You can (and should!) talk to your kids about money management skills, but nothing replaces hands-on experience. That’s why I’ve long been an advocate of debit cards for kids.
But when you’re dealing with kids and money, you need to use kid gloves. You certainly don’t want to simply hand your child (or even teen) your debit card and the bank account connected to it—that is unless you’re prepared for the possibility that your account balance might soon get depleted after a stop at the local Target.
Instead, there’s a better option: opening a debit card specifically designed for kids and teens. These cards feature most of the basic spending features of traditional debit cards, but they also come with parental controls—like spending limits, card locking, and more—as well as features designed for kids, including allowance, chores, and education.
If you’ve managed to make your way to this article, I’m going to confidently guess that you have your eye on both Step and Greenlight, and you’re not sure which one to choose. I don’t blame you! They’re both solid choices and enjoy high ratings here at WealthUp. It’s also possible that you’re wondering if there’s a better option than both of these cards.
If you read on, you’ll find that I’ve got you covered.
Today, I’m going to do a detailed rundown of both Step’s and Greenlight’s debit cards. I’ll start with an overview, then provide a breakdown of costs, key features, and other information you should know. And if you still worry that neither cards are right for you and your family, you can check out my thoughts on other worthy debit cards.
Table of Contents
Step vs. Greenlight Comparison
- Available: Sign up here
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.
Step Plans + Costs
Step is as free as free debit cards 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.
|Plan||Monthly Fee||Features Offered Under Plan|
- Step Card
- Option to build credit
- High APY on Savings Goals
- Parental Controls
- Instant Transfers
- Savings Roundup
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Available: Sign up here
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:
|Plan||Monthly Fee||Features Offered Under Plan|
- 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||$9.98||Everything 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||$14.98||Everything 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.
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.)
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
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 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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
Step vs. Greenlight: Our Editors’ Choice Is …
When comparing these two cards, you’re really at a tough cross-roads because both cards stand at or near-the-top of their product class. Though, if push comes to shove, I’d opt for Greenlight for its superior feature set that many parents want their kid’s debit card to come equipped with.
To be blunt, Greenlight is without peer in terms of its features included across its various plans. In fact, its a veritable feature powerhouse that has numerous advantages over Step. For one, the card offers robust parental controls which are more numerous and customizable than any kid’s debit card on the market, in addition to the ability to track chores instead of simply paying an allowance, plus pay more in the way of cash back, and at higher-tier plans, Greenlight provides a cornucopia of features—including identity theft, purchase, and phone protection; SOS alerts, and crash detection—that Step just doesn’t.
On the other hand, Step offers a feature that no other teen debit card currently does—and one that puts Step ahead of virtually all of its competitors in this regard—the ability to help kids build credit. Greenlight offers a convoluted way through adding your child as an authorized user to your Greenlight Family Cash Card (something that actually could harm your child’s credit score if you yourself make poor credit choices with your own access to credit). Credit building is an extremely valuable feature that can save kids money once they reach adulthood and need to start taking out loans, purchasing insurance, and more.
Step also offers a 5% APY on savings for everyone—you can only get that on the expensive Greenlight Infinity plan. Also, Step’s investing options are more robust—Step allows for stocks, ETFs, and Bitcoin, while Greenlight only provides access to a pre-selected universe of stocks and ETFs.
Perhaps most appealing, Step is completely free. Greenlight plans start at $4.99 per month—and if you want investing capabilities and that 5% APY, you have to pony up $14.98 per month for Greenlight Infinity.
Despite that, Greenlight has an unrivaled product with the only true shortcoming being the monthly fee associated with the card. But for parents eager in teaching their kids money management skills inside a controllable system with robust safeguards, that’s a small price to pay for that peace of mind.
Other Debit Cards for Kids to Consider
If you’re still not convinced on Step or Greenlight, you might want to look at these other highly rated options:
1. Fidelity Youth™ Account (Best Free Debit Card With Teen Investing)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: No account fees, no account minimum, no trading commissions*
- Platforms: Web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
- Promotion: Teens get $501 on Fidelity® when they download the Fidelity Youth™ app and activate their Youth Account; parents get $100 when they fund a new account
Is your teen interested in jumpstarting their financial future? Do you want them to build smart money habits along the way?
Of course you do! Learning early about saving, spending and investing can pay off big when you start on the right foot. And one tool that can help your teen get that jump is the Fidelity Youth™ Account—an account owned by teens 13 to 17 that’s designed to help them start their money journey. They can start investing by buying most U.S. stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and Fidelity mutual funds for as little as $1!⁴
Your teen will also get a free debit card with no subscription fees, no account fees³, no minimum balances, and no domestic ATM fees⁵. And they can use this free debit card for teens to manage their cash and spend it whenever they need.
And as for building smart money habits? You and your teen can access your account through the Fidelity Youth™ app, which has a dedicated Learn tab packed with materials developed specifically to help teens develop good financial habits. Not only will Fidelity’s interactive lessons, videos, articles, tools, and calculators accelerate their learning—but for every level they complete, reward dollars will be deposited into their account to use however they want.
We’ll note that Fidelity Youth™ Account isn’t a prepaid card nor a banking app, but it’s still strongly worth considering.
Controls parents want and need
A parent or guardian must have or open a brokerage account with Fidelity® to open a Fidelity Youth™ Account. For new Fidelity® customers, opening an account is easy, and there are no minimums and no account fees.
Parents and guardians have plenty of tools they can use to monitor their teen’s activity: They have online account access, can follow monthly statements and trade confirmations, and can view debit card transactions made in the account.
To make it even easier, you can set up alerts to notify you of trades, transactions, and cash management activity, keeping you firmly in the loop on actions your teen takes across the Fidelity Youth™ Account’s suite of products.
If your teen has an interest in learning about investing and taking their first steps toward building their financial journey, you should consider downloading the Fidelity Youth™ app and opening a Fidelity Youth™ Account. The account comes custom-built for their needs, which will help them become financially independent and start investing for their future.
Read more in our Fidelity Youth™ Account review.
2. GoHenry (Best for Customer Service)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: 1 month free. Individual: $4.99/child/mo. Family: $9.98/mo. for up to 4 children
I think of GoHenry as more than just a way to spend—it’s a financial solution for minors that includes an account, prepaid debit card, app, even financial lessons. Parents are given an online account that’s linked to, and allows them to oversee and manage, individual accounts for each of their children via both the GoHenry app and the online account portal.
Each child will receive their own GoHenry debit card; you can choose from 45 different designs or create your own customized card for $4.99. And each card is governed by parental controls you can set for your children.
What I like about GoHenry is that kids can only spend whatever money is available on the card. That means parents don’t have to worry about costly overdraft fees or their kids running up a debt.
When you open a GoHenry account, you should receive your children’s debit cards in the mail seven to nine business days later. Once you do, you can set up events and controls, including:
- Automatic weekly allowance transfers into your children’s accounts
- Real-time spending alerts
- One-off or weekly spending limits
- Choosing the stores where your kids can shop
You can even block and unblock the card as needed from your parent account. So, let’s say your child has lost their card—you can block any expenditures on it until it’s found, then unblock it once it’s back in your child’s care.
But GoHenry really sticks out to me as one of the best prepaid debit cards for kids because of their customer service. They offer everyday phone availability, email access, and social media engagement, ensuring users can solve their problems quickly and with little hassle.
GoHenry has no minimum age requirements but recommends starting at age 6 or older.
Users should know that the company was acquired in 2023 by Acorns—a popular investing app for young adults who invest spare change through Round-Ups and recurring investments. However, for now, it still operates as GoHenry, and as of this writing, I’ve seen no announced changes that would suggest it will stop operating as normal. In fact, Acorns actually offers GoHenry for free when you sign up for its Premium plan.
Related: GoHenry vs. Greenlight
3. Current (Great No-Monthly-Fee Teen Card)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (No monthly fees)
The Current mobile banking app is designed with families in mind. It offers both adult and teen accounts, with the latter acting like prepaid debit cards that parents load for their children.
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.
Among Current’s features:
- No minimum required balances, no fees on transfers to other Current accounts, and no hidden fees.
- Create Savings Pods, or Giving Pods, that allow you to save up for various goals.
- Round-Ups allow you to round up purchases to the nearest dollar amount and store the difference in Savings or Giving Pods.
- Buy and sell more than 30 different cryptocurrencies with zero trading fees.
Teens will love easy allowance deposits, a card they can use in stores or online, instant gas hold removals when buying gas, and access to more than 40,000 fee-free Allpoint ATMs nationwide. They’ll also have the opportunity to learn about financial responsibility and financial independence through Current’s Budgets feature, which allows them to track their spending and even receive alerts when they get too close to (or exceed) a predetermined limit.
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.
4. Copper Card (Best Debit Card for Kid Independence)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: 30 days free. Copper: $4.95/mo. Copper + Invest: $7.95/mo.
Copper Banking was founded on the belief that kids and teens should have equal access to financial education and should be empowered to learn by doing. Now, the company is on a mission to help children gain real-world experience by giving them access to their money in a way that traditional banks can’t.
The Copper app and debit card teaches your child how to make smart financial decisions by creating a platform where parents and their kids can connect. With the Copper app, you get easy snapshots of your accounts. And with the Copper Debit Card, it’s easy to shop in-store or online, including with Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Plus, users get exclusive access to engaging advice curated by a team of financial literacy experts who provide tips on how to take control of their financial future.
When I reviewed the Copper banking product, I found the following features to be most important:
- Send/Request: Kids and parents can easily send and receive money all at the touch of a button.
- Spend: Spend using Apple or Google Pay, or using the Copper Debit Card.
- Withdraw: Access your money from more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs.
- Monitor: Get a snapshot of all your child’s spending in an easy-to-read dashboard.
- Save: Gain quick snapshots of your kid’s savings and helpful tips on how to save even more. Set up savings buckets and save for the things that you want.
- Learn: With the help of Copper’s team of financial literacy experts, gain bite-sized tips on how you can maximize your money and prepare yourself for your financial future.
The basic Copper account includes the above banking features. With Copper + Invest, your child also gets access to automatically curated smart portfolios built with their preferences in mind. (We like the guardrails they provide to get your child started with investing.) Your child is given a questionnaire that helps Copper determine a portfolio based on their age, income, net worth, investment objective(s) and investment horizon. Copper then recommends one of three ETF portfolios—Moderately Aggressive, Aggressive, and Extra Aggressive—made up of thousands of stocks. Parents can review the portfolio to ensure it matches with not just your child’s preferences, but your family’s. (Portfolios can be changed later on by accessing the Support chat.)
Much like many other apps I’ve reviewed on WealthUp, your child doesn’t need much money to begin their investing journey with Copper. They can begin investing for as little as $1, then add more contributions down the road. Copper will automatically rebalance the portfolio as needed to make sure it always keeps up with your child’s investment preferences.
Copper is available to kids 6 years and older.
Read more in our Copper Banking review.
5. Revolut <18 (Best for Parent-Paid Bonuses)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: No monthly fees
Revolut <18 is a prepaid debit card for kids designed to teach them money skills for life. Aimed at building healthy money habits from an early age, the unique, customizable card empowers parents to have full insight into their kids’ card activity through providing instant spending alerts and parental controls.
You can choose to freeze the card, set controls on how they use the cards online and with contactless payments through your Revolut app. Further, you can set spending limits on how much your child can use with the prepaid card.
Parents use the card and accompanying app to teach kids about earning, budgeting, saving and even investing money (depending on the plan chosen). You can also use the card to manage chores and allowance, set savings goals as a family and help your children manage their money.
And if your child did something deserving of a reward? You can send parent-paid bonuses when they complete specific tasks. Simply add money to their digitized piggy bank through the app. You can send and receive money in seconds through Revolut’s Payments feature, which allows instant transfers between account holders and also global transfers at transparent rates.
Of note: You must have a personal Revolut account before you can open a Revolut <18 account for your children. You can add up to five Revolut <18 accounts per parent account.
To learn more about Revolut <18, consider visiting their site and opening an account for yourself and your child.
What Is a Debit Card for Kids?
Children generally can’t open their own bank account until they reach the age of majority in their state—often 18 years old. Thus, parents often look for other paths, such as opening a sub-account from their own bank account so they can provide their children with a card to use. In that event, your child likely will need to be at least 13 years old before receiving a card.
Unfortunately, these accounts might not come with the custom spending controls, parental oversight, or feature-filled mobile apps provided by many new debit cards for kids. These new apps provide numerous controls over your children’s spending, including spending notifications, limiting where your child can use the card, and even allowing you to quickly lock and unlock the card. And in many cases, you simply fund your child’s debit card, so it effectively functions as a prepaid debit card.
Traditional banks or prepaid debit cards might not allow you to do this beyond keeping the account balance at a certain level.
- Best Credit Cards for Teens [Build Credit]
- 4 Best Ways to Save Money for Kids [Children’s Savings Plans]
- Should You Open a Child Bank Account with a Debit Card?
Terms and Conditions for Fidelity Youth™ Account
The Fidelity Youth™ Account can only be opened by a parent/guardian. Account eligibility limited to teens aged 13-17.
* $0.00 commission applies to online U.S. equity trades and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in a Fidelity retail account only for Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC retail clients. Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee (from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). Other exclusions and conditions may apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for details. Employee equity compensation transactions and accounts managed by advisors or intermediaries through Fidelity Institutional® are subject to different commission schedules.
¹ Limited Time Offer. Terms Apply. Before opening a Fidelity Youth™ Account, you should carefully read the account agreement and ensure that you fully understand your responsibilities to monitor and supervise your teen’s activity in the account.
² The Fidelity Youth™ app is free to download. Fees associated with your account positions or transacting in your account apply.
³ Zero account minimums and zero account fees apply to retail brokerage accounts only. Expenses charged by investments (e.g., funds, managed accounts, and certain HSAs) and commissions, interest charges, or other expenses for transactions may still apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for further details.
⁴ Fractional share quantities can be entered out to 3 decimal places (.001) as long as the value of the order is at least $0.01. Dollar-based trades can be entered out to 2 decimal places (e.g. $250.00).
⁵ Your Youth Account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using the Fidelity® Debit Card at any ATM displaying the Visa®, Plus®, or Star® logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited. Please note, for foreign transactions, there may be a 1% fee included in the amount charged to your account. The Fidelity® Debit Card is issued by PNC Bank, N.A., and the debit card program is administered by BNY Mellon Investment Servicing Trust Company. These entities are not affiliated with each other, and Fidelity is not affiliated with PNC Bank or BNY Mellon. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association, and is used by PNC Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.
⁶ Venmo is a service of PayPal, Inc. Fidelity Investments and PayPal are independent entities and are not legally affiliated. Use a Venmo or PayPal account may be subject to their terms and conditions, including age requirements.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917