7 Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens This 2023

This detailed post on free debit cards for kids is originally published by Wealth of Geeks, and we were given permission to republish it here.

Giving your child a debit card at a young age can be an excellent way to teach them about money and budgeting early in life. In fact, any steps you can take as a parent to promote financial literacy early can go a long way in shaping your kids’ futures.

However, not all kid’s debit cards are created equal.

Some have higher monthly fees. Others are free but charge ATM and card reload fees, and a handful of cards offer additional features above and beyond the competition.

Understanding your options before choosing which debit card to get your kid is essential that’s why we compiled a list of the best debit cards for kids, including a couple of options for teens.

What Debit Cards Can Teach Kids About Money

With consumer debt in the US growing to over $14 trillion, financial education is more crucial than ever.

Young people can learn a lot about money by using a debit card. One skill that they will likely pick up above everything else is budgeting.

By giving your child a debit card, you can foster good spending habits by limiting how much money they can spend, essentially making it impossible for them to overspend. In addition, by allotting them a predetermined amount of money, you empower them to make smart financial decisions.

Rather than giving your kids the money to purchase a toy or candy bar, sending money to their debit card and allowing them to make the purchase themselves teaches them the value of money and the concept of opportunity cost.

Plus, using plastic over cash has its advantages. Getting your child their own debit card is like giving them training wheels before they begin using credit cards.

One day, when they’re ready to get their first credit card, they’ll be better equipped to manage their spending as they’ve already developed good money habits.

Giving your kid a debit card and talking about money will teach them important money lessons.

They’ll learn how to manage their own money, how to budget, how debt works, and how to pay interest – all essential to becoming financially responsible young adults.

What Defines a Kid’s Debit Card?

Let’s take a closer look at what sets a kid’s debit card apart from a traditional debit card. Generally, debit cards for kids must comply with three rules:

  1. A minor child (under 18) must be able to use the card independently.
  2. The card must be accepted online and at most retailers.
  3. The card must offer spending controls and parental controls, including the ability to transfer preset amounts from a checking account to the card.

Although not required, most cards also include features for parents to track and monitor spending activity and allowance features to reward children for completing their chore lists.

Many debit cards for kids are prepaid cards that allow parents to transfer, or “load” money onto the child’s debit card account. Since they are prepaid – also called reloadable – opening a checking account for your child is unnecessary thus eliminating the ability to overdraw the account.

Best Debit Cards for Kids

The options on this list are all reputable financial platforms that offer your child an excellent first banking experience, prioritize your security, and are FDIC Insured (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures your money in the account.)

While these debit cards have many similarities, the fees and specific functions differ across the board – click the green buttons to sign up or explore each card further.

1. Greenlight Prepaid Mastercard, All ages 🏆

  • Monthly Fee: $4.99 (for up to 5 cards)
  • Reload Fee: $0
  • ATM Fee: No free ATMs or fee reimbursement included

Starting off the list is our pick as the best option for kids’ debit cards. Greenlight is a debit card specifically designed for kids. Their tagline is “the debit card for kids, managed by parents.”

While it costs $4.99 per month, it’s perfect for families with multiple kids as the monthly fee includes up to five cards. Cards are free unless you opt for custom cards, which cost $9.99.

Using Greenlight does not require your child to have their own bank account. Instead, you link Greenlight to a parent account and transfer money to your child’s Greenlight card using the app.

The Greenlight debit card offers different ways to pay kids real money for doing their chores, can be used by kids of all ages, and includes robust parental controls.

It works in tandem with the Greenlight app, which parents and kids use differently.

Features Include:

  • Allowance + Chore management
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Parent-paid interest on savings
  • Apple Pay + Google Pay
  • Ability to block unsafe spending categories
  • 30-day free trial

Families looking for more options may find one of Greenlight’s additional plans a better fit. Greenlight + Invest costs $7.98/month and allows parents and kids to invest while also benefiting from educational investing information.

The top tier plan, Greenlight Max costs $9.98/month. This plan allows parents and kids to invest, earn interest on savings and cashback on purchases, and even offers identity theft protection.

In addition, Greenlight charges no initial setup fee, has no required minimum balance or deposit, and has no age requirements.

*Greenlight card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, member FDIC.

2. BusyKid Spend Card Prepaid Visa, Ages 5-17

  • Monthly Fee: $3.99 (for up to 5 cards)
  • Reload Fee: $0 if funding with a bank account or debit card
  • ATM Fee: $1.50 + any usage fees charged by the ATM

The BusyKid Spend Card is a reloadable prepaid card for kids that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted; it’s also another good option for families with multiple children. Like Greenlight, the monthly fee for BusyKid also includes up to five cards and will save you a dollar per month.

BusyKid does offer parental controls, but, unfortunately, they’re not as nuanced as some other options. However, a highlight of this card is “BusyPay”, which allows friends and family to add money to the child’s card by scanning a QR code.

Another unique feature of BusyKid is the ability to fund the card from separate sources, making it a good option for kids with divorced parents.

Each parent can have equal access and transfer money to the child’s card while maintaining account privacy from the other parent.

Features Include:

  • Allowance + Chore management
  • Apple Pay + Google Pay
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Allows kids to donate to charity or buy stocks (no transaction fees)
  • App provides a full history of all transfers, purchases, and chores
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Other notable options include a 20% discount when you pay annually and the ability for family members to use the BusyKid app to manage chores even if you don’t use the debit card.

*BusyKid Visa Prepaid Spend Card is issued by MVB Bank, Inc., member FDIC.

3. GoHenry Prepaid Mastercard, Ages 6-18

  • Monthly Fee: $3.99
  • Reload Fee: $0
  • ATM Fee: $1.50 + any usage fees charged by the ATM

The GoHenry debit card can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted and offers a free 30-day trial. However, once the trial ends, the monthly fee increases to $3.99 per child, making it the most expensive option on this list for any family needing a card for more than one child.

Technically, GoHenry is an “allowance manager app” and not a banking app. Still, it allows you to load money from your account into your GoHenry “parent account,” which you can then transfer to your child as you see fit.

While it includes many of the same flexible parental controls as other cards, GoHenry also assigns each child a “Giftlink” which conveniently allows friends and relatives to add money to your child’s card.

In addition, the GoHenry app includes financial literacy lessons called Money Missions that “grow with your child” to prepare them for how money works in the real world.

GoHenry offers a free debit card, with customized cards costing $4.95, which may be a good idea for big families so each child can quickly identify their own card.

Features Include:

  • Allowance + Chore management
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Ability to block unsafe spending categories
  • In-app Money Missions
  • 30-day free trial

While GoHenry offers many great features and cool-looking designs, it ultimately falls short in other areas.

Families needing multiple cards or divorced parents will likely find other cards on this list a better fit as GoHenry charges a per child fee and does not allow for separate funding sources.

*GoHenry card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, member FDIC.

4. FamZoo Mastercard Prepaid Card, All ages

  • Monthly Fee: $5.99
  • Reload Fee: $0 when using a qualified bank transfer or direct deposit
  • ATM Fee: $0 + any usage fees charged by the ATM

Originally designed to be a kid’s debit card, FamZoo functions more like a family money management hub.

Use your parent’s card to make instant transfers to your child’s account or set up an IOU account. FamZoo will give you your first four cards for free; each additional card costs $3.

While family members of all ages can utilize FamZoo’s services, children under 13 will use an “on behalf of” card in the parent’s (or legal guardian’s) name rather than the child’s name.

Features Include:

  • Allowance + Chore management
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Set savings goals for kids
  • Financial education features
  • 30-day free trial

The monthly fee covers the whole family, making FamZoo another cost-effective option for families needing multiple cards. In addition, they offer multiple subscription terms to lower costs.

Lastly, FamZoo offers more literature and explanation than any of the other options on this list, so if you prefers\ as much information as possible, FamZoo is likely the best option for you.

*FamZoo card is issued by SouthState Bank, N.A., member FDIC.

Best Debit Cards for Teens

5. Copper Mastercard Debit Card, Ages 13+

  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Reload Fee: $0 when using a qualified bank transfer
  • ATM Fee: $0 when using AllPoint or MoneyPass ATMs

Copper is a financial technology company that offers a teen checking account and a free debit card for teens.

Although Copper is not a traditional bank, it provides banking services and focuses prominently on teaching teens to become financially successful.

Copper promises its account holders advanced security features and zero hidden fees: no overdraft fees, account minimums, or credit checks.

Features Include:

  • Automatic allowances
  • Teaches financial responsibility
  • Apple Pay + Google Pay
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Direct deposit
  • Venmo, Cash App, PayPal

Copper also offers direct deposit for teens with jobs – they can get their paycheck up to two days early. The Copper debit card is an excellent choice for older kids and will also pay your teen $5 for each friend they refer to Copper (the friend gets $5 too).

*Banking services provided by Evolve Bank & Trust, member FDIC.

6. Step Visa Card, Ages 6+

  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Reload Fee: $0
  • ATM Fee: $0 when using one of 30,000 ATMs in Step’s network

Step is an entirely free banking experience for teens with no monthly, overdraft, minimum, or service fees. Technically, the Step Visa card is a credit card, not a debit card, which gives teens the capability to start building a credit score each time they use their card.

However, the child’s spending is limited to the amount in their account only.

Step was built for teens, however, children ages six and up can have a Step account as long as they have an adult over 18 to be their sponsor. While the sponsor will also have their own Step account, they will still have access to the child’s account with flexible parental controls.

Older children can manage their own accounts, while parents can open a Parent Managed Account for younger children.

Features Include:

  • Automatic allowances
  • Apple Pay + Google Pay
  • Helps teens build credit
  • Create and fund savings goals
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Direct deposit

Step grows along with your child’s needs. Get them started with a Parent Managed Account when they’re young and upgrade them to a sponsored account when they’re ready to manage their own money.

*Banking services provided by Evolve Bank & Trust, member FDIC.

7. Current Visa Debit Card, All ages

  • Monthly Fee: $0
  • Reload Fee: $0
  • ATM Fee: $0 when using one of 40,000 AllPoint ATMs

Current offers more than just a debit card, including a mobile app with a whole suite of products, including teen banking. It’s one of the most technology-forward options on this list. Also, the card looks cool and wins style points, for what it’s worth.

Parents can technically open a Current debit card for a child of any age, however, Current specifies their card and features are “designed for teens.”

Features Include:

  • Allowance + Chore management
  • Donate to charity with Giving Balance
  • Save with round-ups and Savings Pods
  • Real-time transaction notifications
  • Instant gas hold removals with parent’s account

*Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group, member FDIC.

Do Banks Offer Kids Debit Cards?

Yes, you can get your child a debit card through a traditional bank by opening a joint checking account with your child. Having an FDIC-insured bank account will also allow them have a traditional debit card (not prepaid) as well.

Be aware of the risks:

  1. Ensure you won’t get hit with overdraft fees.
  2. Check the minimum age to open a checking account, which can vary by bank.

This could be a great option as you can get a free debit card for kids with the account. In addition, there are typically no monthly fees associated with checking accounts and debit cards, and you wouldn’t encounter any “reload” costs.

Pros and Cons of Getting Your Kid a Debit Card

Kids Debit Card Pros

Teaches Kids to Budget: Giving a kid a debit card can be one way to teach them about budgeting and enforce good money management practices.

Set Spending Amounts: Most prepaid cards give the parents control to set spending limits and monitor accounts which is a great way to help children create positive experiences and habits with money.

Avoid Overdraft Fees: Using a prepaid debit card eliminates the risk of your child overdrafting their account and encountering hefty fees.

Multiple Other Features: Many of the best prepaid debit cards for kids include additional useful features like setting interest rates in “savings accounts” at a number that will incentivize savings and reward kids for doing chores.

Kids Debit Card Cons

The Cost: There is no getting around it; whether it’s a monthly fee, reload fee, ATM withdrawal fees, or another type of fee, most kids’ debit cards charge some type of fee. However, the cost is often offset with fun features to help you simultaneously manage the card and teach your kid(s) about money.

No Rewards: Unlike traditional credit cards, most debit cards for kids do not offer the ability to earn cashback or rewards.

Age Limits: The age limit to open a card tends to vary by company.

How To Choose a Debit Card for Your Kid

Choosing a debit card for your kid is easy once you know your options. Generally, there are three questions you should answer to make the decision.

1. Do You Want a Prepaid Card?

If you want the safety and security that comes with loading money onto a prepaid card the options on this list are a great place to start.

On the other hand, if you are comfortable with the risk of overdrafting an account, a traditional debit card might be a good fit for you.

2. Do You Want Added Features?

FamZoo and Greenlight are likely your best choices if you’re looking for a lot of bells and whistles – be sure to visit the cards’ websites to read the fine print and understand all the offer.

3. How Often Will You Reload the Card?

If you plan to reload the card monthly or even weekly, you’ll want to pay close attention to the reload fees and methods for reloading a card.

However, if you only plan to load the card once or twice a year, the monthly fee will be more of a deciding factor.

Which Debit Card Is Better for Kids?

Getting a debit card for your kid can be a great way to help teach them about budgeting and help you simplify your finances. In addition, it will allow you to pay allowances digitally as you likely do when paying your credit cards or monthly bills.

Still, when it comes to the best option for your child, one-size-does-not-fit-all. Particular features valuable to you and your family may not be a priority for other families.

As a parent, it is up to you to decide when your child is ready to have their own debit card, and the lessons they will learn in financial responsibility will serve them throughout their lives.

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This post was produced by Wealth of Geeks and syndicated by Mama Say What?!

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