Best Debit Cards for Teens

Greenlight offers an easy-to-use, low-fee teen debit card

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Debit cards for teens are similar to other debit cards and allow young adults the freedom to make purchases without cash. However, they also include parental controls to keep them from making big mistakes as well as educational resources that can teach them financial literacy.    

The best teen debit cards have low fees, parental oversight, and easy-to-use mobile apps for simple account viewing. They can also teach young adults how to spend, save, and even invest wisely with built-in tutorials and automation.

Best Debit Cards for Teens of 2021

Best Overall : Greenlight


Greenlight

 Greenlight

  • Fees: $4.99 to $9.98 per month
  • Parental Controls: Yes
  • Spending Limit: $1,000 per day
Why We Chose It

Greenlight offers low fees, a free trial, an easy-to-use app, and built-in allowance and chore features making it our choice as the best overall debit card for teens.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Low monthly fees

  • App with chore, allowance, and parental controls

  • Store-specific spending blocks

Cons
  • Limited funding options

  • $1,000 daily spending limit

Overview

Greenlight is marketed towards teens to help them develop their financial education early. The company provides a MasterCard debit card for teens connected to an account that parents manage. The account is owned jointly between the parent and child and allows parents to see their child’s spending through a mobile app. 

Money can be stored in a “parent’s wallet” that they can use to distribute funds to each child, turn off the debit card, get real-time spending alerts, and even set up spending control by store name. Greenlight also offers an app that helps teens track balances, view chore lists, check off chores they have completed, teach them financial literacy, and more. 

Greenlight charges only $4.99 per month for a basic family plan that includes debit cards for up to five kids and access to a mobile app. The Greenlight +Invest plan costs $7.98 per month and helps teens become investors with access to a special investing platform on their app. Finally, the Greenlight +Max plan costs $9.98 per month and includes the investing app; a special edition card; priority customer service; identity theft monitoring, alerts, and restoration; cell phone protection for damaged or lost phones; and purchase protection. 

Greenlight does not allow parents to fund wallets with PayPal, credit cards, ApplePay, or GooglePay accounts, limiting them to checking accounts or debit cards instead. The company also places a $1,000 daily limit on each child’s account, which is lower than that of many other teen debit cards. Parents can also use the app to set up chores for their children and reward them with deposits and automate the funding of an allowance.

Best Prepaid Card : BusyKid Visa


 BusyKid

 BusyKid

  • Fees: $19.99 per year 
  • Parental Controls: Yes
  • Spending Limit: $2,000 single transaction limit
Why We Chose It

BusyKid offers an easy-to-fund and affordable, prepaid debit card for teens based on chores and rewards with investment, saving, and education features.  

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Affordable annual fee

  • Kids have the option to spend, save, or invest

  • Suggests chores based on age

Cons
  • Only one card included in the plan

  • $7.99 per year per additional card

Overview

BusyKid offers a chores-based prepaid debit card that lets you assign money to your child so they can see where their money is going and learn how to manage it better. 

Once your teen receives their money from their chores, they can decide whether to spend, save, or invest it. Investments can be made to actual companies like Netflix or Nintendo through Stockpile, and teens can even donate a percentage of their income to the charity of their choice. Kids can move money freely between their save and invest categories, but all money put into the spend category is approved by parents before it goes through.

In addition to helping you assign chores, BusyKid even suggests appropriate chores based on age. You can also send your teen “bonuses” for outstanding performances, like getting straight A’s or doing more around the house. BusyKid also provides a detailed history of all chores, paydays, transactions, and bonuses so parents can get a real-time look at their teen’s spending. 

BusyKid is just $19.99 annually which includes one card. Additional cards are $7.99 per year and can be used online and wherever Visa is accepted. There is a $5.00 fee for any replacement cards and a $0.50 fee each time there is a transaction where the PIN is input or results in a declined transaction. You can only keep $2,000 on a debit card and BusyKid limits single purchases to $2,000 and a max of 20 purchases per day.

Best for No Fees : Capital One MONEY Teen Checking


Capital One

Capital One

  • Fees: None
  • Parental Controls: Yes
  • Spending Limit: $500 per day
Why We Chose It

Capital One MONEY account for teens has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements, a free debit card, free access to over 70,000 ATMs, and even earns interest.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No fees

  • Separate login for teens and parents

  • Interest yielding account

Cons
  • No educational tools

Overview

Capital One MONEY offers a teen account for children eight and older with a free debit card, parental controls, and the ability to earn 0.10% interest. The bank’s mobile app also provides separate sign-ins for teens and parents. 

Parents can use the app to access teen account activity and get real-time spending alerts, auto-fund allowances, and lock and unlock their teen’s debit card. Teens can use the app to set savings goals, monitor their balance account activity. 

Capital One MONEY lets teens remote deposit any checks received and set up their paychecks to direct deposit. You also don’t need a Capital One account to get started. When your teen turns 18, however, they have the option to transition their MONEY account to one of Capital One’s standard accounts.

Best Teen Checking Account : Chase First Banking


Chase

 Chase

  • Fees: None
  • Parental Controls: Yes
  • Spending Limit: $400 purchase and $100 ATM withdrawal limit
Why We Chose It

Chase First Banking offers a real checking account experience for teens with the added security of advanced parental controls to keep an eye on how their money is being spent. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Advanced parental controls

  • Savings goals

  • No monthly fees

Cons
  • Parents must have a Chase account

  • Cannot be used with Apple Pay or Google Pay

  • No peer-to-peer transfers, direct deposit, or remote deposit

Overview

Chase First Banking is an excellent option for teens to have their own checking account experience while still allowing parents to keep an eye on transactions. Chase offers a mobile app that allows teens to set savings goals and request money from their parents. 

Parents can use the app to set ATM withdrawal limits, spending limits (including limiting specific spending categories) and set up account alerts for real-time notices of teen’s spending. The app also allows parents to set up a recurring allowance or one-time chores. 

It is worth noting that Chase also offers a high school checking account that also has fewer use restrictions like the Chase First account, such as allowing peer-to-peer transfers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with the same level of parental controls.

Chase charges no monthly maintenance fee and requires no minimum balance for this account, and teens will have access to over 16,000 Chase ATMs. The only fees that this account does charge are out-of-network ATM fees ($2.50) and foreign transaction fees (3% after conversion).

Best for High Spending Limits : American Express Serve


American Express Serve

 American Express Serve

  • Fees: $6.95 per month 
  • Parental Controls: Yes
  • Spending Limit: $15,000 monthly spending; $750 daily ATM withdrawal
Why We Chose It

While not advertised specifically for teens, American Express’s Serve card has a high spending limit and allows up to four sub-accounts that parents can control.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High spending limit

  • Free cash reloads

  • Free cards if ordered online

Cons
  • No option to set savings goals

  • Can only be used where American Express is accepted

Overview

American Express Serve Free Reload cards are free to purchase if done online. Parents get one main account and card and can order up to four sub-accounts for teens. While this product isn’t explicitly marketed for teens, it is an excellent way to provide teens their allowance and allow for large transactions. 

American Express Serve Free Reloads cards can be reloaded electronically free of charge and can be reloaded with cash free of charge at over 45,000 different locations. Each reload must be a minimum of $20. Teens can also remote deposit their checks without a fee, which can take up to 10 days, or pay a 1% to 5% fee if they need immediate access to the funds. American Express also offers free online bill pay and free early direct deposit. 

Since this card isn’t teen-focused, there isn’t any financial literacy education included in the app or literature. However, parents can still monitor their child’s spending activity through the app. This card works well for higher-income families that want to offer their teen experience with larger amounts of money.

Best for Educational Resources : FamZoo


FamZoo

 FamZoo

  • Fees: $5.99 per month 
  • Parental Controls: Yes
  • Spending Limit: Set by parents
Why We Chose It

FamZoo focuses on teaching kids good money habits with an extensive range of financial literacy resources, budgeting and saving features, and the ability for parents to pay their children interest on their accounts. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Robust financial literacy app

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Parent-paid interest on savings

Cons
  • Up to $6 for cash reloads

  • Fee for 5+ cards

Overview

Fam Zoo offers a financial education-centered app for both Google and Android. It has chore lists, purpose-driven accounts like spending and saving, and savings goals. It also provides real-time alerts on spending, instant transfers, and the ability for parents to track spending. 

One of the unique features that FamZoo offers is the ability to have family billing on the accounts. For example, parents can set up a $20 automatic monthly withdrawal from their teen’s account for the cell phone bill. This helps teens understand that shared family plans like this aren’t free and allows them to budget and make sure that they have enough in their account to pay their portion of the bill. 

FamZoo also lets you set up mock stocks so your teen can practice investing without the risk. You can also set parent-paid interest on savings to help teach teens to save rather than spend. 

FamZoo allows parents to order up to four cards for free, and $3 per card after that. While electronic transfers are free, there is the option of reloading cards with cash, but those fees can cost up to $6 for each reload.

Final Verdict

While all of the choices here offer great options for giving your teen a debit card and helping them learn financial literacy, Greenlight still stands out as the debit card with all the best features of the others combined, including financial literacy resources, low pricing, adjustable spending limits, and store-specific spending control. 

Compare the Best Debit Cards for Teens

Company Fees Checking Account Reloadable Card Spending Limit Minimum Age
Greenlight Best Overall $4.99 per month for up to 5 kids No Yes $1,000 per day None
BusyKid Visa Best Prepaid Card $19.99 per year; $7.99 per year per additional card No  Yes  $2,000 single transaction limit 5
Capital One MONEY Teen Checking Best for No Fees None Yes Yes  $500 per day 8
Chase First Banking Best Teen Checking Account None  Yes  Yes  $400 purchases; $100 ATM withdrawals 6
American Express Serve Best for High Spending Limits $6.95 per month No  Yes  $15,000 monthly spending; $750 daily ATM withdrawal None
FamZoo Best for Educational Resources $5.99 per month No  Yes  Set by parents 3

How to Choose a Debit Card for Your Teen 

When choosing a debit card for your teen, consider these points:

  • Is there a monthly or annual fee for each card? 
  • What is the spending limit? 
  • Can teens set up direct or mobile deposits?
  • Does the app offer financial education
  • Can teens split their money into spending and saving categories?
  • How much control over the account do you want to have?
  • Does the card offer unique features, like investing and store-specific controls? 

Prepaid Debit Card vs. Checking Account for Teens

A prepaid debit card is a card that is not linked to any bank account and can be loaded with a predetermined amount that can be spent. When the balance runs out, you can add more to it. You cannot make purchases on credit to pay back later or spend more than what is on the card and overdraw an account.

A checking account is a regular account that is designed for everyday use. You can pay bills and have money directly deposited or transferred in and out. You can access this account in different ways, including checks, debit cards, or an automated clearing house (ACH), by using your account and routing number. The most significant difference is that you can reload your debit card by depositing money into an account. 

While a prepaid card and checking account are very different, many similarities include:

  • Access to ATMs
  • Using the card for POS transactions
  • Direct deposit
  • FDIC Insurance

How to Open a Debit Card for Teens

The process for opening a debit card for your teen varies depending on the company or bank. Most debit cards can be opened online. In general, you will need the following information:

  • Your full name, date of birth, social security number, and government-issued ID
  • Teen’s full name, date of birth, and social security number
  • A checking account in your name to be able to fund the new card

While most companies allow you to pay a fee for expediting the card, it takes an average of seven to 10 business days for the card to be mailed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When Are Teens Old Enough for a Debit Card?

Many of the company’s we reviewed allow children to get a debit card as young as age five. However, they will not be able to make purchases on their own until they are 13.  

Are Debit Cards Safe for Teenagers to Use? 

Most debit cards are FDIC-insured, have fraud protection, and do not let them overspend or overdraw their account. The purpose of debit cards for teens is to help them practice and learn financial literacy

Can Teen Debit Cards Be Used for Online Purchases? 

In most cases, these cards can be used to buy items online. Unless the debit card does not have a logo on the card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express), it can be used on any website that accepts that card. Some teen debit cards also allow payments to be made through GooglePay and ApplePay. 

How Do Reloadable Debit Cards Work? 

Reloadable debit cards give parents the ability to reload their teen’s card with funds from their checking account or debit card. This can be done in many different ways based on which company the card is with but can include an electronic transfer, reload by cash, or even a mobile deposit from a handwritten check. 

Methodology

We took a look at 16 companies when reviewing companies for teen debit cards and considered pricing, features, educational elements, parental controls, and other unique features. 

We made sure that fees weren't too high and also reviewed educational elements that went above and beyond just having an account. Accounts without parental controls were eliminated immediately. Finally, we looked at unique features like an easy-to-use mobile app or anything else that would encourage teens to use it.

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