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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.

Better still, you can get these tools at no cost. Many free debit cards represent the first pathway into financial responsibility because they start to give kids and teens control over their spending and provide them an early glimpse into what it’s like to manage money on their own.

But which of these products is best for you and your children?

Read on as we discuss some of the best free debit cards for kids and teens, highlighting their features, drawbacks, and other important information to help you choose one that will work best for your minor’s needs!

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


Free Teen Checking Account
Free Teen Account
Debit Card for Kids and Teens Without Fees
3.6
3.5
4.2
Free (no monthly fees).
Free (no monthly fees).
No monthly fees.
Free Teen Checking Account
3.6
Free (no monthly fees).
Free Teen Account
3.5
Free (no monthly fees).
Debit Card for Kids and Teens Without Fees
4.2
No monthly fees.

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


Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best free debit cards for teens and kids that should work for your needs. Look carefully at each card; we’ll help you compare features so you can determine which one makes the most sense.

AppApple App Store Rating +
Best For
Promotions
Axos Bank logoAxos First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens ready to learn about money management
None
nationwide logo transparent text thinNationwide First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens to learn essential financial skills and avoid fees
None
revolut logo thinRevolut <18☆ 4.7 / 5
Parent-paid bonuses
None
current logo thinCurrent☆ 4.7 / 5
Innovation and product features
None
Till Financial logo thinTill Financial☆ 4.5 / 5
Teaching about smart spending
None
chase logo transparent text thinChase First Banking☆ 4.8 / 5
High customer satisfaction from a major bank without fees
None
step logo transparent symbol thinStep Banking☆ 4.7 / 5
Building credit history
None
*Apple App Store Rating as of April 1, 2024.

 

1. Axos Bank First Checking (Best Free Debit Card for Teens at an Online-Only Bank)


axos bank first teen checking sign up

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, 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.

Related: Best Teen-Friendly Debit Cards

2. Nationwide Bank First Checking


nationwide first checking sign up

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.

Related: Best Investing Apps for Teens Under 18 [Stock Apps for Teens]

3. Revolut <18 (Best for Parent-Paid Bonuses)


revolut under 18 signup

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 Revolut <18 accounts per parent account.

IMPORTANT: You must have a personal Revolut account before you can open any Revolut <18 accounts. When you click our link, you will be directed to a page that will allow you to sign up for a personal Revolut account. Once you have done so, you can begin opening Revolut <18 accounts for your children. You can add up to five Revolut <18 accounts per personal account.

To learn more about Revolut <18, consider visiting their site and opening an account for yourself and your child.

Related: Best Online Jobs for Teens to Make Money While at Home

4. Current (Great No-Monthly-Fee Teen Card)


Current signup new

The Current banking app is designed with families in mind. It offers both adult 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:

  • No minimum required balances, no fees on transfers to other Current accounts, and no hidden fees.
  • Create Savings Pods, or Giving Pods, that allow you to save up for various goals.
  • 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.

Current doesn’t specifically state a minimum age requirement, but the company’s marketing suggests teens are the target audience. Still, you might be able to open an account for a younger child.

 

5. Till Financial (Best for Spending Lessons)


till financial sign up

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.

Related: How Old Do You Need to Be to Buy Stocks?

6. Chase First Banking (Best Free Debit Card for Kids and Teens)


chase first banking sign up

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. The account is designed with kids 6-12 in mind, and available for ages 6-17.

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.

Once you open a qualifying Chase Checking account (Chase Total Checking SM or Chase Secure BankingSM), you may apply for a Chase First BankingSM account for your child. Read more in our Chase First Banking review.

Related: Best Bank Accounts for Kids

7. Step Banking (Best for Building Credit)


Step signup new nocode

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.

I’ll be clear: Step is technically not a debit card. But because it largely acts like one, I’ve reviewed it—and it stands out as a one-of-a-kind product worth mentioning nonetheless.

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.

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.

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. Read more in our Step review.

Related: Best Teen Credit Cards for Building Credit

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 trying out before committing to a free option above. One distinction between free and paid debit cards for kids: many paid cards offer plans for up to five kids.

AppApple App Store Rating
+ Best For
FeesPromotions
greenlight transparent logo thinGreenlight☆ 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
copper logo thinCopper Banking☆ 4.9 / 5
Teen financial independence
Copper $4.95/mo., Copper + Invest: $7.95/mo.None
gohenry logo thinGoHenry☆ 4.6 / 5
Accessible customer service support
Individual: $4.99/child/mo. Family: $9.98/mo. for up to four childrenFree month trial
busykid logo thinBusyKid☆ 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 thinFamZoo☆ 4.6 / 5
Financial literacy resources
$5.99/mo per familyFree month trial
*Apple App Store Rating as of February 22, 2024

 

What Is a Debit Card for Kids and Teens?


mother father daughter child credit debit card

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 bank 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.

What to Do Before Getting a Free Debit Card for Kids


young man woman smartphones apps

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?


mother daughter teen smartphone app online 2

  • Direct Deposit: One of the best features that may be available on free 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.
  • Transfer Money Instantly: The instant money transfer capability is really beneficial for parents with young children. 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. Many free 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.
  • Mobile App: Many parents and guardians find that banking mobile apps make it much easier to keep track of their children’s spending. 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.
  • 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, manage ATM withdrawals, determine which merchants kids can visit, and even lock and unlock kids’ cards.
  • Money Management Features: Money management features can be especially attractive when deciding on a kids’ debit card. 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.
  • Establish 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. As a note, some paid debit cards offer a feature called parent-paid interest, where parents can pay interest on savings held on a child’s account.

Is There a Debit Card for Kids With No Fees?


mother daughter baking kitchen nose

Yes! As we’ve covered above, you can find not just one, but several kid debit cards, free or paid.

One of the best debit cards for kids and teens without a monthly service fee comes from Step, a newer financial technology company focused on offering financial products to minors and young adults. 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. We’ve highlighted other options above and some other ones include Capital One MONEY Teen checking account, Bank of America’s Clear Access account and Chase’s High School Checking.

About the Author

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

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

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