Table of Contents In this article

Why You Can Trust CNET Money

CNET Money’s mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors’ independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards
Advertiser Disclosure

CNET editors independently choose every product and service we cover. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. For many of these products and services, we earn a commission. The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site.

Best Debit Cards for Kids and Teens in March 2023: GoHenry, BusyKid and More

Children and teenagers alike can get a head start on saving and good financial habits.

Debit cards offer kids a chance to learn financial literacy through direct experience. Using a debit card wisely can help them practice budgeting and saving, while reaping the benefits of convenient payments.

Digital payments dominate commerce these days -- many businesses have stopped accepting cash altogether. An allowance on a debit card will give your child more spending power than paper money will. 

Debit cards do introduce risk. Banks and financial institutions could sell your child’s personal data to other companies. You’ll also want to set up rules for when and where your child can use the card to avoid loss of the card or fraudulent usage.

Read on to discover my top picks for debit cards for kids and teens below. Also learn about the risks and rewards of debit cards for kids and support for instilling positive money habits.

Greenlight Debit Card for Kids
Greenlight Debit Card for Kids

Minimum age: None

Monthly fee: $5-$10 per month, up to 5 children

Free trial: 1 month

ATM fee: None

Purchase fees: None

One of the most popular debit card apps for kids, Greenlight allows parents to designate allowance to specific stores, pay interest on growing balances to illustrate compound interest and set specific earning goals. According to a colleague who uses it, the app is intuitive and easy to navigate.

But the company has had some bumps in the road when it comes to privacy. In a previous version of its privacy disclosure, Greenlight reserved the right to share your personal information with multiple parties, including “ad and marketing vendors,” “insurance companies,” “collection agencies” and the vague category, “other service providers.” In a statement to Vice, a Greenlight spokesperson said the company would remove the language, and it has since done so. Note that COPPA (see below) requires that a bank secure your permission to sign a child up for a banking app, but doesn’t prohibit the company from selling your private information.

For more information, see our full review of the Greenlight debit card for kids.

GoHenry Debit Card for Kids
GoHenry Debit Card for Kids

Minimum age: 6

Monthly fee: $5 for one child; $10 for up to four children

Free trial: 30 days

ATM fee: $1.50 per transaction

Purchase fees: None

After assessing the field, I settled on GoHenry for my 6-year-old son. Known for its personalized cards and customizable tasks like specific chores and savings goals, it’s a good choice for parents who want to help younger kids take on more household responsibilities and pay them for a job well done. What I really like: the company’s policy clearly states that they don’t sell your -- or your kids’ -- personal information to third parties without your permission. So far, my kiddo is halfway to earning the latest Lego Super Mario set and he’s never been happier to fold laundry.

For more details, see our full GoHenry Debit Card for Kids review.

Step Debit Card
Step Debit Card

Minimum age: None

Monthly fee: None

Free trial: None

ATM fee: None

Purchase fees: None

Although there is no minimum age to sign up, Step is best suited for older kids who are ready to level up their financial knowledge. Like a regular debit card, Step draws on deposited funds to pay for purchases. Unlike a debit card, the Step card processes all transactions as credit -- which means your teen can build credit safely without having to worry about overdraft fees or accruing interest.

Step shares your personal information with business partners “with whom we may jointly offer products or services, or whose products or services we believe may be of interest to you,” and their privacy policy is vague when it comes to opting out. It states, “We may give you choices regarding the sharing of your information with affiliates and third parties. Choices you have about the sharing of your information will be described in the privacy policies or notices you receive in connection with the products or Services you obtain from us.”

You can opt out of sharing your child’s data by contacting the company directly.

BusyKid Debit Card for Kids
BusyKid Debit Card for Kids

Minimum age: None

Monthly fee: $4 per month, up to five children per plan

Free trial: 1 month

ATM fee: None

Purchase fees: None

As the most affordable paid option on our list, the BusyKid Visa Prepaid Debit Card is an excellent resource for parents interested in teaching their kids how to grow their savings. Kids have the option of keeping cash in a savings account, investing it in individual stocks or donating it to charitable causes. BusyKid acknowledges that it collects user information to target ads inside the app, and the company may share parents’ data with partners for marketing purposes. However, it clarifies its position by stating that this practice applies to parents only, and “the personal information we collect about children is not made publicly available or otherwise shared, except as otherwise described in this Privacy Policy.”

At the time of publication, no conflicting description exists on BusyKid’s website.

Axos First Checking
Axos First Checking

Minimum age: 13

Monthly fee: None

Free trial: None

ATM fee: None

Purchase fees: None

Designed for teenagers, this free app teaches young adults to use a checking account and debit card. Your child can use the account to send money to friends and vendors and pay bills. It also offers 0.1% APY interest. Axos does share your personal information with other financial companies to market products and services to you -- but you can opt out of targeted affiliate ads.

Should I get my child a debit card?

Getting your child a debit card can teach them the importance of proper money management. Teaching your child how to budget early on can set them on the right path for their financial future. A debit card designed for kids -- one with helpful educational tools and an easy-to-parse interface -- could help teach them how to set savings goals, and debit cards are generally a safer option than carrying cash.

If you’re worried about over-spending or poor money management, most debit cards designed for kids have numerous parental controls and protections allowing parents to keep a close eye on how and what their children are spending on.

Are debit cards for kids safe?

New technology always presents risks -- especially when kids are involved. According to a Pew Research survey, two-thirds of parents believe that raising kids is more challenging than 20 years ago, precisely because of technology. 

And it’s not just screen time that raises concerns. According to a 2022 study by Javelin Strategy & Research, 915,000 children were victims of identity theft from July 2021 to July 2022.

Though that was not the fault of the financial industry, the banks do play a role in the problem. Data mining has become a valuable resource for businesses, and financial corporations have shown that they are more than willing to sell customer data. As such, the burden ultimately falls to those very customers to monitor and protect their own -- and their kids’ -- data. 

Weighing the benefits and risks of a debit card for your child is a balancing act. The main thing to consider is how much you’re comfortable sharing online. While every issuer is different, you’ll need to provide identifying information about yourself and your child to sign up, including birth dates, Social Security numbers, address and a phone number. The company may also ask you to share your GPS location history, purchase history and behavioral profile -- information that may allow the app to share targeted ads for products and services. That said, debit cards for kids are no more risky than their adult counterparts for a few reasons: 

  • Child-specific laws: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, takes privacy a step further for children under 13 who use banking products by requiring issuers to clearly outline what information they’re collecting and get parental consent beforehand. Pay close attention to whether the issuer intends to sell your child’s data to third parties. 
  • Purchase protection: If your child’s card is lost or stolen, some issuers offer refunds for fraudulent purchases -- for an additional fee. Greenlight’s Max plan provides purchase protection for an extra $10 per month.
  • Card security: Prepaid cards are equipped with EMV chip technology and password-protected accounts that require a PIN or facial recognition to access the account. 
  • Locking capability: Most debit cards for kids come with a parental locking feature that allows you to protect the cash in the account through your app if the card is lost. 
  • Consumer protection: Unlike cash that can easily fall out of your child’s pocket, prepaid debit cards issued by banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation protect up to $250,000, meaning that you won’t lose the money in your account if the bank fails. 

Although the same security measures protect kid and adult debit cards, it bears repeating that any information you share about your child online increases their risk profile. Online data breaches have exposed massive numbers of accounts, which often contain sensitive information, including social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers. 

After signing your child up for a debit card, look for bills or credit card applications addressed to them and ask questions if a debt collector calls with their name on file. The Federal Trade Commission outlines steps to take if you suspect identity theft and Experian offers a free ID Scan service to see whether your child’s SSN is active on any credit accounts.

Setting expectations with your child

Before handing it over to a young and eager spender, a detailed conversation about debit card use is crucial. When the debit card arrives, sit down with your child and discuss the critical points.

  • Safety: Most prepaid debit cards provide a locking feature if the card is lost or stolen, but you can’t take the necessary steps without communication from your kid. Remind them to keep their card in a safe place, not to share their password or PIN with anyone or make purchases on an unsecured Wi-Fi network. If they think their card is compromised, they should tell you right away. 
  • Spending rules: If you’re concerned about where your child may spend their cash, consider signing up for a debit card that allows you to block certain retailers. If you’ve already signed up for a card that doesn’t have this feature, talk to your child about appropriate spending habits and let them know that you’ll be monitoring their purchases.

How to choose the best debit card for your child or teen

Choosing the best debit card for your kids will depend on a number of different factors, including their age, eligibility and spending expectations. 

Familiarize yourself with the parental controls or educational resources to help improve your child’s financial literacy. Most debit cards for kids also provide companion apps that let you set chores or specific goals which you can reward completion with an allowance. 

Also consider the following factors:


Some debit cards designed for kids have age limits. You’ll have to check to see what the minimum or maximum age is, and decide if it’s the right time for your child to get a debit card.


Many debit cards designed for children will require a number of different pieces of information, and in some cases, a shared bank account. Typically, this information covers simple identification such as email, phone number, address, date of birth and potentially the parent’s or child’s Social Security number.

Spending expectations

Some child debit cards feature spending and withdrawal limits. You’ll want to be sure the kind of spending your child will do matches what the debit card can handle.

Bank familiarity

You could check to see if your preferred bank offers a children’s debit card. It’s usually easier to get new products or good terms if you have an established relationship with the financial institution.

How to sign your child up for a debit card

Once you’ve settled on a debit card for your child, you can follow these steps to apply:

1. Choose the debit card that best matches your child’s spending and provides helpful financial literacy resources.

2. Apply securely on the card issuer’s website by providing all of the required information, including name, date of birth, address, email, phone number and potentially your SSN.

3. Help your child build responsible financial habits.


There are a number of free options available, including Step and Axos First Checking, though they might not have as many features as a paid service.

As we learned above, companies reserve the right to change how they use collected data at any time, so it’s a good idea to keep track of your account’s privacy policy and use of targeted ads shown to your child through the app. Consumer protection laws govern aspects of what companies can share, but not all. Once you’ve chosen a product, read the fine print carefully to make sure it aligns with your comfort level.

It’s worth reiterating that minors are prime targets for identity theft, mainly because parents don’t detect a problem until their child begins working and filing tax returns. Although most debit cards for kids collect only the custodial account holder’s SSN, it’s still prudent to look for signs of child identity theft, including debt collection calls, bills or credit card applications that appear in your child’s name. The FTC outlines steps to take if you suspect identity theft, and Experian offers a free ID Scan service to see whether your child’s SSN is active on any credit accounts.

More financial advice

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.