Choosing The Best Kids Debit Card For Your Family – Teach Saving and Good Habits

As a parent, giving your kids the tools to be financially successful in life is one of your top priorities.  We will help you select a debit card for kids that will help them develop good spending habits and allow you as a parent to help guide them through these formative years.

Kids love spending money.   Kid-focused debit cards are a relatively new tool in our parental arsenal when it comes to helping our young ones become the money-savvy adults we wish them to be.  This article will help you identify the best kids debit card for your family.

What Exactly Is A Kids Debit Card?

A Kids Debit Card is a prepaid debit card that can be used for purchases at any merchant that accepts Visa or MasterCard.  It is specifically designed for kids because it can be linked to a parent’s bank account to make deposits and often has a special iOS or Android app where there are parental control features.  Also, they typically have kid-focused features such as allowance and chore management, savings goals, and spending limits which parents can manage.

Here are our picks for the best kids debit card

Greenlight – Best Overall

We chose the Greenlight card as our best overall debit card for kids for its extensive list of features and the user-friendly nature of its app.  It has all the features we expect like savings, chore management, allowance, and they are all excellently implemented.

The Greenlight app is the best we’ve reviewed

What we love most:

  • Easy card customization with your kids picture
  • Ease of sign-up and account linking
  • Option to add an investment account to teach kids about stocks

Greenlight card pricing:

  • Basic plan is $4.99/mo for the whole family – add as many kids as you have
  • Greenlight + Invest plan adds the ability for the kids to invest in stocks too, $7.98/mo
  • Greenlight Max plan includes investing and also adds cell phone and identity theft insurance – $9.98/mo
  • Click Here to see the full rundown of the plans and features

Greenlight Summary:

This is a real full-featured card for your family.  Since it is priced per family, it makes sense to get a card for all the kids.  They will have fun competing to “out-save” one another and will be sure to get their chores done on time to collect their allowance!  There are no age limits or account minimums to get started.

Current – Best For Teens

This prepaid card from Current is targeted at teens.  If you are looking to give your teen some financial freedom, teach good money habits, while retaining control and oversight of their spending, then we recommend this card.

Current offers a super-simple signup process to get your teen started

What we love most:

  • Instant notifications for all purchases
  • You can block the card from working at certain merchants
  • Multiple family members can add funds to the card
  • Savings goals teaches teens to put money away for a special purpose

Current card pricing:

  • $36 per teen per year – simple pricing

Current Summary

Teens are the name of the game here.  Whether you are teaching your teen to save up for a big purchase (first car or new video games maybe) or just need a way to provide some ways for them to be able to spend when you are not around then the Current card is probably right for you and your family.

Honorable Mention – Check these out too

While Greenlight and Current are our top recommendations, there are lots of other providers out there too.  They all have their own set of special features to help your family manage money.

GoHenry

GoHenry is another kid-focused debit card with features like chore management and allowances too.  Each parent account can control up to 4 kids accounts, making it good for families.  It can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted, but it does cost $3.99 per child per month.

Famzoo

Famzoo claims that they are more than just a debit card provider, they are a true financial education system for kids.  The only drawback is that instead of connecting to the parent’s existing bank, you need to have a “parent funding card” which is basically a new bank account for the parents.

BusyKid

BusyKid really focuses on earning thru chores and setting up auto-savings.  They also have ways for kids to donate to charities.

How Do Kids Debit Cards Work?

Kids debit cards work exactly as your adult “regular” debit card does.  There is a balance on the account, and the card can be used to make purchases up to the amount that is currently in the account.  These cards are issued from companies like Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.

Generally, parents will connect their bank account to the debit card in order to add funds to the child’s account.  In our household, when our son gets cash as a gift or earns it by working for the neighbors, he gives me the cash, and I load that amount onto his debit card.  In essence, I act as the bank.

Load money via bank transfer from the parents

Funds are added to these accounts via parents-connected accounts.  We found this account connection process simple and secure on all the cards we tested.  In our household, one way we use these accounts is that when the kids accumulate cash, they can simply “deposit” the cash with their parents, and we add the money to their debit savings accounts.  This eliminates the kids hoarding a ton of cash that could get lost or stolen.

Which One Should I Get For My Family?

When choosing which card works best for your family there are a few considerations.  First, look at the list of features and make sure it includes all the aspects that are important to your.  Next, look at the pricing model.  For some of the cards, you pay a monthly fee per family, and each additional card is free.  Others you pay per child.

Are there any good reasons why kids need a debit card?

Yes, there are quite a few reasons why it may be a great idea for you to get your kids a debit card.  Here are some of our favorites:

  • When kids save their money by hoarding cash, the possibility of loss or theft is always a concern for parents.  Hey, kids are good at losing stuff!  By having their savings in their debit card account, this eliminates this risk.
  • You can be aware of and control your kids spending.  Many of these cards have special features that allow you to see a list of transactions and even block using the card at certain stores.
  • They will learn quickly where their money goes and how to manage their money.  By viewing a list of transactions in their app, they will be able to see if they are spending all of their money on toys from Target or on snacks at the convenience store down the street.
  • Having their own debit card eliminates the need for them to constantly “borrow” the adults credit card to make purchases online.
     

Kids can use these cards at an ATM if they still need cash for anything

We already covered how having a debit card can eliminate kids hoarding cash and the risks associated with that.  But occasionally kids still need cash.  All of these kid debit cards can also be used at an ATM to withdraw cash when needed.  Most of the cards feature no-fee ATM withdrawals for those times when the kids need to access their cash.

How are kids prepaid debit cards and kids credit cards different?

There are major differences between debit cards and credit cards for kids.  For most parents wishing to teach their kids important lessons about managing money, a debit card is definitely what they want.

The main difference is that debit cards only allow the users to spend the amount of money that has been pre-loaded into the account.  In this way, it is just like your adult checking account.

Credit cards, however, allow the user to “spend money they don’t have”.  In essence, a credit card allows your child to “borrow” money that needs to be repaid to the credit card company. 

Some parents open a credit card for their kids in order to help the child “build a credit score”.  While there is some merit to this idea in some very specific cases, we strongly recommend avoiding credit cards for kids.

What are some of the kid-specific features common in these cards?

Here are some of the kid-specific features that you may want to look for in these cards.  Not every card has every feature.

  • Parent and child app
  • Chore management
  • Automated allowance
  • Personalized cards with the kids picture
  • Parent controlled spending limits (per merchant on some cards)
  • Parent-paid interest
  • Savings goals
  • Stock investing
  • Educational topics
  • Parent matching contributions
  • Purchase notifications
  • Donate money to charity
  • Pause card if lost or stolen

These debits cards are just as secure as an “adult” debit card

When talking about your kids’ money, you should be extra sure of the security and privacy of these cards.  Luckily, just because these are kid-focused, doesn’t mean they lack security features.  These cards all have adult-quality banking security

  • State of the art chip security
  • PIN protected transactions
  • No risk of overspending
  • Easily block the card if it’s lost
  • 256 bit encryption like the banks use
  • FDIC insured up to $250,000

One thing we recommend is that your kids will need to select a PIN code for their card.  This is a good time to teach them to use a different PIN than they might use for their iPad or other devices.  Teach them to take the security of their money seriously by choosing a good PIN code that is NOT their birthday or birth year or some other easily guessable digits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best investment account for kids?

While some of the debit cards covered here offer the ability for kids to invest in stocks, we recommend opening an account with Stockpile.  This is a kid-specific investment account where parents can oversee and approve or deny each trade.  

What Is the Minimum Age to Get a Kids Debit Card?

Our favorite card, the Greenlight card, has no minimum or maximum age limits.

Leave a Comment