Debit cards for kids can be useful tools as you teach your children. When my oldest child turned 16, I made two financial moves. I opened a joint checking account with her name and mine on it. And I put her as an authorized signer on a prepaid credit card I didn’t use.
Why? Because I wanted her to have firsthand experience of adult financial management while still under my roof. Finding the right prepaid card was important for myself and my daughter.
After my husband and I got into over $60,000 in consumer debt, I made the decision that I’d teach our kids not to repeat our mistakes. As a homeschooling family, it was convenient to put personal finance teachings into our school routine. But any education choice leaves room for teaching personal finance to kids.
Talking about the perils of debt and sharing our experience of having overwhelming debt with our kids helped a lot. And I’d talk about the importance of saving money along with the many options for earning extra cash.
Those teaching points were good, but we all know that actually living in adulthood is different than watching from the sidelines.
So, I wanted my daughter to get some real-life experience regarding using checking accounts and credit cards. Continue reading to learn more about which cards we reviewed.
In This Article
- Top Debit Cards for Kids
- Why Should I Consider a Prepaid Card or Debit Card for My Child?
Top Debit Cards for Kids
Check out the list below and see which of these debit cards for kids will work best for helping you teach minors to manage money.
Greenlight is a debit card that is made for kids but managed by parents. It has several features that make it a great choice for kids:
- no minimum age
- no minimum balance
- free from overdraft fees
- available debit cards for up to five kids
It also has a chore management feature and an auto transfer of funds feature. Parents can even choose an auto feature that will pay their kids interest if they want.
You can try Greenlight out for a month; after that you’ll pay $4.99 per month for up to five kids.
2. FamZoo Prepaid Mastercard
The FamZoo prepaid cards were set up for the sole purpose of helping kids learn good money management skills.
The company’s prepaid card offers the following features:
- Free card reloads (when you direct deposit money – retailer reloads will cost you)
- Free ATM visits
- Monthly fees as low as $0.63 per month depending on the number of cards you have and the subscription you choose
- No per-purchase fees
The FamZoo card can be opened for any age child – from preschool on up. However, kids under 13 will have “on-behalf” cards where the parent is the legal cardholder.
Kids age 13 and up (and their parents) will need to go through an easy verification process to be approved. And all FamZoo accounts must have at least one parent as an account cardholder.
All activity on the cards can be tracked digitally, meaning kids can see where they’re spending their money. And parents have access to each cardholder’s card activity at any time.
3. BusyKid Prepaid Visa Spend Card
BusyKid is a prepaid Visa spend card with a variety of features. Here’s how it works.
You use the BusyKid prepaid card to give your child money. You can simply assign an amount to be put on the card every week. Or, you can tie the money to completed chores with the BusyKid chore app.
When your kid wants to spend their money, they can use the prepaid card at stores as they choose. Bonus: the BusyKid chore app also allows your kid to give to charity and invest.
It costs $19.99 per year to get a family subscription to BusyKid. That includes one card. It’s an additional $7.99 for each extra card.
GoHenry is a family banking tool that helps you teach your kids how to handle money. Here’s how it works:
You start by opening a bank account in your (the parent’s) name. The “parent” account is a control center for up to four “child” accounts. You put money into the parent account by transferring it from your main bank account.
As the parent, you can transfer money into each child account as you wish. You can set up regular, automated transfers, or you can make random transfers.
This is a nice feature because you can use it to teach your kids the concept of “work equals pay”. For instance, you can transfer $5 into a child’s account when they complete a pay-worthy chore.
Each child gets a debit card to spend the money you’ve transferred into their account.
Other features of the GoHenry debit card include:
- The ability to set single and weekly spending limits
- Choose where the card can be used (ex. at ATMs, online or in-store)
- Block and unblock cards with the touch of a button
- Receive real-time notification of purchases/expenditures
You can try GoHenry for 30 days for free. After that, it costs just $3.99 per month per child. And you can cancel your membership anytime.
5. Mango Prepaid Card
The Mango prepaid card allows purchases wherever Mastercard is accepted. You transfer money on to the card, your kid spends as he or she pleases.
It’s just $5 per month for the card. However, if your child wants to make an ATM cash withdrawal with the card, it costs $3 per withdrawal.
6. American Express Serve
The American Express Serve card has three card options. Which one works best for you depends on your teen’s usage and spending habits. We’ll outline the features and fees of all three here.
American Express Serve Basic
The Basic American Express Serve card is Amex’s most popular prepaid debt card.
Here’s a list of the features that come with the card:
- Free Early Direct Deposit. This American Express feature that allows you to receive availability to Direct Deposit funds up to two full days earlier.
- Free online bill pay.
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals (at Money Pass ATMs).
- Cash reload prices of up to $3.95 per load (price varies by retailer).
- A monthly fee of $1, or $0 when you Direct Deposit $500 or more during each statement period.
American Express Serve Free Reloads
The American Express Serve Free Reloads card is best for those who add frequent reloads onto their card. Here are some of the other features of this card.
- A monthly fee of $4.95 (no fee in TX, VT or NY)
- Free online bill pay
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals (At Money Pass ATMs)
- Free reloads
If you find your teen is needing to reload their card with money often, this might be the best choice for you.
American Express Serve Cash Back
The American Express Serve Cash Back card is likely most beneficial for bigger spenders.
Here are some of this card’s features:
- A monthly fee of $5.95
- Free online bill pay
- Free ATM withdrawals (at Money Pass ATMs)
- Cash reload prices of up to $3.95 per load (price varies by retailer)
- Unlimited cash back of 1% on all purchases
So, depending on what the spending habits are of your kid, you have three American Express cards to choose from.
7. TD Go Prepaid Visa
The TD Go Prepaid Visa is a product of TD Bank. TD Bank uses the Visa Buxx prepaid card for teens. Here are some of the features of the TD Go prepaid debit card for teens.
- A $0 monthly service fee
- A $0 purchase fee
- Free ATM usage in-network
- $1 for card reloads
- $2.50 per month for inactivity (after 12 months with no transactions)
This is a very affordable option for teens and parents alike. Parents can also set up email notification to keep abreast of card balances and expenditures.
8. Capital One MONEY Card
Capital One’s MONEY account is a checking account created especially for teens. And it comes with a MONEY debit card to help your teen learn how to live within a budget.
Here are some of the features of Capital One’s MONEY account for teens.
- No monthly fee charged to this account
- Zero minimum balance for the account
- No monthly charge to have a debit card
- Fee free ATM usage at participating ATM locations
- .25% interest rate paid on all checking account balances
The great thing about the MONEY checking account and coordinating debit card is that it gives teens freedom. However, it also gives you as their parent the same access to their checking account that they have.
This way you can monitor transactions and account balances so you can help your teen learn healthy money management skills.
9. Akimbo Prepaid Mastercard
The Akimbo Prepaid Mastercard lets you create a prepaid account for nearly any purpose. You can use it for your grocery budget, your entertainment budget, or your kid’s allowance budget.
Here are some of the features of the Akimbo prepaid debit card.
- No fees for purchase transactions
- $0.99 fee for purchases requiring PIN usage
- ATM cash withdrawal fee $1.98
There are some great benefits to the Akimbo prepaid card but you may find the others more beneficial and cost effective.
Now that we’ve talked about some of the best prepaid cards and debit cards, here is some more useful information. Let’s talk a bit about why you might want to consider getting a prepaid or debit card for your teen.
10. Movo Virtual Prepaid Card
Movo helps keep online purchases your teen makes safe by creating a pass-through account number for online transactions.
You can also request a physical Movo prepaid card your child can use locally. There are no fees for the Movo card. However, you will get charged if the card is inactive for more than 90 days.
You can fund the card from your checking account, from PayPal, or via Direct Deposit.
Why Should I Consider a Prepaid Card or Debit Card for My Child?
You might be wondering why you should consider getting a prepaid card or debit card for your minor child. While we at Well Kept Wallet don’t advocate carrying monthly credit card balances, we do believe it’s important to help your child learn to navigate the world of credit and spending.
A prepaid card can help him or her to do just that. When your child has a prepaid card or a debit card, they can spend money electronically. Like it or not, the electronic world of financial management is here to stay.
And that electronic spending world does have its benefits, especially for parents whose kids are learning about money. Prepaid cards and debit cards can help your child learn about money while helping you keep an eye on their spending.
Electronic money management helps people see where every dime they earn goes each month. And that knowledge can be a valuable tool in the world of adult money management.
They Help Put Limits on Spending
One nice thing about these types of debit cards for kids is that they allow you to impose a spending limit for your child. An unrestrained budget in the hands of a teen can give them the illusion that money will always be there.
However, with prepaid cards you can make a rule that you’ll put X dollars in your child’s account each month. This spending limit will help them to learn to live in real life where one’s money supply isn’t endless.
It will help them learn that they need to make choices about how they spend their money. If their monthly cash allowance runs dry, they can learn what happens when money runs out before month’s end.
They Give You a Birdseye View
Adding to that, prepaid cards and debit cards let you see every one of your child’s purchases. This benefit makes way for conversations about value-based spending. Simply put, value-based spending means spending your money on the things that matter most to you.
As your child sees their spending habits at a glance, they can learn to identify important vs. non-important purchases. For instance, they might decide that a trip to the movies with friends is a value-based spending choice. Conversely, they might decide that daily trips to the fast food drive thru are not important.
As they (and you) get that birdseye view of monthly spending choices, they’ll learn an important truth. They’ll learn that they need to decide which spending choices help them make the most out of life. They’ll also learn that some spending choices simply waste their money.
This type of financial management training can help your child develop wise money management habits in adulthood.
Prepaid debit and credit cards may not be for every child, but they can do wonders for one’s financial education. Consider prepaid cards and other financial education tools as you raise your young ones.
Prepare them for a life of financial responsibility and security made by their own hands – with some help from you.
Helping your kids learn good money management skills is a must in today’s world. When they learn to properly manage cash through the use of prepaid cards and debit cards, life becomes easier.
And when they use the other financial management tips shared here, they’ve got tools to make money management fun.
Have you or would you consider a prepaid credit card or debit card for your child? If so, why or why not? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.