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As parents, we do our best to prepare our children for the future. We try to teach them the importance of education, the inevitability of heartbreak, how to drive, and more.

Since you’ve found your way to my comparison article, I’d wager you’re looking to decide whether you should open a Step or GoHenry kids’ debit card for your child. Either product is an excellent way for your child to develop money management skills. But which one is better?

By the end of this article, the answer to that question should be clear.

Today, I’m providing a detailed comparison of Step and GoHenry. For each account (and accompanying card), I’ll give an overview, break down costs, and highlight key features. I’ll also show the vital stats side by side so it’s simple to see how the accounts differ. And just in case you’re not convinced either is the best available option, I’ll go over a few other top kids’ debit cards.

Step vs. GoHenry Comparison


step logo transparent symbol thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Nowgohenry logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Now
WealthUp Rating☆ 4.7 / 5☆ 4.4 / 5
App Store Rating☆ 4.7 / 5☆ 4.5 / 5
Price*No monthly feesIndividual: $4.99/mo.
Family: $9.98/mo. (Up to four children)
BillingN/AMonthly
Special OfferN/AFree 1-month free trial
Allowed Cards Per Subscription1Individual: 1
Family: 4
Minimum Age**No6
Features That Make This Card Stand ApartBuilds credit; highest APY of any debit card for minors; points-based reward systemVideos and quizzes that teach money skills

Basics

step logo transparent symbol thin leftgohenry logo transparent text thin left
SpendingYesYes
SavingYesYes
InvestingYes (Stocks, ETFs, and Bitcoin)No
Giving/DonatingNoYes

Funding

step logo transparent symbol thin leftgohenry logo transparent text thin left
Funding Source(s)Bank account, debit card, third-party app, cashDebit card, credit card (Does not accept AmEx)
Direct DepositYesYes (Age 14+)
AllowanceYesYes
ChoresNoYes
GiftingNoYes
Cash Reload FeeFirst 2 deposits free; $3.95 reload fee thereafterN/A (No cash reload)

Saving/Spending

step logo transparent symbol thin leftgohenry logo transparent text thin left
Savings APY5.00%N/A
Round-UpsYesNo
Other Savings FeaturesNoneParent-Paid Interest
ATM NetworkAlliance Plus (30,000+ ATMs)None
ATM Transaction Fee$0 (Operator fee may apply at out-of-network ATMs)$0 (GoHenry does not charge an ATM fee, but it is not part of an ATM network, so an ATM operator fee will apply)
Card NetworkVisaMastercard
Compatible Mobile WalletsApple Pay, Google PayApple Pay

Parents

step logo transparent symbol thin leftgohenry logo transparent text thin left
Parental ControlsLow (Card lock)High (Single-transaction and/or weekly spending limits, transaction type-level controls)
Parental MonitoringYesYes
Parental NotificationsYesYes

Other Features

step logo transparent symbol thin leftgohenry logo transparent text thin left
Cash BackYes (Amount varies based on expenditure)No
Builds CreditYesNo
Customization optionsNoYes, 45+ options
Refund PolicyN/ANo refunds given, month-to-month pricing
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.

Step Overview


Step savings signup

The free Step Visa Card is a unique “hybrid” secured credit card that’s tailor-made for kids and teens. It has the safety of a debit card, but it functions like a Visa credit card—including the ability to build your child’s credit history.

Parents, who sponsor the card for their child, 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.

Step also has fantastic savings benefits. Kids earn a high annual percentage yield (APY) on their money and can boost savings even more with Savings Roundup.

Step even features an “invest” function that allows children age 13 and older to buy and sell Bitcoin for a small transaction fee. The app is not a pure crypto wallet, however—your kids currently can’t spend Bitcoin directly at vendors.

Step has no age requirement, but anyone under 18 will need a parent, guardian, or trusted adult to sign them up.

Related: 7 Best Trading Accounts for Minors [Stock Investing Under 18]

Step Plans + Costs


Step is as free as free debit cards for teens get. There are no monthly fees, no subscription fees, and no account minimum fees. Members can use more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs. Step doesn’t even charge commissions on stock trades. Step primarily makes money through “interchange” fees paid by the merchant bank, rather than charging customers. So it’s very easy to use Step and never pay a dime.

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
StepN/A

    - Step Card
    - Option to build credit
    - High APY on Savings Goals
    - Parental Controls
    - Allowance
    - Instant Transfers
    - Savings Roundup
    - Investing

Now, Step isn’t perfectly free—no card is. There are a few situations where you could incur small fees, though most of these are par for the course for (or less than) comparable products.

For instance, merchants charge $3.95 per cash deposit—Step covers that charge for your first two deposits, but after that, you’re on your own. Same goes for card replacements—Step offers up to two free card replacements for lost physical cards. After that, there is a $5 charge for each additional card replacement. (Fortunately, you can always use Step’s virtual card for free.)

Step also charges a small fee when withdrawing funds out of a linked debit card. It costs 35¢ for transfers less than $20 or 1.75% of the transfer amount for transfers of more than $20. And when buying cryptocurrencies, buy and sell prices include a 2% markup that helps cover Step’s costs.

Step also warns about a couple of other third-party fees:

  • If your child chooses to use an out-of-network ATM, Step won’t charge any fees, but the ATM operator may charge a service fee.
  • Step doesn’t charge commission fees for stocks, but the government does charge a pair of small fees—a FINRA transaction activity fee (TAF) and a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) fees—that account for a marginal percentage of your sale. Each fee is calculated as total transaction amount * $22.90 / 1,000,000, rounded up to the nearest cent, so a $1,000 trade would come out to just 4¢ in total fees.

Just keep in mind that both of the above fees are typical of just about any financial institution that offers those services.

Again: Step is as free as it gets.

Related: How to Make Money as a Kid [25 Ways For Any Age]

Step Features


Step Card

The Step Card is a Visa-branded card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, which is … well, at 44 million merchants in 200-plus countries and territories, that’s just about anywhere credit cards are accepted. It can also be used to withdraw money for free from 30,000-plus ATMs. (Note: Withdrawals are capped at $250 within a 24-hour period and $1,000 within a 30-day period.)

Remember: The Step Card is technically a secured credit card. But in practice, the Step Card acts just like a prepaid debit card. Parents fund a kid’s account, and the kid can spend up to however much is in the account—but not a penny more.

Parents have several options for how to fund a Step Card, including directly through a linked bank account, a debit card, direct deposit from an employer, or payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App. You can even deposit cash from 70,000-plus retail locations.

Lastly, the card is protected by Visa’s Fraud Protection and Zero Liability guarantee. You can dispute fraudulent charges within a certain time frame to avoid having to pay for those charges.

Credit Building

I said it in my Step review, and I’ll say it here: Step’s credit-building feature is by far and away the platform’s biggest draw.

Virtually all secured credit cards let you build credit. But Step stands out because it works differently, it has a laundry list of features most other cards don’t have, and it’s the only such card available for users under age 18.

That last point is what has made Step so popular among teens.

When a parent sponsors a card for their teen, they can opt to have Step report the past two years’ worth of information—transactions, payment history, and more—to the credit bureaus when their child turns 18. Credit scores are assigned once someone turns 18, and most teens will begin with a score of under 600. But based on a Step survey, 18-year-olds who used Step for at least seven months had an average credit score of 725.

That’s a massive difference that can mean easier access to (and lower financing rates on) everything from car insurance to apartment security deposits to student loans.

Also helpful? The card’s Smart Pay feature automatically pays off purchases every month from funds in the deposit account. That keeps kids from ever missing a payment.

Savings Goals

Lots of kids’ debit cards give different names to their de facto savings accounts: With Step, it’s called a Savings Goal. Kids can have multiple Savings Goals where they can save toward individual goals such as buying a bike or a laptop.

Users earn a competitive 5% annually—compounded and paid monthly—on up to $250,000 saved in their Savings Goals. Like with your average savings account, Step’s savings yield can change depending on movements in the Federal Funds Rate, but if that happens, Step will give you 30 days’ notice before it happens.

To qualify, the user must have a direct deposit of at least $500 per month, and the benefit extends for as long as the direct deposits continue. So even if your teen just holds down a summer job for three months and meets the qualifying direct deposit, they can still enjoy three months of high interest. (Other perks of making a qualifying direct deposit? Bonus points on dining, food delivery, charitable donations, specific merchants—and you can get paid up to two days early.)

Savings Roundup

Step also has a round-up feature: Savings Roundup. With this feature, small purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar figure, and that extra money is put toward a Savings Goal.

Let’s say your child buys some candy for $2.75. Step will round that purchase up to $3.00 and put 25¢ toward a predetermined Savings Goal.

Investing

Step gives kids the opportunity to invest in more than 1,000 stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as cryptocurrency. Within Step, a child needs a stock account to invest in stocks and ETFs, then a separate crypto account to invest in cryptocurrency.

Parents must open and approve these accounts for their child. Also, kids can only invest in stocks or funds their parents have recommended for them.

Kids can invest with as little as $1 through Step thanks to fractional shares. Also, stock and ETF trading is commission-free, but Step does charge a 2% markup on crypto prices to help cover its costs.

Step’s selection of more than 1,000 stocks and ETFs is technically much smaller than the thousands of stocks and funds they could access through a traditional broker, but it’s more than enough for beginner investors—and in fact, even intermediate investors could easily build a portfolio out of Step’s holdings. The crypto offering is extremely limited, though, with only Bitcoin offered at present.

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

Instant Transfers

Parents and other Step members can immediately send money to (and receive money from) one another with just a few taps. And while people rarely scoff at free money, you can include a note so the recipient isn’t scratching their head as to why you sent it.

Parental Controls

Most parents would prefer to dip their child’s toe into the money management pool rather than throw them in. Parental controls can help. Step allows you to monitor your child’s spending and freeze the card if you fear it’s lost or stolen (or fear your kid is being too irresponsible with it).

Allowance + Recurring Payments

Parents can easily set up allowance payments for their kids. You can set up recurring payments for regular chores, or one-time payments to reward your kid for spot chores, a good credit card, or otherwise doing something worth celebrating.

Related: Best Allowance and Chore Apps for Kids

Smooth Transition to Financial Adulthood

Step isn’t just for kids—adults can use it as well! Once your child turns 18, they can keep the same credit card number and account. Step will handle getting them appointed as the legal owner of the account and make it an independent account. Everything stays the same from the cardholder’s end. They can continue to use the card and keep building their credit history.

You can sign up for Step here.

Related: 30 Best Side Hustles for Teens [In-Person + Online]

GoHenry Overview


gohenry signup acorns new

I view GoHenry as more than just a way for kids to spend—it’s a holistic financial solution for minors.

GoHenry includes an account, prepaid debit card, app, even financial lessons. Parents are given an online account that’s linked to, and allows them to oversee and manage, individual accounts for each of their children via both the GoHenry app and the online account portal.

Kids can only spend whatever money is on the card, so parents don’t have to worry about costly overdraft fees or their kids running up a debt. Plus, it comes with some parental controls.

But GoHenry really sticks out to me as one of the best prepaid debit cards for kids because of their customer service. They offer everyday phone availability, email access, and social media engagement, ensuring users can solve their problems quickly and with little hassle.

GoHenry has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age 6 or older. Your child will be able to do plenty with the card from the onset—and plenty more as they grow up to be teens. Not only can they receive an allowance, but they can also get paid by employers through their account. They can use that money to reach savings goals or shop within the limits you’ve set. Your teen can even receive money from (or send money to) friends!

With time, a combination of your parental guidance and the app’s features should help your kids develop good money habits around earning, saving, spending, and giving.

Users should know that the company was acquired in 2023 by Acorns—a popular investing app for young adults who invest spare change through Round-Ups and recurring investments. However, for now, it still operates as GoHenry, and as of this writing, I’ve seen no announced changes that would suggest it will stop operating as normal. (In fact, Acorns actually offers GoHenry for free when you sign up for its Premium plan.)

Related: 7 Best Teen Checking Accounts [Bank Accounts for Teenagers]

GoHenry Plans + Costs


GoHenry offers a one-month free trial, then two pricing options, depending on the number of children:

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
Individual$4.99/mo.

    - GoHenry card for one child
    - Parental controls
    - Allowance and chores
    - Instant money transfers
    - Savings goals
    - Money missions
    - Giftlinks
Family$9.99/mo.Everything in the Individual plan, for up to four children

GoHenry accounts don’t charge transaction fees nor foreign transaction fees. It’s also free for friends to instantly send money to your child.

GoHenry is one of the few cards that does not have a fee-free ATM network, however, so you’ll incur third-party fees at virtually every ATM.

You can customize debit cards at a cost of $4.99 each.

Related: 11 Best Debit Cards for Kids

GoHenry Features


young teen with debit credit card yellow background

Below, I’ve listed a number of GoHenry’s most prominent features. Many of them are designed to keep kids and teens happy, but others help parents keep an eye on their children’s spending.

GoHenry Card

The GoHenry card is a Mastercard-branded prepaid debit card that can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

Parents load their parent account via a linked debit card or credit card, though GoHenry doesn’t allow you to fund via American Express. Parents load their children’s GoHenry cards from the parent account.

Each child can choose from 45 different GoHenry debit card designs or create a customized card for $4.99. When you open a GoHenry account, you should receive your children’s debit cards in the mail seven to nine business days later.

ATM charges are a weak spot here. While many kids’ debit cards have fee-free ATM networks, GoHenry does not. GoHenry itself won’t charge your child for withdrawing money from an ATM, they will incur a third-party fee from virtually any ATM. GoHenry caps ATM withdrawals to $120 per day and $480 within four days, as well as three withdrawals in one day and four within four days.

The card offers chip and PIN-protected transactions, bank-level encryption, and secure PIN recovery through the app. Cardholders also benefit from Mastercard Zero Liability Protection. This means you and your child aren’t held responsible for any unauthorized transactions as long as you used reasonable care to protect the card from loss or theft and promptly reported any fraudulent charges to GoHenry.

Parental Controls

GoHenry offers a few parental controls to ensure children are using their debit cards responsibly, including:

  • Spending overviews
  • Real-time spending alerts
  • Single-transaction and/or weekly spending limits
  • ATM withdrawal limits
  • Enabling/disabling spending at ATMs, in stores, and/or online

GoHenry also automatically blocks spending at “over 18” merchants, such as casinos, alcohol wholesalers, adult-themed sellers, and more. Optionally, you can turn on a “strict merchant block” from any businesses that sell age-restricted items, even if they also sell kid-friendly merchandise. (For instance, your child wouldn’t be able to buy candy at a convenience store that sells alcohol.)

You can also block and unblock the card as needed from your parent account. So, let’s say your child has lost their card—you can block any expenditures on it until it’s found, then unblock it once it’s back in your child’s care.

Allowance + Chores

Parents can reduce their mental load and put allowance on repeat every week. Just choose the amount, and the day of the week, and it’ll automatically be sent to your kids from then on.

You can also set chores for your child, such as walking the dog, doing homework, or sweeping. Kids get paid as chores are marked completed either by you or your child. Any chores marked as complete will be paid out when weekly allowance is due.

Instant Money Transfers

In addition to paying a regular allowance, parents can click “Quick Transfer” to instantly send money to a child at any time. Instant money transfers are a great way to reward a child, gift money for a special occasion, or send money in the event of an emergency.

Savings Goals

Kids can set up savings goals through GoHenry to start building the essential habit of setting money aside. They can set a target amount and/or date and, if they find it motivating, add an image. GoHenry also offers weekly autosaving to help children reach their goals faster.

Parent-Paid Interest

Earning interest is an excellent way to motivate kids to save. While GoHenry itself doesn’t pay interest, it does offer parent-paid interest. When this feature is enabled, parents can pay a predetermined rate on any deposits in the child’s savings account. The interest is paid on the first of each month from the parent’s account.

Money Missions

In addition to the hands-on financial experience kids gain through GoHenry’s debit card, they can increase their financial literacy through GoHenry’s in-app Money Missions.

The short stories, videos, and quizzes are easy to binge, and learning is gamified through earning badges. These lessons are tailored for your child’s age, so younger kids learn money basics and older kids learn more advanced topics. Money Missions are developed by teachers and financial education experts and follow the K-12 Personal Finance Education National Standards.

My suggestion? Give your kids small monetary rewards for successfully completing lessons.

Giftlinks

You’re not the only one who can send money securely to your child through GoHenry. Anyone you give a Giftlink to can send money as well. So if grandparents want to send money for a birthday or a family friend wants to gift money for a baptism, they can easily do so without anyone needing to deal with cash. They can even add a personal message.

The sender doesn’t even need to have the GoHenry app. All they need is a credit card or debit card registered to a valid U.S. address (Cash, checks, nor prepaid debit cards won’t work, however.)

Customer Service

GoHenry has some of the best customer service among kids’ debit card providers. They offer everyday phone availability (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET), email access, and social media engagement.

Interested in GoHenry? You can sign up here.

Related: 9 Best Savings Accounts for Kids [Children’s Bank Accounts]

Step vs. GoHenry: Our Editors’ Choice Is …


For many parents, Step’s features simply can’t be beat. Unlike GoHenry (and the vast majority of competitors), Step can help kids build credit. This feature shouldn’t be underestimated as establishing a credit history can save children money once they reach adulthood and need to take out loans, purchase insurance, and more.

Plus, Step offers 5% APY on users’ savings. Meanwhile, money stored in a GoHenry account isn’t earning anything. Step’s round-up feature boosts savings even faster. Further, of these two top kids’ debit cards, only Step lets you invest in stocks and ETFs or even in Bitcoin.

Step is also the 100% free option, which is important to families on a budget or interested in dipping their toes in the water before committing to a more high-powered card that carries a monthly fee.

GoHenry has a bevy of features that Step doesn’t, though. First, your kid can get a customized card with nearly four dozen designs available. From there, GoHenry also offers chore assignment and management and provides an easy way for people other than parents to gift money into the account. The monthly fee is a downer, but there’s a Family Plan that includes up to four cards, so you don’t have to shell out significantly more money for every kid.

Overall, Step is my recommendation here, as it’s packed with premium features while still being completely free. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can sign up for Step here.

Our Pick: Step
Runner-Up: GoHenry
4.7
4.4
Our Pick: Step
Runner-Up: GoHenry

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 Step or GoHenry, 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.

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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.