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Like it or not, at some point, your child will have to handle their own finances. I know, it’s scary. But the good news is you can ease them into it through a debit card designed specifically for minors.

Since you’ve stumbled upon this piece, you’re likely considering Axos First Checking and BusyKid. Either of these accounts is a great way to start giving your child money management experience…but which one is better? And is either of these cards the best or does another kids’ debit card offer more?

Today, I’m going to provide detailed looks into both Axos First Checking and BusyKid, including an overview, cost breakdown, and a list of key features. I’ll also show the vital stats side by side to make the similarities and differences clear. If you’re still not convinced either card is the top choice, I’ll go over a few other of today’s most competitive kids’ debit cards.

Axos First Checking vs. BusyKid Comparison


axos bank logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Nowbusykid logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Now Cut
WealthUp Rating☆ 3.6 / 5☆ 4.0 / 5
App Store Rating☆ 4.7 / 5☆ 3.4 / 5
Price*No monthly fees$48/yr.
BillingN/AAnnually
Special OfferN/AFree 30-day trial
Allowed Cards Per Subscription1 per account owner5
Minimum Age**13No
Features That Make This Card Stand ApartPeer-to-peer money transfers; ATM fee reimbursementsLow price compared to other kids' paid debit cards

Basics

axos bank logo transparent text thin leftbusykid logo transparent text thin left
SpendingYesYes
SavingYesYes
InvestingNoYes (Stocks and ETFs)
Giving/DonatingNoYes

Funding

axos bank logo transparent text thin leftbusykid logo transparent text thin left
Funding Source(s)Direct deposit, mobile depositChecking account, debit, or credit card
Direct DepositYesNo
AllowanceNoYes
ChoresNoYes
GiftingNoYes ($1/transfer)
Cash Reload Fee$0 (retailers may charge fee)N/A (No cash reload)

Saving/Spending

axos bank logo transparent text thin leftbusykid logo transparent text thin left
Savings APY0.10% APYNone
Round-UpsNoNo
Other Savings FeaturesNoneParental Match
ATM NetworkNoneAllpoint (55,000+ ATMs)
ATM Transaction FeeUp to $12 domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month$1.50 (Operator fee may apply at out-of-network ATMs)
Card NetworkVisa or MastercardVisa
Compatible Mobile WalletsApple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung PayApple Pay, Google Pay

Parents

axos bank logo transparent text thin leftbusykid logo transparent text thin left
Parental ControlsLow (Card lock)Medium (Limited transfers from app to card)
Parental MonitoringYesYes
Parental NotificationsYesYes

Other Features

axos bank logo transparent text thin leftbusykid logo transparent text thin left
Cash BackNoNo
Builds CreditNoNo
Customization optionsNoSelect from 10+ preselected designs
Refund PolicyN/A30-day money-back guarantee
Affiliate CTA Apply NowAffiliate CTA Apply Now
* Prices do not include processing fees when applicable.
** Many cards have different suggested minimum ages. We are only listing any hard-and-fast minimum age requirements.

Axos First Checking Overview


axos first checking

Axos First Checking is a free joint bank account for teens and adults offered by Axos Bank—an online-only bank with a focus on technology-driven finance.

First Checking offers teens and their parents (or other adult owners of the account) a free debit card, peer-to-peer transfers, direct deposit, bill pay, extensive security features, even interest payments.

The Axos First Checking account comes with a debit card—you can choose either Visa or Mastercard—that you can use to spend in store and online, as well as to withdraw cash. While Axos Bank doesn’t have its own ATM system, Axos offers fee-free access to 91,000 ATMs nationwide, and it reimburses up to $12 in third-party ATM fees every month.

If you’re worried that your (or your teen’s) card is lost or stolen? You can lock and unlock the card from your Axos account. And the card limits cash withdrawals to $100 daily and debit transactions to $500 daily.

Axos First Checking charges zero monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and non-sufficient fund fees. It’s designed for teens between ages 13 and 17 (up to 18 years old in Alabama). And once your teen reaches adulthood, it’s easy to convert to another Axos checking account, giving the newly minted adult full control.

Related: Best Debit Cards for Teens

Axos First Checking Plans + Costs


If you hate fees, you’ll love Axos First Checking, which charges zero monthly fees and avoids a host of other fees. First, a look at the features:

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
Axos First CheckingN/A

    - Axos Visa or Mastercard debit card
    - Peer-to-peer transfers
    - Direct deposit
    - Bill pay (parents only)
    - $12/mo. in ATM reimbursements
    - APY on checking
    - Cash deposits
    - Easy account transition once child reaches adulthood

Axos charges no fees for overdrafts, non-sufficient funds, incoming wire transfers, first debit cards (and replacements), or money transfers. The account requires no minimum deposit, nor any minimum balance requirements. And not only do you get access to 91,000-plus fee-free ATMs, but Axos will reimburse you for up to $12 in domestic ATM fee charges every month—so you don’t really have to worry about third-party ATM fees, either.

Axos Bank will charge $5 for customers who prefer paper account statements, and they do have a 1% foreign currency conversion fee. Axos Bank doesn’t charge a fee for cash deposits, but retailers may charge up to $4.95.

Related: Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids and Teens [Reloadable]

Axos First Checking Features


young man woman smartphones apps

Below are some of Axos First Checking’s most notable features. Some of these features are geared towards the teens, while others exist to keep parents sane.

Axos First Checking Debit Card

The Axos First Checking account comes with a free Visa- or Mastercard-branded debit card. (You can choose which one during the application.) The card can be used in stores and online wherever the chosen brand is accepted, including internationally.

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Axos’s card is its ATM access. Axos Bank allows you to withdraw cash fee-free from 91,000-plus ATMs nationwide. And if you come across an ATM outside of Axos’ network, no problem—it will reimburse up to $12 in third-party operator fees every month. Point-of-sale transactions are limited to $500 per day, while ATM withdrawals are limited to $100 daily.

Card actions such as activating, deactivating, reactivating, ordering a replacement, and sending a travel notification can all be done online.

Security features include active fraud monitoring, two-step authentication, and 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption.

Parental Controls

Parental controls in Axos First Checking are fairly rudimentary. Parents can monitor their teen’s spending through account alerts received as real-time push notifications, emails, or text messages. They can also track transfers made from the account and lock/unlock the debit card from the mobile app and dashboard.

Cash Deposits

If teens have a tip-based job or receive a lot of cash for celebrations and holidays, they might want to deposit that cash into their accounts. Fortunately, while Axos is an online-only bank, there are still ways to make cash deposits.

Members can log in to the app and use the ATM locator to find ATMs that accept cash deposits. Alternatively, through Axos’ partnership with Green Dot Network®, they can deposit cash at many popular retailers, including:

  • ACE Cash Express
  • CVS
  • Dollar General
  • Kroger
  • Rite Aid
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • 7-Eleven

Members can instruct the cashier to add the provided cash directly to their debit cards. Usually, the amount has to be between $20 and $500, but some places allow up to $1,500. Axos Bank doesn’t charge a fee for the transaction, but retailers may charge up to $4.95.

Peer-to-Peer Transfers

Axos lets teens make peer-to-peer payments directly from their checking accounts online. Just an email or phone number is needed to send a secure payment. So whether they need to pay a friend back for cash, fast food, or a group activity, it’s quick and easy to settle up.

Earns Interest

Teens earn an interest rate of 0.10% on any money in their account—a nice bonus for doing nothing. While this is an admittedly small annual percentage yield (APY) compared to, say, a high-yield savings account or money market account, it’s still more than you’ll get on your typical checking account (which is nothing).

Direct Deposit + Mobile Deposit

Teens with jobs can easily get their paychecks directly deposited into their accounts. Axos Bank has no minimum direct deposit amount to avoid fees (which isn’t the case with every financial institution).

Do the teen’s grandparents love to write birthday checks? Not an issue. Axos allows free mobile deposits. You can use a mobile device or computer to send money from a check straight into a First Checking account any time of day.

Bill Pay

While parents should always be covering a kid’s essential expenses, it isn’t unheard of for teens to be responsible for some of their nonessential costs. For example, a teen with a job might be asked to pay for their cell phone plan.

With Axos’ free bill pay feature, parents can schedule payments from a primary account to ensure the teen doesn’t miss a cell phone payment. (Note: Only parents, not teens, can access this feature.)

Bill Pay is parent use only.

Easy Transition to Adulthood

Once a teenager reaches adulthood, the account can be converted into a different checking account, such as Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, or CashBack Checking. The parent or original adult on the account can then remove themselves as a joint account owner so the new adult is completely in control.

You can sign up for Axos First Checking here.

Related: Best Teen Checking Accounts [Banks for Teens]

BusyKid Overview


busykid signup new1

If you’re looking for prepaid debit cards for kids that let your kids spend while learning about money, and lets you pay them allowance, consider the award-winning BusyKid app and the connected BusyKid Visa Spend Card.

BusyKid started as an easy-to-use, interactive chore app but has since added a prepaid debit card for kids that allows your children to spend their money both in person and online. Better still: Your children can earn money by completing chores and other tasks around the house, then use the app to learn valuable financial skills, such as budgeting, saving, and even giving back.

Parents can pay allowance on an ad hoc basis, or they can set up Auto-Allowance. When parents add to their children’s accounts, that money can be split among their Save/Invest, Share, and Spend allocations:

  • Save/Invest: Parents can automatically allocate money toward a savings basket, and they can also match any money their children elect to save.
  • Spend: When your kid is ready for a little independence, they can spend from this account using BusyKid’s Visa Spend Card.
  • Share: Children can choose which charities they would like to give money to, and parents must approve before the cash is transferred.

Parents aren’t the only people who can add money to children’s BusyKid accounts. With BusyPay, parents can share a simple QR code that allows grandparents, aunts, uncles, other family members, and even friends to add money—whether it’s a birthday present or a payment for chores. BusyKid charges the giver a $1 fee plus any credit card or bank transaction costs.

BusyKid also allows children to invest their earnings through the app. Doing so requires setting up a separate Apex Clearing account. Children can choose to invest in hundreds of stocks and ETFs with as little as $10.

BusyKid has no minimum age requirement.

In addition to the $4 monthly subscription, BusyKid charges other fees, including 50¢ per declined transaction, $5 for a card reissue, and a $5 monthly fee for paper statements.

Related: Best Greenlight Alternatives

BusyKid Plans + Costs


BusyKid has a simple, single subscription tier that costs $3.99 per month, which is billed annually, so you pay $38.99 once per year.

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
BusyKid$4/mo. (Billed annually, so $48/yr.)

    - BusyKid Visa Spend Cards for up to five kids
    - Core financial tools
    - Parental controls
    - Chores
    - Allowance
    - Savings matches
    - Ability to earn, save, spend, invest and give

Also, people outside of the BusyKid account who want to send money to a child must pay a $1 fee per transaction.

Past that, BusyKid’s other fees are pretty standard and minimal. For instance, it charges a $5 replacement-card fee and a 50-cent domestic fee for declined charges.

If you’re not satisfied, BusyKid provides a 30-day subscription-back guarantee. While it sounds nice, that’s actually a step down from most other cards. I’ve reviewed more than a dozen kid-focused cards, and most of them offer 30-day/one-month free trials—meaning you don’t have to spend anything until you’re sure you’re happy with the product. But with BusyKid, you have to pay up front, then ask for a refund if you’re not happy. It’s a small difference, but one I think is worth noting.

BusyKid Features


Below, I’ve listed a number of BusyKid’s most prominent features. Like with all debit cards aimed at children and teens, some of these features are for the kids, but others are meant to keep parents happy (and sane).

BusyKid Visa Spend Card

The BusyKid Visa Spend Card is a prepaid debit card that acts as the physical central point of the BusyKid experience. Each BusyKid subscription comes with up to five of these kids’ debit cards, which are intended for use by children ages 5 through 17.

Kids can choose from a small selection of more than 10 designs.

The adults can instantly transfer funds at any time. Kids have to follow the set spending limits, so they can’t overspend as they learn money management skills.

Every debit card is backed by the Visa Zero Liability guarantee, which means if your kid’s card gets lost or stolen, or misplaced and fraudulent charges crop up, you can dispute the charges within a certain time frame to avoid liability for paying.

Related: Best Money Apps for Kids

Parental Controls

Parental controls are essential for parents who want to retain some peace of mind while their kids develop money management skills.

With BusyKid, parents can monitor all transactions made either in the app or with the BusyKid Visa Spend Card.

BusyKid’s parental controls are pretty rudimentary. By using the “Lock Money Transfers” feature, parents can prevent their kids from transferring money among their Save, Share, and Spend areas. Kids will still be able to use the money in these accounts, but each transaction will require a parent’s approval.

Chores + Allowance

Some parents like to pay an allowance to their younger children, and this might or might not be connected to chore completion. BusyKid allows you to pay an allowance to and/or set chores up for your child. For chores, parents can set up their own chores and payment amounts, or they can use BusyKid’s preset chore chart, where chores and allowance are preset based on a child’s age. As kids complete their chores, they can click “I did it!” inside the BusyKid app.

BusyKid pays kids each Friday based on any chores the child has marked “Done” since the previous Friday. Parents will be notified and asked to approve; when it is, it will be deposited into the child’s various account areas depending on how their allocations were set up.

BusyPay

The BusyPay feature lets family and friends instantly send money to a BusyKid account, whether it’s as a birthday or holiday gift, payment for helping out, or just because. It’s easy, too—a child just has to share a QR code, and anyone can pay them. (Note: The payer is charged a $1 fee to use this feature.)

Related: How to Get Free Money [Ways to Earn Money] 

Bonuses + Savings Matches

Several BusyKid features help your children accelerate their earning and saving.

For instance, let’s say your teen stepped up to babysit a younger sibling, or one of your kids got a perfect report card—BusyKid allows parents to pay a bonus to any of their kid’s account areas or even directly to the BusyKid Spend Card.

Parents can also establish a savings match, which is similar to a 401(k) match. Parents simply select a weekly percentage match, or a monthly max that’s dividend equally across all the weeks in a month, and BusyKid will transfer the appropriate amount of additional funds to the kid’s account based on how much they save.

Investing

Learning to invest is an important part of the personal finance journey. BusyKid helps children with that journey by providing commission-free stock trading.

BusyKid offers commission-free trading of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), allowing kids to start investing with as little as $10. BusyKid provides access to “hundreds” of popular stocks and ETFs—a considerably smaller selection than the thousands of stocks and ETFs available from traditional brokerage accounts, but a sufficient world of assets to get a child started.

Charities

Parents who want to instill the importance of giving back to their children at a young age can allow their kids to donate a percentage of their allowances to charity. Kids can choose among roughly 50 charities, and BusyKid even welcomes suggestions for other charities to add.

You can sign up for BusyKid here.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Kids [Kid-Friendly Credit Cards]

Axos First Checking vs. BusyKid: Our Editors’ Choice Is …


BusyKid and Axos First Checking are both solid choices for a kid’s debit card, but their are important differences between the two tied to age appropriateness that’ll likely determine which is a more natural fit for your child.

More specifically, the better choice for your family largely depends on the age of your child. While BusyKid has no minimum age, Axos is designed for teenagers.

And the reason for these differences largely comes down to the features offered for each card. BusyKid has many features tailored to younger kids that Axos First Checking lacks. The two most prominent of these child-centric features include the ability to set chores and pay an allowance. Other features are great for all ages.

BusyKid lets kids invest, donate to charity, and show their personalities when they pick from 10+ preselected debit card designs.

On the other hand, Axos First Checking has useful features for working teens that BusyKid doesn’t. Teens can get their paychecks directly deposited into their accounts and load cash onto their cards. They can even withdraw cash from the largest network of ATMs that we’ve found during our kid-centric debit card research (currently clocking in over 90,000 locations nationwide). And speaking of earning and spending features, the account pays a modest savings APY. It’s not much but it’s more than BusyKid’s 0% APY. Lastly, Axos Free Checking has no monthly fee.

Overall, the better debit card for your family will depend on which features you need most. If you think these cards are good options for your child, you can signup with Axos First Checking or BusyKid.

In truth, we think both cards leave things to be desired, with Axos First Checking offering a fairly minimal feature set (despite having the right price: free) and BusyKid failing to compete against its paid card-brethren. We think the weaknesses of both compared to other cards in the space make reviewing other alternatives (covered below) worthwhile.

Runner-Up: Axos First Checking
Our Pick: BusyKid
3.6
4.0
Runner-Up: Axos First Checking
Our Pick: BusyKid

Related: How to Build Credit at 17

Other Debit Cards for Kids to Consider


Here are a number of other highly competitive options if you’re looking for a debit card for your child or teen.

AppApple App Store Rating
+ Best For
FeesPromotions
greenlight transparent logo thinGreenlight☆ 4.8 / 5
Customer rating and parental controls
1 month free. Core: $4.99/mo. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (Each plan supports up to 5 children.)Free 1-month trial
copper logo thinCopper Banking☆ 4.9 / 5
Teen financial independence
Copper $4.95/mo., Copper + Invest: $7.95/mo.30-days free
gohenry logo thinGoHenry☆ 4.6 / 5
Accessible customer service support
1 month free. Individual: $4.99/mo. Family (supports up to 4 children): $9.98/mo.1 month free
revolut logo thinRevolut <18☆ 4.7 / 5
Parent-paid bonuses
No monthly feesNone
Axos Bank logoAxos First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens ready to learn about money management
Free (no monthly fees)None
*Apple App Store Rating as of April 1, 2024.

Related:


Revolut <18 Disclosure

The Revolut prepaid card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Visa.

About the Author

Riley Adams is the Founder and CEO of Young and the Invested. He is a licensed CPA who worked at Google as a Senior Financial Analyst overseeing advertising incentive programs for the company’s largest advertising partners and agencies. Previously, he worked as a utility regulatory strategy analyst at Entergy Corporation for six years in New Orleans.

His work has appeared in major publications like Kiplinger, MarketWatch, MSN, TurboTax, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, The Globe and Mail, and CNBC’s Acorns. Riley currently holds areas of expertise in investing, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies and personal finance where he has been cited as an authoritative source in outlets like CNBC, Time, NBC News, APM’s Marketplace, HuffPost, Business Insider, Slate, NerdWallet, Investopedia, The Balance and Fast Company.

Riley holds a Masters of Science in Applied Economics and Demography from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from Centenary College of Louisiana.