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So, you’ve decided to get your kid a debit card. Good thinking! Debit cards can teach children financial responsibility, are more convenient than cash, and make it easy for you to monitor their transactions.

Now all you need to do is pick which debit card to get. Easier said than done, right? Don’t worry, I’ve already spent countless hours researching kids’ debit cards—including Greenlight and Axos First Checking.

Today, I’m going to give you a detailed breakdown of both Greenlight’s and Axos First Checking’s debit cards. After an overview, I’ll discuss the costs, notable features, and other information you need. If you’re still not convinced either of these cards is perfect for your family, you can keep reading to learn about other highly competitive kids’ debit cards.

Greenlight vs. Axos First Checking Comparison


greenlight logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Nowaxos bank logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Now
WealthUp Rating☆ 4.8 / 5☆ 3.6 / 5
App Store Rating☆ 4.8 / 5☆ 4.7 / 5
Price*Core: $4.99/mo.
Max: $9.98/mo.
Infinity: $14.98/mo.
No monthly fees
BillingMonthlyN/A
Special OfferFree 1-month trialN/A
Allowed Cards Per Subscription51 per account owner
Minimum Age**No13
Features That Make This Card Stand ApartExceptional parent controls; Max, Infinity: Identity theft, purchase, and phone protectionPeer-to-peer money transfers; ATM fee reimbursements

Basics

greenlight logo transparent text thin leftaxos bank logo transparent text thin left
SpendingYesYes
SavingYesYes
InvestingCore: No
Max, Infinity: Yes (Stocks and ETFs)
No
Giving/DonatingYesNo

Funding

greenlight logo transparent text thin leftaxos bank logo transparent text thin left
Funding Source(s)Bank account, debit cardDirect deposit, mobile deposit
Direct DepositYesYes
AllowanceYesNo
ChoresYesNo
GiftingYes (Free)No
Cash Reload FeeN/A (No cash reload)$0 (retailers may charge fee)

Saving/Spending

greenlight logo transparent text thin leftaxos bank logo transparent text thin left
Savings APYCore: 1.0%
Max: 2.0%
Infinity: 5.0%
0.10% APY
Round-UpsYesNo
Other Savings FeaturesParent-Paid InterestNone
ATM NetworkNoneNone
ATM Transaction Fee$0 (Greenlight does not charge an ATM fee, but it is not part of an ATM network, so an ATM operator fee will apply)Up to $12 domestic ATM fee reimbursements per month
Card NetworkMastercardVisa or Mastercard
Compatible Mobile WalletsApple Pay, Google PayApple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay

Parents

greenlight logo transparent text thin leftaxos bank logo transparent text thin left
Parental ControlsHigh (Store-level controls and limit setting)Low (Card lock)
Parental MonitoringYesYes
Parental NotificationsYesYes

Other Features

greenlight logo transparent text thin leftaxos bank logo transparent text thin left
Cash BackCore: No
Max, Infinity: 1%
No
Builds CreditNoNo
Customization optionsAny image you wantNo
Refund PolicyNo refunds given, month-to-month pricingN/A
Affiliate CTA Apply NowAffiliate CTA Apply Now
* Prices do not include processing fees when applicable.
** Many cards have different suggested minimum ages. We are only listing any hard-and-fast minimum age requirements.

Greenlight Overview


greenlight sign up new
Greenlight

The Greenlight debit card allows kids to begin spending, but provides parents with peace of mind by giving them control over where their kids can spend money. Parents also can choose to receive alerts that tell them when, and how much, money is spent on the Greenlight debit card.

Greenlight works like a prepaid debit card, allowing you to transfer money onto the card for your child to pay for expenses at approved locations. You can choose how much money to load onto the card, and your child will be cleared to make approved purchases so long as a money balance backs up the card.

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

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

Greenlight boasts numerous other features, too. For instance, parents can open an investment account for kids to get their children investing in stocks and ETFs for the first time.

Greenlight also offers monthly savings rewards based on your tier: 1% per annum for Core members, 2% per annum for Max, and 5% per annum for Infinity. You may set up “Parent-Paid Interest” between you and your child. This allows you to foot the bill and pay interest on accounts for up to five kids.

The Greenlight debit card is a good choice for parents looking to teach their kids the importance of saving money and making prudent financial decisions. This financial product can be an effective learning tool for helping kids to understand why saving should be a priority and how to simplify paying an allowance or tracking chores.

Greenlight has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age 6 or older.

Each monthly Greenlight subscription includes debit cards for up to five kids. Replacement cards cost $3.50 each but are free the first time. If you need to replace your card quickly, you can get express delivery for $24.99. The company also offers a personalized card, with your own photo or design, for $9.98 per year.

Read more in our Greenlight Card review.

Related: 40+ Ways to Make Money as a Teenager

Greenlight Plans + Costs


Greenlight has three subscription tiers that unlock and/or upgrade various sets of features:

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)

Greenlight offers a free one-month trial for all plans.

One thing to note about Greenlight: It does not have a fee-free ATM network. So while Greenlight doesn’t charge ATM fees, your child likely will incur third-party charges whenever they withdraw money from an ATM.

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

Greenlight Features


family mom dad kids children smartphone

Greenlight is an app and debit card that’s rich in bells and whistles. Read on as I go through some of its most noteworthy features. (Note: Features available on all plans unless otherwise noted.)

Greenlight Card

Every Greenlight account comes with Greenlight cards—a Mastercard-branded prepaid debit card—for up to five kids.

In general, prepaid debit cards are an ideal solution for parents who want to start giving their kids some financial independence without completely opening the floodgates. With Greenlight, 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. This prevents common spending missteps such as getting hit with non-sufficient funds fees or overdraft charges.

The Greenlight card can be used virtually anywhere Mastercard is accepted, in-store and online, in the U.S. and more than 150 other countries worldwide. (And no foreign transaction fees, either!)

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.

Want to shake things up? Your kid can upgrade to a custom Greenlight card for a one-time fee of $9.99. And Greenlight offers one of the most customizable cards, allowing people to decorate their card with a picture of themselves, a pet, a graphic, and other types of fun images.

Related: Best Money Apps for Teens

Parental Controls

I think parental controls are one of the most important features of a kids’ debit card, and Greenlight has them in spades. In fact, I think Greenlight is the industry leader in parental controls.

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 my personal testing of this product, I was able to limit spending at a local creamery where my family celebrates weekly “Ice Cream Fridays,” effectively making any store, big or small, within reach of the robust parental controls offered through the Greenlight product.)

greenlight adding store specific spending controls meadowlark

Greenlight also offers spending notifications, real-time money requests and approvals if children don’t have enough money for a purchase, and the ability to freeze a kid’s debit card if the card is lost or stolen or the parents want to temporarily disable it for some other reason.

Chores + Allowance

Greenlight lets parents automate allowance, and even link it to chores.

The parent picks a frequency (monthly, biweekly, even weekly) and amount for allowance. 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.

Chores can be assigned on a one-time or recurring basis. And parents can help kids divvy up their allowance or earnings among Spending, Saving, Investing, and Giving.

Savings Reward

Earned interest on savings accounts is a great way to motivate children to save more. While Greenlight technically doesn’t offer interest, it offers something awfully close: the Savings Reward.

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.)

Parent-Paid Interest

Parents can also help their kids save faster by turning on Parent-Paid Interest.

With Parent-Paid Interest, a parent sets an annual interest rate between 1% to 100%, then every month, the applicable amount (based on the average daily balance of a kid’s Total Savings, which is whatever’s saved in both General Savings and Savings Goals) is paid from the parent’s wallet to the child’s General Savings area.

Round Ups

Greenlight offers yet another way to help their kids save even faster: Round Ups. Round-up apps all generally work the same: Whenever you spend, the purchase amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar (or some other preset dollar level or percentage), and the “spare change” is set aside in savings. Some round-up apps are more flexible and customizable than others; Greenlight’s Round Ups feature is pretty straightforward, rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar.

Investing (Varies by Plan)

Greenlight offers commission-free investing across all its plans, though there’s a significant step up from the Core plan to the Max and Infinity plans.

With the Core plan, parents have access to Investing for Parents Lite, which allows parents to invest via a handful of exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The Max and Infinity plans open up the full Investing for Parents, as well as Investing for Kids. Both provide access to more than 4,000 stocks and ETFs, and thanks to fractional shares, children and parents can invest with as little as $1. When kids invest, parents must approve every trade placed.

Not sure what you should invest in? Take Greenlight’s personalized quiz, and Greenlight will recommend a fund for you.

Related: Best Taxable Brokerage Accounts for Parents and Teens

Level Up

Kids can learn more money management techniques through the financial literacy game Level Up. This interactive game teaches both young children and teens budgeting, investing, and other money skills with a curriculum and educational challenges that go beyond the K-12 national standards for personal finance education.

Family Cash Card

All Greenlight subscription tiers allow users to qualify for the cash-back Family Cash Mastercard. Parents can add their kids as authorized users to help them learn how credit cards function and establish a credit history. Building a credit history early on can make it easier for children to qualify for their own unsecured credit cards or other loans when they’re older.

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.

You can sign up for Greenlight here.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Kids

Axos First Checking Overview


axos first checking

Axos First Checking is a free joint bank account for teens and adults offered by Axos Bank—an online-only bank with a focus on technology-driven finance.

First Checking offers teens and their parents (or other adult owners of the account) a free debit card, peer-to-peer transfers, direct deposit, bill pay, extensive security features, even interest payments.

The Axos First Checking account comes with a debit card—you can choose either Visa or Mastercard—that you can use to spend in store and online, as well as to withdraw cash. While Axos Bank doesn’t have its own ATM system, Axos offers fee-free access to 91,000 ATMs nationwide, and it reimburses up to $12 in third-party ATM fees every month.

If you’re worried that your (or your teen’s) card is lost or stolen? You can lock and unlock the card from your Axos account. And the card limits cash withdrawals to $100 daily and debit transactions to $500 daily.

Axos First Checking charges zero monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and non-sufficient fund fees. It’s designed for teens between ages 13 and 17 (up to 18 years old in Alabama). And once your teen reaches adulthood, it’s easy to convert to another Axos checking account, giving the newly minted adult full control.

Related: Best Debit Cards for Teens

Axos First Checking Plans + Costs


If you hate fees, you’ll love Axos First Checking, which charges zero monthly fees and avoids a host of other fees. First, a look at the features:

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
Axos First CheckingN/A

    - Axos Visa or Mastercard debit card
    - Peer-to-peer transfers
    - Direct deposit
    - Bill pay (parents only)
    - $12/mo. in ATM reimbursements
    - APY on checking
    - Cash deposits
    - Easy account transition once child reaches adulthood

Axos charges no fees for overdrafts, non-sufficient funds, incoming wire transfers, first debit cards (and replacements), or money transfers. The account requires no minimum deposit, nor any minimum balance requirements. And not only do you get access to 91,000-plus fee-free ATMs, but Axos will reimburse you for up to $12 in domestic ATM fee charges every month—so you don’t really have to worry about third-party ATM fees, either.

Axos Bank will charge $5 for customers who prefer paper account statements, and they do have a 1% foreign currency conversion fee. Axos Bank doesn’t charge a fee for cash deposits, but retailers may charge up to $4.95.

Related: Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids and Teens [Reloadable]

Axos First Checking Features


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Below are some of Axos First Checking’s most notable features. Some of these features are geared towards the teens, while others exist to keep parents sane.

Axos First Checking Debit Card

The Axos First Checking account comes with a free Visa- or Mastercard-branded debit card. (You can choose which one during the application.) The card can be used in stores and online wherever the chosen brand is accepted, including internationally.

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Axos’s card is its ATM access. Axos Bank allows you to withdraw cash fee-free from 91,000-plus ATMs nationwide. And if you come across an ATM outside of Axos’ network, no problem—it will reimburse up to $12 in third-party operator fees every month. Point-of-sale transactions are limited to $500 per day, while ATM withdrawals are limited to $100 daily.

Card actions such as activating, deactivating, reactivating, ordering a replacement, and sending a travel notification can all be done online.

Security features include active fraud monitoring, two-step authentication, and 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption.

Parental Controls

Parental controls in Axos First Checking are fairly rudimentary. Parents can monitor their teen’s spending through account alerts received as real-time push notifications, emails, or text messages. They can also track transfers made from the account and lock/unlock the debit card from the mobile app and dashboard.

Cash Deposits

If teens have a tip-based job or receive a lot of cash for celebrations and holidays, they might want to deposit that cash into their accounts. Fortunately, while Axos is an online-only bank, there are still ways to make cash deposits.

Members can log in to the app and use the ATM locator to find ATMs that accept cash deposits. Alternatively, through Axos’ partnership with Green Dot Network®, they can deposit cash at many popular retailers, including:

  • ACE Cash Express
  • CVS
  • Dollar General
  • Kroger
  • Rite Aid
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • 7-Eleven

Members can instruct the cashier to add the provided cash directly to their debit cards. Usually, the amount has to be between $20 and $500, but some places allow up to $1,500. Axos Bank doesn’t charge a fee for the transaction, but retailers may charge up to $4.95.

Peer-to-Peer Transfers

Axos lets teens make peer-to-peer payments directly from their checking accounts online. Just an email or phone number is needed to send a secure payment. So whether they need to pay a friend back for cash, fast food, or a group activity, it’s quick and easy to settle up.

Earns Interest

Teens earn an interest rate of 0.10% on any money in their account—a nice bonus for doing nothing. While this is an admittedly small annual percentage yield (APY) compared to, say, a high-yield savings account or money market account, it’s still more than you’ll get on your typical checking account (which is nothing).

Related: Best Instant Sign-Up Bonus Apps

Direct Deposit + Mobile Deposit

Teens with jobs can easily get their paychecks directly deposited into their accounts. Axos Bank has no minimum direct deposit amount to avoid fees (which isn’t the case with every financial institution).

Do the teen’s grandparents love to write birthday checks? Not an issue. Axos allows free mobile deposits. You can use a mobile device or computer to send money from a check straight into a First Checking account any time of day.

Bill Pay

While parents should always be covering a kid’s essential expenses, it isn’t unheard of for teens to be responsible for some of their nonessential costs. For example, a teen with a job might be asked to pay for their cell phone plan.

With Axos’ free bill pay feature, parents can schedule payments from a primary account to ensure the teen doesn’t miss a cell phone payment. (Note: Only parents, not teens, can access this feature.)

Bill Pay is parent use only.

Easy Transition to Adulthood

Once a teenager reaches adulthood, the account can be converted into a different checking account, such as Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, or CashBack Checking. The parent or original adult on the account can then remove themselves as a joint account owner so the new adult is completely in control.

You can sign up for Axos First Checking here.

Related: Best Investment Apps for Beginners

Greenlight vs. Axos First Checking: Our Editors’ Choice Is …


Greenlight is one of the best kids’ debit cards available today and easily beats out Axos First Checking despite the latter coming in at the right price: free. Why, you ask? Well, we covered it thoroughly above, but in case you’ve skipped all the meat to get to the end: the sheer amount of features Greenlight offers puts it ahead (way ahead)—price tag be damned.

Some of the features Greenlight provides that you can’t get with Axos include allowance, chores, roundups, giving, superior parental controls, and investing (Max and Infinity plans only).

Plus, no matter which Greenlight plan you use, your child is earning a higher APY on their money than they can with Axos. As Greenlight has no minimum age requirement (Axos is 13), you can also start to teach your child financial responsibility at a younger age. Win-win-win.

However, there are a couple of reasons Axos First Checking may make more sense for your family. The biggest advantage Axos has is that there is no monthly fee. If your family can’t, or isn’t willing to pay Greenlight’s monthly fee, Axos First Checking is a strong free option—although we think there are better free options on the market (several are covered below). Axos also lets users load cash onto their debit cards, which is a useful feature for teens who receive a lot of cash from work or family.

Overall, though, if you’re open to paying for a kids’ debit card, opt for Greenlight.

If you’d like to start a trial to see how the card fares for yourself, you can get started with your free Greenlight trial here.

Our Pick: Greenlight
Runner-Up: Axos First Checking
4.8
3.6
Our Pick: Greenlight
Runner-Up: Axos First Checking

Related: 26 Best Online Jobs for Teens [Earn Money at Home, Age 13+]

Other Debit Cards for Kids to Consider


If you’re still not convinced on Greenlight or Axos First Checking, you might want to look at these other highly rated options:

AppApple App Store Rating
+ Best For
FeesPromotions
greenlight transparent logo thinGreenlight☆ 4.8 / 5
Customer rating and parental controls
1 month free. Core: $4.99/mo. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (Each plan supports up to 5 children.)Free 1-month trial
copper logo thinCopper Banking☆ 4.9 / 5
Teen financial independence
Copper $4.95/mo., Copper + Invest: $7.95/mo.30-days free
gohenry logo thinGoHenry☆ 4.6 / 5
Accessible customer service support
1 month free. Individual: $4.99/mo. Family (supports up to 4 children): $9.98/mo.1 month free
revolut logo thinRevolut <18☆ 4.7 / 5
Parent-paid bonuses
No monthly feesNone
Axos Bank logoAxos First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens ready to learn about money management
Free (no monthly fees)None
*Apple App Store Rating as of April 1, 2024.

Related:


Revolut <18 Disclosure

The Revolut prepaid card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Visa.

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.