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The idea of a debit card for kids is enough to turn some parents’ hair gray. After all, who knows what a kid would do if they found themselves in a toy or candy store with thousands of dollars’ worth of purchasing power in a single plastic card?

Well, parents, fear not: You can actually find debit cards for kids that are specifically designed to combat these kinds of worries. Many financial solutions designed just for minors come with parental controls such as spending limits, card locks, and even merchant-specific spending allowances. (And the best ones have all sorts of other features, ranging from chore management to personal finance educational content to even investing.)

The problem is, how do you settle on a card? After all, most debit cards for kids typically come with some sort of monthly fee, so it’s not practical to shell out money to try out every card.

WealthUp helps parents whittle down their choices by comparing big groups of cards, like the best debit cards for kids and the best debit cards for teens. But if you’re here, it means you’ve narrowed your search to just a couple selections—namely, the BusyKid debit card and the Greenlight debit card—and are trying to make a final choice.

We can help.

Today, I’m going to provide an in-depth look at each card, including an overview, a breakdown of costs, a list of noteworthy features, and more. I’ll also provide each card’s vital stats side by side to make your comparison shopping a little bit easier. And, on the off chance you’re still not convinced on either one, I’ll run through a few other highly competitive debit cards you might have missed.

BusyKid vs. Greenlight Comparison


busykid logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Now Cutgreenlight logo transparent text thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Now
WealthUp Rating☆ 4.0 / 5☆ 4.8 / 5
App Store Rating☆ 3.4 / 5☆ 4.8 / 5
Price*$48/yr.Core: $4.99/mo.
Max: $9.98/mo.
Infinity: $14.98/mo.
BillingAnnuallyMonthly
Special OfferFree 30-day trialFree 1-month trial
Allowed Cards Per Subscription55
Minimum Age**NoNo
Features That Make This Card Stand ApartLow price compared to other kids' paid debit cardsExceptional parent controls
Several savings benefits
Max, Infinity: Identity theft, purchase, and phone protection

Basics

busykid logo transparent text thin leftgreenlight logo transparent text thin left
SpendingYesYes
SavingYesYes
InvestingYes (Stocks and ETFs)Core: No
Max, Infinity: Yes (Stocks and ETFs)
Giving/DonatingYesYes

Funding

busykid logo transparent text thin leftgreenlight logo transparent text thin left
Funding Source(s)Checking account, debit, or credit cardBank account, debit card
Direct DepositNoYes
AllowanceYesYes
ChoresYesYes
GiftingYes ($1/transfer)Yes (Free)
Cash Reload FeeN/A (No cash reload)N/A (No cash reload)

Saving/Spending

busykid logo transparent text thin leftgreenlight logo transparent text thin left
Savings APYNoneCore: 1.0%
Max: 2.0%
Infinity: 5.0%
Round-UpsNoYes
Other Savings FeaturesParental MatchParent-Paid Interest
ATM NetworkAllpoint (55,000+ ATMs)None
ATM Transaction Fee$1.50 (Operator fee may apply at out-of-network ATMs)$0 (Greenlight does not charge an ATM fee, but it is not part of an ATM network, so an ATM operator fee will apply)
Card NetworkVisaMastercard
Compatible Mobile WalletsApple Pay, Google PayApple Pay, Google Pay

Parents

busykid logo transparent text thin leftgreenlight logo transparent text thin left
Parental ControlsMedium (Limited transfers from app to card)High (Store-level controls and limit setting)
Parental MonitoringYesYes
Parental NotificationsYesYes

Other Features

busykid logo transparent text thin leftgreenlight logo transparent text thin left
Cash BackNoCore: No
Max, Infinity: 1%
Builds CreditNoNo
Customization optionsSelect from 10+ preselected designsAny image you want
Refund Policy30-day money-back guaranteeNo refunds given, month-to-month pricing
Affiliate CTA Apply NowAffiliate CTA Apply Now
* Prices do not include processing fees when applicable.
** Many cards have different suggested minimum ages. We are only listing any hard-and-fast minimum age requirements.

BusyKid Overview


busykid signup new1

If you’re looking for prepaid debit cards for kids that let your kids spend while learning about money, and lets you pay them allowance, consider the award-winning BusyKid app and the connected BusyKid Visa Spend Card.

BusyKid started as an easy-to-use, interactive chore app but has since added a prepaid debit card for kids that allows your children to spend their money both in person and online. Better still: Your children can earn money by completing chores and other tasks around the house, then use the app to learn valuable financial skills, such as budgeting, saving, and even giving back.

Parents can pay allowance on an ad hoc basis, or they can set up Auto-Allowance. When parents add to their children’s accounts, that money can be split among their Save/Invest, Share, and Spend allocations:

  • Save/Invest: Parents can automatically allocate money toward a savings basket, and they can also match any money their children elect to save.
  • Spend: When your kid is ready for a little independence, they can spend from this account using BusyKid’s Visa Spend Card.
  • Share: Children can choose which charities they would like to give money to, and parents must approve before the cash is transferred.

Parents aren’t the only people who can add money to children’s BusyKid accounts. With BusyPay, parents can share a simple QR code that allows grandparents, aunts, uncles, other family members, and even friends to add money—whether it’s a birthday present or a payment for chores. BusyKid charges the giver a $1 fee plus any credit card or bank transaction costs.

BusyKid also allows children to invest their earnings through the app. Doing so requires setting up a separate Apex Clearing account. Children can choose to invest in hundreds of stocks and ETFs with as little as $10.

BusyKid has no minimum age requirement.

In addition to the $4 monthly subscription, BusyKid charges other fees, including 50¢ per declined transaction, $5 for a card reissue, and a $5 monthly fee for paper statements.

Related: Best Greenlight Alternatives

BusyKid Costs


BusyKid has a simple, single subscription tier that costs $3.99 per month, which is billed annually, so you pay $38.99 once per year.

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
BusyKid$4/mo. (Billed annually, so $48/yr.)

    - BusyKid Visa Spend Cards for up to five kids
    - Core financial tools
    - Parental controls
    - Chores
    - Allowance
    - Savings matches
    - Ability to earn, save, spend, invest and give

Also, people outside of the BusyKid account who want to send money to a child must pay a $1 fee per transaction.

Past that, BusyKid’s other fees are pretty standard and minimal. For instance, it charges a $5 replacement-card fee and a 50-cent domestic fee for declined charges.

If you’re not satisfied, BusyKid provides a 30-day subscription-back guarantee. While it sounds nice, that’s actually a step down from most other cards. I’ve reviewed more than a dozen kid-focused cards, and most of them offer 30-day/one-month free trials—meaning you don’t have to spend anything until you’re sure you’re happy with the product. But with BusyKid, you have to pay up front, then ask for a refund if you’re not happy. It’s a small difference, but one I think is worth noting.

BusyKid Features


father mother son family credit debit card account

Below, I’ve listed a number of BusyKid’s most prominent features. Like with all debit cards aimed at children and teens, some of these features are for the kids, but others are meant to keep parents happy (and sane).

BusyKid Visa Spend Card

The BusyKid Visa Spend Card is a prepaid debit card that acts as the physical central point of the BusyKid experience. Each BusyKid subscription comes with up to five of these kids’ debit cards, which are intended for use by children ages 5 through 17.

Kids can choose from a small selection of more than 10 designs.

The adults can instantly transfer funds at any time. Kids have to follow the set spending limits, so they can’t overspend as they learn money management skills.

Every debit card is backed by the Visa Zero Liability guarantee, which means if your kid’s card gets lost or stolen, or misplaced and fraudulent charges crop up, you can dispute the charges within a certain time frame to avoid liability for paying.

Related: Best Money Apps for Kids

Parental Controls

Parental controls are essential for parents who want to retain some peace of mind while their kids develop money management skills.

With BusyKid, parents can monitor all transactions made either in the app or with the BusyKid Visa Spend Card.

BusyKid’s parental controls are pretty rudimentary. By using the “Lock Money Transfers” feature, parents can prevent their kids from transferring money among their Save, Share, and Spend areas. Kids will still be able to use the money in these accounts, but each transaction will require a parent’s approval.

Chores + Allowance

Some parents like to pay an allowance to their younger children, and this might or might not be connected to chore completion. BusyKid allows you to pay an allowance to and/or set chores up for your child. For chores, parents can set up their own chores and payment amounts, or they can use BusyKid’s preset chore chart, where chores and allowance are preset based on a child’s age. As kids complete their chores, they can click “I did it!” inside the BusyKid app.

BusyKid pays kids each Friday based on any chores the child has marked “Done” since the previous Friday. Parents will be notified and asked to approve; when it is, it will be deposited into the child’s various account areas depending on how their allocations were set up.

BusyPay

The BusyPay feature lets family and friends instantly send money to a BusyKid account, whether it’s as a birthday or holiday gift, payment for helping out, or just because. It’s easy, too—a child just has to share a QR code, and anyone can pay them. (Note: The payer is charged a $1 fee to use this feature.)

Related: How to Get Free Money [Ways to Earn Money] 

Bonuses + Savings Matches

Several BusyKid features help your children accelerate their earning and saving.

For instance, let’s say your teen stepped up to babysit a younger sibling, or one of your kids got a perfect report card—BusyKid allows parents to pay a bonus to any of their kid’s account areas or even directly to the BusyKid Spend Card.

Parents can also establish a savings match, which is similar to a 401(k) match. Parents simply select a weekly percentage match, or a monthly max that’s dividend equally across all the weeks in a month, and BusyKid will transfer the appropriate amount of additional funds to the kid’s account based on how much they save.

Investing

Learning to invest is an important part of the personal finance journey. BusyKid helps children with that journey by providing commission-free stock trading.

BusyKid offers commission-free trading of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), allowing kids to start investing with as little as $10. BusyKid provides access to “hundreds” of popular stocks and ETFs—a considerably smaller selection than the thousands of stocks and ETFs available from traditional brokerage accounts, but a sufficient world of assets to get a child started.

Charities

Parents who want to instill the importance of giving back to their children at a young age can allow their kids to donate a percentage of their allowances to charity. Kids can choose among roughly 50 charities, and BusyKid even welcomes suggestions for other charities to add.

You can sign up for BusyKid here.

Greenlight Overview


greenlight sign up

The Greenlight debit card allows kids to begin spending, but provides parents with peace of mind by giving them control over where their kids can spend money. Parents also can choose to receive alerts that tell them when, and how much, money is spent on the Greenlight debit card.

Greenlight works like a prepaid debit card, allowing you to transfer money onto the card for your child to pay for expenses at approved locations. You can choose how much money to load onto the card, and your child will be cleared to make approved purchases so long as a money balance backs up the card.

If your child asks for extra money to get added to the card, you can have them take a photo of the purchase they want to make and receive your approval. This gives you control and allows you to have discussions with your child about why a purchase might be a good or bad idea.

And if your child has a job, they can add their own funds to the card as well.

Greenlight boasts numerous other features, too. For instance, parents can open an investment account for kids to get their children investing in stocks and ETFs for the first time.

Greenlight also offers monthly savings rewards based on your tier: 1% per annum for Core members, 2% per annum for Max, and 5% per annum for Infinity. You may set up “Parent-Paid Interest” between you and your child. This allows you to foot the bill and pay interest on accounts for up to five kids.

The Greenlight debit card is a good choice for parents looking to teach their kids the importance of saving money and making prudent financial decisions. This financial product can be an effective learning tool for helping kids to understand why saving should be a priority and how to simplify paying an allowance or tracking chores.

Greenlight has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age 6 or older.

Each monthly Greenlight subscription includes debit cards for up to five kids. Replacement cards cost $3.50 each but are free the first time. If you need to replace your card quickly, you can get express delivery for $24.99. The company also offers a personalized card, with your own photo or design, for $9.98 per year.

Read more in our Greenlight Card review.

Related: 40+ Ways to Make Money as a Teenager

Greenlight Plans + Costs


Greenlight has three subscription tiers that unlock and/or upgrade various sets of features:

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
Greenlight Core$4.99

    - Greenlight debit cards for up to five kids
    - Educational app
    - Core financial tools
    - Granular parental controls (store-level and category-level)
    - Savings Reward: Earn 1% on savings
    - Ability to earn, save, spend, invest and give
Greenlight Max$9.98Everything under the Greenlight Core plan, plus:

    - Savings Reward: Earn 2% on savings
    - Investing platform (parents must approve all individual stock and ETF investments)
    - 1% cash back on purchases
    - Priority customer support
    - Identity theft protection (identity theft monitoring, alerting and restoration for the whole family)
    - Cell phone protection (coverage for damaged, lost or stolen phones for up to five kids)
    - Purchase protection (repair or replace Greenlight purchases that are stolen or damaged)
    - Greenlight Black Card (modern, bold and black card)
Greenlight Infinity$14.98Everything under the Greenlight Max plan, plus:

    - Savings Reward: Earn 5% on savings
    - Family location sharing (can toggle on/off)
    - SOS alerts (swipe to send an alert to emergency contacts, 911, or both)
    - Crash detection (alerts 911 when a crash is detected)

Greenlight offers a free one-month trial for all plans.

One thing to note about Greenlight: It does not have a fee-free ATM network. So while Greenlight doesn’t charge ATM fees, your child likely will incur third-party charges whenever they withdraw money from an ATM.

Related: Best Investing Apps for Teens [Stock Apps for Teens]

Greenlight Features


family mom dad kids children smartphone

Greenlight is an app and debit card that’s rich in bells and whistles. Read on as I go through some of its most noteworthy features. (Note: Features available on all plans unless otherwise noted.)

Greenlight Card

Every Greenlight account comes with Greenlight cards—a Mastercard-branded prepaid debit card—for up to five kids.

In general, prepaid debit cards are an ideal solution for parents who want to start giving their kids some financial independence without completely opening the floodgates. With Greenlight, parents load the parent wallet via either a debit card or an ACH transfer from a checking account. (Neither loading method charges a fee.) Parents then load each child’s Greenlight card from the parent app, and their kids can only spend what’s on the card. This prevents common spending missteps such as getting hit with non-sufficient funds fees or overdraft charges.

The Greenlight card can be used virtually anywhere Mastercard is accepted, in-store and online, in the U.S. and more than 150 other countries worldwide. (And no foreign transaction fees, either!)

Greenlight debit card accounts are Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured for up to $250,000 per individual through the card’s partner bank, Community Federal Savings Bank (CFSB). And because the Greenlight card is a Mastercard, you enjoy Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection, which doesn’t hold cardholders responsible for any unauthorized transactions as long as they used reasonable care from protecting the card from loss or theft and promptly reported any fraud to Greenlight.

Want to shake things up? Your kid can upgrade to a custom Greenlight card for a one-time fee of $9.99. And Greenlight offers one of the most customizable cards, allowing people to decorate their card with a picture of themselves, a pet, a graphic, and other types of fun images.

Related: Best Money Apps for Teens

Parental Controls

I think parental controls are one of the most important features of a kids’ debit card, and Greenlight has them in spades. In fact, I think Greenlight is the industry leader in parental controls.

Greenlight uses a permission-based spending rules system that allows parents to set rules that limit not just spending amounts, but types of spending categories and even specific stores. (In my personal testing of this product, I was able to limit spending at a local creamery where my family celebrates weekly “Ice Cream Fridays,” effectively making any store, big or small, within reach of the robust parental controls offered through the Greenlight product.)

greenlight adding store specific spending controls meadowlark

Greenlight also offers spending notifications, real-time money requests and approvals if children don’t have enough money for a purchase, and the ability to freeze a kid’s debit card if the card is lost or stolen or the parents want to temporarily disable it for some other reason.

Chores + Allowance

Greenlight lets parents automate allowance, and even link it to chores.

The parent picks a frequency (monthly, biweekly, even weekly) and amount for allowance. Then, they can set up rules determining how much is paid out, and when:

  • The allowance is paid out with no connection to chores.
  • A percentage of the allowance will be paid out depending on what percentage of their chores they completed. (In other words, they can get part of their allowance if they do part of the chores.)
  • The allowance will only be paid out if all chores are completed.

Chores can be assigned on a one-time or recurring basis. And parents can help kids divvy up their allowance or earnings among Spending, Saving, Investing, and Giving.

Savings Reward

Earned interest on savings accounts is a great way to motivate children to save more. While Greenlight technically doesn’t offer interest, it offers something awfully close: the Savings Reward.

Your child receives a monthly savings boost—1% for Core plans, 2% for Max, and 5% for Infinity—based on the average daily savings balance in their Greenlight account, on up to $5,000 of savings. (So, kids can earn a maximum of $50, $100, or $250 annually depending on the plan.)

Parent-Paid Interest

Parents can also help their kids save faster by turning on Parent-Paid Interest.

With Parent-Paid Interest, a parent sets an annual interest rate between 1% to 100%, then every month, the applicable amount (based on the average daily balance of a kid’s Total Savings, which is whatever’s saved in both General Savings and Savings Goals) is paid from the parent’s wallet to the child’s General Savings area.

Round Ups

Greenlight offers yet another way to help their kids save even faster: Round Ups. Round-up apps all generally work the same: Whenever you spend, the purchase amount is rounded up to the nearest dollar (or some other preset dollar level or percentage), and the “spare change” is set aside in savings. Some round-up apps are more flexible and customizable than others; Greenlight’s Round Ups feature is pretty straightforward, rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar.

Investing (Varies by Plan)

Greenlight offers commission-free investing across all its plans, though there’s a significant step up from the Core plan to the Max and Infinity plans.

With the Core plan, parents have access to Investing for Parents Lite, which allows parents to invest via a handful of exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The Max and Infinity plans open up the full Investing for Parents, as well as Investing for Kids. Both provide access to more than 4,000 stocks and ETFs, and thanks to fractional shares, children and parents can invest with as little as $1. When kids invest, parents must approve every trade placed.

Not sure what you should invest in? Take Greenlight’s personalized quiz, and Greenlight will recommend a fund for you.

Level Up

Kids can learn more money management techniques through the financial literacy game Level Up. This interactive game teaches both young children and teens budgeting, investing, and other money skills with a curriculum and educational challenges that go beyond the K-12 national standards for personal finance education.

Family Cash Card

All Greenlight subscription tiers allow users to qualify for the cash-back Family Cash Mastercard. Parents can add their kids as authorized users to help them learn how credit cards function and establish a credit history. Building a credit history early on can make it easier for children to qualify for their own unsecured credit cards or other loans when they’re older.

You get a competitive 3% back when you spend at least $4,000 per billing cycle. Spending of more than $1,000 but below $4,000 earns 2% cash back, and spending of below $1,000 earns 1%. There is no limit to the cash-back rewards you can earn. Users can also auto-invest their cash-back rewards.

You can sign up for Greenlight here.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Kids

BusyKid vs. Greenlight: Our Editors’ Choice Is …


Greenlight is one of the best kids’ debit cards period, so it’s no surprise that we generally favor Greenlight over BusyKid.

Greenlight is a feature powerhouse that has numerous advantages over BusyKid. Parental controls are more numerous and customizable, Greenlight’s investing offering is better, Greenlight offers more in the way of savings rewards, and at higher-tier plans, Greenlight provides a gaggle of features—including identity theft, purchase, and phone protection; SOS alerts, and crash detection—that BusyKid simply doesn’t.

BusyKid does make more sense than Greenlight in a few select instances. For instance, if you want investing functionality but don’t want to pay for Greenlight’s more expensive Max ($9.98 per month) and Infinity ($14.98 per month) tiers to get it, you can invest through BusyKid ($3.99 per month). But if you’re really concerned about cost, at least one kid’s debit card (which you can read about below) offers a debit card with investing functionality for free.

By and large, though, if you’re willing to pay for a kids’ debit card, Greenlight will give you the most bang for your buck.

Our Pick: Greenlight
Runner-Up: BusyKid
4.8
4.0
Our Pick: Greenlight
Runner-Up: BusyKid

Other Debit Cards for Kids to Consider


If you’re still not convinced on BusyKid or Greenlight, you might want to look at these other highly rated options:

AppApple App Store Rating
+ Best For
FeesPromotions
greenlight transparent logo thinGreenlight☆ 4.8 / 5
Customer rating and parental controls
1 month free. Core: $4.99/mo. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (Each plan supports up to 5 children.)Free 1-month trial
copper logo thinCopper Banking☆ 4.9 / 5
Teen financial independence
Copper $4.95/mo., Copper + Invest: $7.95/mo.30-days free
gohenry logo thinGoHenry☆ 4.6 / 5
Accessible customer service support
1 month free. Individual: $4.99/mo. Family (supports up to 4 children): $9.98/mo.1 month free
revolut logo thinRevolut <18☆ 4.7 / 5
Parent-paid bonuses
No monthly feesNone
Axos Bank logoAxos First Checking☆ 4.7 / 5
Teens ready to learn about money management
Free (no monthly fees)None
*Apple App Store Rating as of April 1, 2024.

Related:


Revolut <18 Disclosure

The Revolut prepaid card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Visa.

About the Author

Riley Adams is the Founder and CEO of WealthUp (previously Young and the Invested). He is a licensed CPA who worked at Google as a Senior Financial Analyst overseeing advertising incentive programs for the company’s largest advertising partners and agencies. Previously, he worked as a utility regulatory strategy analyst at Entergy Corporation for six years in New Orleans.

His work has appeared in major publications like Kiplinger, MarketWatch, MSN, TurboTax, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, The Globe and Mail, and CNBC’s Acorns. Riley currently holds areas of expertise in investing, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies and personal finance where he has been cited as an authoritative source in outlets like CNBC, Time, NBC News, APM’s Marketplace, HuffPost, Business Insider, Slate, NerdWallet, Investopedia, The Balance and Fast Company.

Riley holds a Masters of Science in Applied Economics and Demography from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from Centenary College of Louisiana.