Do you have teenagers at home who need a way to pay for purchases when you’re not around? Or, are you looking for a hands-on way to teach your kids about money?
Prepaid cards are a convenient solution since they are easy to reload. Better yet, most stores accept debit payments. It’s possible to fund them using your child’s allowance or your teen’s paycheck.
You can even get cards for the entire family to track spending and learn how to manage money.
In This Article
What Are Prepaid Debit Cards?
Prepaid debit cards function like traditional bank debit cards and can pay for most local and online purchases. They also have additional safety features that can prevent account theft or overspending.
For example, prepaid cards do not link to a checking account, and the spending limit is the current card balance. This can prevent overdraft fees or accidentally spending money set aside for savings.
These cards won’t impact credit scores and don’t require a credit check. You also don’t need a bank account to get a prepaid debit card.
One of the downsides of prepaid cards are the potential fees. It’s common to pay a small annual fee or incur a fee to reload the card balance.
Top Prepaid Cards for Teens
Here some of the best teen debit cards that have competitive features and are easy to use.
Keep in mind that these cards are issued by Visa or Mastercard, so they have near-universal acceptance from merchants.
1. BusyKid Visa Debit Card
BusyKid offers many features that make it easy for parents to assign chores and pay an allowance. Parents can also initiate bonus payments and track card spending.
An annual subscription for one card costs $19.99. Additional cards cost $7.99 per year. Ten different card designs are available, making it simple to tell cards apart if your family gets more than one.
BusyKid offers unique features that differentiate them from other prepaid cards for teens.
Age-Based Customizable Chores
One reason to consider BusyKid is for the ability to pay children to complete chores. The app uses the child’s age to suggest an allowance amount for tasks, and parents can adjust the payment per task.
It’s also possible to pay an allowance without assigning chores and schedule recurring allowance payments.
Parents can match a percentage of the weekly amount a child saves. It’s also possible to add one-time bonuses for good grades and special events like a birthday or holidays.
Invest in Stocks
BusyKid partners with Stockpile so minors can invest in stocks and index funds. There are no fees to buy positions, but there is a $0.99 fee to sell.
This card is one of the easiest ways for teens to invest and avoid fees.
It’s possible to donate money directly to charities. This feature can be beneficial for parents to help teens learn how to budget for savings, purchases and helping others.
Unique features: Chore management, bonus payments and investing accounts
Trustpilot score: 4.0 out of 5
2. Current Visa Debit Card
The Current Debit Card has customizable features for parents and teens. This prepaid card costs $36 per year, which can be pricier than other options.
Parents can assign chores and receive real-time spending alerts. They can also block specific merchants and set spending limits.
Multiple adults can add funds to a teen’s card after linking their Current account to the card. It’s possible to instantly transfer funds from a linked bank account.
Card users can use 55,000+ ATMs for free withdrawals and get access to free overdraft protection up to $100 if they are qualified premium members.
The card offers a few extra features to help teens take their money management to the next level.
Teens can round up card purchases to the next dollar and transfer the difference to a savings account. This tool can be useful for savings goals like a $1,000 savings challenge.
There are also “savings pods” that save money for specific goals. This can help teens monitor their progress towards multiple savings goals.
Purchases at participating merchants can earn cash back. It’s possible to earn up to 15x points when shopping at certain stores. Points can be redeemed for cash.
The Current app lists the stores and restaurants offering cash rewards.
Instant Refunds for Gas Station Holds
Being able to get an instant refund for a gas station hold is a helpful feature. Other cards may keep the $75 hold for several business days to verify the transaction isn’t fraudulent.
This isn’t the case with Current. Holds are immediately refunded, so you can access all your account funds right away.
Unique features: Purchase roundups that transfer to savings and shopping rewards
Trustpilot score: 3.7 out of 5
3. MOVO Digital Prepaid Mastercard
MOVO is one of the most affordable options as there aren’t any recurring account fees.
You can expect to only pay fees in these instances:
- Card order fee: $5.95 per card, one time
- ATM withdrawals: $2
- Card-to-bank withdrawals: $2
This prepaid card can be effective for giving teens money to pay for purchases. Parents can fund the card fee-free by transferring cash from a bank account. Employer direct deposits are free as well.
While the features offered by MOVO are minimal compared to other cards, they do have a few useful perks.
Digital Card Numbers
Digital card numbers are useful for online purchases. Users can request these for additional account security.
The digital numbers differ from the physical card number. This way, MOVO won’t freeze your account until a replacement card arrives if someone steals the card information to make fraudulent purchases.
There isn’t an additional fee for digital debit cards. The $5.95 order fee only applies to physical cards that can be used for in-store and online purchases.
If you or your teen want to add money to the card using cash, it’s possible to do so.
Cash deposits can be added at these reload centers:
- Mastercard rePower
- Green Dot MoneyPak
- Vanilla Cash Reload
Additional fees may apply when adding cash but can be worth it since paying with plastic can be more convenient.
Direct deposits for teen online side hustles are free, as are mobile check deposits.
Online Bill Pay
Teens may not have to send a paper check to pay bills since more merchants accept digital payments. When a check is necessary, MOVO mails free paper checks to the recipient.
This feature can be more valuable during the college and young adult years. Teens won’t have to switch financial accounts to access additional banking features like online bill pay.
Unique features: No annual account fees and online bill payments
Trustpilot score: 2.7 out of 5
4. Greenlight Visa Debit Card
The Greenlight debit card provides banking and investing features that can be useful for teens and their parents.
Three monthly plans are available with different features. Each plan provides cards for up to five children.
The entry-level Greenlight plan costs $4.99 per month. This plan only provides a debit card for teen banking.
Parents can set spending limits for certain stores and purchase categories.
Like other prepaid debit card apps, parents can assign chores and schedule recurring allowance payments.
Children can divide their income into three budget categories:
Greenlight + Invest
The banking features for Greenlight + Invest are similar to the entry-level Greenlight plan.
That said, you may want to consider the mid-tier Greenlight + Invest plan to open a custodial investing account to start investing. This plan costs $7.98 per month and includes unlimited trades.
Investment accounts are opened in the parent’s name, but the child can initiate trade. Parents will need to authorize trade requests before they execute.
It’s possible to invest in individual stocks and ETFs with a $1 minimum investment.
Families may prefer Greenlight Max for peace of mind since they can get purchase protection benefits. This plan costs $9.98 monthly.
Greenlight Max benefits include:
- Cell phone protection (for damaged, lost or stolen phones)
- Purchase protection (for lost and stolen items)
- Identity theft protection
- Priority customer support
Cell phone protection and purchase protection benefits are common for credit cards. Accidents happen, and families can save money since a qualifying claim can be worth the membership fee.
This plan also provides more educational tools to help kids learn about managing money than the other two plans.
Additionally, Greenlight Max users have the chance to get the exclusive Greenlight Black debit card design.
Unique features: Chore management, budgeting tools and investing accounts
Trustpilot score: 1.6 out of 5 (due to high monthly fees and usability complaints)
Read our Greenlight Card review to learn more about this money management app.
FamZoo offers money management tools in their app and prepaid debit cards for the entire family, including parents.
The service lets children get separate debit cards for specific purposes. One example is having a card for store purchases and another for snacks to easily practice the envelope budget system.
Membership includes four cards and costs $5.99 per month. Paying in advance for up to 24 months reduces the monthly fee to $2.50.
The platform offers some key features to compete with other prepaid cards for teens.
Parents can assign and manage chores in the app. It’s also possible to divide payments into multiple savings accounts instead of putting the entire balance into a spending account.
FamZoo lets parents pay interest on their child’s savings balance to encourage children to save money instead of spending money.
Children can also learn how compound interest works with this tool.
Several budgeting strategies are available so that teens can assign each dollar a purpose. One of the standard options is creating a save, spend and give account.
Children can carry multiple debit cards for specific transaction types. For example, one card might be for spending and another for charity donations.
Users also have the ability to create savings goals and track their progress in the app.
Parents can approve money transfer requests with a quick text message but may stipulate that the must child repay the balance.
The app lets parents set an interest rate and record monthly payments.
Unique features: Multiple budget tools and get debit cards for different expense types
Trustpilot score: N/A
Read our FamZoo review to learn more.
Kachinga is a good option for families who want a chore management app with basic budgeting tools. An annual subscription costs $36 per child after a one-month free trial.
Families who don’t need a debit card can use Kachinga for free. Their Virtual Money app tracks and manages money, making it a better option if you use cash instead of prepaid cards.
For teens who want a debit card, it’s possible to get a spending card that works at most stores and for ATM withdrawals.
Here are some of the features Kachinga offers.
Easily Send Money
Kachinga lets parents pay allowances automatically each week. Payments can be divided into spending, saving and giving accounts.
The platform also makes it easy for teens to request instant money transfers and parents to send money for emergencies or expenses.
With Kachinga’s chore manager, parents and teens can receive reminders about chores to ensure they get done on time.
Teens can use Kachinga to monitor their progress towards savings goals. They can also access a savings calculator to learn how much their savings can grow.
To further motivate kids to save money, parents have the opportunity to match their child’s savings. Kachinga even offers a parent-paid interest option to help teens learn about compound interest.
Reports and Notifications
Parents can receive reports and instant notifications to keep track of their child’s spending. This helps parents keep an eye on where money is going.
Both parents and teens can turn the debit card off or on. This can prevent overspending or protect a lost card.
Unique features: Manage chores, multiple savings accounts and parent-paid interest
Trustpilot Score: N/A
Can Prepaid Cards Teach Teens About Spending?
Yes, prepaid debit cards paired with a budgeting app can help teens learn basic money skills. Most apps let cardholders create spending, saving and giving accounts.
However, it’s important to choose cards that provide both parent and teen banking features. Traditional prepaid cards make spending easy in a cashless society but don’t offer budgeting tools.
Parent-teen debit cards also make it easy for parents to assign chores and pay when the child completes them. Parents can even instantly transfer money for one-time requests.
As the maximum spending limit is the current card balance, these cards don’t charge overdraft fees like a traditional bank account.
When Should Teens Have a Full-Service Bank Account?
Teens should consider a bank account when they need to enroll in direct deposit for a part-time job to easily access their income.
These accounts can also provide more flexibility for making deposits and completing transactions without parental permission.
Additionally, a full-service bank account might not charge account service fees, unlike a prepaid card.
To open a bank account, teens need a parent’s assistance. The parent can monitor the teen’s spending activity and make instant transfers like prepaid accounts.
Teen checking accounts can offer more flexibility than a prepaid card and might be good for teens with basic money skills. However, you’ll want to watch out for overspending and account overdrafts.
Prepaid cards make it easy for teens to buy items when a parent isn’t nearby and gain financial experience in the process.
Parents can also teach their children how to manage money with different app features that can be more convenient to use than a regular money management app.
Ultimately, when used correctly, prepaid cards can be a useful tool to help increase your teen’s financial literacy.