A debit card is sneakily one of the most useful tools in the money-education toolbelt. It not only unlocks your child’s financial independence—it teaches them how to spend and save responsibly, and for many parents, it’s an important source of much-needed guardrails to protect their children as they discover the world of money.
Debit cards are a practical pathway to financial responsibility. That’s because they begin to give kids control over their spending while providing them an early (but simplified) glimpse into what it’s like to manage money on their own.
But you don’t just want a debit card for your child—you want the best debit card.
And we’re going to help you find it.
Read on as we explore some of the best debit cards for kids and teens, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses to help you find the best fit for your child’s needs. And when we’re done with that, the education continues with a full list of answers to questions that any parent might have about choosing, opening, and managing a debit card with their child.
Best Debit Cards for Kids & Teens—Top Picks
Starts at $4.99/mo. (for up to five kids)
Open a Fidelity® Youth Account for your teen, and Fidelity will drop $50 into their account. Get $100 for yourself when you open a new Fidelity account and fund with $50¹.
What Are the Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens?
We’ve compiled a list of the best debit cards for kids and teens, so feel free to start scrolling to discover the top picks.
But here’s an important note, especially if you’re new to the search: While our ratings clearly indicate what we believe are the top debit card solutions out there, we highly encourage you to look at each card’s combination of features.
What ultimately matters is selecting a card that checks off the most boxes that are important to you.
|App||Apple App Store Rating|
+ Best For
|Greenlight||☆ 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.)|
|Fidelity Youth Account||☆ 4.8 / 5|
Investing in stocks
|Free, no trading commissions|
|Copper Banking||☆ 4.9 / 5|
Teen financial independence
|$4.95/mo for up to five kids|
|GoHenry||☆ 4.6 / 5|
Accessible customer service support
|1 month free. Individual: $4.99/mo. Family (supports up to 4 children): $9.98/mo.|
|Revolut <18||☆ 4.7 / 5|
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|Current||☆ 4.7 / 5|
Innovation and product features
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|BusyKid||☆ 3.5 / 5|
Teaching balanced financial approach via chores & allowance
|$4/mo. (Supports up to 5 cards)|
|Till Financial||☆ 4.5 / 5|
Teaching about smart spending
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|FamZoo||☆ 4.6 / 5|
Financial literacy resources
|Free trial, then $5.99/mo./family. (Discounts available for longer periods of prepayment.)|
|Mazoola||☆ 4.3 / 5|
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|Axos First Checking||☆ 4.7 / 5|
Teens ready to learn about money management
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|Acorns||☆ 4.7 / 5|
Automated investing in the background into diversified investments
|Acorns Personal: $3/mo. Acorns Family: $5/mo.|
|Stash||☆ 4.7 / 5|
Everyday people looking to start managing their finances
|Growth: $3/mo. Stash+: $9/mo.|
|M1 Finance||☆ 4.7 / 5|
Fee-free active trading and automated investing
|Basic: Free. M1 Plus: $125/yr.|
|Nationwide First Checking||☆ 4.7 / 5|
Teens to learn essential financial skills and avoid fees
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|Jassby||☆ 4.4 / 5|
Virtual debit card with cybersecure shopping mall
|Chase First Banking||☆ 4.8 / 5|
High customer satisfaction from a major bank without fees
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|Capital One MONEY||☆ 4.9 / 5|
Well-rounded money management account
|Free (no monthly fees)|
|*Apple App Store Rating as of Dec. 29, 2022.|
1. Greenlight (Best Paid Debit Card for Kids and Teens)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free 1-month trial. Core: $4.99/mo. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (All plans include cards for up to 5 children)
The Greenlight debit card allows kids to begin spending, but provides parents with peace of mind by giving them control over where their kids can spend money. Parents also can choose to receive alerts that tell them when, and how much, money is spent on the Greenlight debit card.
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.
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 you to have discussions with your child about why a purchase might be a good or bad idea.
And if your child has a job, they can add their own funds to the card as well.
Each monthly Greenlight subscription includes debit cards 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, with your own photo or design, for $9.98 per year.
Greenlight boasts numerous other features, too. For instance, parents can open an investment account for kids to get their children investing in stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for the first time.
Greenlight also offers monthly savings rewards based on your tier: 1% per annum for Core members, 2% per annum for Max, and 5% per annum for infinity. You 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.
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 and how to simplify paying an allowance or tracking chores.
Greenlight has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age 6 or older.
Read more in our Greenlight Card review.
2. Fidelity® Youth Account (Best Free Debit Card With Teen Investing)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: No account fees, no account minimum, no trading commissions
- Promotion: Teens get $50 on Fidelity® when they open an account; parents get $100 when they fund a new account
Is your teen interested in jumpstarting their financial future? Do you want them to build smart money habits along the way?
Of course you do! Learning early about saving, spending and investing can pay off big when you start on the right foot. And one tool that can help your teen get that jump is the Fidelity® Youth Account—a brokerage account owned by teens 13 to 17 that’s designed to help them start their investing journey. They can use their own brokerage account to start their investing journey by trading most U.S. stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and Fidelity mutual funds.
Your teen will also get a free debit card with no subscription fees, no account fees, no minimum balances, and no domestic ATM fees. And they can use this free debit card for teens4 to manage their cash and spend it whenever they need.
And as for building smart money habits? You and your teen can access Fidelity’s Dedicated Youth Learning Center, which is packed with materials developed specifically to help teens develop good financial habits.
We’ll note that Fidelity Youth Account isn’t a prepaid card nor a banking app, but it’s still strongly worth considering.
Controls Parents Want and Need
A parent or guardian must have or open a brokerage account with Fidelity® to open a Fidelity® Youth Account. For new Fidelity® customers, opening an account is easy, and there are no minimums and no account fees.
Parents and guardians have plenty of tools they can use to monitor their teen’s activity: They have online account access, can follow monthly statements and trade confirmations, and can view debit card transactions made in the account.
To make it even easier, you can set up alerts to notify you of trades, transactions, and cash management activity, keeping you firmly in the loop on actions your teen takes across the Fidelity® Youth Account’s suite of products.
If your teen has an interest in learning about investing and taking their first steps toward building their financial journey, you should consider opening a Fidelity® Youth Account. The account comes custom-built for their needs, which will help them become financially independent and start investing for their future.
Read more in our Fidelity Youth Account review.
3. Copper Card (Best Debit Card for Teen Independence)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Variable pricing on Copper and Copper + Invest plans
Copper Banking was founded on the belief that kids and teens should have equal access to financial education and should be empowered to learn by doing. Now, the company is on a mission to help children gain real-world experience by giving them access to their money in a way that traditional banks can’t.
The Copper app and debit card teaches your child how to make smart financial decisions by creating a platform where parents and their kids can 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 or online, including with Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Plus, users get exclusive access to engaging advice curated by a team of financial literacy experts who provide tips on how to take control of their financial future.
Copper Banking Features:
- Send/Request: Kids and parents can easily send and receive money all at the touch of a button.
- Spend: Spend using Apple or Google Pay, or using the Copper Debit Card.
- Withdraw: Access your money from more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs.
- Monitor: Get a snapshot of all your child’s spending in an easy-to-read dashboard.
- Save: Gain quick snapshots of your kid’s savings and helpful tips on how to save even more. Set up savings buckets 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.
The basic Copper account includes the above banking features. With Copper + Invest, your child also gets access to automatically curated smart portfolios built with their preferences in mind. Your child is given a questionnaire that helps Copper determine a portfolio based on their age, income, net worth, investment objective(s) and investment horizon. Copper then recommends one of three ETF portfolios—Moderately Aggressive, Aggressive, and Extra Aggressive—made up of thousands of stocks. Parents can review the portfolio to ensure it matches with not just your child’s preferences, but your family’s. (Portfolios can be changed later on by accessing the Support chat.)
Your child can begin investing for as little as $1, then add more contributions down the road. Copper will automatically rebalance the portfolio as needed to make sure it always keeps up with your child’s investment preferences.
Copper is available to kids 6 years and older.
Read more in our Copper Banking review.
4. GoHenry (Best for Customer Service)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: 1 month free. Individual: $4.99/child/mo. Family: $9.98/mo. for up to 4 children
GoHenry is a financial solution for minors that includes an app, prepaid debit cards, and even financial lessons. Parents are given an online account that’s linked to, and allows them to oversee and manage, individual accounts for each of their children via both the GoHenry app and the online account portal.
Each child will receive their own GoHenry debit card; you can choose from 45 different designs or create your own customized card for $4.99. Each card is governed by parental controls you can set for your children.
What’s nice about GoHenry is that kids can only spend whatever money is available on the card—and thus parents don’t need to worry about costly overdraft fees or their kids accruing debt.
When you open a GoHenry account, you should receive your children’s debit cards in the mail seven to eight business days later. Once you do, you can set up events such as automatic weekly allowance transfers into your children’s accounts, real-time spending alerts, and one-off or weekly spending limits. You can also keep your children’s spending in check by choosing the stores where your kids can shop, and even blocking/unblocking the card as needed.
With time, the controls provided by the app and the guidance you offer can help your kids develop good money habits around earning, saving, spending, and giving.
But GoHenry really sticks out as one of the best debit cards for kids for customer service. They offer everyday phone availability, email access, and social media engagement, ensuring users can solve their problems quickly and with little hassle.
GoHenry has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age 6 or older.
Learn more by reading our GoHenry debit card review.
Related: GoHenry vs. Greenlight
5. Revolut <18 (Best for Parent-Paid Bonuses)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no fees)
Revolut <18 is a prepaid debit card for kids designed to teach them money skills for life. Aimed at building healthy money habits from an early age, the unique, customizable card empowers parents to have full insight into their kids’ card activity through providing instant spending alerts and parental controls.
You can choose to freeze the card, set controls on how they use the cards online and with contactless payments through your Revolut app. Further, you can set spending limits on how much your child can use with the prepaid card.
Parents use the card and accompanying app to teach kids about earning, budgeting, saving and even investing money (depending on the plan chosen). You can also use the card to manage chores and allowance, set savings goals as a family and help your children manage their money.
And if your child did something deserving of a reward? You can send parent-paid bonuses when they complete specific tasks. Simply add money to their digitized piggy bank through the app. You can send and receive money in seconds through Revolut’s Payments feature, which allows instant transfers between account holders and also global transfers at transparent rates.
Of note, you must have a personal Revolut account before you can open a Revolut <18 account for your children. You can add up to five Junior accounts per parent account.
To learn more about Revolut <18, consider visiting their site and opening an account for yourself and your child.
6. Current (Best Card for Transitioning to Adulthood)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
Current is a banking app designed for families; it offers both parent and teen accounts, with the latter acting like prepaid debit cards that parents load for their children. The Current app allows you to track your teen’s spending in real-time, set limits on how much your children can spend, and even block specific merchants on its Visa-enabled debit cards. You also get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your children’s money is safe because it’s not cash—no temptations, just a tool parents can use to help teach teens financial responsibility.
Among Current’s features:
- Get paid up to two days early when you enroll in direct deposit through your Current account.
- No overdraft fees on overdrafts of between $25 and $200 when you enable the Overdrive feature.
- No minimum required balances, no fees on transfers to other Current accounts, and no hidden fees.
- Earn up to 15x points, which can be redeemed for cash, when you swipe with more than 14,000 participating merchants.
- Create Savings Pods, or Giving Pods, that allow you to save up for various goals. You can earn an annual percentage yield (APY) of up to 4% currently in Current Savings Pods.
- Round-Ups allow you to round up purchases to the nearest dollar amount and store the difference in Savings or Giving Pods.
- Buy and sell 27 different cryptocurrencies with zero trading fees.
Teens will love easy allowance deposits, a card they can use in stores or online, instant gas hold removals when buying gas, and access to more than 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs nationwide. They’ll also have the opportunity to learn about financial responsibility and financial independence through Current’s Budgets feature, which allows them to track their spending and even receive alerts when they get too close to (or exceed) a predetermined limit.
The product has no specifically stated minimum age requirement, but the marketing suggests teens are the target audience. However, you might be able to open an account for a younger child.
Read more in our Current review.
7. BusyKid (Best Prepaid Visa Debit Card for Kids)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: $4/mo. billed annually. (Up to 5 cards)
If you’re looking for prepaid debit cards for kids that also teach your children about money, lets you pay them allowance, and allows them to spend, consider the award-winning BusyKid app and the connected BusyKid Visa Spend Card.
BusyKid started as an easy-to-use, interactive chore app for kids, but has since added a prepaid debit card that allows your children to spend their money in stores and online. Your children can earn real 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 between Save, Share, and Spend:
- Save: Parents can automatically allocate money toward a savings basket; however, parents can also match any money their children elect to save.
- Donate: Children can choose which charities they would like to give money to, and parents must approve before the cash is transferred.
- Spend: When they’re ready for independence, BusyKid has a Visa Spend Card so kids are never without cash in hand.
Also, with BusyKid, the parent isn’t the only person who can add money to child accounts. With a share of the QR code, grandparents, aunts, uncles, other family members, and even friends can add money—from birthday presents to paying for chores–for a $1 fee (plus any credit card or bank transaction costs).
Finally, 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.
In addition to the $4 monthly subscription, BusyKid charges other fees, including 50 cents per declined transaction, $5 for a card reissue, and a $5 monthly fee for paper statements.
Related: Best Greenlight Alternatives
8. FamZoo (Best for Financial Education)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free trial. Then $5.99/mo., $25.99/6 mos., $39.99/12 mos. or $59.99/24 mos. (all per family)
FamZoo is another service for parents interested in opening prepaid debit cards to manage their children’s spending.
Parents can fund a FamZoo account through numerous routes, including bank transfers, Direct Deposit, even cash. Typically, parents will load their primary funding card, then they will transfer those funds onto their kids’ cards. But you do have the option of directly funding kids’ cards.
There are plenty of safety features, too. And there’s no risk of having your bank account information stolen from FamZoo—because FamZoo never asks for it. Adults can monitor transactions, you can temporarily lock and unlock cards, and you can set up real-time alerts for card activity and remaining balances.
After a free trial, this app costs $5.99 per month, but the price goes down if prepaid in advance.
However, FamZoo rates as our top education choice because of its robust financial education library. Many of the functions have financial literacy in mind, too. For instance, payment checklists teach kids the value of a dollar by tying chores and odd jobs to rewards and penalties.
Spend, Save, and Give accounts separate funds into different purposes. And with “Parent-Paid Interest,” you can teach your kids the power of compound interest over time.
FamZoo has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting earlier rather than later.
Related: Greenlight vs. Famzoo
9. Till Financial (Best for Spending Lessons)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
Earning, saving, and investing money are important cornerstones for every child to learn before setting out into the world. But just as important is the fourth pillar: how to spend money wisely.
That’s where Till Financial wants to help.
The free debit card and banking platform for kids describes itself as a collaborative family financial tool that empowers children to become smarter spenders. They do this by designing their banking product to encourage “open and honest” discussions between parents and kids.
Further, they allow kids to establish savings targets based on goals. For example, if a teen wants to save up to buy a new laptop or iPad, they can set up an account to save toward this goal themselves, but also solicit help from family members to contribute the same (or more) funds. They can also track their progress along the way, which helps to encourage them to continue saving because the path to their goal feels more real.
Till Financial also wants to further their money education effort by helping kids to “learn by doing,” gaining confidence in their spending decisions along the way. They do this by giving them responsibility over their financial actions through the service, such as learning about the costs of recurring subscriptions like Netflix or Spotify.
Another thing that stands out about Till Financial are all the various ways children can receive money. These include:
- Quick gives: One-time instant transfers from parent wallets to kids’ wallets.
- Allowance: An automated recurring transfer from parents’ wallets to kids’ wallets.
- Tasks: You create a chore, a frequency and an associated payment for your child to complete. If your child marks the task as completed, you’ll be notified—if you confirm the task actually was completed, the funds will be transferred.
- Direct deposit: Does your child have a job with direct deposit? They can have their checks sent directly to their Till account.
- Contributions: You can send recurring contributions toward your child’s savings goal. This can be set as a percent match to each of your child’s contributions, an interest payment (percent match to total amount) or weekly contributions.
- Transfers: A child or adult can transfer money between their Save and Spend balances. (If the child initiates the transfer, it must be approved by an adult.)
- Other contributions: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other close friends can contribute to a child Till user’s goal.
If you’d like to sign up for a free account with Till Financial, you’ll be equipped with a bank account, digital and physical debit card, and goal-based savings features. The debit card can be used online or in person, and parents enjoy safety features like one-tap card freezes should their child lose their physical card.
10. Stash (Best for Approaching Finances for the First Time)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Growth: $3/mo. Stash+: $9/mo.
Stash is a leading all-in-one financial platform that offers a mobile-friendly banking account1. With no hidden banking fees, no monthly balance fees, and fee-free ATM access2, Stash is a compelling choice for consumers who prefer to do their banking and investing all through the same platform.
Plus, you’ll earn Stock-Back Rewards® at places like Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks and more when you make qualified purchases with your Stock-Back® debit card3.
If you are a young adult, you may want to use Stash to invest money with regular automatic transfers.
Stash also offers financial education resources that can help you improve your financial literacy. It covers numerous topics including investing, managing, and planning money.
The specifics on the Stash banking account and debit card:
- 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 account1.
- Yield: None, but you’ll earn Stock-Back® rewards on every eligible purchase made with the Stock-Back® debit card3.
- 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 25% Stock-Back® rewards upon making a Qualifying Purchase at one of the following merchants—Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or Spotify3. Plus, you can get paid up to two days early when you direct deposit your pay into your Stash banking account4, and you’ll enjoy access to thousands of fee-free ATMs2.
- 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. Axos Bank First Checking (Best Free Debit Card for Teens at an Online-Only Bank)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
First Checking by Axos Bank is the ultimate starter checking account for teens, and it 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. It works as a joint checking account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.
Parents 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. But it also provides safeguards against teens getting carried away with the money held in their account, such as daily limits on cash transactions ($100) and debit transactions ($500).
Further, you can receive up to $12 in domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month, and you avoid any monthly maintenance, overdraft, and non-sufficient funds fees—essentially making the account free! Meanwhile, as of winter 2022, users can also earn a modest 0.10% APY on any balance—lower than the national average rate, but fair for a simple teen checking account and debit card product.
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 is recommended for ages 13 to 17. It will convert to an Axos Checking Account after the minor reaches the age of majority.
Read more in our Axos First Checking Account review.
12. Mazoola (Best for COPPA Compliance)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
Mazoola helps parents teach their children financial literacy with the first and only (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)-compliant mobile wallet for kids.
Mazoola has several features—from transaction monitoring and setting spend limits on specific retailers to managing chores and automatically depositing allowances for chores completed—that allow parents to teach their kids about money and help them keep some form of control over spending.
More importantly, with 1.25 million children victimized by ID theft last year, Mazoola is the only platform that is certified to handle your children’s information in a secure way.
Some of Mazoola’s Key Features:
- COPPA-Compliant: Missoula is the only mobile wallet certified compliant with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
- Send/Request Money: Teens and parents can easily send and receive money.
- Spending Limits: Set spending limits at specific retailers and even block purchases at specific merchants. You can even set daily account spending limits.
- Goal Setting for Financial Literacy: Help your teen learn to save by setting long-term and short-term goals and automatically set aside money from each deposit to reach those goals.
- Real-Time Safety: Get real-time alerts and monitoring on transactions.
- Teach Responsibility with Chore Chart: Enter and track chores and automatically deposit allowances upon chore completion.
- Peer-to-Peer Transactions: From paying each other back for a meal to donating to a class fund teens can send money to each other with all the convenience of Venmo, but with the Mazoola’s heightened security and privacy.
13. Acorns (Best for Long-Term Growth)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Acorns Personal: $3/mo. Acorns Family: $5/mo.
Acorns has become one of the most popular financial apps for minors and young adults, but it also boasts a robust money management platform that offers more than 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 most importantly for readers here, a bank account with linked debit card.
You can get this checking account and debit card with either of Acorns’ subscription options:
- Acorns Personal ($3/mo.): Includes an Acorns Invest investment account, as well as Acorns Later for tax-advantaged investment options such as Roth IRAs. Also includes Acorns Checking, a bank account with no account fees, the ability to withdraw from more than 55,000 ATMs nationwide.
- Acorns Family ($5/mo): Everything in Acorns Personal (Acorns Invest, Later and Checking), plus Acorns Early. This allows you to open a custodial investment account for your child so you can begin investing for them while they’re a minor.
Both products also contain features such as “Real-Time Round-Ups,” which allow you to automatically invest spare change when you round up purchases to the nearest dollar. (The service claims to help users invest an average of $30/month using this feature.) You can also install the Acorns Earn Chrome Extension to earn bonus investments by shopping online at more than 15,000 top brands.
For a limited time, the service also offers a $5 sign-up bonus for people who open an account and meet certain conditions.
14. M1 Finance (Best for Financial Automation)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Basic: Free. M1 Plus: $125/yr.
M1 Finance is an all-in-one super app that does it all. With M1 Finance, you can invest, borrow, and spend, as well as open an M1 Finance custodial account that allows your kids to use it as an investment app as well. It even allows custodial IRAs (within the paid M1 Plus tier), making it one of the best custodial accounts.
When you sign up with a Basic account with M1, you receive a basic, FDIC-insured M1 Spend checking account (via Lincoln Savings Bank) with an M1 Visa debit card. The account and card don’t offer much at the Basic level, however. Upgrading to M1 Plus unlocks perks including:
- 1% cash back (0% with Basic)
- 3.00% APY (0% with Basic)
- 4 ATM reimbursements per month (1 per month with Basic)
- 0% international fees (0.8% to 1.0% with Basic)
Read more about this app in our M1 Finance review.
15. Jassby Virtual Debit Card (Best Allowance Marketplace)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Essential: $3.95/mo., monthly fee waived for first month
Jassby is a mobile wallet app that families can use to manage chores, allowance payments, and money spent on the company’s flexible virtual and physical debit cards.
Parents transfer money to their children’s debit cards via a linked bank account or debit card funding source. Jassby also provides real-time spending notifications and allows parents to instantly lock or unlock their kids’ debit cards as needed.
The digital debit cards can be used anywhere Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay is accepted. But for extra flexibility, parents can order physical debit cards for their children that are good to use anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
The app also allows parents and guardians to share money with their kids while teaching them valuable financial literacy skills. Jassby offers up courses, videos, games, and more. This all feeds a proprietary Jassby Financial Literacy score that reflects their progress, and kids are rewarded with points as they learn.
Jassby has shelved its free Basic plan for new members as of Sept. 1, 2022. All new customers must sign up for the paid Essential plan. In addition to a $3.95 monthly fee, users must pay $1.95 per funding transaction with an external debit card, and a $4.95-plus-tax charge for replacement cards (the first replacement card is free).
There is no minimum age requirement to use the Jassby card, but Jassby says most kid members are between the ages of 8 and 17.
16. Chase First Banking (Best Free Debit Card for Kids and Teens)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
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.
- Chase Total CheckingSM also grants access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches as well as a $200 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.
17. Nationwide Bank First Checking (Honorable Mention)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
With a teen checking account product that’s highly comparable to Axos First Checking, and indeed provided by Axos, Nationwide’s First Checking also acts as an ultimate starter checking account with a debit card for teens.
We feel both products deserve spots on this list for their features and free price point.
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.
Nationwide’s account is otherwise equipped with the same features, functionality, and ability to earn a modest APY.
18. Capital One MONEY Teen Checking Account (Honorable Mention)
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
Capital One MONEY Teen Checking Account is a money management account with a debit card and a highly rated free mobile app for teens. It’s hassle-free and designed to give you peace of mind as your kids grow into independence.
Capital One MONEY offers everything a teen needs to be financially responsible. Parents, as the adult co-owner of the account, set up the account and use monitoring tools to oversee account activity. Teens can manage their money with their debit card, which can be used at more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. And if parents are worried about the security of the card, parents can easily lock and unlock it.
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.
This checking account is suitable for any child 8 and older. Once your child turns 18, they can open a 360 Checking account and transfer their MONEY account balance there; if they don’t, the MONEY account will remain open.
What Is a Debit Card for Kids?
Children generally can’t open their own bank account until they reach the age of majority in their state—often 18 years old. Thus, parents often look for other paths, such as opening a sub-account from their own bank account so they can provide their children with a card to use. In that event, your child likely will need to be at least 13 years old before receiving a card.
Unfortunately, these accounts might not come with the custom spending controls, parental oversight, or feature-filled mobile apps provided by many new debit cards for kids. These new apps provide numerous controls over your children’s spending, including spending notifications, limiting where your child can use the card, and even allowing you to quickly lock and unlock the card. And in many cases, you simply fund your child’s debit card, so it effectively functions as a prepaid debit card.
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?
Though rules vary by financial institution, some banks 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 might not want to just hand your child any ol’ debit card. You might want more insight and control over their spending so you can introduce and reinforce good spending habits.
One such option includes having a joint prepaid debit card with your child, allowing you both to manage the money and agree on what the card can be used for. These cards give children some of the control they seek over their own cash but still allow parents to monitor spending and offer useful guidance when necessary.
Most of the cards listed above, however, act like individual prepaid debit cards for your children. You load the cards with money, and they can only spend what is available on the card.
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 Chase First Banking bank account is 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.
Axos First Checking also offers a debit card for kids. 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. Parents and teens can manage almost every part of the banking experience through a convenient mobile app or through the online desktop portal.
Nationwide, which is powered by Axos, also provides a debit card for kids.
What Features Should a Debit Card for Kids Provide?
Choosing the best debit cards for kids can be a tough task because you’ll want the best of both worlds: usability and safety features.
On the one hand, kids need to learn how to manage their money as teens and eventually adults. So you’ll want things like ATM withdrawal limits, access to the child’s account for establishing spending controls, lockable cards, and more.
But you also want a debit card your kids will actually want to use. That means limited or no monthly fees or overdraft fees, rewards programs, instant money transfers, direct deposit availability, even a card that allows your child to earn interest—and so much more.
To help you determine what might matter most when you’re making your decision, here are all of the features you should look for when perusing debit cards that 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 is an automated transfer of money, typically from an employer to a person’s bank account. This is an excellent feature you want your kids to have, because your child’s paycheck will go directly into their account. That beats being handed an envelope from work that’s later handed over to Mom and Dad to manage.
A few debit cards for teens even allow free early direct deposit if they open a premium checking account. This allows teens to get paid up to two days faster than with regular direct deposit.
Yes, it’s important to instill a sense of delayed gratification in your children to build up their money management skills. But most of us can agree that you shouldn’t have to wait for your hard-earned money to hit your bank account—kids included.
2. Transfer Money Instantly
The instant money transfer capability is really beneficial for parents with young children.
Maybe your kids are too young to have a job. Or maybe your kids are too busy to go with you to the bank. Either way, it’s up to you, as a parent or guardian, to occasionally give them some spending money each week from your own pocket.
Instant money transfers allow parents to, say, pay allowance to kids or compensate children for their weekly or monthly chores. And this feature eliminates the need to make a trip into an actual bank, which saves a trip for adults and kids pressed for time.
And believe it or not, parents can use the instant transfer capability to teach children financial literacy and the connection between work and money. A quick transfer will help children associate their earnings with their work—much better than seeing money as something they can always receive without doing anything for it.
Many debit cards for kids, then, offer a quick “reload” option so parents can keep on top of their kids’ accounts, even when pressed for time.
Along the same lines, you want your prepaid debit card for kids to be reloadable.
Normal debit cards allow you to spend money held in the linked account. However, reloadable debit cards for kids only allow the children to spend the money loaded on their specific debit card.
You can periodically add money to your child’s card balance on reloadable prepaid cards, allowing them to spend the money when they need it.
These cards, under normal circumstances, can charge fees for loading a card or using a card, and they might also incur other one-off or monthly fees.
The reloadable prepaid debit cards for kids mentioned in this article can also assess certain fees, though the circumstances differ. Some charge a cash reload fee, for instance, but don’t charge for transferring funds onto the reloadable card’s balance through a bank or debit card transfer.
4. Mobile App
Let’s be real: In today’s modern world, everything is increasingly online—and that includes banking and finance.
Is it more complicated for parents? Sure. But it’s not without its upsides. Many parents and guardians find that banking mobile apps make it much easier to keep track of their children’s spending. In fact, you could argue that, nowadays, the mobile app is one of the most important banking features.
Think about all the parental controls you can find on some debit cards’ mobile apps: spending limits, controls on where kids can use their cards, restricting card use at certain times of the day, spending notifications, even the ability to lock down the card. Moreover, mobile apps often include things like lessons, quizzes, and videos teaching kids about financial responsibility at an early age.
Kids certainly have to love the convenience, too.
Teens can open their own checking account (with the help of a parent), earn money to deposit into the account, then can access the funds to make purchases—all from a mobile app. Kids can always see their funds in their account with the push of just a few buttons, and they can easily keep track of their spending.
5. No Overdraft Fees
Since overdraft fees are typically the most expensive fee associated with a bank account, an excellent feature to look for when choosing prepaid cards or debit cards linked to a bank account is no overdraft fees.
Most prepaid debit cards can avoid overdraft fees by declining any charges when the bank account carries an insufficient balance. (For instance, if your child is trying to buy Robux and the account doesn’t have enough money, the card declines the transaction on the spot.) The BusyKid Visa Spend Card and Greenlight card, for instance, don’t have issues with overdraft fees because you can’t spend money not already loaded onto the card.
However, cards have other ways for parents and kids to avoid overdrafts—and thus overdraft fees. For instance, parents may be able to monitor and even control their children’s spending directly from the app, keeping them from spending a predetermined amount in any time period or location.
You can even avoid overdraft fees with some traditional banks, which might choose to decline charges on the debit card if they exceed the account balance.
6. Low Monthly Fees
One downside of many debit cards for kids—not all, but many—is monthly account subscription fees paid to open and maintain the account.
These fees exist for a reason: It’s how banks make money.
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, kids and teens will typically have low account balances, providing little financial upside for the bank. Hence commonplace monthly (or annual) fees for kids’ debit cards and checking accounts. Some banks also try to generate additional income from things such as account minimum balance violation fees, overdraft fees, and other fees.
That’s not to say you should avoid any debit cards for teens that charge monthly fees. But it does mean that you should consider what value-added services you’re getting, and whether they’re above and beyond what you can get from accounts that charge no fees whatsoever.
Parental controls, robust mobile experiences, and card rewards are among the things that can provide parents with a more attractive value proposition and justify those fees.
Related: How Acorns Makes Money
7. Free ATM Withdrawals
A particularly tricky subject for online-only banks who offered kids’ debit cards: how to offer cash to depositors without physical locations to provide fee ATM withdrawals.
Traditional banks naturally could offer free withdrawals at their own ATMs. But many leaders in the online-only space partnered with large ATM networks to negotiate fee reimbursements when their customers pull money out of those machines.
So now, teens can often receive “free” ATM withdrawals (after the reimbursement) all over the nation.
Before you sign up, ensure that your kid’s debit card has free ATM withdrawals. Also determine how much they can withdraw and deposit on their own, and whether parents have any control over those limits.
8. No Minimum Balance
The nice thing about having no minimum balance requirement is that you’ll likely avoid another type of fee: a minimum balance fee that kicks in if you’re under the threshold.
But for many parents, there’s more to it than avoiding another monthly fee: They also want convenience with little to no maintenance required on what’s likely to be a very small amount of money going into and being held in the account.
The best debit cards for kids don’t have minimum balances. That’s ideal, because while older teens have numerous ways to earn money, younger kids might have low balances earned from just chores, allowance, gifts, and the like.
9. Parental Controls
Parental controls are among the most pivotal features you’ll need in a debit card for teens and/or kids.
If your card offers controls, they should be easy to set up, customizable, and suited to any parent’s needs. Parents should be able to choose what notifications they want, set spending limits, determine which merchants kids can visit, and even lock and unlock kids’ cards.
Parental controls aren’t always about limiting, however. They might also include automated allowance payments, setting chores to complete, spending notifications (online and off), and being able to see spending reports.
These parental controls are one of the biggest differences that set apart debit cards for kids and teens, and regular products offered by a traditional bank.
10. Spending Limits
When you sign up for a credit card as an adult, chances are you’ll be given a credit limit. You might start with $500 or so in the beginning, if you don’t have a strong credit history, but you can eventually work your way up into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
But it might not make sense to give your kids that much financial freedom during their early years, before they’ve had a chance to develop strong money skills.
That’s why one of the most important parental controls is the ability to set spending limits.
Parents can often set spending limits by time, whether that’s over a day, week, or month. For example, parents can set limits of $25 per day for kids to spend on things they want and need. In some cases, debit card companies will let you be even more granular, setting spending limits on types of spends/withdrawals (say, restaurants, or ATMs), and even setting spending limits for specific individual stores.
While cash is the ultimate spending limit—you can never spend more than you have—debit cards with spending limits help instill a cash-based mentality in an increasingly cashless society.
11. Online Spending Controls
Also in the same vein, you’ll want to make sure that your kids’ debit cards allow you to control how money is spent online.
In addition to being able to white-list physical vendors, check to see if your card allows you to control how your kids spend money online, whether that’s allowing spending in certain categories, or even being able to cherry-pick individual online retailers.
12. Security + Cybersecurity Features
Also extremely important are security and cybersecurity features for the physical card and account.
Children lose a lot of things. They’re probably going to lose a debit card. However, while that’s going to be more of a hassle with a traditional bank … well, not so with the best debit cards for kids. Many offer single-touch/swipe locking and unlocking of the card from your app if its misplaced or stolen.
Other security features can include EMV chips in the card, mobile apps with fingerprint identification or facial recognition, even multi-factor authentication (MFA) for a secure banking experience.
13. Additional Security Features
Some more premium debit cards offer a host of additional security features.
Greenlight is a standout in this space, offering features including:
- SOS alerts to emergency contacts and/or 911 with a single tap
- Family location sharing on your device’s Greenlight app
- Roadside assistance
- Insurance protection on your cell phone
- Purchase protection on lost and stolen items
While many of these features aren’t necessarily central to a banking experience, they can certainly make a difference for parents looking for the optimal all-around solution for their family.
14. Chore Management + Allowance Administration
Many debit cards for kids and teens have an eye toward two age-old family financial constructs—chores and allowance—but with a little 21st century rubbed in for good measure.
Specifically, many of these child-focused banking apps now offer chore management and allowance administration.
Some apps, for instance, allow you to assign specific chores, set a fixed price for each one, have your child notify you when a chore is complete, then verify whether the chore has actually been completed so your child can be paid. Many allow for both one-off chores as well as repeatable duties.
Similarly, these apps often allow you to set up one-off or regular allowance payments, no chores attached.
15. Money Management Features
You’ll laugh at hearing this, but spending money as a kid can actually be a little stressful. So believe it or not, money management features can be especially attractive when deciding on a kids’ debit card.
Think about it. Maybe you have an allowance. Maybe Mom gives you 10 bucks here and there. That’s not a lot of money—and it’s probably not enough to buy all of the little things you want to buy right now, not to mention the big things you want to save up for.
Money management tools obviously won’t create more money, but they can help your children begin to understand the concepts of budgeting so they can spend their money more wisely and get more out of it.
Some of the best debit cards and bank accounts offer things like special pods/categories/what have you for spending, saving, gifting, and other teenage money goals, both short- and long-term alike.
16. Savings Goals
One really important money management feature that many parents want for their children is savings goals.
In general, kids can benefit enormously from the virtues of saving. Saving from an early age can enforce the idea of delayed gratification—the idea that accomplishments can be just as (if not more) satisfying when they’re worked for and earned over time.
Also, saving can help instill responsibility in your child. It’s a building block to understanding what it means to budget, diversify their financial resources, and even invest for better returns.
The best accounts, then, help teach your kids and teens how to save money by setting up savings goals—though they’ll often call them by a number of different terms, be they “goals,” “categories,” “pods,” etc.
Having savings goals that appear right alongside their spending money will show them how money is parceled out. So they’ll learn that they can still spend some money in the here and now, but they can’t go out of control without risking their longer-term priorities.
17. Investing Features
If you want your child to take a big leap in their financial literacy, you might want to consider kids’ banking services that also include investing features.
Investing features vary widely by offering. Some companies allow your child access (typically through a parent-controlled account) to numerous vehicles, from stocks to mutual funds to exchange-traded funds. Others offer limited investment options by design, ensuring your child can only invest in a handful of suitable, diversified products.
The latter is important because it prevents kids and teens from stock trading in more speculative names. Most people at this point are well-aware of 2021’s market mania over GameStop and other “meme stocks” after a Reddit subforum promoted these stocks—leading to well-publicized gains for some, but also punishing losses for others.
Some apps, such as Greenlight, allow stock investing, but kids must get parental approval before any trade is placed. Greenlight specifically not only allows parents to approve or deny trades, but even has an option that sparks conversations about why the child arrived at their stock choice. (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 risky names.)
18. Charity Features
While not as prevalent, a handful of the top kids’ debit cards do instill the importance of giving back via charity features.
Giving options allow for children to earmark money toward charities they think are important. These apps often help kids search through reputable charities, then allow children to request money be sent to them—with parents’ permission, of course.
19. Financial Literacy Tools
Financial literacy tools are vital for kids and teens.
Yes, on its own, a debit card or a bank account can help grow your child’s understanding of finances. But apps that can actually populate lesson plans and educational videos can do so much more for fostering smarter spending.
Life gets busy. Keeping track of your finances can be time-consuming. That’s true, not just for you, but for your kids too. That’s why it’s helpful for apps to deliver information, whether that’s delivering insights based on your spending history, budgeting tools to help you manage your money, even “money missions” that give children goals to achieve.
These all help kids with managing their own money, as well better understanding the ins and outs of their own personal finance.
Even if it’s not a feature you seek out, take a few minutes to look through an app’s financial literacy tools and navigate through the available libraries of resources.
20. Parent-Paid Interest
Parent-paid interest is a big perk of a few checking accounts for kids, as it can help parents incentivize their kids to save money.
For instance, the Greenlight app features Parent-Paid Interest—an annual percentage rate that you set for your child’s General Savings. Their account will earn the interest on the first of each month; all you have to do is set up the money transfer into their account from your parent 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’s too expensive and you can only afford a modest rate, that’s OK—you can set the amount to as low as 1%. It’s up to you!
No matter how much you pay, this kind of feature will demonstrate to your kids the benefits of savings and the power of compound interest. Just make sure to show them every month how interest makes their money grow over time.
21. Rewards Programs
Who doesn’t love to get more from spending more?
Believe it or not, some debit cards have gone so upstream that they offer rewards programs just like traditional credit cards. In some cases, these programs might just be points that can be redeemed for future purchases, while some cards even offer pure cash back!
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.
Acorns popularized it; a lot of other companies have copied it since.
A “round-up” is just a fancy term for rounding up your purchase to the next dollar amount.
The idea here is genius and really straight-forward: Small amounts of money, regularly saved, will eventually add up, resulting in much larger savings down the road. But how do you get children to make these little saves, one after another? Round up money from purchases they’re already making!
For what it’s worth, round-ups are a great savings tool for any age group. At a young age, it introduces people to the idea of saving and investing in an easy-to-understand format that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse them. But even for teens and adults, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it way to work toward savings goals. Win-win!
Related: Best Micro-Investing Apps
23. FDIC Coverage
Ideally, any banking account for your child should carry Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) coverage, which is insurance that protects against the loss of a depositor’s funds (typically up to $250,000) in case of bank failure.
Hopefully, it’s something that will never come into play. But if you’re looking for financial peace of mind, look for this feature when you’re seeking out a debit card to give to your child.
24. Checking Account
Nowadays, checking accounts and debit cards go hand in hand. If you go to a bank and open up a new line of checking, you’re leaving with a debit card.
Many kids’ debit cards focus on the card itself, and for many people, that’s enough. The card allows the child to spend both in person and online, and in many cases, a connected mobile app provides even more flexibility and convenience.
Still, some parents might want to ensure that the debit card also has a fully functional checking account, including the ability to write checks. Just note that rules and regulations for children writing checks appears to vary from state to state and even from one financial institution to another.
25. Savings Account
Ultimately, the purpose of a debit card is to allow your child to spend and teach them about how to do so responsibly. But some of the best kid- and teen-focused banking services should either have a savings function or even come with a connected savings account.
Learning to manage savings alongside spending money teaches kids the basics of how to allocate money toward both short- and long-term goals.
Savings accounts often offer other perks as well, including the ability to earn interest that’s often higher than in checking accounts.
26. Customizable Card
Not exactly an important perk, but a fun one to have: Greenlight, GoHenry, and a few other providers offer customizable cards where you can use your own photos and designs. (For a fee, of course!)
5 Money Lessons That Kids’ Debit Cards Teach
Debit cards allow your kids to spend. But the best kid and teen debit cards are oh, so much more.
They’re also educational tools.
We’ve selected many debit cards based on their ability to teach children about how to save, manage, budget, invest, even give money. These features take a basic act like spending and turn it into a constant teaching tool about learning financial responsibility.
Kids can learn all sorts of lessons from these debit cards and bank accounts, but five really stand out to us:
Distinguishing between wants and needs
Every child needs to be able to distinguish between wants and needs. This isn’t just a financial lesson—it’s something every kid will need to get through most aspects of daily life. “I want chocolate, but I need food.”
Any well-seasoned budgeting expert will tell you that this is a balancing act. Many recommend that you allocate money toward wants and needs based on the 50/30/20 budgeting rules, which calls for putting 50% of your money toward needs (housing, food, utilities), 30% toward wants (shopping, entertainment), and the remaining 20% balance toward savings.
Many of today’s more modern debit cards allow kids to split your money into different categories, allowing your child to better navigate their understanding of what they want to buy, and what they need to buy (and when).
Appreciating what you have
Closely related to distinguishing between wants and needs comes learning to appreciate what you have.
This is a vital life lesson that allows people to be more fulfilled and satisfied, not always just mindlessly wanting more. Want something that you can’t readily finance with your financial firepower? People who are less satisfied might stretch and financially overleverage themselves to make that purchase.
Debit cards don’t let you do that, instead ensuring that you spend within your means. Thus, kids have to be more mindful about spending what they can on things that will actually make them happy, and live to appreciate those decisions.
The power of automation
Debit cards with mobile apps also teach an important lesson that we’re learning as the world becomes even more digitized:
A little automation can help us fight our worst instincts.
If you give a child a $20 bill and send them into a store, there’s a good chance they’ll end up spending all of that cash. Even if you put money in their account, it’s possible they’ll choose to put the entire amount in a “basket” they can spend with. But automated categories such as for savings, spending, giving, and even investing, can help children make sound budgeting and allocation decisions without fighting their own biases.
The difference between earning and receiving
Admittedly, this isn’t a lesson that all kids’ banking apps teach, but several do help children learn the difference between receiving and earning.
It’s important, especially for young children, to be able to receive money—allowance, one-time contributions, what have you—that they can then spend using their debit cards. But as children age, they need to gain an understanding and appreciation that money often isn’t given, but earned.
Debit card apps that tie chores and other jobs with actual earnings crystalize this picture in the mind of older children and teens. Some apps allow you to assign chores, then the child informs you when the chores are done. When you’ve approved the chore, they’re paid.
The lesson is clear: Do the work, get paid.
Think of financial responsibility as the sum of these and other important financial lessons.
The above tenets represent some of the most important money values a child can learn from a young age. It starts with understanding how money works, then evolves into understanding how they can make their money work from them—from simple spending habits to eventually growing and even giving their money to causes.
A holistic approach should result in a strong sense of financial responsibility in your kid or teen. And that should better prepare your child for a financially secure adult life.
Pros and Cons of Kids’ Debit Cards
Getting your child a debit card is a quick pathway to a lot of financial pros, such as instilling financial responsibility in your child and giving them more financial independence. But nothing is perfect—certainly not a spending tool for your little ones—so it’s important to understand and consider the possible downsides of plastic for your child or teen.
Here are some of the more salient pros and cons of children’s debit cards:
- No carrying cash. If your child has cash, and that cash gets lost or stolen, that money is gone. But if your child loses their debit card, they’re out a card—but their money will still be sitting safely in their account.
- Consumer protections. 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. You don’t get those with cash, either.
- Security. The security of debit cards extends well beyond the practicality of the plastic card itself. Features such as EMV chips, password-protected accounts, and multi-factor authentication, are all ways to ensure that children are spending safely and their money is protected.
- Parental controls. Parents can also protect their kids through various controls on their kids’ bank accounts, debit cards, and/or prepaid debit cards. Some cards allow you to limit spending within certain time periods, at certain types of vendors, and even at individual stores. But even an occasional low-tech look at your child’s bank statements can tell you more about their spending habits.
- Learn about budgeting. Many kids’ debit cards let you 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, and how to make their money last while balancing their wants and needs.
- Establish an emergency fund. Because these kids’ accounts often come with a paired app that allows your kids’ earnings to fall into different buckets (e.g., saving, spending, giving, investing), you can also work with them to set up and fund an emergency account for themselves. An emergency fund is one of the best long-term investments a young adult can make, as it will follow them into the real world when they finally “leave the nest.”
- Open a custodial Roth IRA. You won’t find this feature often, but it’s an interesting one to note. Many parents will use these cards not just 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 a finance 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. A debit card does allow a child to easily spend their money. Debit cards are accepted virtually everywhere—in person and online. In fact, most parents worry that their kids will quickly blow through their money with a debit card. Therefore, if you do open a kids’ debit card, consider one with parental controls and/or spending limits.
- Monthly fees. One characteristic of most kid-specific debit cards and prepaid debit cards is that they come with monthly or annual fees to offset all the perks. This can act as a significant hurdle when you consider the top option for you, so make sure you understand all fees you’ll end up paying every month.
- ATM fees. Some cards will incur a fee when your child needs to withdraw from an ATM. Look for cards that either allow for fee-free transactions or reimburse ATM fees.
- 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
The primary difference between a standard debit card and a prepaid debit card is that the former is connected to money in an account at a bank or a credit union, whereas the latter requires you to reload money on the card to be able to use it.
A standard debit card is attached to a bank account, typically a checking account. The account is typically funded through means like
Automated Clearing House (ACH), direct deposit, or otherwise depositing earnings into your account. You can also deposit cash into your bank account without incurring a fee.
When you go to spend with the card, charges are made against the balance in your account. If you spend more than the balance, you’ll “overdraft” your account, and many banks charge overdraft fees in response.
A prepaid debit card is a “stored value” card funded by loading money onto the card. And typically, if you want to load a card using cash, you’ll incur cash reload fees.
The upside of a prepaid debit card is that you can’t be charged overdraft fees. If you’re at risk of overspending your account, the card transaction will simply be declined.
Can Kids Have Prepaid Cards?
In short, kids absolutely can have prepaid cards—and in fact, they’re often the top solution.
Prepaid debit cards can serve as a great entry way for kids into the financial world. Kids can only spend the balance held on the card, and parents can tie those funds to things like allowance earned through performing chores or just a set payment schedule.
Modern prepaid debit cards can also help kids better understand how to manage their money digitally as opposed to just physically. With cash or a physical debit card, your kids will still gain some understanding of how money works. But a prepaid debit card with a mobile app interface will give them a better-rounded, more interactive experience.
A digital-based prepaid debit card is also useful because kids increasingly want to buy items online—and in some cases, it’s the default method for buying goods and services such as video-game add-ons.
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-to-12-Year-Old Have a Prepaid Debit Card? (How About a 16-Year-Old?)
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 as old as 16. 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—but be extremely careful to read the rules and restrictions governing how old your child must be to hold the product.
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. That same research suggests kids begin forming opinions and perceptions of money as young as 3 when they first learn to count, and later on as they observe how their parents (or guardians) handle their money.
Because debit cards for kids can provide crucial help to develop financial awareness of numerous personal finance topics, giving your child a debit card makes sense. But because there’s a lot to learn, and a lot that can go wrong, at an early age, your kids’ debit cards should be stocked with parental controls and other security features.
Over time, by adjusting guardrails, you can encourage a small, and eventually greater, sense of financial independence in your children. This will gradually build confidence in how they manage their money.
And while it sounds wishy-washy: Debit cards can make kids feel like grown-ups without actually being one, which is a great feeling to achieve if you can do it without risking your child’s financial security. Think of it as a way to help your kids mature without pushing them out of the financial nest too soon—and ensuring they’ll do the right thing when they’re finally on their own.
Is a Debit Card for Kids Just as Good for Teens?
Yes, debit cards are also ideal for teens. But how you ultimately decide on a card for your teen will involve different considerations than if you’re selecting one for a younger child.
Some parents prefer looser overall controls for their maturing children, while others want the ability to adjust controls over time as their teens learn important lessons. They’re also going to be more conscious of perks such as reward points, cash back, and parent-paid interest—after all, at a certain age, that debit card becomes less of a learning tool and more of a way for your child to get more from their money.
If you want to have maximum oversight of your teen’s spending, consider a prepaid debit card for teens that features parental controls and spending notifications. If you want them to have more freedom, however, consider a banking app or regular debit card designed for teens.
Are Debit Cards for Kids Safe?
Yes. Kids debit cards are generally considered safe because of four major features.
First, most of these debit cards for kids come with an FDIC-insured account, so no matter what happens to the bank, you’ll get your money back. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance provides up to $250,000 worth of protection per set of accounts at a single institution to millions of bank account holders across the United States.
That means if you have multiple accounts at one bank which total more than $250,000, you will need to transfer the excess to other banks to receive that same level of FDIC insurance.
Many kids likely won’t face such a situation, so you can have peace of mind knowing your child’s account and card are fully insured (up to $250,000).
Second, most debit cards have a multitude of security features that protect the card when you have it … and when you don’t.
For instance, most debit cards secure transactions using EMV microchips. They also protect your money with other features including password protection, fingerprint identification, and/or facial recognition. Some even require multi-factor authentication (MFA) where you, say, enter a code sent to the linked phone number on the account to start your secure banking experience.
Third, debit cards offer consumer protections that cash simply doesn’t.
One major advantage to a prepaid card over cash is the liability and fraud protection you have from federal law—if someone fraudulently uses your debit card, your financial institution can make you whole. Some cards even offer purchase protections on broken, lost, and stolen goods.
Lastly, there’s … well, you.
Believe it or not, you can do a lot to protect your personal financial information. Here are a number of responsibilities that adults should teach their children when using a debit card:
- 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
Ask not just what your debit card can do for you, but what you can do for your debit card.
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.”
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.
My Kids’ Debit Card Includes an Investment Account. Is That Enough?
A debit card can be a debit card—but it can also be a stepping stone to a much larger financial horizon. For instance, some kids’ debit cards open their worlds up to investing, from basic options such as a handful of stocks to many of the options you’d see in a traditional brokerage account.
But parents might also consider coupling a basic investment teaching tool with a more powerful adult account meant to maximize savings for their children’s future. These types of investment accounts might include:
- 529 plans. You can save money specifically meant for college and other qualified educational expenses through a 529 plan. And 529s are privy to one of the best tax breaks in giving: “Givers can gift five years’ worth of the $16,000 (annual gift exclusion) in a lump sum,” says David Pappalardo, SVP, Advisor Solutions Group at Segal Marco, a large U.S.-based investment consultancy. “So they can give $80,000 to a 529 plan per person all at once, rather than doing it over the span of five years … and if they’re married, their spouse can do the same.” Those looking to open a 529 account can start with dedicated companies such as Backer.
- Custodial Roth IRAs. If you’re looking out a touch further than college—say, your child’s retirement—you’ll want to 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 including M1 Finance offer these specialized accounts.
- 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. Just note that trusts involve more work, and typically more capital, than the other two options. “A vanilla estate plan, for lack of a better term, will cost upwards of $10,000 in legal fees to set up the trusts,” Pappalardo says.
Have a look at the graphic below to learn about all the banking and investment accounts for kids.
Should Kids Handle Cash?
In a word: Yes! In fact, cash is one of the best ways to teach young kids money management.
Children learn well when they get to play an active role and experience things in person. That’s why, at a very young age, the best financial tool you can get your child is a physical piggy bank and some coins, which can cement the concept of saving in their minds. These are tangible items that they can use to make tangible actions, giving them a real connection to how money works.
Over time, once your child grows older, it’s best to migrate this money management to the digital world to better reflect what life will be like as an adult.
But you don’t need to forsake one entirely for the other. Cash is still convenient and safe when held in small amounts. (But we do find that a quick mobile-app transfer of money from your account to their debit card is still easier than driving to the bank to get money out of the ATM.)
What Happens If My Child Loses a Debit Card?
Years ago, the thought of your child losing a debit card would be enough to make you shriek.
Thankfully, financial technology has made the consequences much less severe.
Even traditional banks allow you to quickly shut down debit cards over the phone or via an app. But kids’ debit cards are keenly aware of how often children can lose things, so many have made it super-simple to lock (and unlock) and replace cards, often with just one tap or swipe.
Typically, the lock/unlock feature is free, but card replacement fees will vary by provider.
Can Kids Get Custom Debit Cards?
In a few instances, children’s banking providers offer up customizable debit cards for kids. Some offer up a selection of templates, while others allow for full customization—your own design, even your own photo.
This is what we call a “soft” feature in that it doesn’t have a tangible benefit. However, this connection to a design or a photo of themselves can make it more likely that your kid or teen will have a stronger connection to their card and the responsibility it represents.
The unique card also might make them less likely to lose or misplace it.
What Documentation Do You Need to Open a Debit Card for Kids and Teens?
The federal government requires these financial services 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.
The 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.
This check does verify your information to establish you are who you say you are. This check does not constitute a credit check—your credit score, and your child’s eventual credit score, will not be impacted in any way. So while you might see a notification indicating a financial service has verified your address, don’t worry: Your credit has not been “dinged.”
Depending on how long you’ve lived at your current residence, and in the event you’ve only been able to meet a partial match based on public records databases, you might need to upload additional information. 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 a debit card provider should match these documents.
Once you have uploaded this information, it can take anywhere between 24 and 72 business hours to verify this information. You should receive an email from the service provider notifying you about whether you passed, 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.
At this point, you should be able to use the card contactlessly for future purchases, but you still might face maximum transaction limits.
For more details about contactless payments and payment maximums, be sure to contact your provider or read the terms of service.
Terms and Conditions for Fidelity® Youth Account:
The Fidelity® Youth Account can only be opened by a parent/guardian. Account eligibility limited to teens aged 13-17.
1 Limited Time Offer. Terms Apply. This offer is valid for new or existing Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC (“Fidelity’) customers who open through the following link https://www.fidelity.com/go/starter-pack and fund a new, eligible Fidelity account with a minimum of $50 on or after 07/20/2022 and have not otherwise previously taken advantage of Fidelity’s $50 for $100 cash offer. Offer is limited to one bonus award per individual.
2 Limited Time Offer. Terms Apply. Before opening a Fidelity® Youth Account, you should carefully read the account agreement and ensure that you fully understand your responsibilities to monitor and supervise your teen’s activity in the account.
3 Zero account minimums and zero account fees apply to retail brokerage accounts only. Expenses charged by investments (e.g., funds, managed accounts, and certain HSAs) and commissions, interest charges, or other expenses for transactions may still apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for further details.
4 Your Youth Account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using the Fidelity® Debit Card at any ATM displaying the Visa®, Plus®, or Star® logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited. Please note, for foreign transactions, there may be a 1% fee included in the amount charged to your account.
5 Venmo is a service of PayPal, Inc. Fidelity Investments and PayPal are independent entities and are not legally affiliated. Use a Venmo or PayPal account may be subject to their terms and conditions, including age requirements.
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