GoHenry and Greenlight are two competing companies that offer debit cards for kids and teens. Both feature parental controls, transaction notifications, spending limits and other useful features that give parents insight and control into their kids’ money decisions.
While both offer similar features, they differ in some ways in terms of features, functionality and price—with each potentially offering a better value proposition than the other, depending on your unique circumstances and family situation.
In this GoHenry vs. Greenlight comparison, we take a look at each prepaid debit card for kids to see which one is the best debit card for teens.
Making a choice between these two cards will depend on what your child’s needs are, how much access you want to have over their financial decisions and what you hope to accomplish with these powerful tools for building financial literacy and personal finance responsibility.
Let’s dive in to learn more about Greenlight vs. GoHenry!
What are Debit Cards for Kids and Teens?
Due to legal reasons tied to lack of capacity, minors do not have the ability to enter into legal contracts. As a result, children can’t open their own bank account until they reach the age of majority in their state—often 18 years old.
Parents interested in offering their kids a bank account and paired debit card can still choose a number of possible paths:
1) Opening a sub account from their own bank account.
This can provide your kids with a card to use while you can maintain control over the account itself. Under this situation, it’s still likely that your child will need to be at least 13 years old before receiving a debit card.
However, these accounts may not come with the features you want for maintaining control over your child’s spending habits.
2) Opening a debit card for teens (minors).
This route understands parents’ desires to teach their kids about money, while providing sufficient parental controls and oversight to make sure a child’s spending and money decisions are smart.
To accomplish this mission, debit cards for teens offer parents custom spending controls, spending notifications, merchant blocking, daily and ATM spending limits, plus other controls enabled through feature-filled mobile apps.
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 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.
Should You Get a Debit Card for Teens and Kids?
Kids learn best with their hands and by experiencing things in person. That’s why starting a savings goal with a physical piggy bank can materialize the concept of saving in their minds.
This tangible aspect makes it real for them and gives them a connection to money.
With enough time, however, you can move this money management to the modern, digital-first world, relying on what has become an increasingly common way to handle money.
Having a debit card for kids and teens addresses several areas of parental concern simultaneously:
- Parental Controls. By having significant control over how kids are spending money, withdrawing money from ATMs, or working toward savings goals, debit cards for kids can provide ideal levels of control to parents and not need to worry about spending cash without their knowing. Setting spending controls or spending limits can provide significant peace of mind.
- Avoids Cash. Closely related to parental controls, having plastic in the pocket of your kid avoids needing to hand over cash, go by the ATM or grocery store, or risk losing it altogether. Debit cards for kids provide security over your money with the convenience of transferring money with a few taps of the mobile app linked to your cards.
- Educational Resource. These cards offer ample financial resources to learn about money, but also have controls in place before many transactions occur. This forces a conversation between parents and kids, allowing you to teach your kids about numerous financial lessons in advance of a decision getting made.
- Spending Control. I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t he already talk about parental controls above? Yes, but I mean “spending control” from the personal finance point-of-view. Meaning, kids have to control their own spending because a debit card forces you to live within your means, making it impossible to use tomorrow’s dollars to fund today’s purchases. These limits from a card can help to develop a stronger sense of financial literacy by navigating these everyday decisions with today’s dollars, not tomorrow’s potential profit. These cards don’t act like a credit card, allowing you to spend what you don’t currently have through borrowing.
While a debit card for kids can provide the above benefits, making cash possibly a thing of the past, you don’t necessarily need to forsake one entirely for the other. Having money held in cash and on your card and account can make good financial sense.
Though, for the reasons above and the added convenience, I find initiating a digital account transfer from your account to their account is far easier than driving to the bank to get money out of the ATM.
If these sound like good reasons to consider getting a prepaid debit card for your kid, have a look at two of the best debit cards for kids and teens: the Greenlight Debit Card and GoHenry Debit Card.
Be sure to check out my full list of best debit cards for kids and teens to learn about other options in this market.
What is the Best Prepaid Debit Card for a Teenager?
A prepaid card is a type of payment card that can be loaded with money in advance and then used to purchase goods or services without incurring debt from the issuer.
In other words, these aren’t credit cards which borrow against a line of credit, allowing you to repay them each monthly billing cycle. Instead, prepaid cards require you to front the money on your card and spend down the balance until you next reload it.
Prepaid debit cards for kids enable them to:
- have money to spend in stores and online
- have a card that looks like a debit card or credit card
- avoids a non-sufficient funds, withdrawal or transaction fee (other fees may apply, however)
- pairs with a mobile app that offers security features, parental controls to set spending limits, money management tools, saving features, and more
With these features in mind, let’s take a look at which company, Greenlight vs. GoHenry, makes the best prepaid debit card for teenagers.
- How Do Prepaid Debit Cards Work? What You Need to Know
- Opening a Child Bank Account with Debit Card
- How Parents Can Help Their Children Start to Build Credit
Greenlight vs. GoHenry Prepaid Debit Cards
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll know both Greenlight and GoHenry are debit cards for kids and teens which allow parents to:
- set spending limits
- control where kids spend money
- teach them about money
With these starter banking products, parents can eventually introduce other important financial tools like a checking account and savings account, or even credit cards and the idea of interest.
The main difference between these two prepaid debit cards is that Greenlight offers a more feature-filled experience and also comes with lower monthly fees if you have more than one child. If you only have one child, you may want to opt for the GoHenry debit card.
That said, Greenlight might still be your better choice if you want to house other important functions in the same platform, namely the ability to invest with Greenlight Max, the investing feature from Greenlight.
With these major differences highlighted upfront, let’s first move into how Greenlight vs. GoHenry compare similarly before proceeding to the more nuanced differences.
Similarities Between GoHenry vs. Greenlight
Both being prepaid debit cards for kids, these banking products have more similarities than differences.
GoHenry vs. Greenlight: Features
- Use spending controls to set spending limits
- No card reload fees
- No transaction fees
- Both charge monthly fees to their users (though the pricing system differs)
- Offer the ability to track chores and act as an allowance app for parents to pay their children
- Offer a free trial for 30 days to start and demo the service
- Can have multiple family members participate simultaneously though parent account(s) and child account(s)
- Provide real-time spending alerts to parents
- Both offer custom cards (at different price points)
- No overdraft fees (not a teen checking account)
- Multiple funding options (e.g., instant transfers from parents’ bank account or parent wallet)
- Can send gifts through various means (sending links) through the app
- Ability to “give” and donate money to charity through the app
- Each app has a high Apple App Store rating (4.8 for Greenlight, 4.7 for GoHenry)
- Provide customer service and support (hours differ, based on prepaid card plan chosen)
GoHenry vs. Greenlight: Bank Accounts
Both prepaid debit card for kids accounts have the following bank account features in common:
FDIC insured up to $250,000 on account balance through the same banking partner/card issuer (Community Federal Savings Bank).
Prepaid Debit Mastercard
Both use MasterCard as their payment network processor (Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard and GoHenry Prepaid Mastercard).
Account Balance Available through Mobile App
Ability to check debit card account balances through the mobile app.
Further, you can check savings balances as well as investment balances on Greenlight + Invest and Greenlight Max plans.
A GoHenry debit card for kids doesn’t currently provide access to an investment account.
Establish Savings Goals
You can establish savings goals through each app linked to the debit card for kids.
Greenlight recently began paying interest of up to 1% on the savings goals through its General Savings account in the Greenlight + Invest plan and up to 2% on the savings goals established through its premium Greenlight Max plan.
Of note, the General Savings account is not a separate account, rather a “General Savings” designation on funds dedicated toward savings. They do not reside in a savings account or other checking account.
Additionally, the Greenlight debit card allows you to use Parent-Paid Interest, which is an annual percentage rate that you set for your child’s General Savings in the Greenlight app.
Their account will earn the interest on the first of each month and all you have to do is set up the money transfer into their account from your parent’s 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 your kid to earn a lot, then you can set your Parent-Paid interest to pay up to 100% interest.
GoHenry also allows you to set up savings goals in your kid’s account. A child can establish goals for how they save their money and put part of their allowance toward this goal each week.
GoHenry vs. Greenlight: Fees
No Overdraft Fees
Neither card charges overdraft fees because they provide prepaid cards. If you don’t have the money to spend, you can’t overdraft the card balance. Unlike with a checking account, which can assess an overdraft fee.
Both services make money through assessing a monthly fee. The monthly fee varies by number of cards on GoHenry as well as by plan chosen on Greenlight Debit Card. More details on the monthly fee differences below.
No Transaction Fee
Neither debit card for kids assesses a transaction fee for purchases made with the card.
Differences Between GoHenry vs. Greenlight
Just as there are many similarities between GoHenry vs. Greenlight, there are also differences well worth noting. These will likely be the reasons you choose one card over another.
Greenlight vs. GoHenry: Features
Investing App Capability
The biggest difference between Greenlight vs. GoHenry is that the former allows a kid to invest in stocks while GoHenry doesn’t.
The Greenlight + Invest and Greenlight Max plans allow kids to invest in stocks and ETFs (including kid-friendly stocks) by establishing a custodial account in the child’s name and using the service as stock trading app.
Like the spending controls parents can set on their kid’s debit card, they also need to review each stock trade prior to execution.
This latter app offers parents to open a custodial Roth IRA for kids, letting kids with earned income set aside after-tax dollars into a retirement account that can grow for 5+ decades tax-free.
Different age ranges (Greenlight: 8-18; GoHenry 6-18) exist for each card, though all ages can apply.
Greenlight offers a premium tier called Greenlight Max, which offers all the features of Greenlight and Greenlight + Invest, but also: up to 2% on Savings through the Savings Reward system, 1% cash back, a Greenlight Black Card, priority customer support, identity theft protection, cell phone protection and purchase protection on stolen or damaged Greenlight purchases.
Greenlight vs. GoHenry: Bank Accounts
Greenlight offers the ability for kids and teens to link their paychecks to their card through direct deposit. GoHenry doesn’t currently support direct deposit functionality, requiring money transfers to come from the parent app or an associated bank account.
If kids have a job and use Greenlight, they can direct deposit their paychecks onto their cards.
Greenlight provides store-level spending limits as well as the ability to lock and unlock all spending. In other words, turning off the spend function on the cards.
GoHenry allows you to lock and unlock spending as well, but it also provides the ability to cut off spending for online and in-store as well as cut off access to ATMs, shutting down an ATM fee from accruing or your kid accessing cash.
Apple Pay and Google Pay
With Greenlight, kids who meet the minimum age requirements for using Apple Pay and Google Pay may use these services through their phones.
For reference, Apple Pay and Google Pay are digital payments services which attach a debit card to your phone for making purchases without the physical card. At retailers, you can tap your phone on the point-of-sale terminal to pay.
Likewise, Apple Pay and Google Pay give kids (and parents) the ability to pay online with a debit card or credit card.
GoHenry doesn’t offer these features, but their debit card can be used for making payments in stores or online.
Maximum Card Balance
The card balances allowed on each account vary slightly:
Greenlight allows up to $10,000 per parent account and $5,000 per child account.
GoHenry allows $6,000 across all accounts.
Greenlight vs. GoHenry: Fees
Both services charge a monthly fee, though Greenlight charges a flat $4.99 for up to five kids in the family while GoHenry charges $3.99 per child, meaning for families with more than one child, you’ll need to pay an extra $3.99 per child per month.
If you have two or more kids, you can quickly see how $3.99 per child per month can add up. In this situation, a more cost-effective solution would be to use Greenlight.
Greenlight allows you to customize your prepaid debit cards, but it costs $9.99 each. You can also receive a Greenlight Black Card, described as “Modern. Bold. Black. And just for Greenlight Max kids.”
GoHenry’s custom cards come at a lower price point: $4.99.
Greenlight doesn’t charge an ATM fee whether in-network or out while GoHenry charges a $1.50 ATM fee per withdrawal.
Card Replacement Fee
Greenlight grants your first replacement card for free, though subsequent replacement cards are $3.50 per card. Additionally, you can pay $24.99 to get expedited delivery instead of the standard 7-10 business day delivery.
GoHenry charges a $4.99 card replacement fee if changing designs on the card. If the design remains the same, there is no fee for kids who lose their card or otherwise need it replaced.
Cash Reload Fee
Greenlight doesn’t charge a cash reload fee while GoHenry charges a $2 fee.
How to Choose the Best Prepaid Debit Card for Your Family
Make no mistake, each debit card for kids has a significant number of features which make the card a great choice to have for building financial literacy and responsibility in your family.
However, there are some real differences related to price, fees and features you should consider. For small families with only one kid, the GoHenry debit card might slightly edge out Greenlight debit card because it has a lower per month per child fee.
Likewise, a larger family with more than one child might want to consider Greenlight because they charge a flat $4.99 per month for up to five kids.
As far as features, GoHenry doesn’t currently have the older teen functions you’d like to see, like the ability to direct deposit paychecks. While it has this feature on its roadmap, currently, only Greenlight offers the direct deposit ability for a child.
Though, for younger ages, both apps do well to manage chores and allowance.
Also, the Greenlight spend card has more spending controls in that they have more granularity on how you can control where kids shop online and off.
At the end of it all, the biggest decision point likely comes down to price and what you pay per month. For GoHenry, you pay $3.99 per child per month and Greenlight you pay $4.99 per month for up to five kids.
For a family of three, you pay $3.99 per child per month * 3 or $11.98 per month with GoHenry vs. Greenlight only charging the flat $4.99 per month.
You might also consider the added ability for your kid to invest money through Greenlight, albeit on a higher priced plan.
Both cards should work well for your family, giving your child a debit card to save and spend money while learning valuable money lessons in the early years.
They can take these money spending lessons learned as children and apply them on their own when they’re no longer children or in their teen years.
Read more about Greenlight in our Greenlight Card review.
Related: Greenlight vs. Famzoo