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Greenlight Debit Card for Kids: Teach Kids and Teens How to Handle Money

Kids can learn how to save, manage money, earn allowance and invest with Greenlight.

The Greenlight Debit Card for Kids offers a way for parents to begin teaching their children the importance of responsible financial habits at an early age. Between the debit card and its companion app with multiple educational resources and customizable controls, there's a lot to unpack.

Kids of any age can use the debit card like any other, spending preloaded funds however they see fit (under your watchful eye, of course, utilizing numerous spend controls). Working teens can fund the card via direct deposit. Kids will even earn a small return of up to 2% back on the money they save each year.

In addition, parents can use the companion app to create a list of chores for their kids and then supply an allowance for them to earn upon completion which gets loaded directly to the card.

There are three different membership tiers with varying monthly payments and perks for parents to choose. Greenlight Core, Greenlight + Invest and Greenlight Max. No matter the tier, kids and parents gain access to the Greenlight Debit Card and the company's financial literacy learning hub.

In this article

Greenlight Debit Card for Kids

Minimum age: Any

Monthly fee: $4.99 to $9.98

Free trial: One month

ATM fee: None

Purchase fees: None

Rewards: 1% cash back for purchases, up to 2% back on savings

Greenlight's three membership tiers

You can choose from one of three plans depending on your family's needs.

Greenlight Memberships

Membership tier Monthly cost Features
Greenlight Core $4.99
  • Up to five debit cards
  • 1% annual rewards on savings
Greenlight + Invest $7.98
  • Up to five debit cards
  • 1% annual rewards on savings
  • Investing capabilities
Greenlight Max $9.98
  • Up to five debit cards
  • 2% annual rewards on savings
  • Access to Greenlight Invest
  • 1% cash back for purchases
  • Purchase protection
  • Cell phone protection
  • Identity theft protection

Greenlight Max offers the most value for your money as it includes expanded rewards and a number of additional protections. The 1% cash back members earn for debit card purchases alone make it worth considering the cost.

The other membership tiers still earn 1% back annually on savings, but feature no rewards for purchases or expanded protections. All memberships include access to Greenlight's educational resources.

While Greenlight calls the 1% and 2% earned annually on savings "Greenlight Savings Rewards", it operates more akin to an annual percentage yield (APY) on a savings account. Just like interest, it compounds daily and is added to kid's savings at the start of each month.

Greenlight Invest

Through Greenlight Invest, kids can learn the basics of investing, and invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs) and stocks with as little as $1 by purchasing fractional shares. Parents have to approve all of their kid's investments.

There are two learning hubs contained within Greenlight Invest, Greenlight Invest for Kids and Greenlight Invest for Parents. Both offer a way for kids and parents to bolster their investing knowledge.

Parents can also allocate funds toward major spending goals like college or a first car. Moving money into Invest is as simple as moving money anywhere else within Greenlight. Alternatively, parents can apply for the Greenlight Family Cash Card, a credit card that allows you to invest rewards.

How the Greenlight companion app works

Parents can create a list of chores for their kids to complete.

In the Greenlight app, parents can set a list of chores for their kids to complete and earn an allowance upon completion.

Greenlight

The Greenlight app is the parent's control panel and the kid's dashboard for learning and money management. It's also where parents can set chores for their kids, and kids can check them off as they complete them and get rewarded via an allowance.

Parents can use the app to get real-time notifications about their child's spending, set spending and withdrawal limits, manage their kids money, turn the debit card on or off and block certain "unsafe" spending categories.

Kids have a separate log in than their parents, and have an entirely different app experience where they can set savings goals, monitor their spending, access a financial literacy learning hub, invest, (with the Greenlight + Invest or Greenlight Max membership tier) and more.

You can move funds freely between all the categories on your child's Greenlight App. The categories are:

  • Spend Anywhere
  • Spend Control (set limits on ATM withdrawals and how much kids can spend at certain stores)
  • General Savings
  • Savings Goals
  • Giving (transfer money between friends and family)

Take note, the debit card can only be used with funds held within the Spend Anywhere or Spend Control categories.

You can move funds back into the Parents Wallet at any time. The Parents Wallet is where funds are added from the attached bank account to be transferred to your kid's debit card. Simply choose the "Move $ In" or "Move $ Out" buttons.

There's also an autofunding option for both the Parent's Wallet and the child's debit card. You can set whether or not the kid's need to complete all chores before getting paid, or simply set a time for them to be paid without having to do them. You can also choose a partial payment option which pays a percentage of the allowance based on chore completion.

A screenshot of the interface of the Greenlight app where you can select an amount of money to send to your child.

You can move money from your own bank account to your child's Greenlight card and choose how it may be spent.

Adding money to your kid's debit card in the Greenlight App

Parents add funds to their Parent Wallet housed within the Greenlight App, either via their linked debit card or bank account. if you choose to link a debit card rather than a bank account, you'll be ineligible to earn Greenlight Savings Rewards.

To transfer money from your Parent Wallet to your child's debit card, click the "Add $" button on the Parent's Dashboard. Teens are able to set up direct deposit for their paychecks to be added right onto the card.

Where can the Greenlight Debit Card be used?

Kids can use their debit card like any other, for any purchases they choose, and with any merchant that accepts Mastercard. They can also use ATMs without incurring a fee from Greenlight, but there will be a fee from the bank that operates the ATM.

Parents are able to set limits on how much they can spend on certain purchases – such as a $30 limit on video games – as well as setting a limit to how much they can withdraw at an ATM. They can do so within the Spend Control section of the app.

There are no foreign transaction fees, so you can give your child some spending money when traveling abroad. There's also no overdraft fees or required minimum balances.

Comparable cards

While the Greenlight Debit Card has plenty to offer you and your family, it's not the only debit card for kids available. Take a look at these alternatives.

GoHenry® Debit Card for Kids

The GoHenry Debit Card offers a different tier of service – it costs less at $3.99 per month but doesn't offer rewards on savings. It's also only for kids ages six to 18.

Kids are still able to complete chores set for them by their parents and get rewarded for them while learning responsible money management through GoHenry's app. Parents can set spending controls and get real-time notifications regarding their kid's spending. Similar to Greenlight's financial literacy hub, GoHenry offers Money Missions which focus on Personal Finance Education National Standards k-12 financial literacy lessons.

So if you're looking for a less expensive way to start your kids thinking about finances, consider GoHenry.

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

BusyKid Visa® Debit Card

Designed for children ages five to 17, the BusyKid Visa Debit Card is another debit card available for parents to use to teach their kids good financial habits. However, it doesn't offer rewards, a learning hub or investing platform – though it is $3.99 monthly compared to $5 to $10 for the Greenlight membership.

It has similar parental controls, with an added feature of parents being able to match their kid's savings, but not much else. You'd get more for your money with Greenlight, and your kids would get more out of it considering Greenlight's educational resources.

FAQs

What's the difference between a debit card and a credit card?

The difference is that debit cards require funds to be loaded onto the card via an attached bank account or debit card. Credit cards provide a line of credit provided by a lender based on the borrower's creditworthiness. Basically, debit cards are funded with your money, while credit cards are funded with the lender's.

Can kids get approved for a credit card?

No, typically the minimum age for a credit card is 18. However, there is a workaround in some cases. You could add your teen to your credit card account as an authorized user, but even then some banks require your kid to be at least 18. Check with your card issuer to be sure

How old should my child be before getting a debit card?

This is something that you'll need to decide for yourself. While the Greenlight Debit Card doesn't have any age restrictions, most debit cards designed for kids start at five or six years old. Learning about finances is certainly important, but you'll have to decide when the right time is for your own child.

Should I close my child's debit account once they reach a certain age?

Yes. Once your child is 18, they're able to have their own individual checking account and debit card that comes with it. They're also able to apply for their first credit card to start building credit.

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