With more shopping done online, the days of giving children a cash allowance are behind us. Prepaid debit cards 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 cards for teens.
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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 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 Cards for Teens
Greenlight Prepaid Card — Editor’s Pick
Greenlight is one of the most popular teen debit card, 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 allowance 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 card. Greenlight costs just $4.99 per month for up to five kids.
Greenlight Debit Card Summary
- First month 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
FamZoo Prepaid Card — Most Popular
One of my favorite prepaid card 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 tow 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 chose from:
- Automated allowances
- Rewards for chores
- Withholding for saving or giving
- Penalties for missed work
- Parent-paid interest on savings
- Expense sharing
- Matching contributions
FamZoo Prepaid Card Summary
- Perfect for preschool through college
- No risk of debt, overdrafts or hidden fees
- Retain parental visibility and control
- Move money instantly between family members
- Try FamZoo for 1 month FREE
- As low as 63 cents per month per card
gohenry Prepaid Card
gohenry combines a prepaid debit card with an app. Parents can set up 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 $3.99 per child.
gohenry Prepaid Card Summary
- An easy way to pay kids allowance
- Parental controls
- Designed for kids age 6 to 18
- 1 free month, then $3.99 per month per child
- Cancel any time
- Real-time transaction alerts
- Set savings goals
Current Prepaid Card
You’ll find the Current Prepaid Card in many lists of the best prepaid cards for teens. I’m not convinced. The card is a perfectly reasonable prepaid debit card option. It costs just $36/yr or $3 a month. As prepaid debit cards go, that’s pretty cheap.
- No transaction or transfer fees
- No minimum balances or minimum transfer amounts
- No overdraft fees
- No activation fee or inactivity fees
But it doesn’t have the features parents expect from a card designed to help families manage money. If that’s not what you need, then Current may be a reasonable option. It has a number of useful features.
Current Prepaid Card Summary
- Free overdraft protection available
- Deposit cash
- Mobile check deposit
- 55,000 Free ATMs
- Up to 15x points on purchases
TD Go Reloadable Prepaid Visa Card
Those looking for a traditional bank solution should consider the TD Go Reloadable Prepaid Visa Card. The account does it come with the same level of features as you’ll find with Greenlight or FamZoo. But it does allow parents to monitor how their teen’s are spending money and to set up email and text alerts.
One big advantage is that the card is free. There are no monthly fees or transactions fees. You do pay an ATM withdrawal fee of $3.00, but only if you use an out-of-network ATM.
TD Go Prepaid Visa Summary
- Load funds 24/7 online or by phone
- Set up direct deposit
- No overdraft fees
- Monitor and track spending
- Email alerts
- Add card to your digital wallet
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 $19.99 a year and includes one BusyKid Prepaid Visa Spend Card. Additional cards are just $7.99/yr. 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 charties
- Parents can pay out bonuses
- Parental controls on transactions
- Pay allowance with no chores
- Parental matching on child savings
BusyKid Prepaid Card Summary
- Set chores and allowance by age
- Invest in real stock
- Donate to charities
- Easy to use app
- Parental controls
- $19.99/year + $7.99/year for each additional card
How to Pick a Prepaid Card for Kids
The two key considerations when chosen 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 are alerts. Parents can receive text messages or emails whenever the card is used.
Money Management Tools
Through some apps, parents can set up automatic allowance, 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.
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.
No. Prepaid cards are not a form of credit. As such, they can neither improve or hurt a cardholder’s credit score. Activity on the card is not reported to the credit bureaus.
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.
Yes. Prepaid debit cards can be used anywhere Visa or MasterCard is accepted. This includes online purchases.