set limits of $25 per day for kids to spend on things they want and need.
Some people have acted better with cash while others might be more comfortable using cards. Cash provides a spending limit that may help them avoid impulse purchases.
Thankfully, with the spending limits parents can set on these cards, you’ve installed a cash-based mentality in a cashless society.
15. Control Over How Kids Spend Money Online
A common feature of this new age of kids debit cards is the ability for parents to control how money gets spent from their accounts.
This means money spent online and offline as well by shortlisting eligible merchants or even eliminating a handful from accepting payment from the card.
16. Financial Literacy Tools
You’ll want apps that can teach, inform and grow your child’s understanding of finances. That means coming with tools for smarter spending.
Life gets busy and keeping track of your finances can be time-consuming. You don’t always have to see where and how you spend your money.
That’s why many of these apps come with information to highlight spending insights based on your history, budgeting tools to manage your money, saving categories and goals and more.
These all help with managing money, developing a sense of ownership and understanding with finances for kids. Many also come with information through financial literacy resources through videos, articles, tutorials and explainers.
Make sure you review the content covered and navigate through the available libraries of resources to select the most important topics to cover.
17. Free ATM Withdrawals
Online-only banks had an early issue to tackle: how to offer cash to their depositors without a physical location to provide ATM fee-free withdrawals?
Many leaders in the space developed a more effective solution than traditional banks: free ATM withdrawals at huge network ATMs. That means ATM fee reimbursement for tens of thousands of ATMs nationwide, not just at your bank’s.
Check that your kid’s debit card has free ATM withdrawals as well as the ability to control how much they can take out or handle by themselves.
18. Rewards Programs
By spending money on the card, you might receive rewards points to use on other expenses. These cards come with many of the same benefits as a credit card, like cash back on purchases.
As your children grow up and have more responsibility for their own expenses, these types of debit cards might be perfect to teach them how to manage money responsibly without using an expensive credit line or overdrafting.
These points can also encourage kids to save up for larger purchases, gifts or other important expenses.
19. Round Ups
Acorns invented it, everyone else has copied it since. “Round Up” is just a fancy term for rounding up your purchase to the next dollar amount.
The idea behind Round Ups is that small amounts of money regularly saved will eventually add up and result in much larger savings down the road.
Round Ups are a simple way to teach your kids about how compound interest works. By rounding up their purchases, they will be saving small amounts of money over time and eventually earning bigger rewards with the same strategy.
This is a great savings tool for any age group as it helps introduce them to saving and investing in an easy-to-understand format that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse them.
Kids can invest these rounded up dollars and see compound interest take off to another level.
Greenlight also offers “Round Ups” to make the most of your savings passively.
20. Ability to Donate to Charity
Also important for kids is to understand the importance of giving back. Some of these accounts allow for easy donations to charity with the swipe of a screen and push of a few buttons – with parents’ permission of course!
21. Security for Parents and Teens
Most of these digital apps allow you to pause or replace the card from your app if you misplace it or it gets stolen. Having this card becomes more secure than carrying cash and also secures transactions with EMV chips.
Further, you’ll have mobile apps that require fingerprint identification, possibly facial recognition and even multi-factor authentication for a secure banking experience.
You can keep your bank information private with your prepaid Mastercard or reloadable prepaid Visa card.
22. FDIC Coverage
All bank accounts should carry FDIC coverage, or insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which protects against the loss of a depositor’s funds in case of bank failure. This is an important feature parents should look for when choosing a debit card to give their child.
23. Manages Chores and Administers Allowances
These debit cards for kids and teens tend to have associated apps which can assist you with managing chores and administering weekly or monthly allowances.
The apps come with tools to build, manage and employ a chore and allowance system, enabling you to assign and pay for all of your household chores.
Make sure you review the functionality of each system and whether it meets your needs. Some allow for one-off, instant payments for completed chores while others only allow for fixed or floating day weekly or monthly payments.
24. Investing Options for Realizing Compounding Returns
Some of these apps also come with added investment features through establishing associated custodial accounts and the ability to invest in stocks.
Some companies offer limited investment options by design, ensuring your child can only invest in suitable, diversified investments like index funds or ETFs.
This prevent kids, especially older ones, from stock trading in securities landing on several headlines for unusual market activity. For example, GameStop and the market mania it created in early 2021 due in large part to a Reddit subforum promoting the stock as a strong buy.
Others like Greenlight allow individual stock investing but these purchases and sales must all run through parental approval before the trade gets placed.
Further, Greenlight also limits your ability to buy and sell companies with at least $1 billion in market capitalization, potentially avoiding penny stocks and other small cap, risky names.
5 Money Lessons Kids’ Debit Cards Teach
Debit cards can do a lot more than simply teaching your kids about how to save money, manage it, budget, invest it, give it and spend it—really to make it their own.
Engaging with money through a debit card requires taking a checking account, something which stores value, and turning the funds inside the account into purchases.
For this reason, converting stored value from an account into an actionable resource useful for spending and managing through a debit card requires learning responsibility.
With such power, kids can develop financial responsibility. Such important lessons include:
- Distinguishing between wants and needs. As children get older, they need to learn the importance of distinguishing between wants and needs. Any well-seasoned budgeting expert will tell you it’s a balancing act. Many people recommend the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, which calls for thinking through how you allocate your money toward wants and needs. This rule calls for you to split 50% of your money for needs (housing, utilities, food) and then 30% for wants with the balance falling into savings (20%). A debit card forces you to live within your means, making it impossible to use tomorrow’s dollars to fund today’s purchases. These limits from a card can help to develop a stronger sense of financial literacy by navigating these everyday decisions with today’s dollars, not tomorrow’s potential profit.
- Appreciating what you have. Closely related to distinguishing between wants and needs comes learning to appreciate what you have. Doing so will make you more fulfilled and satisfied with your life, not always wanting more. When you find things you want but can’t readily finance with your current financial firepower, you may look for alternatives to enable the purchase. Debit won’t allow this to happen. By finding satisfaction with what you have, you can learn to appreciate your situation and build contentment.
- Financial responsibility. When you sum these important characteristics together, you have developed a sense of financial responsibility in your child. These above tenets represent some of the most important money values a child can learn from a young age. Done well and consistently, and these should deliver your child into a financially secure life.
- Financial freedom. By fighting off the desire to rely on costly credit and instead employ only what you current have, you can begin to work toward financial freedom or maintain it. Falling into the debts of others squares directly with finding financial freedom and being able to make choices in your life unmotivated solely by money. Kids who can stay out of debt at the start and never worry about falling into it will have more financial peace of mind on a daily basis.
- Financial balance. For most, finding financial balance is a lifelong journey filled with ups and downs as well as in need of constant attention. Said plainly, finding financial balance is a process and certainly not an outcome or single event in your life. It is a culmination of financial decisions that have enabled you to find the right financial circumstances for yourself. In the perspective of debit vs. credit, it relies on your current means and not tomorrow’s capital.
Pros and Cons of Kids’ Debit Cards
There are several benefits to getting your child a debit card, such as instilling financial responsibility and teaching kids about money, but there are also some downsides that should be taken into consideration.
- Learn about budgeting. Set your child up with a weekly or monthly allowance and explain that money has to last them for a period of time. This will help them to understand the concept of saving for a rainy day, making your money last and balancing better between wants and needs.
- Avoid carrying cash. One good example of this is if your child needs to make a purchase while at school (on a school field trip to the bowling alley, for instance) and there’s not an ATM nearby. Or, you don’t want them carrying a lot of cash that can easily get misplaced or stolen. Federal consumer protections provide some backing against purchases you didn’t make and against liability for paying if made in error or through a stolen card.
- Security. If they lose their debit cards, you can simply deactivate them and negate any future lost funds. Further, you have EMV chips, multi-factor authentication, password-protected accounts and parental review and approval to block any unwanted spending attempts. Parents stay in the driver seat even though they might not physically be present with their child when making a spending decision.
- Parental controls. Checking your children’s bank statements or the accounts linked to a debit card or prepaid card can reveal spending habits. Parents can set limits on locations and amounts with some cards, providing further control and advantages to these cards.
- Bill share with your children. Some of these debit cards come with apps that allow kids to share in communal bills as part of their recurring expenses. Costs like a cell phone bill, payments toward auto insurance, or sharing a subscription to Disney+ can all come out of certain debit card apps mentioned above.
- Parent loans on big ticket purchases. Just like you can do ongoing bill share arrangements with your kids, you can also share in big ticket purchases by having your kids repay them over time like a consumer line of credit. This can teach your children how to manage loan payments on items like a new cellphone.
- Establish an emergency fund. Because many of these financial products come with a paired app that allows you to manage how your kids’ earnings get appropriated into different buckets (e.g., saving, spending, giving, investing), you can also work with them first to set up and fund an emergency account for themselves. This can build financial security while still at home and follow them into the real world when they eventually leave the family nest. Establishing this necessity early on and in a controlled environment can lead to healthy money habits that last a lifetime.
- Open a Family 401k Plan through a Custodial Roth IRA. Many parents will use these cards to handle chores and allowance, but also for banking paychecks from their kids’ first jobs. That means kids can contribute toward Roth IRAs, locking in low tax rates now to fund a secure retirement later. Parents can match all money earned by their child and contribute this up to the amount of income earned by the child during the tax year, leaving the child to spend their earnings how they want. For example, if your child earns $1,500 during the summer as a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool, you can contribute $1,500 to a custodial Roth IRA through an app like M1 Finance and let them keep their earnings to spend as they wish. You can’t both contribute the funds above their earnings, but you can possibly split it between your child and yourself. Maybe $750 of their money goes into the IRA and $750 of your money goes in as well.
- Easy spending. If you gave your child a debit card tied to their savings account, they could blow through their money. A common worry among many parents is the ease in which their children can spend money. Therefore, consider opening a separate child’s savings account with controls.
- Monthly fees. One characteristic of most prepaid cards or kids debit cards is that they can come with monthly or annual fees. This can act as a major hurdle when you consider which one might make the most sense for your children.
- ATM fees. Make sure to avoid cards that charge a fee every time you want to withdraw cash.
- Reload fees. Some cards charge reload fees to add money back onto the prepaid card.
- Investing expenses for custodial accounts. Not all cards above come paired with an investing interface but some do. Some of these charge account fees for opening a custodial account and maintaining.
Children’s Debit Cards vs Children’s Prepaid Cards
A standard debit card connects to money in an account at a bank or credit union. A prepaid debit card requires you to reload money to use the funds at a store or online.
Prepaid debit cards act as “stored-value” cards because their value ties to the card itself and not within a financial institution. These debit cards for teens and other minors act as a hybrid of these traditional financial products.
Debit cards and prepaid cards both have benefits. The best choice for you will depend on what you want from a card. A debit card is a card that people can use to buy things. It is connected to your bank account.
It can be a great way for you to start using money before you have your own savings account. A debit card is also free or comes with a low monthly fee.
One drawback to a traditional bank account from a major bank or local credit union is parents can’t keep a close eye on their child’s spending because of a lack of notifications, spending controls or setting spending limits.
While you might have the account login details and look for account statements that come in the mail or to your inbox, a prepaid card gives you more oversight and control in comparison to traditional banks.
That’s why the best debit cards for teens offer these parent-focused features to give them comfort knowing they can place guardrails on their kids’ money habits. They act like prepaid cards in the sense you can’t spend what you don’t have.
With a prepaid card like the ones mentioned above, you can limit your kids’ spending and block the card from being used at certain merchants. You can also get instant notifications and alerts when they use their card. The downside, however? Prepaid cards come with fees.
Parents of younger children should consider prepaid debit cards for the money controls they offer and reserve bank accounts for teenagers or young adults who understand how to handle money and have the financial literacy tools necessary to be independent.
Can Kids Have Prepaid Cards?
Prepaid debit cards can serve as a great entry way for kids into the financial world. They only allow you to spend the balance held on the card while also making it easier to transfer allowance earned through performing chores or just as part of a set payment schedule.
Getting kids started early with a prepaid debit card can help them get a head start on navigating the financial system as they get older, providing them familiarity with the different financial products and institutions.
Further, these can help to guide them about how to think about managing their money digitally as opposed to physically, though handling physical cash early on can lead to a more concrete understanding of money for later.
Once kids have mastered how physical money works and the concepts behind it, moving to a digital-based prepaid debit card might serve as a good next step.
This holds especially true since physical cash can’t work as effectively as plastic when ordering items online—something that’s become increasingly the default method for buying goods and services these days.
Most prepaid debit cards require the child to be 18 or older (or, as noted earlier, 16 or older). Though, you can also get around this situation through use of adding your child as an authorized user on your existing prepaid debit card.
This provides your child access to a prepaid debit card under your control, allowing you to monitor card activity as well as set spending limits.
What to Do Before Getting a Debit Card for Kids
Take these things into consideration before opening a debit card for your child:
- Monthly fees. The best debit cards for kids should not have fees associated with their online portals to review the child’s spending or educational tools that manage money.
- Major card networks. One of the best cards for your child to use is one backed by a major credit card network. Companies like Amex, Mastercard, Visa, or Discover. This means your child can use the card as a debit or credit when needed.
- Parental Controls. An online account that not only lets you see where cash flows and when it changes hands, but also lets you monitor your child’s spending habits is a smart investment for both security purposes and to teach them strong money management skills.
- Prepaid card. To start, you may want to consider a prepaid debit card. You can also tie a new card to your existing accounts as another authorized user. The new card will access those accounts as your child spends.
- Credit scores. There are various ways to load money onto a debit card for kids. For example, you could purchase a convertible credit card for kids and put the money that they want into it; however, make sure you pay off your balance every month in order to avoid interest charges. Not paying off your monthly balance might be bad for your own credit score.
Can an 8, 11, 12 or 16-Year Old Have a Prepaid Debit Card?
Banks and credit unions have different policies about the minimum age required for an account holder to open an account and have a connected debit card issued.
Some financial institutions start at 8, 11, 12 or even 16, while other banks offer cards directly targeting parents with young kids or teens. Parents should decide which prepaid card or traditional account works best for their needs.
Related: Debit Cards for Under 18: How Old Do You Have to Be to Have a Debit Card?
Are Kids too Young for Debit Cards?
We know kids as young as 8 can get a debit card, but should they?
Research has shown kids start developing lifetime money habits by the age of 7, meaning the earlier they can start to learn about money, the better.
In fact, that same research suggests kids begin forming opinions and perceptions of money as young as three when they first learn to count as well as observe how their parent(s) and/or guardian(s) handle their money.
Because debit cards for kids can provide crucial help to develop financial awareness of numerous personal finance topics, equipping them with cards that have parental controls and oversight from an early age makes a lot of sense.
This can also encourage a sense of independence to make their own decisions—with guardrails you can provide, mind you. This will give them a feeling of confidence in how they conduct themselves and plan for the needs of today versus the wants of tomorrow.
Debit cards can make kids feel like grown-ups without actually being them: likely a good trade-off everyone wants to make. Parents want their kids to mature but perhaps not leave the nest too soon.
Plus, you can have confidence in your little ones (or teens) that they’ll make good decisions away from home when they inevitably leave.
Is a Debit Card for Kids a Good Option for Teens?
Yes, it can be a good idea to get a debit card for your teen. However, which card you choose will depend on the environment your child can tolerate.
Some cards provide less parental control to give the teen more freedom in how he or she spends money without a parent’s approval as long as it falls within the pre-set spending limit.
In order to have greater control over your teen’s spending, consider a prepaid debit card for teens. If you want them to have more freedom, you can open them a banking app for teens.
Are Debit Cards for Kids Safe?
Yes. Kids debit cards are generally safe because of two major features.
First, debit cards offer far more consumer protections than cash. One major advantage to a prepaid card over cash is the liability and fraud protection you have from federal law.
Some offer purchase protections, though you may face some difficulty disputing unauthorized transactions or correcting errors seen on your account.
Second, most of debit cards allow you to pause or replace the card if you misplace it or it gets stolen. Much like the first reason debit cards are safe, having a card becomes more secure than carrying cash and also secures transactions with EMV chips.
Further, the cards mentioned above come with mobile apps requiring password protection and possibly fingerprint identification and/or facial recognition.
Some even require multi-factor authentication where you must enter a code sent to the linked phone on the account to access your account for a secure banking experience.
Despite this, you should still take every necessary precaution to guard your personal and account information. This means:
- safeguarding your PIN number
- storing your card in a safe place
- not waving it around while in public
- not disclosing account information to people who don’t need to know it
- keeping a safe and secure password not containing common words or phrases like “password”
- limiting your use of ATMs to branded bank networks
- not using public wireless access to place purchases on your card and much more.
Do Debit Cards for Kids and Teens Collect Personal Data?
Each company’s policies regarding the collection of sensitive, personal data like names, ages, email addresses, GPS location data, transaction information, and more vary.
Though, some reserve the right to share this personal information with ad and marketing vendors, insurance companies, collection agencies and several other service providers through their privacy policies.
This information may also be collected for the purpose of serving tailored advertisements and content now or in the future.
The rules around this are stricter for kids under the age of 13 thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA. This two decades’ old law requires companies to receive “verifiable parental consent” for collecting minors’ data.
Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the law, states consent must be “clearly and understandably written, complete, and must contain no unrelated, confusing or contradictory materials.”
However, the process for granting this consent isn’t any different based on signing up for accounts by age.
As a result, be mindful of the data you will give access to through your account. If you have reservations about how this data will be collected, treated or used by the company or its affiliates and partners, please consider whether signing up for an account is the right choice for you.
In today’s digital-first world, providing access to your personal information has become an increasingly normal occurrence.
Make sure you know your rights under COPPA (or any extensions seen at the state level like California’s Consumer Privacy Act of 2018) before proceeding with an action to open a kids debit card or any other financial product.
What Other Investment Accounts for Kids Should I Consider?
If you want to accomplish specific goals with these funds, you have other available options to consider.
- 529 plans. If you’d like to save money specifically meant for college or other qualified educational expenses, consider opening a 529 account with a company like Backer instead.
- Custodial Roth IRAs. If you’d like to get an early start on saving for your child’s retirement, consider a custodial Roth IRA for kids instead. This allows kids who have earned income to contribute at a presumably lower tax rate than when they’re adults and gain more years of compounding returns. Companies like M1 Finance offer these accounts for kids.
- Trust Funds. If you’d like more flexibility with respect to the timing of when the money transfers, and not just the age of termination or majority, consider opening a trust fund.
Have a look at the graphic below to learn about all the banking and investment accounts for kids.
Should Kids Handle Cash?
Kids learn best with their hands and by experiencing things in person. That’s why starting a savings account or goal with a physical piggy bank can materialize the concept of saving in their minds.
This tangible aspect makes it real for them and gives them a connection to money.
With enough time, however, you can move this money management to the digital world, relying on what has become an increasingly digital world.
However, you don’t need to forsake one entirely for the other. Having money held in cash and in your card and account can make good financial sense.
Though, we find initiating a digital account transfer from your account to their account is far easier than driving to the bank to get money out of the ATM.
What Happens if My Child Loses a Debit Card?
Thankfully, FinTech apps associated with your cards make it extremely easy to lock your cards, heading off any potential fraudulent activity from someone who finds the card before you do.
You can lock the card, cancel it and order a new one. Some apps require a fee for this while others do it for free.
Thankfully, losing a card is meaningless if you take the right actions immediately. Unlike losing a wad of cash, which can’t really be recovered. Therefore, cards make handling money easier, safer and more secure.
Can Kids Get Custom Debit Cards?
Kids can get a debit card that has their name on it as well as a picture of their choosing. By allowing this kids and teens will be more likely to connect with their cards and the responsibility they represent.
Further, the unique card may make them less likely to lose or misplace their card and also more likely to keep track of the balance. They’ll have something in their possession their proud of and represents their unique style.
When they use the card, kids see either what’s in their bank account or a message with a reminder about spending limits. They can talk to their parents about using their custom card responsibly and saving up for big purchases like a new cell phone, laptop or even paying college tuition.
What Documentation Do You Need to Open a Debit Card for Kids and Teens?
As financial service companies, the federal government requires these card companies to “know” their customers using a specific protocol called “Know Your Customer“, or KYC.
This widely-used electronic check of identity and information complies with regulatory obligations established by the U.S. Patriot Act of 2001.
This process verifies your identity at the time of account sign-up through matching your name, address and date of birth against a public records database like one available through one of the three major credit reporting bureaus.
While verifying your information to establish you are who you say you are, this check does not constitute a credit check, meaning your, nor your child’s credit scores will be impacted in any way.
You may see a notification indicating a financial service has verified your address, though this won’t ding your credit.
Depending on how long you’ve lived at your current residence, you may need to upload additional information in the event you’ve only been able to meet a partial match based on public records databases. This might entail uploading a copy of your driver’s license or State issued ID.
The information you provide in your initial account application to these debit card providers should match these documents.
Once you have uploaded this information, it can take anywhere between 24-72 business hours to verify this information. You should receive an email notifying you about whether you pass from the service provider, clearing you to open the account.
Do Teen Debit Cards Offer Contactless Payments?
As a result of COVID-19, many card providers have accelerated the ability of their cardholders to use contactless payments technology.
This includes debit cards for teens and kids. Many of the cards listed in this article may be used for making contactless payments and purchases in stores.
Before making your first contactless purchase, however, you may need to use the traditional chip and PIN functionality, verifying the card works.
After this point, you may have the ability to use the card contactlessly for future purchases, though you may face maximum per transaction limits.
For more details about contactless payments and payment maximums, be sure to contact your provider or read the terms of service.