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It can be difficult to teach children how to spend and save responsibly, but it doesn’t have to be. A debit card can be a valuable educational tool, especially when the kid is in charge of their own spending with guardrails installed by parents.

Debit cards represent the first pathway into financial responsibility because they start to give teens control over their spending and provide them an early glimpse into what it’s like to manage money on their own.

This article will discuss some of the best free debit cards for kids and teens in order to help you choose one that will work best for your minor’s needs!

Best Free Debit Cards for Kids & Teens—Our Top Picks


Best for Building Credit
Free Debit Card for Teens
4.9
4.8
Free, no monthly fees
Free
Best for Building Credit
Free Debit Card for Teens

What are the Best Free Debit Cards for Kids and Teens?


We’ve compiled a list of the best free debit cards for teens and kids that should work for your needs below. Look at each and compare which one makes the most sense for your needs.

AppApple App Store Rating +
Best For
step logo transparent symbol thin Step Banking☆ 4.7 / 5
Building credit history
copper logo thin Copper Banking☆ 4.9 / 5
Teen financial independence without fees
current logo thin Current☆ 4.7 / 5
Innovation and product features
Till Financial logo thin Till Financial☆ 4.5 / 5
Teaching about smart spending
Axos Bank logo Axos First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens ready to learn about money management
nationwide logo transparent text thin Nationwide First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens to learn essential financial skills and avoid fees
chase logo transparent text thin Chase First Banking☆ 4.8 / 5
High customer satisfaction from a major bank without fees
jassby logo transparent text thin Jassby☆ 4.6 / 5
No fees, virtual debit card with cybersecure shopping mall
mazoola logo Mazoola☆ 4.4 / 5
COPPA Compliance
revolut logo thin Revolut Junior☆ 4.7 / 5
Parent-Paid bonuses
*Apple App Store Rating as of October 12, 2022

 

1. Best for Building Credit: Step Banking


step banking sign up

The free Step Visa Card is a unique “hybrid” spending card that functions like a debit card, but also boasts some of the features of a Visa credit card—including the ability to build your child’s credit history.

Parents add money to this FDIC-insured account and can determine how their child can spend. A regular Step account allows a child to have both a physical spending card as well as a virtual card in the Step app, while a Parent Managed Account only allows the child to spend via a physical card. Either way, they can use their card anywhere Visa is accepted. Children can also use their cards to withdraw money from more than 30,000 ATMs for free.

And parents needn’t fear that their child will overdraft—they can’t spend any money they don’t have.

Further, the Step Card comes protected by Visa’s Fraud Protection and Zero Liability guarantee. That means if your teen’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.

The Step Card also boasts a great savings tool for kids. With Savings Roundup, small purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar figure; that extra money is put toward a savings goal. (Example: Your child buys a cup of coffee for $2.75; Step rounds up to $3.00 and puts 25 cents toward a goal.) 

Step even features an “invest” function that allows children age 13 and older to buy and sell Bitcoin for a small transaction fee. They can also earn Bitcoin (or cash) rewards when they opt into offers from companies like Hulu, Chick-Fil-A, CVS, and The New York Times. The app is not a pure crypto wallet, however—your kids currently can’t spend Bitcoin directly at vendors. 

One of the most unique and powerful features of the Step card is its ability to build your child’s credit history. With this optional feature, Step will report the past two years’ worth of information—transactions, payment history, and more—to the credit bureaus when your child turns 18. That can greatly improve their chances of starting adult life with a better credit score, which can help lower the cost of things like student loans and auto insurance.

And Step is absolutely free: No monthly fees, no subscription fees, no account minimum fees, no ATM fees within Step’s network of 30,000+ ATMs, and no interest rate.

Related: Best Teen Credit Cards for Building Credit

2. Best for Combined Teen Independence and Cost: Copper Card


copper card sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free
  • App Store Rating: 4.9

Copper Banking’s mission is to help teens gain real-world experience by giving them access to their money in a way that traditional banks aren’t able to do.

The Copper app and debit card teaches teens how to make smart financial decisions by creating a platform where parents and teens 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 was founded on the belief that teens should have equal access to financial education and should be empowered to learn by doing. Because you’re never too young to get your money right.

Copper Banking Features: 

  • Send/Request: Teens and parents can easily send and receive money all at the touch of a button.
  • Spend: Spend using Apple or Google Pay, or using the Copper Debit Card.
  • Monitor: Get a snapshot of all your teen’s spending in an easy-to-read dashboard.
  • Save: Gain quick snapshots of your teen’s savings and helpful tips on how to save even more. Set up savings 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.

Read more in our Copper Banking review.



 

3. Best for Transitioning to Adulthood: Current


current sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free
  • App Store Rating: 4.7

Current is a banking app designed for all families. The Current app allows you to track your teen’s spending in real-time, set limits on how much they can spend, and even block specific merchants on Visa-enabled prepaid debit cards.

You also get the peace of mind that comes with knowing their money is safe because it’s not cash. Plus, the company doesn’t charge any fees or interest for student accounts so there are no surprises when bills arrive.

Current helps parents teach teens financial responsibility while giving them a way to learn without having cash around the house and all its temptations.

That means less worry for both parents and kids! With Current, your teenager will be able to do everything from paying friends back to buying groceries at the store–all safely with only her phone!

And teens will have the opportunity to learn financial responsibility and budgeting from an early age. This will allow them to grow their savings and move one step closer to financial independence.

The product has no specifically stated minimum age requirement, but the marketing points toward a Teen Account as the target audience. Therefore, you might be able to open an account below this age for your child.

Read more in our Current review.


4. Best for Spending Lessons: Till Financial


till financial sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free
  • App Store Rating: 4.5

Earning, saving and investing money are important cornerstones for every child to learn before setting out into the world. 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 kid banking platform describes itself as a collaborative family financial tool that empowers kids 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.

Doing so enables them to get to their goal quicker, shows them the power of delaying gratification and how working toward a goal can yield desired results.

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.

The overall goal of the service is to encourage greater independence and confidence managing paychecks and bills outside the home.

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.

 

5. Best Free Debit Card for Teens: Axos Bank First Checking


axos bank first teen checking sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free
  • App Store Rating: 4.7

First Checking by Axos Bank is the ultimate starter checking account for teens which also comes with a debit card. The world of banking can be a little scary, but not with the simplicity and power of Axos’ First Checking Account.

The account works as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.

Parent and teens can manage almost every part of the banking experience through a convenient mobile app or through the online desktop portal. Perfect for modern families who always find themselves on the go.

The First Checking account from Axos Bank gives teens their first taste of financial independence by giving them their own checking account (which pays interest!) and debit card that has daily cash withdrawals limits of $100 and purchase limits of $500.

This provides safeguards against teens getting carried away with the money held in their account.

Further, you can have up to $12 of domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month, avoid any monthly maintenance, overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees—essentially making the account free!

The account carries the highest level of security through biometric authentication techniques like fingerprint readers, voiceprints and facial recognition (pending smartphone feature availability).

The product has a minimum age requirement of 13 and will convert to a Axos Checking Account after reaching the age of majority.

Read more in our Axos First Checking Account review.

 

6. Best Free Debit Card for Teens with Interest: Nationwide Bank First Checking


nationwide first checking sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free
  • App Store Rating: 4.7

With a highly comparable teen checking account product as Axos’ First Checking, Nationwide’s First Checking also acts as an ultimate starter checking account with debit card for teens. We feel both deserve spots on this list for their features and price point: free.

Like Axos’ First Checking, this Nationwide account works as a joint account between a parent or guardian and their teen, allowing for easy-to-set, customizable parental controls with a debit card dashboard.

Equipped with the same features and functionality, the one distinguishing feature is the ability to begin earning interest with a $0 balance in the account. As of summer 2022, this amounts to 0.1% APY, which is a competitive rate for a simple teen checking account and debit card product.

 

7. Chase First Banking: Best Free Debit Card for Kids and Teens


chase first banking sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free (no fees)
  • App Store Rating: 4.8

Ready to teach your little ones about money, but not quite sure if you have the time, patience and expertise?

Chase First BankingSM offers simple banking for both of you in one location: the Chase Mobile® App—for free. Manage all accounts with this mobile app and encounter no fees as well as find yourself able to withdraw money on 16,000 Chase ATMs around the country.

At the heart of Chase First BankingSM sits one of the best free debit cards for kids and teens that works anywhere Visa is accepted.

Need insight and oversight into your child’s spending and saving? You can set spend alerts and limits as well as specific locations all in your Chase Mobile® app.

Teach your kids to spend, save and earn — all from the Chase Mobile® app. Chase First BankingSM helps parents teach teens and kids about money by giving parents the control they want and kids the freedom they need to learn.

To get started, you’ll first need to be a Chase customer with a qualifying Chase checking account.

Consider opening a Chase Total Checking SM or Chase Secure BankingSM account to qualify.

  • Chase Total CheckingSM also grants access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches as well as a $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.

 

8. Best Free Debit Card for Kids Runner Up: Jassby Virtual Debit Card


jassby sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free, possible monthly fees for inactivity after 6 months
  • App Store Rating: 4.4, only 270 ratings

Jassby is a free mobile wallet app families can use to manage chores, allowance payments and money spent on debit cards.

The app allows parents and guardians to share money with their kids while teaching them valuable financial literacy skills. Currently, the service is only available as an iOS app.

Jassby works by allowing kids to spend their allowance in the Jassby Shop or anywhere Apple Pay is accepted using the Jassby Virtual Debit Card.

The shop includes gift cards to stores and companies kids would likely want to use their allowance. Places like Apple’s App Store and iTunes, Nintendo, the PlayStation Store, Microsoft’s Rewards program, and other places.

There are clothing stores, electronics retailers, restaurants, entertainment and more. You can also donate the allowance money to a number of qualified charities found in the Jassby Shop.

Accounts which use payments on the fully contactless debit card for teens have no monthly fees if at least one family Jassby Virtual Debit Card makes a purchase each month.

In the event no activity occurs after the first six months of account opening, Jassby will assess a monthly fee of $2.99 for each calendar month.

Finally, Jassby offers online e-learning resources to teach kids about personal finance and other fun activities. For example, you can purchase a CodeWizardsHQ online coding class package perfect for kids and teens ages 8-18.

Jassby states all e-learning programs found in the Jassby Shop are family-friendly and can be paid for by having an allowance earned and saved through the Jassby app.

 

9. Best for COPPA Compliance: Mazoola


mazoola sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free
  • App Store Rating: 4.4

Mazoola is helping parents teach their children financial literacy with the FIRST and ONLY COPPA (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 without losing control.

More importantly, with over 1 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 security and privacy that only Mazoola can offer.

 

10. Best for Parent-Paid Bonuses: Revolut Junior


revolut junior sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free (no fees)
  • App Store Rating: 4.7

The Revolut Junior Card 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 Junior account for your children. You can add up to five Junior accounts per parent account.

To learn more about the Revolut Junior card, consider visiting their site and opening an account for yourself and your child.

 

Other Kid’s Debit Card Options to Consider (Not Free)


While free is always the right price, you might want more functionality for a higher cost. Below are some of the other debit cards for kids and teens you might consider trialing before committing to a free option above.

AppApple App Store Rating
+ Best For
FeesPromotions
greenlight logo thin
Greenlight
☆ 4.8 / 5
Customer rating, parental controls, goal setting, chore and allowance management, and ability to learn investing fundamentals
$4.99/month for up to five kidsFirst month free
gohenry logo thin
GoHenry
☆ 4.6 / 5
Accessible customer service support
$3.99/mo per childFree month trial
busykid logo thin
BusyKid
☆ 3.5 / 5
Teaching balanced financial approach through chores & allowance; investing fundamentals
$3.99/mo (5 cards); $38.99/yr30-day money back guarantee
famzoo logo thin
FamZoo
☆ 4.6 / 5
Financial literacy resources
$5.99/mo per familyFree month trial
acorns logo transparent text thin
Acorns Early
☆ 4.7 / 5
Automated investing in the background into diversified investments
$3/month - $5/month$10 sign up bonus when making first deposit at account opening
stash logo full thin
Stash
☆ 4.7 / 5
Everyday people looking to start managing their finances
$1/month - $9/month$5 stock bonus for making a deposit of $5 or more
m1 finance logo color thin
M1 Finance
☆ 4.6 / 5
Fee-free active trading and automated investing
$0 trading or automated investing; $125/year on M1 Plus subscription for custodial account3 months of M1 Plus for free ($31.75 value)
*Apple App Store Rating as of October 12, 2022

 

1. Best Rated Overall: Greenlight


greenlight sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free 1-month trial, $4.99/month after
  • App Store Rating: 4.8

Greenlight provides parents control over where their kids can spend money by limiting the stores where their cards work. Parents can get alerts when money is spent on the Greenlight prepaid debit card for teens and for how much.

Further, parents can open an investment account for kids to get their children investing in stocks and index funds for the first time.

Greenlight works like a prepaid debit card, allowing you to transfer money onto the card for your child to pay for expenses at approved locations.

You can choose how much money to load onto the card and your child will be cleared to make approved purchases so long as a money balance backs up the card.

Greenlight charges $4.99 per month for up to five kids. Replacement cards cost $3.50 each but are free the first time. If you need to replace your card quickly, you can get express delivery for $24.99.

This company also offers a personalized card for $9.99/year with your own photo or design. Greenlight doesn’t offer interest but you may set up “parent-paid interest” between you and your child where you foot the bill and pay interest on accounts for up to five kids.

If your child asks for extra money to get added to the card, you can have them take a photo of the purchase they want to make and receive your approval. This gives you control and allows kids to discuss why a purchase either is a good or bad idea.

If your child has a job, they can add their own funds to the card as well.

The Greenlight debit card is a good choice for parents looking to teach their kids the importance of saving money and making prudent financial decisions.

This financial product can be an effective learning tool for helping kids to understand why saving should be a priority as well as to help parents simplify paying an allowance or tracking chores.

It’s also a rapidly growing app many parents have come to use for raising financially-smart teens. The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting at 6 or later.

The Greenlight Mastercard Debit Card for teens offers the best combination of features among all cards we reviewed, including its simple mobile app. Who says kids can’t have their own debit card? Nowadays, there are plenty of options for parents and our top choice is Greenlight.

Read more in our Greenlight Card review.

Related: 12 Best Allowance and Chore Apps for Kids [Easier Family Life]

2. Best for Customer Service: GoHenry


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  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: 1 month free, then $3.99 per child/month
  • App Store Rating: 4.6

GoHenry is a banking app for minors that comes paired with prepaid debit cards for parents to oversee and manage their children’s account balance. You have an online account which comes linked to individual accounts for each of your children.

You can manage all of the money held in each account through the company’s app and online account portal.

Each child will receive their own GoHenry debit card which comes paired with parental controls you can set for your children.

What’s nice about GoHenry is the ability to spend only the money available on the card, meaning you don’t need to worry about costly overdraft fees or accrue debt.

You open a GoHenry account, receive your children’s debit cards in the mail 7-8 business days later, set up an automatic weekly allowance transfer into your children’s accounts and can set up one-off or weekly spending limits.

This will keep your children’s spending in check and you can block/unblock the card as needed as well as choose the stores where your kids can shop.

With time, the controls provided by the app and the guidance you offer can help your kids to earn, save, spend and give with good money habits.

GoHenry is one of the best debit cards for teens for customer service. They offer 24/7 phone availability, email access and social media engagement, ensuring users can solve their problems quickly and with little hassle.

The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting at 6 or later.

Learn more by reading our GoHenry debit card review.

Related: GoHenry vs. Greenlight

3. Best Value: BusyKid


busykid sign up

  • Available: Sign up here (Devices: Android, Apple iOS/iPhone/iPad)
  • Price: $3.99/month, $38.99/year (up to 5 cards)
  • App Store Rating: 3.5

Are you looking for a way to teach your teens about money through chores, earning an allowance and managing their money on reloadable debit cards for minors?

BusyKid is an award-winning, parent-approved app that educates kids about money. It’s a way to teach your children how to manage their allowance and learn important money lessons.

The BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Card lets them spend their money in stores or online with just one swipe of the card. You can even set up automatic savings. The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting earlier than later.

Your child will be able to earn real money by completing chores and tasks around the house each week while learning valuable financial skills like budgeting, saving and giving back.

Plus they’ll have fun earning rewards from brands like Disney on BusyKid’s weekly challenges!

BusyKid is an easy-to-use, interactive kid chore app with debit card that will help them learn and practice important real-life lessons from the palm of their hands.

They can earn, save, invest, donate or spend – all while having fun! And it couldn’t be more simple.

Parents set chores and allowance gets directly deposited each Friday!

  • Earn – Teens can earn by completing tasks assigned by parents
  • Save – They can save up to 10% of their weekly allowance automatically
  • Donate – They can give back by donating 1% of what they make to charity
  • Spend – When they’re ready for independence, BusyKid has a Visa Prepaid Spend Card so kids are never without cash in hand.

In order to get paid, parents need to approve the Payday text message sent through the app each Thursday if your kids are to be paid on Friday.

Some fees apply for various actions you can take through the app and with the card as well.

Finally, BusyKid also allows children to invest their earnings through the app, something Greenlight + Invest also allows. Doing so requires setting up a separate Stockpile custodial account.

 

4. Best for Financial Education: FamZoo


famzoo sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free trial, then $5.99/month per family
  • App Store Rating: 4.6

FamZoo is another service for parents interested in opening prepaid debit cards to manage their children’s spending.

It works by having parents release money into their child’s account and then having the card work with a loaded balance. Money can be loaded onto the cards at any time.

FamZoo acts like a regular checking account with a linked debit card except FamZoo makes sure the account can’t be charged overdraft fees, saving you money.

Adults are able to monitor the transactions being made. After a free trial, this app costs $5.99 per month, but the price goes down if prepaid in advance.

FamZoo is our top education choice because of its strong financial education library which improves its overall value.

The product has no minimum age requirements, but recommends starting earlier than later.

Related: Greenlight vs. Famzoo

5. Best for Long-Term Growth: Acorns


acorns

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Acorns Personal: $3/month, Acorns Family: $5/month
  • App Store Rating: 4.7

Acorns has become one of the most popular financial apps for minors and young adults but also offers a robust money management platform extending beyond just investing.

The full suite of offerings includes the ability to establish custodial accounts for minors to invest, regular and retirement investment accounts for adults and a bank account with linked debit card.

If you sign up for the Acorns Spend product (available under the Acorns Personal and Acorns Family plans), it creates a bank account that carries FDIC Insurance protection for up to $250,000.

Further, it uses the Acorns “Round Ups” feature which rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, investing the difference between the transaction amount and the whole dollar. The service claims to help users invest an average of $30/month using this feature.

While not a free stock trading app, Acorns does give you the following subscription options:

  • Acorns Personal ($3/month):
    1. Acorns Invest: Invests spare change through the popular “Round-Ups” feature, earns bonus investments and provides access to financial literacy articles
    2. Acorns Later: Tax-advantaged investment options like IRAs
    3. Acorns Spend: Acts as your bank account, offering free withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs nationwide and no account fees and the ability to earn up to 10% bonus investments
  • Acorns Family ($5/month):
    1. Everything in Acorns Personal (Acorns Invest, Later and Spend)
    2. Acorns Early: This allows you to take advantage of the best way to invest $1,000 for your child‘s future and can teach you how to invest as a teenager or minor through opening a custodial account.

For a limited time, the service also offers a $10 sign up bonus for people who open an account. Learn how to get free stocks and how to start investing money.

Learn more in our Acorns review.

Related: Best Acorns Alternatives: Micro-Investing Apps to Use

6. Best for Approaching Finances for the First Time: Stash


stash sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Growth: $3/month, Stash+: $9/month1
  • App Store Rating: 4.7

Another app to grace this list twice is Stash, a leading all-in-one financial platform, offers a mobile-friendly banking account6. With no hidden banking fees, no minimum deposit or balance requirements, and fee-free ATM access7, Stash may be a strong choice for consumers who prefer to do their banking and investing all through the same platform2.

Plus, you’ll earn Stock-Back Rewards® at places like Walmart, Amazon and more when you make qualified purchases with your Stock-Back® card8.

If you are a young adult, you may want to use Stash to invest money with regular automatic transfers or even “round up” purchases you make on a linked debit card so that the spare change goes to your personal portfolio.

Stash also offers financial education resources that can help you improve your financial literacy. It covers numerous topics like investing, managing and planning money.

The specifics on the Stash banking account:

  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum daily balance requirement, but you do need to open a Stash Invest account to use your Stash Online Banking account7.
  • Yield: None, but you’ll earn Stock-Back® rewards on every eligible purchase made with the Stock-Back® card8.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Earn Stock-Back® rewards on every eligible debit card purchase. Earn 0.125% Stock-Back® rewards on everyday purchases and up to 5% Stock-Back® rewards on purchases with certain merchants that are eligible for Stock-Back® bonuses9. Plus, you can get paid up to two days early when you direct deposit your pay into your Stash banking account10 and enjoy access to thousands of fee-free ATMs7.
  • Possible Fees: Fees for use of out-of-network ATMs2.

For additional details and disclosures, please see the fine print at the bottom of this article.

7. Best for Financial Automation: M1 Finance


m1 finance sign up

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: Free trades, M1 Plus costs $125/year
  • App Store Rating: 4.6

M1 Finance is an all-in-one super app that does it all. The app allows you to invest, borrow and spend but also open a M1 Finance custodial account to allow your kids to use it as an investment app as well.

They even allow custodial IRAs, making this one of the best custodial accounts. The service requires you to sign up for M1 Plus to do this, however. Be sure to watch out for when the company puts this on promotion, making it free for you to try.

As for money management and linked debit cards, if you hold money in the app’s free checking account, it comes with FDIC insurance coverage and is part of the entire safe M1 Finance financial app experience.

Read more about this app in our M1 Finance review.

What is a Debit Card for Kids and Teens?


investing younger

Minors can’t open their own bank account until they reach the age of majority in their state—often 18 years old. Parents can choose one possible path: opening a subaccount from their own bank account to provide their kids with a card to use.

It’s likely that your child will need to be at least 13 years old before receiving a card.

However, these accounts may not come with the custom spending controls, parental oversight or feature-filled mobile apps many new debit cards for kids and teens provide. Some new apps even allow you to lock the card or limit where your child spends money.

These cards also effectively function as a prepaid debit card for teens because you can establish parental controls. Traditional banks or prepaid debit cards might not allow you to do this beyond keeping the account balance at a certain level.

Can I Get a Debit Card for Kids Under 13?


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Typically, you think of your current situation and start evaluating options based on what you know. Therefore, the most likely place you will start to think about getting a debit card for your child would be your own bank.

Though rules vary by financial institution, some don’t allow minors to have debit cards under their own name before the age of 16. Others choose to offer them to kids who are 13 or younger.

But even if you can get one from your current bank, you don’t want to just hand your child a debit card. You might want more insight and control over their spending so you can introduce good habits.

Such options include having a joint prepaid debit card with your kid or teen, allowing you both to manage the money jointly and agree on what the card can be used for.

These cards give kids the control they seek over their own cash but also allow parents to monitor the spending and offer useful guidance when needed.

Traditional banks don’t often have these controls available to you, making this a difficult task without the tools necessary to oversee account management.

Instead, a new breed of financial companies have emerged to empower parents to make money decisions with their children and equip them with the capabilities to manage money in a way they’d like.

Let’s look at some of the best free debit cards for kids and teens. Then, we can look at the features of the best prepaid debit card programs available to kids and how you can sign up.

What to Do Before Getting a Free Debit Card for Kids


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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.

Which Features Should You Look For in a Free Kids Debit Card?

1. Direct Deposit


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One of the best features that may be available on debit cards for kids is direct deposit.

Direct deposit means that a child’s paycheck will go directly to their account, rather than just getting an envelope from work and then handing it over to mom or dad for money management.

Direct deposits are also good because they can help a parent manage when money should come into the bank account and when they know they need to transfer money for any expected expenses.

Some debit cards for teens even allow free early direct deposit if they open a premium checking account as well. This allows teens to get paid faster than with regular direct deposit.

Some debit cards for kids deliver paychecks up to two days faster than traditional banks when you sign up for direct deposit.

Despite instilling a sense of delayed gratification in your children to build up their money management skills and long-term thinking, waiting for your hard earned money to hit your account shouldn’t always be something you must do.

After all, if you earned it, why should you have to wait? Consider direct deposit when evaluating debit cards for kids.

2. Transfer Money Instantly


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The instant transfer capability is really beneficial for parents with young children.

When kids are too small to have a job or your teens are too busy to go with you to the bank, it’s up to the parent or guardian to give them some spending money each week from their own pocket.

Many parents use this as a way to pay for allowance or monthly chores. The instant transfer capability eliminates the need to make a trip into an actual bank, which could be difficult for kids with no transportation or adults pressed for time.

Plus, it helps parents to see how much money they give their children and can help them determine if they should give more or less as time goes on.

This feature proves invaluable for any parent of busy young children.

In addition, the instant transfer capability also helps parents who want to teach their children about financial literacy because kids learn how to work for their money and associate earnings with work- not something they receive unearned.

It’s important that kids know what it means to earn and spend money and how much they have in their account at all times.

Many debit cards for kids offer this useful feature because a quick “reload” option helps parents keep on top of things even when pressed for time.

3. Mobile App


best financial apps medium

In today’s modern world, everything has gone digital. A lot of parents have found that it’s much easier to keep track of their children by using a mobile app for banking.

Teens can open their own checking account with the help of a parent, earn money to deposit into the account and then get access to the funds in order to make purchases on behalf of themselves or others- all from a mobile app.

Mobile apps also allow teens to take charge of their money because they’re responsible for keeping track of their spending and can see the balance of funds in their account at all times.

Parents are able to control how much money is available for use on a mobile app by setting parental controls that include daily limits, time restrictions, spending limits, and more- making it easy to teach kids about financial responsibility from an early age.

4. No Overdraft Fees


Most prepaid debit cards can avoid overdraft fees by declining any charges when the bank account carries an insufficient account balance.

Since overdraft fees are typically the most expensive fee associated with a bank account, this is an excellent feature to look for when choosing prepaid cards or debit cards linked to a bank account.

By having spending controls, parents can monitor their children’s spending. With apps that allow parents to take control of the card, kids can’t spend more than a predetermined amount in any time period or location.

That means not having to pay overdraft fees: if the debit card for teens won’t allow spending above a preset limit (such as the remaining account balance), kids won’t have the ability to buy something that triggers an overdraft fee.

For example, the BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend or Greenlight Mastercard Debit Card for Kids don’t have issues with overdraft fees because you can’t spend money not already loaded onto the card.

Another method for avoiding overdraft fees comes from use of prepaid cards for kids and teens.

Much like a debit card with spending limits set above the account balance, prepaid cards don’t allow you to spend what you don’t have loaded on the card.

Both types of cards place guardrails on overdraft fees, protecting kids (and yourself) from costly fees and other banking account issues.

5. Low Monthly Fees


Many debit cards for kids have account subscription fees you pay to open and maintain an account with this banking provider.

These monthly fees have become a common way for banks to earn money. For example, this is how Acorns makes money.

These monthly fees (or annual fees) are commonplace given the low account balances kids and teens will likely carry in their accounts.

Banks typically make money by taking the deposits held on account and lending them to borrowers. They charge an interest rate to the borrower at a higher rate than they borrow from the depositor.

This difference, called the net interest margin, accounts for the lion’s share of bank earnings.

However, many banks have also gone after non-interest income in the form of one-off or monthly fees and services. Items like overdraft fees, account fees, account minimum balance violation fees and much more.

Because most kids will have low account balances and still require automated financial assistance for their needs, many debit cards for teens choose to charge monthly fees as an avenue for earning income.

Thankfully, many of them offer value-added services above and beyond what many traditional banks have, making them worth more to a parent’s peace of mind.

Having parental controls, setting spending limits, maintaining shared mobile app access and more provide parents with an attractive value proposition.

6. Parent Controls


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Parental controls are one of the key features that a debit card for teens should have.

This is easy to set up and can be suited to any parent’s needs by being able to choose what notifications they want, set spending limits, determine which merchants kids can visit and more.

Different transactions need different levels of monitoring, so parental controls allow customization which makes it easier on parents who want a specific view into their kids’ spending activity. You won’t get these on a free debit card for kids.

Parental controls also allow automated allowance payments, setting chores to complete, notifications for all purchases online and off and seeing spending reports.

These parental controls differentiate between a traditional prepaid card and a card offered by a traditional bank.

7. Money Management Features


Spending money is one of the most stressful parts of being a kid.

You have to budget your allowance, decide what all that funds mean for you in terms of buying clothes and supplies or saving up to buy something big – but it never quite seems like enough because there are so many things on your wishlist!

A bank account and linked card can help by giving you a budgeting tool to help you spend money wisely.

Many offer special savings pods, categories or other terms to set aside money toward teenage money goals, both in the short-term and long-term.

Further, some money apps for kids also offer the ability to invest in stocks for kids or other teenage investing goals.

8. Establish Savings Goals


Closely related to parent-paid interest is the desire to establish savings goals. Saving from an early age can enforce delayed gratification, or the idea that things are more satisfying when they’re worked for and earned down the road.

There’s also something about saving that really instills responsibility in your child. They’ll start understanding what it means to budget, diversify savings, and invest for better returns.

These accounts can teach your kids how to save money by setting up savings goals, pods or categories.

These envelopes of cash are a system that involves saving every time you get paid, but in different denominations and at different times of the month.

This will help them understand that they can’t just spend all their money on things they want right now because they need to save up for other priorities later.

Is There a Debit Card for Kids with No Fees?


mother and daughter rubbing noses and smiling

As we’ve covered above, you can find several kid debit cards, free or paid. One of the best debit cards for kids and teens without a monthly service fee is Copper Banking.

The free prepaid debit card empowers kids to learn about earning, saving and spending their money through teaching teens about the basics of banking and budgeting.

The app offers the ability for teens to budget and set goals while giving parents monitoring oversight of purchases made in real-time.

Together, these features provide productive tools for parents and teens to engage in ongoing financial conversations, providing both groups with greater confidence in money decisions made now and in the future.

And it’s easy to see why this matters: the company’s mission of bolstering financial literacy in teens can equip them to make smarter money choices down the road.

Aside from providing a platform for facilitating informed financial decision-making for teens, the company offers a voice of its own. Specifically, the company provides ongoing bite-sized teen money lessons called “Money Moves,” formerly “Cheat Codes.”

The short videos and accompanying articles present as longer-form social media-style video lessons—longer than a TikTok video, but shorter than a full-blown YouTube video explainer.

Their short-form nature make them quick, high-level lessons teens can watch when they want to learn about new financial concepts like mortgages, budgeting, the stock market, or even Social Security.

The videos don’t talk down to teens, instead offering detail-rich explanations of the topics covered, often filled with data and statistics backing the concepts presented.


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About the Author

Riley Adams is a licensed CPA who works 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 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, The Balance and Fast Company.

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