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As parents, we try to teach our children the value of a dollar. We might pay them for chores, emphasize the importance of saving, and watch the concentration on their faces as they calculate whether they can afford an item or not.

All of this is a good start, but there’s more parents can do to prepare children for their financial futures. A kids’ debit card is an excellent step. Not only do debit cards teach children money management, but, depending on the account, the child might earn interest on their savings, be able to invest, or even build credit.

But, seeing as you’ve found your way here, you’re likely already planning on getting your kid a financial account and accompanying card. Now you’re just trying to decide between Step and Current.

I can help you choose. I’ve thoroughly analyzed all of the top kids’ debit cards on the market.

Today, I’m going to compare Step and Current. For each card, I’ll provide an overview, go over any costs, and detail noteworthy features. I’ll also show the essential stats side by side so it’s simple to see the similarities and differences. Just in case you aren’t fully convinced either card has everything you need, I’ll also highlight a few other competitive debit cards.

Step vs. Current Comparison


step logo transparent symbol thin leftAffiliate CTA Apply Nowcurrent logo transparent text thin new leftAffiliate CTA Apply Now
WealthUp Rating☆ 4.7 / 5☆ 3.8 / 5
App Store Rating☆ 4.7 / 5☆ 4.7 / 5
Price*No monthly feesNo monthly fees
BillingN/AN/A
Special OfferN/AN/A
Allowed Cards Per Subscription11
Minimum Age**NoNo
Features That Make This Card Stand ApartBuilds credit; highest APY of any debit card for minors; points-based reward systemSpending insights through money management tools, gas hold removals

Basics

step logo transparent symbol thin leftcurrent logo transparent text thin new left
SpendingYesYes
SavingYesYes
InvestingYes (Stocks, ETFs, and Bitcoin)No
Giving/DonatingNoNo

Funding

step logo transparent symbol thin leftcurrent logo transparent text thin new left
Funding Source(s)Bank account, debit card, third-party app, cashBank account, debit card, check, third-party app, cash
Direct DepositYesNo
AllowanceYesYes
ChoresNoYes
GiftingNoYes
Cash Reload FeeFirst 2 deposits free; $3.95 reload fee thereafter$3.50 per transaction

Saving/Spending

step logo transparent symbol thin leftcurrent logo transparent text thin new left
Savings APY5.00%N/A
Round-UpsYesYes
Other Savings FeaturesNoneNone
ATM NetworkAlliance Plus (30,000+ ATMs)Allpoint (40,000+ ATMs)
ATM Transaction Fee$0 (Operator fee may apply at out-of-network ATMs)$0 (Operator fee may apply at out-of-network ATMs)
Card NetworkVisaVisa
Compatible Mobile WalletsApple Pay, Google PayApple Pay, Google Pay

Parents

step logo transparent symbol thin leftcurrent logo transparent text thin new left
Parental ControlsLow (Card lock)Medium (Spending limits, transaction type-level controls)
Parental MonitoringYesYes
Parental NotificationsYesYes

Other Features

step logo transparent symbol thin leftcurrent logo transparent text thin new left
Cash BackYes (Amount varies based on expenditure)No
Builds CreditYesNo
Customization optionsNoNo
Refund PolicyN/AN/A
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.

Step Overview


Step savings signup

The free Step Visa Card is a unique “hybrid” secured credit card that’s tailor-made for kids and teens. It has the safety of a debit card, but it functions like a Visa credit card—including the ability to build your child’s credit history.

Parents, who sponsor the card for their child, add money to this FDIC-insured account and can determine how their child can spend. A regular Step account allows a child to have both a physical spending card as well as a virtual card in the Step app, while a Parent Managed Account only allows the child to spend via a physical card. Either way, they can use their card anywhere Visa is accepted.

Children can also use their cards to withdraw money from more than 30,000 ATMs for free. And parents needn’t fear that their child will overdraft—they can’t spend any money they don’t have.

Further, the Step Card comes protected by Visa’s Fraud Protection and Zero Liability guarantee. That means if your teen’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.

Step also has fantastic savings benefits. Kids earn a high annual percentage yield (APY) on their money and can boost savings even more with Savings Roundup.

Step even features an “invest” function that allows children age 13 and older to buy and sell Bitcoin for a small transaction fee. The app is not a pure crypto wallet, however—your kids currently can’t spend Bitcoin directly at vendors.

Step has no age requirement, but anyone under 18 will need a parent, guardian, or trusted adult to sign them up.

Related: 7 Best Trading Accounts for Minors [Stock Investing Under 18]

Step Plans + Costs


Step is as free as free debit cards for teens get. There are no monthly fees, no subscription fees, and no account minimum fees. Members can use more than 30,000 fee-free ATMs. Step doesn’t even charge commissions on stock trades. Step primarily makes money through “interchange” fees paid by the merchant bank, rather than charging customers. So it’s very easy to use Step and never pay a dime.

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
StepN/A

    - Step Card
    - Option to build credit
    - High APY on Savings Goals
    - Parental Controls
    - Allowance
    - Instant Transfers
    - Savings Roundup
    - Investing

Now, Step isn’t perfectly free—no card is. There are a few situations where you could incur small fees, though most of these are par for the course for (or less than) comparable products.

For instance, merchants charge $3.95 per cash deposit—Step covers that charge for your first two deposits, but after that, you’re on your own. Same goes for card replacements—Step offers up to two free card replacements for lost physical cards. After that, there is a $5 charge for each additional card replacement. (Fortunately, you can always use Step’s virtual card for free.)

Step also charges a small fee when withdrawing funds out of a linked debit card. It costs 35¢ for transfers less than $20 or 1.75% of the transfer amount for transfers of more than $20. And when buying cryptocurrencies, buy and sell prices include a 2% markup that helps cover Step’s costs.

Step also warns about a couple of other third-party fees:

  • If your child chooses to use an out-of-network ATM, Step won’t charge any fees, but the ATM operator may charge a service fee.
  • Step doesn’t charge commission fees for stocks, but the government does charge a pair of small fees—a FINRA transaction activity fee (TAF) and a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) fees—that account for a marginal percentage of your sale. Each fee is calculated as total transaction amount * $22.90 / 1,000,000, rounded up to the nearest cent, so a $1,000 trade would come out to just 4¢ in total fees.

Just keep in mind that both of the above fees are typical of just about any financial institution that offers those services.

Again: Step is as free as it gets.

Related: How to Make Money as a Kid [25 Ways For Any Age]

Step Features


Step Card

The Step Card is a Visa-branded card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted, which is … well, at 44 million merchants in 200-plus countries and territories, that’s just about anywhere credit cards are accepted. It can also be used to withdraw money for free from 30,000-plus ATMs. (Note: Withdrawals are capped at $250 within a 24-hour period and $1,000 within a 30-day period.)

Remember: The Step Card is technically a secured credit card. But in practice, the Step Card acts just like a prepaid debit card. Parents fund a kid’s account, and the kid can spend up to however much is in the account—but not a penny more.

Parents have several options for how to fund a Step Card, including directly through a linked bank account, a debit card, direct deposit from an employer, or payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App. You can even deposit cash from 70,000-plus retail locations.

Lastly, the card is protected by Visa’s Fraud Protection and Zero Liability guarantee. You can dispute fraudulent charges within a certain time frame to avoid having to pay for those charges.

Credit Building

I said it in my Step review, and I’ll say it here: Step’s credit-building feature is by far and away the platform’s biggest draw.

Virtually all secured credit cards let you build credit. But Step stands out because it works differently, it has a laundry list of features most other cards don’t have, and it’s the only such card available for users under age 18.

That last point is what has made Step so popular among teens.

When a parent sponsors a card for their teen, they can opt to have Step report the past two years’ worth of information—transactions, payment history, and more—to the credit bureaus when their child turns 18. Credit scores are assigned once someone turns 18, and most teens will begin with a score of under 600. But based on a Step survey, 18-year-olds who used Step for at least seven months had an average credit score of 725.

That’s a massive difference that can mean easier access to (and lower financing rates on) everything from car insurance to apartment security deposits to student loans.

Also helpful? The card’s Smart Pay feature automatically pays off purchases every month from funds in the deposit account. That keeps kids from ever missing a payment.

Savings Goals

Lots of kids’ debit cards give different names to their de facto savings accounts: With Step, it’s called a Savings Goal. Kids can have multiple Savings Goals where they can save toward individual goals such as buying a bike or a laptop.

Users earn a competitive 5% annually—compounded and paid monthly—on up to $250,000 saved in their Savings Goals. Like with your average savings account, Step’s savings yield can change depending on movements in the Federal Funds Rate, but if that happens, Step will give you 30 days’ notice before it happens.

To qualify, the user must have a direct deposit of at least $500 per month, and the benefit extends for as long as the direct deposits continue. So even if your teen just holds down a summer job for three months and meets the qualifying direct deposit, they can still enjoy three months of high interest. (Other perks of making a qualifying direct deposit? Bonus points on dining, food delivery, charitable donations, specific merchants—and you can get paid up to two days early.)

Savings Roundup

Step also has a round-up feature: Savings Roundup. With this feature, small purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar figure, and that extra money is put toward a Savings Goal.

Let’s say your child buys some candy for $2.75. Step will round that purchase up to $3.00 and put 25¢ toward a predetermined Savings Goal.

Related: Best Round-Up Apps for Saving and Investing Money

Investing

Step gives kids the opportunity to invest in more than 1,000 stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as cryptocurrency. Within Step, a child needs a stock account to invest in stocks and ETFs, then a separate crypto account to invest in cryptocurrency.

Parents must open and approve these accounts for their child. Also, kids can only invest in stocks or funds their parents have recommended for them.

Kids can invest with as little as $1 through Step thanks to fractional shares. Also, stock and ETF trading is commission-free, but Step does charge a 2% markup on crypto prices to help cover its costs.

Step’s selection of more than 1,000 stocks and ETFs is technically much smaller than the thousands of stocks and funds they could access through a traditional broker, but it’s more than enough for beginner investors—and in fact, even intermediate investors could easily build a portfolio out of Step’s holdings. The crypto offering is extremely limited, though, with only Bitcoin offered at present.

Related: Best Investing Apps for Teens Under 18 [Stock Apps]

Instant Transfers

Parents and other Step members can immediately send money to (and receive money from) one another with just a few taps. And while people rarely scoff at free money, you can include a note so the recipient isn’t scratching their head as to why you sent it.

Parental Controls

Most parents would prefer to dip their child’s toe into the money management pool rather than throw them in. Parental controls can help. Step allows you to monitor your child’s spending and freeze the card if you fear it’s lost or stolen (or fear your kid is being too irresponsible with it).

Allowance + Recurring Payments

Parents can easily set up allowance payments for their kids. You can set up recurring payments for regular chores, or one-time payments to reward your kid for spot chores, a good credit card, or otherwise doing something worth celebrating.

Related: Best Allowance and Chore Apps for Kids

Smooth Transition to Financial Adulthood

Step isn’t just for kids—adults can use it as well! Once your child turns 18, they can keep the same credit card number and account. Step will handle getting them appointed as the legal owner of the account and make it an independent account. Everything stays the same from the cardholder’s end. They can continue to use the card and keep building their credit history.

You can sign up for Step here.

Related: 30 Best Side Hustles for Teens [In-Person + Online]

Current Overview


Current signup new

The Current mobile banking app is designed with families in mind. It offers both adult and teen accounts—and the latter comes with a prepaid debit card that parents load for their children.

This kids’ debit card comes with fee-free ATM access, instant gas hold removals, Round-Ups, and more.

Current allows you to track your teen’s spending in real-time, set limits on how much your children can spend, and even block specific merchants on its Visa-enabled debit cards. You also get the peace of mind that comes with knowing your children’s money is safe because it’s not cash—no temptations, just a tool parents can use to help teach teens financial responsibility and sound money management skills.

Current doesn’t specifically state a minimum age requirement, but the company’s marketing suggests teens are the target audience. Still, you might be able to open an account for a younger child.

Related: The 5 Best Brokerage Accounts for Teens

Current Plans + Costs


Current is a completely free card, so there’s only one “plan” of which to speak:

PlanMonthly FeeFeatures Offered Under Plan
Current TeenN/A

    - Current card
    - Parental controls
    - Allowance and chores
    - Savings Pods
    - Giving Pods
    - Round-Ups
    - Cash deposits
    - Gas hold removals

A parent must create a free Current Individual Account to set up Current Teen Account. However, there are no minimum required balances, fees for transfers to other Current accounts, or in-network ATM fees.

Still, Current users might still incur a few fees, including:

  • Out-of-network ATM usage ($2.50 per transaction)
  • Foreign transactions (3% of the full transaction amount, minimum $0.50.)
  • Late payment (3% of any total due balances outstanding and past due for two or more billing cycles)
  • Cash reloads ($3.50)

Many users can avoid these fees, but it’s still good to keep them in mind.

Current Features


teen young woman credit debit card blue background

Current has several features that help it stand out from other debit cards for teens. Here are the most pertinent aspects you should know:

Current Card

The Current experience centers around the Current Visa debit card. Teens can use the Current debit card to shop both in stores or online, or to withdraw cash fee-free from more than 40,000 in-network Allpoint ATMs.

Parental Controls

Parents have several ways to limit their teens’ spending.

The cards automatically come with daily maximums of $500 for ATM withdrawals and $2,000 for spending, but parents can adjust these as they want.

Parents can also toggle certain spending categories (including ATMs) on and off, and even turn the card on and off, if necessary.

Allowance + Chores

Current has one of the most flexible allowance options available, allowing you to choose monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, and even daily money transfers! (I think daily is a little too frequent, but it’s there if you need it.) Simply set an amount, a funding source, start date, and frequency.

You can also assign chores to your teen (who must mark the chore as completed once they’re done with it), then pay them regularly on a weekly basis. But you have some optionality—you can pay your teen early, and you can also adjust payment if some chores aren’t completed on time.

Savings Pods

Each Current teen account comes with a Savings Pod, which is effectively a savings account—you can name it, set a goal amount, even add an image to it.

Related: Best Automatic Savings Apps + Accounts

Giving Pods

Want to instill the importance of giving back to your child? Current Teen Accounts come with a Giving Pod that allows your teenager to donate to their favorite charity.

Round-Ups

The Current card also offers basic Round-Ups, where every purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is stored in the Savings or Giving Pod. This makes saving simple and automatic.

Cash Deposits

Whether your child has a job that pays cash tips or receives money in celebratory cards, they can deposit that cash into their Current account at more than 60,000 stores nationwide, including popular retailers such as 7-Eleven, Dollar General, CVS Pharmacy, and more.

To find participating retailers, look at the “Add Cash” map. Once there, simply tell the cashier you want to deposit cash. Once the cashier scans the barcode, the funds are immediately available. Deposits can be up to $500 per transaction, though Current does charge a $3.50 cash reload fee.

Gas Hold Removals

Nobody likes having their money tied up, and that’s exactly what happens with gas holds, where a gas station puts a hold—usually of $50 or more—on your account until the transaction goes through. With the parent’s Current account, the teen can get instant gas hold removals.

Interested in Current? You can sign up here.

Related: Best Teen Checking Accounts [Banks for Teens]

Step vs. Current: Our Editors’ Choice Is …


Step and Current are both solid options for kids’ debit cards that have no monthly fees. Either card can cover the basic features of allowance, chores, and ATM access. Plus, they offer interest on children’s savings and let kids save faster by rounding up their purchases.

Current has a few features that Step doesn’t, including spending insights and gas hold removals. It also has slightly more comprehensive parental controls.

However, Step has highly competitive features that blow Current’s features out of the water. To start, Step users can invest in stocks, ETFs, and even Bitcoin, making it an excellent way to introduce investing to your child.

Step also offers 5% APY— the highest APY of any debit card for minors. But what really makes Step stand out from Current (and all other kids’ debit cards for that matter!) is the ability to help children build credit.

If gas hold removals and spending insights are extremely important to you, by all means, sign up for Current.

But we believe Step provides much more value and recommend you sign up for a Step account for free. You can sign up for Step here.

Our Pick: Step
Runner-Up: Current
4.7
3.8
Our Pick: Step
Runner-Up: Current

Related: 26 Best Online Jobs for Teens [Earn Money at Home, Age 13+]

Other Debit Cards for Kids to Consider


If you’re still not convinced on Step or GoHenry, 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:


Step Disclaimer

Disclaimer: Step is a trademark of Step Mobile, Inc.
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.