Disclosure: We scrutinize our research, ratings and reviews using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, this site may receive compensation from partners listed through affiliate partnerships, though this does not affect our ratings. Learn more about how we make money by visiting our advertiser disclosure.

One of the most important decisions that parents make for their kids is showing them how to handle their finances. Whether this means teaching them about budgeting, giving them an allowance, or simply showing them how to count money, it’s a crucial part of a child’s development that establishes healthy financial habits.

However, parents might be a little skittish about simply handing over the financial reins to their children without any control or oversight. If that sounds like you, I’d strongly consider the Greenlight app and debit card.

Greenlight operates as a prepaid card tethered to dual apps—one for parents, and one for kids. This service helps users manage money as a family (accounts come with debit cards for up to five kids) and gives parents control over how their children spend money.

A Greenlight account allows your child to not only learn about basic financial concepts like earning, saving, spending, investing, and even giving, but it allows them to put these concepts into practice—all while helping them earn interest like a savings account.

This family money management solution works best if you don’t deal with cash on a regular basis, live in a mobile-first world, and feel comfortable paying a monthly fee for a high-value service.

If this sounds like you, read on. My Greenlight card review will show you how this debit card for kids and teens can help your children grow into financially savvy adults. I’ll talk about the pros and cons of this financial service, check out all its features, and give you a little information about debit cards in general. I’ll also take a quick look at the Greenlight Family Cash Card, which you can use for a number of purposes—including helping your children build credit.

What Is a Debit Card for Kids?


father mother son family credit debit card account

One of the biggest hurdles to a child’s financial development is their age. Basically, minors can not enter into legal contracts, and as a result, children can’t open their own bank account until they reach the age of majority in their state—usually (but not always) 18 years old.

That said, parents interested in offering their kids a bank account with a debit card still have a few options:

  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 might not come with the features you want for maintaining control over your child’s spending behaviors.
  2. Opening a joint banking account: Another option to consider includes opening a joint checking account with your kid or teen. This means you both have ownership over any joint bank accounts you share as well as the assets held inside them.
  3. 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.

I tend to heavily favor option No. 3 for several reasons.

Debit cards designed specifically for teens offer parents features such as custom spending controls, spending notifications, 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.

Because you can establish parental controls, these cards also effectively function as a prepaid debit card for kids and teens. Beyond keeping the balance at a certain level, traditional banks or free debit cards might not allow you to do this beyond keeping the balance at a certain level.

About the Greenlight Debit Card for Kids


greenlight debit card kids

The Greenlight app is a feature-filled financial platform meant to help parents teach their kids important personal finance skills and build useful money habits, including how to save, earn, invest, spend, and give money responsibly. It does so with a feature-packed prepaid debit card that comes with parental controls, notifications, and safety features.

Related: Best Debit Cards for Teens

How Does the Greenlight Debit Card Work?


Greenlight debit cards are prepaid debit cards that are managed from companion apps—one for kids, one for parents—offering two different experiences.

Kids can save, earn, invest, spend, and give, with parent approval on every transaction. Children can earn between 1% and 5% back on Savings. Teenagers with jobs can set up direct deposit and have their paychecks sent to their Greenlight accounts.

Parents fund the card from their app, so kids can’t spend any money they don’t have—just whatever is loaded onto their debit card. That prevents things like overspending and overdraft fees.

They can also use the app to set spending limits, manage chores and allowances, establish parent-paid interest rates, and more. On higher-tier plans, parents can also encourage saving and investing through higher savings bonuses, investing features, even cash-back rewards on purchases made with the Greenlight debit card.

Related: Best Debit Cards for Teens

Greenlight Debit Card Features

Prepaid Debit Card for Kids


Greenlight accounts come with a prepaid Mastercard debit card for each child. This is an ideal solution for parents who want to start giving their kids some financial independence without completely opening the floodgates.

Parents load the parent wallet via either a debit card or an ACH transfer from a checking account. (Neither loading method charges a fee.) Parents then load each child’s Greenlight card from the parent app, and their kids can only spend what’s on the card—preventing typical overspending pitfalls such as non-sufficient funds fees or overdraft charges.

The Greenlight card itself can be used virtually anywhere Mastercard is accepted, which includes both brick-and-mortar and online merchants. That not only goes for the U.S., but more than 150 countries worldwide—without foreign transaction fees, no less.

Greenlight debit card accounts are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured for up to $250,000 per individual through the card’s partner bank, Community Federal Savings Bank (CFSB). And because the Greenlight card is a Mastercard, you enjoy Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection, which doesn’t hold cardholders responsible for any unauthorized transactions as long as they used reasonable care from protecting the card from loss or theft and promptly reported any fraud to Greenlight.

Related: Best Debit Cards for Kids

Parental Controls


Whenever I review debit cards for kids, parental controls are among my biggest sticking points. Fortunately, Greenlight debit cards’ controls are among their key features—in fact, they lead the industry in terms of just how granular the controls are.

Greenlight uses a permission-based spending rules system that allows parents to set rules that limit not just spending amounts, but types of spending categories and even specific stores. In other words, a parent could set, say, a $20 limit at all restaurants in the area, or even a $15 limit at the local Target.

Spend Controls

Parents can decide where their kid can spend money with Spend Controls.

If you want to delegate funds your kid can spend anywhere, it goes into the Spend Anywhere Spend Control. (Yes, this confused me, too.) Money here can be spent at any online or offline merchant that accepts Mastercard for payment, backing out some pretty obvious merchants such as liquor stores and gun sellers.

Past that, you can use Spend Controls to limit where and how much your kids spend in two primary ways:

1. Store-level Spend Controls

greenlight adding store specific spending controls

Greenlight is the only prepaid card that allows you to select each and every store where kids can use their Greenlight card. So, for instance, you could allocate $15 that can only be spent at Walmart, $10 for only video game in-app purchases, and $5 for only trips to the local ice cream joint. (No, really. I have a Greenlight card, and I allocate money to the nationally ranked mom-’n’-pop dairy/ice cream parlor near me in Pleasanton, California.)

This feature can offer more flexibility than you might think. If you toggle on “Pull Overages from Spend Anywhere,” you can connect your child’s individual Spend Controls to their Spend Anywhere fund, allowing them to combine funds toward a desired purchase. So, let’s say your child wants to make a $25 purchase at Walmart, but their Spend Control for Walmart only has $15 in the balance. When this setting is turned on, the difference will come from the child’s Spend Anywhere balance—thus, as long as they have an additional $10 in Spend Anywhere, the $25 purchase won’t get declined.

On the flip side, you can use this feature to outright block specific retailers. Simply set up a store-level Spend Control for a merchant you don’t want your child to shop at, set the amount at $0, then toggle “Pull Overages from Spend Anywhere” to the off position. Your child’s card will be declined anytime they try to shop at that merchant.

2. Category-level Spend Controls

You can also set Spend Controls based on categories.

Greenlight slices and dices purchases commonly made by kids and teens into five categories:

  • Any ATM
  • Gas Stations
  • Grocery Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Online Gaming

Just like with individual stores, you can allocate certain dollar amounts to each of these spending categories to limit your child’s spending. So, if you put $20 into the Restaurants category, they’ll be able to spend that money at McDonald’s, Chipotle, KFC, etc.—which is a lot easier than individually setting up Spend Controls for all the different restaurants they’d want to eat at.

When you get the app, the last four categories will automatically have “Pull Overages from Spend Anywhere” toggled on so Spend Anywhere money can make up for any deficits. However, the Any ATM category will have it toggled off so your child can’t withdraw any more cash than what you’ve allocated.

Real-time money requests/approvals

In the event your child doesn’t have enough money for a purchase, they can make a real-time request for additional funds that the parent can choose to approve or deny.

Spending notifications

You’ll be able to keep track of wherever your kids shop—whether it’s somewhere they’re allowed, or somewhere they’re not—with spending notifications.

The Greenlight app will issue you an alert as soon as your kids try to spend funds. It will also tell you whenever a card gets declined for any reason. This level of insight as to when, where, and how much money your kids are spending is unmatched by any other debit card for minors.

Freeze your child’s Greenlight card

One of the more common features of the Greenlight card is the ability to freeze and unfreeze it (in other words, turn it off and back on). If you lose a Greenlight Card, have it stolen, or otherwise want to disable your child’s card temporarily, you can simply freeze their Greenlight card through the parent app. When it’s found, you can simply unfreeze it, and they’ll be free to use it again.

Parent-Paid Interest


mother child daughter piggy bank savings

Earning interest is a big perk of savings (and even some checking) accounts for minors, as it can help parents incentivize their kids to save money. It’s also a great way to teach your child the benefits and responsibilities that come with setting goals, then saving and managing money so you eventually achieve those goals.

However, Parent-Paid Interest works differently. Instead of the account itself earning a variable rate, Parent-Paid Interest is an annual percentage rate that you set (and you pay) for your child’s General Savings in the Greenlight app. You set up the instant transfer into their account from your parent’s wallet, and their account will earn that interest on the first of each month.

Greenlight calculates and distributes the interest monthly based on the average daily balance of your child’s Total Savings for the previous month, which represents the total amount saved between General Savings and Savings Goals.

The nice thing about this feature is that you can set whatever you can afford, between a range of 1% and 100%. So if you want to pay your kid a monster interest rate to get them excited about investing, you can. Or, if you’d prefer to pay normal interest rates to better set expectations for when they’re older, you can!

Instant Money Transfers


Instant transfers are really beneficial for parents.

Maybe your child is too young to have a job, or maybe your teens are too busy to go with you to the bank. Either way, it’s up to you to give them any spending money you’ve promised them for the week.

Greenlight’s instant transfer capability eliminates the need to make a trip to an actual bank, which could be difficult for children with no transportation—or, heck, adults who are just pressed for time.

Chore Plans


greenlight weekly chore plan

Greenlight gives you the tools to set up, administer, and oversee a chore plan or schedule. The program offers routine tasks that can start as unpaid, but you can add tasks you do pay for because they require more time and work.

You can use your app to schedule or even automate your chore schedule. For instance, you can:

  • Set chores that repeat weekly—or multiple times per week
  • Set single-time chores for bigger tasks like spring cleaning, babysitting, or mowing the lawn
  • Manage and track recurring chores and also place money transfers on autopilot (if you choose to pay them)

For reference, the five most popular chores families assign on the app are:

  1. Clean your bedroom
  2. Take care of the pet
  3. Wash the dishes
  4. Read
  5. Take out the trash

greenlight add weekly chore menu

You might consider starting here and working your way up to more tasks you deem equally important.

Allowance Automation


allowance chores apps kids parents

In a similar vein is another Greenlight feature: Allowance Automation. This allows parents to set up an allowance for their children that can be paid independently of chores, or be linked to chores.

The parent picks a frequency (monthly, biweekly, even weekly) and amount for allowance. So, say, $10 per week, paid each Sunday. Then, they can set up rules determining how much is paid out, and when:

  • The allowance is paid out with no connection to chores.
  • A percentage of the allowance will be paid out depending on what percentage of their chores they completed. (In other words, they can get part of their allowance if they do part of the chores.)
  • The allowance will only be paid out if all chores are completed.

The best part about this feature is that parents can customize allowance depending on what they’re doing around the house. For example, if your child does regular chores like sweeping, washing dishes, or taking out trash, you could give them 50 cents every time they do it. However, if you ask your children to do one-off chores that require detailed instructions, you can select a higher allowance that properly incentivizes them.

Related: 11 Best Allowance and Chore Apps for Kids [Easier Family Life]

Savings Reward


greenlight debit card interest rates and cash back

The best debit cards for kids also act like … I’ll call them savings accounts in disguise.

Yes, the primary purpose of these apps/debit cards are about teaching your kids to spend. But some of them also include de facto savings accounts. Greenlight offers two.

The main savings account is called General Savings. However, Greenlight also offers Savings Goals, which allow kids to, well … set “goals,” then save money and track progress toward those goals. Parents can also put money into these Goals as well. For instance, you can set any earned Parent-Paid Interest to deposit into Savings Goals instead of the spending account.

Most savings accounts offer interest. Greenlight offers a feature called Savings Reward that might technically work differently than savings interest, but it’s effectively the same thing. Your child receives a monthly savings boost—1% for Core plans, 2% for Max, and 5% for Infinity—based on the average daily savings balance in their Greenlight account, on up to $5,000 of savings. (So, kids can earn a maximum of $50, $100, or $250 annually depending on the plan.)

It might not be a duck, but it walks like a duck, it looks like a duck, and it tastes good in plum sauce.

Investing


The Max and Infinity plans also turn the Greenlight app into an investing platform for your kids and teens.

Users are able to invest in more than 4,000 stocks for kids and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)—not the full range of those assets that you could access through a traditional brokerage account, but more than enough for kids that are just learning how to invest. With a nod to the likely small amounts of money kids are working with, Greenlight also allows fractional shares, so your children can invest with as little as $1. And the platform charges no trading fees.

Importantly, the app also helps kids research the stocks they’re interested in before they buy. It’ll also help them build their investing skills through expert insights and quizzes.

The parental controls are on display here, too. When your child tries to buy or sell a stock, you’ll receive a real-time notification. You also have the final say—every trade requires a parent’s approval before it goes through.

Round Ups


Much like the famous micro-investing app Acorns, Greenlight helps accelerate your savings through Round Ups.

Round-up apps allow you to round purchases up to the next dollar, then the money is added into a dedicated account—usually savings. For instance, if a child spends $3.25 at the Disney Store, they can round up that purchase to $4.00 and have the 75-cent difference set aside.

In this case, your children’s Round Ups are added to their Greenlight General Savings automatically or on a per transaction basis. Parents and children can manage Round Ups from the Savings page in their app.

Direct Deposit


Does your teen have a summer job or even a part-time gig during the school year? Then one of the best features you’ll want from a debit card for kids is direct deposit. Direct deposit allows a child’s paycheck to go directly to their account. This beats getting an envelope from work and then either spending it all right away or handing it over to Mom and Dad so they can manage it.

In Greenlight’s case, teenagers with jobs can set up direct deposit so their paychecks are automatically deposited into their Greenlight account.

Customized Cards


greenlight debit card customized

A common feature among kids’ card companies, Greenlight allows you to customize your children’s cards. Custom cards cost $9.99. You can order a custom card by following the prompt in the notification section of your Parent Dashboard.

Identity Theft, Phone, and Purchase Protection


As part of the Greenlight Max and Infinity plans, the company offers you identity theft, phone, and purchase protection for up to five children.

  • Identity theft: Greenlight provides identity theft monitoring, alerting, and restoration services for the whole family. Coverage provided by Experian.
  • Phone protection: Coverage for damaged, lost or stolen phones for up to five kids on Greenlight Max or Greenlight Infinity. This protection allows for imbursements related to the cost of replacing or repairing your child’s cell phone in the event of damage, or up to $600 per claim if it is damaged, lost or stolen. You have two claims available per calendar year up to an aggregate of $1,000 per card per calendar year. A $25-per-claim deductible applies. Coverage is provided by Virginia Surety Company. (Note: This coverage is unavailable to New York residents.)
  • Purchase protection: Purchase protection allows qualifying users to seek reimbursement for the cost to repair or replace an item that was purchased in full with the Greenlight card. This is allowable if the purchase becomes damaged or was stolen within 4 months (120 days) of the date of purchase or delivery, up to $100 per item and an aggregate of $1,000 per calendar year.

Greenlight App’s Plans


PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
Greenlight Core$4.99

    - Greenlight debit cards for up to five kids
    - Educational app
    - Core financial tools
    - Granular parental controls (store-level and category-level)
    - Savings Reward: Earn 1% on savings
    - Ability to earn, save, spend, invest and give
Greenlight Max$9.98Everything under the Greenlight Core plan, plus:

    - Savings Reward: Earn 2% on savings
    - Investing platform (parents must approve all individual stock and ETF investments)
    - 1% cash back on purchases
    - Priority customer support
    - Identity theft protection (identity theft monitoring, alerting and restoration for the whole family)
    - Cell phone protection (coverage for damaged, lost or stolen phones for up to five kids)
    - Purchase protection (repair or replace Greenlight purchases that are stolen or damaged)
    - Greenlight Black Card (modern, bold and black card)
Greenlight Infinity$14.98Everything under the Greenlight Max plan, plus:

    - Savings Reward: Earn 5% on savings
    - Family location sharing (can toggle on/off)
    - SOS alerts (swipe to send an alert to emergency contacts, 911, or both)
    - Crash detection (alerts 911 when a crash is detected)

No matter which plan you want to try, Greenlight gives you your first month for free to see if it makes sense for your situation and needs. You can cancel at any time.

Greenlight App’s Fee Schedule + Balance, Spend, and Load Limits


All FeesAmountDetails
Monthly Usage (only one fee plan, as selected by primary accountholder, applies per monthly billing period)
Greenlight$4.99 per month per familyCovers up to five kids.
Greenlight Max$9.98 per month per familyCovers up to five kids.
Greenlight Infinity$14.98 per month per familyCovers up to five kids.
Get Cash
ATM withdrawal (in-network or out-of-network)FreeNo fee to make cash withdrawals with your card at any ATM. ATM operator fees may apply.
Other
Card Replacement$3.50First replacement is free; subsequent replacements are $3.50 per Card.
Card Replacement Express Delivery Fee (optional)$24.99
Custom Card Fee (optional)$9.99
Cash Reload Fee$0 (N/A)Greenlight doesn't allow for direct cash reloads. Must deposit money through the Parent Account and then have it transfer to child's Greenlight card.
Card Balance, Spend, Deposit, Withdrawal and Transfer Limits
Maximum account balance$15,000 per parent account
$7,500 per child account
Maximum monthly spend$7,500 per family
$7,500 per card
Maximum daily spend$1,500 per family
$1,500 per card
Direct deposit minimum$1 per load per sub account
Direct deposit maximum$5,000 per month per family
ATM withdrawal maximum$100 per rolling 24-hour per card
$500 per rolling 30-day period per family
Debit card transfer minimum$10-$20 initial value load¹
$20 value reload
Debit card transfer maximum$1,500 per day
$7,500 per month
ACH transfer minimum$10-$20 initial value load¹
$1 value reload
ACH transfer maximum - new registration with manual verification$300 per rolling three-day period
$600 per month
ACH transfer maximum - tenured account with manual verification$350 per day
$1,000 per month
ACH transfer maximum - Plaid verification$800 per day
$4,000 per month
¹ The minimum amount of an initial value load is variable (between $10 and $20) and will be established and displayed for each new customer on the registration screens during the registration process. The minimum initial value load can be waived at any time.

Greenlight Family Cash Card


Any Greenlight subscription lets users qualify for the cash-back Greenlight Family Cash Mastercard. The biggest upshot of this: Parents can add their teenagers as authorized users to this card, which will not only help them learn how credit card function, but actually help them establish a credit history.

A 2023 Greenlight survey found that 94% of parents agree credit knowledge and skills are important for their teens’ futures. It’s better for teens to learn responsible credit usage with parental help, rather than struggle on their own in the future.

Like with the Greenlight prepaid debit card, parents can get real-time purchase alerts to monitor activity and set flexible spending limits for their teens on the Family Cash Mastercard. Teens can also increase their credit knowledge through lessons in the in-app game Level Up.

More importantly: Building a credit history early on can make it easier for teens to qualify for their own credit cards, loans, and other financial products—and at better rates—once they become adults.

The Greenlight Family Cash Mastercard’s cash-back rewards stand out. You get a competitive 3% back when you spend at least $4,000 per billing cycle. Spending of more than $1,000 but below $4,000 earns 2% cash back, and spending of below $1,000 earns 1%. There is no limit to the cash-back rewards you can earn. Users can also auto-invest their cash-back rewards.

What We Like About Greenlight


  • Industry-best parental controls. Greenlight stands alone with its level of granularity into parental controls on spending and ATM withdrawals. No other card matches Greenlight with this level of insight and control.
  • Parent-paid interest. Greenlight offers parents the ability to pay interest on their kids’ Savings Goals, encouraging them to save and understand the value of compound returns.
  • Savings Reward. Greenlight’s interest-esque Savings Reward program offers 1%-5%, depending on plan, on saved balances.
  • Cash-back rewards. Kids can earn up to 1% cash back on Greenlight card purchases if they’re on the Greenlight Max or Greenlight Infinity plans.
  • Investment platform. Greenlight has an investment platform integrated into its service that allows parents to approve every individual stock and ETF transaction.
  • Real-time alerts and requests for spending and ATM withdrawals. The service provides real-time alerts for spending activity as well as in-app, real-time requests for additional funds needed in kids’ Spend Anywhere accounts.
  • Chore and allowance management. The Greenlight app allows you to get a handle on chores and allowance through in-app assignment, tracking, and assessment, as well automated allowance payments.
  • Flat monthly fee for up to five kids. The economics of the plan prices get better the more kids you have. Up to five kids can have cards on each plan. (Above that, each additional child incurs an additional monthly fee.)

What Greenlight Can Do Better


  • Monthly fee on investing-enabled plans. While it’s useful to have every financial tool housed on the same platform, Greenlight’s investing plans start at $9.98 per month for up to five kids. If parents don’t need the controls or insight provided by the Greenlight debit card, they could instead opt for a custodial account through Acorns Early (accessible in Acorns Premium, which costs $9 per month). Likewise, the BusyKid debit card includes investing, and that only costs $4 per month. Yes, these options have less functionality and lower customer satisfaction scores, but they are cheaper than Greenlight’s plans.
  • Require approval for allowance transfer (not automated). After using the mobile application to pay my son for chores as a test, I noticed how the feature automatically transfers funds without requiring prior approval. If I took no action, the payments would transfer regardless. (Regardless, Greenlight remains light-years ahead of most other allowance and chore apps.)
  • Reload cash options. Greenlight does not currently offer the ability to reload cash directly onto the card from participating retailers nationwide. Having this access, even for a fee, can promote more accessible populations who are currently underserved by financial services. Options such as FamZoo allow this at locations like Walmart or Target, albeit for a fee charged by retailers on the Mastercard Reload network.
  • Parent/child loans. Some competing cards, including FamZoo and BusyKid, allow parents to lend money to their kids (some with interest, some without) to pay for larger purchases that a child cannot finance alone. This feature can provide a safe environment for learning about credit before moving on to a credit card or other loan products once the child grows older.

Who Is Greenlight Best For?


  • Parents who want tight controls over their kids’ spending
  • Bigger families who need centralized financial oversight, including chore and allowance management, as well as transaction notifications on spending activity
  • Parents who want a debit card for kids and an investment tool within the same platform
  • Parents who want to teach their kids about managing money

How to Open a Greenlight App Account


greenlight sign up

  1. Apply for a Greenlight account.
  2. On the landing page, click the “Get Started” button (shown above) and enter your mobile phone number to submit.
  3. Go to your phone to collect your confirmation code and enter it in the box labeled “Enter Confirmation Code” and click “Confirm Code.
  4. Create your account by entering your email address, creating your own password, and selecting what your kids will call you. Click Next.
  5. Begin by entering your child’s name, mobile number (if they have one), and birthday. Click Next if you only have one child to add or Add another child if you have more than one to add. Do this for each child you want to receive a Greenlight card.
  6. Provide your personal information followed by accepting the Cardholder Agreement and hit Next.
  7. Finally, set up your funding source and submit your Greenlight application for verification and approval.

Greenlight Debit Card Review

If you have a desire to manage chore plans and allowance distribution, control where your kids can and can’t spend or withdraw funds, and begin to invest together—all from the convenience of your smartphone—Greenlight prepaid debit card and investing platform solution is a great option to consider.

While Greenlight does charge monthly fees, the costs you face for the number of cards you get (up to five per account) are fairly in line with or better than competitors including Chase First Banking, GoHenry, Famzoo, BusyKid, and Current—especially considering only one of these offers stock investing functionality.

One contender with investing functionality incorporated is BusyKid, though it doesn’t offer the same spending control granularity and charges other fees for various services and actions.

The primary values I think the Greenlight debit card and app provide are:

  • Controls over where children spend or withdraw funds
  • Chore plans and allowance distribution system
  • The ability to invest side-by-side with your kids (available on Greenlight Max and Greenlight Infinity plans)

On the other hand, if you’d like to avoid the monthly fee and go with a lower-cost option for getting your child a debit card, you might consider a free, traditional joint checking account. For instance, neither Axos First Checking nor Nationwide First Checking charges a fee … but then, neither provide controls over spending, chores, and allowance, nor do they give your child the ability to invest.

Is Greenlight worth the price? Absolutely. If you need help managing your children’s finances with tight controls, and a way to teach financial management skills, Greenlight is an excellent choice.

Related:

Greenlight Debit Card: FAQs


faq question market cards

Is there a minimum age to use the Greenlight debit card?

No. There is no minimum age for using the Greenlight debit card. However, younger kids might need more help from an adult to get started.

Greenlight CEO Tim Sheehan thinks the best time to receive a card is between middle school and high school. Still, no specific minimum age restrictions exist for the card.

Is Greenlight Safe?

Greenlight employs several industry standards and best practices when it comes to safety. This should provide comfort to you knowing these are measures put in place to protect your children and your family’s money.

Here are the most relevant protections you should know about:

  1. Greenlight debit card accounts are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 per individual through the card’s partner bank, Community Federal Savings Bank (CFSB). The Community Federal Savings Bank has FDIC coverage, which protects any balance held on your family’s cards from risk of failure of Greenlight or CFSB. FDIC coverage works for all accounts held at a financial institution by the primary owner.
  2. Funds available through the Invest functionality are not FDIC-insured but may be SIPC-insured through Greenlight’s custodian partner DriveWealth, LLC.
  3. Greenlight comes with an EMV chip and parent-controlled PIN.
  4. Greenlight uses industry-best encryption practices as well as firewalls and VPNs to protect your private data.
  5. Greenlight doesn’t allow your kids to get cash back at the register, as this would override the spend control functions parents set through the app.

Greenlight lets you select where your kids spend their funds—and how much—through powerful parent controls. If your children try to spend or get funds where they shouldn’t, Greenlight alerts you immediately. Further, if you lose your card, you have the ability to turn off that card with a tap on your Parent Account.

Greenlight also comes with Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection. This is the industry-standard $0 of liability if your physical card gets lost or stolen, or if someone gains unauthorized access to your Virtual card number, and fraudulently makes an unauthorized transfer from your card account. However, to claim this liability waiver, you need to act fast by calling (888) 483-2645 within two business days and exercise reasonable care in safeguarding your card from loss, theft or unauthorized use.

Do I need a mobile phone number to apply?

No. Your child can download the Greenlight app through any app-enabled device such as a smartphone or tablet, then use it to get their account info, chores, and make requests.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Kids

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.