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With more shopping done online, the days of giving children a cash allowance are behind us. Bank accounts designed for children are making it easier for parents to navigate the new digital world. To help parents pick the right card, here are the best prepaid debit cards for kids and teens, including prepaid card options.
- Complete List of Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids and Teens
- How to Pick a Debit Card for Kids
According to Bruce McClary of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a “debit card is a great tool for learning the basics of money management.” That’s even more true for children. “Once children have a sound grasp on the basics, then they can graduate towards other things, like understanding the concept of borrowing money and responsibility that comes along with that, but that’s later on down the line,” McClary said.
Several companies have launched prepaid debit cards with apps designed for families with teens. These cards give parents an easy way to give an allowance, set chores, and even pay interest on savings. They also give parents control over how, when, and where the card is used.
Based on our research, here is a list of the best prepaid cards for teens.
Complete List of Prepaid Debit Cards for Kids and Teens
Greenlight Prepaid Card — Editor's Pick
Greenlight is one of the most popular teen debit cards, with more than 2 million parents and kids using the card and app. Kids get a MasterCard prepaid debit card, and they can put a selfie on the front of the card.
Parents get an app that gives them complete control over the card. They can create in-app chore lists and tie the work to allowance. Parents can set up automatic allowances on a weekly or monthly basis. They can also get real-time notifications any time the card is used. And of course, funds can be transferred to and from the cards instantly.
The app is the strongest part of Greenlight. It has over 82,000 reviews on the App Store with a rating of 4.8 stars. It’s also one of the cheapest teen prepaid cards. Greenlight costs as little as $4.99 per month for up to five kids.
- The first month is free. Cancel anytime.
- Includes debit cards for up to five kids
- No minimum age. No minimum balance
- No transaction, international, or overdraft fees
- Only $4.99 per month.
- Chore management
- Allowance on autopilot
- Instant transfers to kids’ cards
- Real-time transaction alerts
- Store-specific spend controls
BusyKid Prepaid Card
BusyKid is ideal for children of just about all ages. You can set up an account for a child as young as 3. They call it BusyKidJr and it’s free for children ages 3-5. From ages 6-16, they have BusyKid, which costs just $4.00 a month for up to five children and includes up to five BusyKid Prepaid Visa Spend Cards. This makes BusyKid one of the least expensive options.
The features available in the BusyKid app are extensive:
- Chores & Allowance set by age
- You can Invest in real stock
- Donate to charities
- Parents can pay out bonuses
- Parental controls on transactions
- Pay allowance with no chores
- Parental matching on child savings
gohenry Prepaid Card
gohenry combines a prepaid debit card with an app. Parents can set up an automatic weekly allowance that gets transferred to the card. The app enables parents to set weekly spending limits and to decide where the card can be used. The app can also set savings and giving goals.
Parents must set up a “Parent Account” and fund it with a debit card. From this account, parents can transfer money to their child’s account. One parent account can control up to four child accounts. The cost is $4.99 per child.
- An easy way to pay kid's allowance
- Parental controls
- Designed for kids aged 6 to 18
- 1 free month, then $4.99 per month per child. For families with up to four kids, it's $9.98 a month.
- Cancel any time
- Real-time transaction alerts
- Set savings goals
Current Visa Debit Card–Best for the Whole Family
Current is a mobile bank account and Visa debit card designed for the whole family. It's a mobile banking platform for parents and a debit card specifically for teens aged 13 or older. It starts with the parent's spending account, which comes with its own Visa debit card and mobile app. The basic spending account is free.
Once set up, parents can add their teens to the account. The account comes with parental controls, such as setting spending limits, getting transaction alerts, and blocking specific merchants. Teens get budgeting and savings tools, and of course direct deposit of paychecks.
- Get paid faster with direct deposit
- Free personal checking account
- Free overdraft protection up to $100
- Teens debit Visa cards available
- Get notified when a card is used
- Helps teach financial responsibility to teens
- Parents set spending limits
- Parents can block specific merchants
- Free direct deposit
FamZoo Prepaid Card — Most Popular
One of my favorite prepaid cards for teens and families is the FamZoo Prepaid Card. I've met the founder of FamZoo, Bill Dwight, and he has a clear vision for helping parents teach their children about money. You can read my full review here. In a nutshell, however, FamZoo gives parents the tools to manage money with their children.
The primary tools are a low-cost prepaid card and the FamZoo app. The cards cost just $5.99 a month for up to four prepaid cards. Combined with the app, parents have a wealth of features to choose from:
- Automated allowances
- Rewards for chores
- Withholding for saving or giving
- Penalties for missed work
- Parent-paid interest on savings
- Expense sharing
- Matching contributions
TD Essential Banking
Those looking for a traditional bank solution should consider the TD Essential Banking account. The account doesn't come with the same level of features as you’ll find with Greenlight or FamZoo. But you can monitor your teen’s spending online and through the mobile app.
There are no monthly maintenance fees for teens ages 13 – 17.
How to Pick a Debit Card for Kids
The two key considerations when choosing a prepaid card for a minor are features and fees. The best prepaid cards designed for teens include an app. The prepaid debit card itself is similar to any other prepaid card. Fees do vary from one card to the next. That said, the cards listed above all charge fairly reasonable fees.
And apart from fees, the prepaid card itself is pretty much the same from one company to the next. What sets a teen prepaid card apart is the app.
The best apps offer parental controls and money management tools.
Parental controls come in several different forms. The best cards enable parents to activate or deactivate the card through the app. They also let parents control where the card can be used.
Another key control feature is alerts. Parents can receive text messages or emails whenever the card is used.
Money Management Tools
Through some apps, parents can set up automatic allowances, create chores in exchange for allowance, and even pay interest on their child’s savings. These apps can encourage saving money, charitable giving, and hard work. The best apps in my opinion come from Greenlight, FamZoo, and BusyKid.
How old must my child be to get their own prepaid card?
It varies. With Greenlight, for example, there is no minimum age. In contrast, FarmZoo requires cardholders to be 13 or older. For younger children, parents can order a separate card in their name to be used by the child.
Do prepaid cards improve my credit?
No. Prepaid cards are not a form of credit. As such, they can neither improve nor hurt a cardholder’s credit score. Activity on the card is not reported to the credit bureaus.
Will I know where my child uses the prepaid card?
Yes. The best prepaid cards for teens include alerts that parents receive whenever the child uses the card. Parents can also activate or deactivate the card with the app.
Can prepaid debit cards for teens be used online?
Yes. Prepaid debit cards can be used anywhere Visa or MasterCard is accepted. This includes online purchases.