It’s never too early to teach kids about money management, and debit cards are an excellent tool to help. Traditional piggy banks are beginning to feel antiquated in our digital world pushing more parents to seek banking services and debit cards for their children. Parents should start researching the best debit cards for kids to ensure they find the best option for their child’s needs.
There are many options for kids debit cards, so it’s best to read the fine print and understand how each one operates. In addition, features like monthly fees, transaction limits, and ATM charges can vary between debit cards, so it’s crucial to do your research.
Why Give Your Kids Debit Cards?
Most parents recognize a dire need to start financial literacy education while in school. As a result, almost half of the states in America now require students to take a course in personal finance.
While schools are a great place to begin learning about good financial habits, they can only provide kids with the necessary tools. In contrast, parents can reinforce the lessons beyond the classroom and give kids practical experience in the real world.
Benefits of Kids Debit Cards
Whether it’s a prepaid card or a traditional debit card, carrying that piece of plastic around can be pretty empowering at a young age. And having their own debit card does offer some advantages.
Tracking Spending Easily
Kids debit cards allow parents to easily track their child’s spending and saving – many of them in real time. Parents can ensure their child is managing their money responsibly, saving money, and avoiding frivolous spending. They can also address excessive spending before it becomes a habit.
Learning Financial Responsibility
One of the benefits of your child having their own card is they will learn the value of money and begin to develop good money habits. Learning to budget, living within their means, and setting savings goals are all essential skills that will help kids into adulthood.
With proper financial controls set by the parents, kids are able to spend only what is in their account. In addition, parents can set spending limits so there is no risk of overspending, as there is with credit cards.
The Drawbacks of Giving Kids a Debit Card
Many kids debit cards do have a monthly fee, not including other potential charges, such as ATM withdrawals or potential reloading fees for prepaid cards.
No Loyalty Rewards
Unlike credit cards, most kids debit cards don’t offer rewards, cash back, or loyalty points for using them.
May Motivate Kids to Spend More
Children may develop poor spending habits as they don’t feel they are using “real money” when swiping a card.
What to Look for in a Debit Card
While there are a lot of good options for kids debit cards, there are a few things parent’s should consider before making a decision.
- Are there controls for parents to monitor, transfer, or load (and reload) money onto their kid’s debit cards?
- Does the debit card require a child to have a bank account? Some cards don’t need kids to have their bank accounts.
- Is the debit card accepted online and at the most popular retail stores? People are looking for convenience with a debit card, so they should be able to use it easily while shopping.
The Best Debit Cards for Kids
While most debit cards are secure and FDIC insured, the fees involved with owning and operating a debit card vary. The following is a list of the best debit cards for kids and all of their features.
1. Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard
The Greenlight monthly plans start at $4.99, allowing up to five kids and two adults per plan. There are no ATM, reloading, or overdraft fees. Debit cards are free but parents can choose to pay more for customs cards or upgraded monthly plans.
The Greenlight + Invest plan is $7.98 per month and allows parents and kids to make investments for as little as $1. Greenlight Max includes a 1% cash back on purchases, enabling families to invest, and offers $9.98 per month for identity theft protection.
Parents can link their accounts to the Greenlight card and transfer money without needing a separate kids’ bank account. Another cool feature is when setting up the Greenlight app with the debit card, parents can pay kids for doing chores, make regular allowance payments, and reward them for making smart financial decisions.
Parents can also monitor and control spending by setting category and store-level spending limits.
- Earn up to 1% on your average daily savings balance (2% for Greenlight Max)
- One month free trial
- Easy-to-use tools for saving, spending, and earning
- Set up payments for allowance and chores
The Greenlight debit card has no minimum age requirement, set up fees, or minimum balance requirements.
2. FamZoo Prepaid Mastercard
FamZoo allows families to link cards and access information online through unique, award-winning Virtual Family Bank software. The parent card is the source of funding for allowances, chores, reloading cards, and compound interest.
Kids can also sign in and monitor their spending in a shared dashboard while parents set controls. Other shared tools include collaborative budgets, interactive savings planners, ‘child bill pay,’ and automated IOU tracking.
The FamZoo card is excellent for all ages. Still, kids under 13 years will receive an ‘on-behalf-of’ card where the parent is the legal cardholder rather than the child’s name.
- Real-time activity alerts
- Financial literacy tools like savings goals, envelope budgeting, and loan tracking
- 30-day free trial
FamZoo covers the family with four cards and a monthly subscription of $5.99. Paying in advance helps to lower the monthly cost.
3. BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Debit Card
BusyKid is a cost-effective children’s debit card option for kids between the ages of 5 and 17. A monthly fee of $3.99 can be even 20% lower when paying annually. In addition, there is an ATM charge of $1.50 and a $1.00 ATM balance inquiry.
- Set chores and allowance payments
- Kids can donate a percentage of their allowance to a list of charities on the app.
- Reward bonuses for behavior, school performance, etc.
- Real-time transaction notifications and history
Sources other than the parent account can load BusyKid debit cards. Grandparents can send birthday money, and parents can send money separately, which is convenient for those who don’t live together. In addition, BusyKid offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. Current Visa Debit Card
Current is a free debit card designed for teens (age 13 and up) who want a taste of financial independence but still have some parental controls in place. For example, parents get real-time notifications with every purchase and can block merchants directly from the app.
Current charge no monthly fee and allows parents to reload the card without additional costs. In addition, teen banking has no minimum balance, overdraft fees, or ATM fees when you use one of the 40,000 included ATMs. Another cool feature is the instant gas hold removals with a parent’s Current account so kids can fill the tank worry-free.
- Round-ups and savings pods
- Multiple family members can add funds
- Assign chores and automate allowance payments
- Real-time notifications
Try Current with a one-month free trial before committing to an annual subscription.
5. Step Visa Card
The Step card acts more like a credit card for teens than a debit card. It allows teens 13 to 17 to start building a positive credit history at an early age. Step is free for teens to use with no monthly, overdraft, or ATM withdrawal fees when staying within the network.
In addition, teens can only spend as much money as is in their account, so there is no risk of spending more than they have in the account.
Although Step is designed for older kids, kids as young as six can have a step account as long as an adult (or legal guardian) over 18 acts as their sponsor. The sponsor can monitor and access the child’s account until age 18. You can also create a Parent Managed Account for your child and completely control their account.
- Automate allowance and direct deposit paychecks
- Can use with Apple and Google Pay
- Earn rewards through a referral plan
- Receive real-time notifications
Several debit card options are cost-effective for families with multiple kids, have great budgeting and saving tools to teach kids and young adults financial responsibility, and give parents complete control to limit spending and easily manage chores and allowance payments.
This list of the best debit cards for kids can help parents find the best option for their family depending on the features that matter most. Take a closer look at each option and its additional features so the whole family can benefit!