Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Teens and Students (2020)

We’ve reviewed and ranked the best debit cards for teens in 2020. Here are all the details, including the features, fees, and limits important to parents and teens.

Best Teen Prepaid Cards

For teens, prepaid debit cards can provide an easy way to track and manage their money. And they offer the convenience and security of a credit card or checking account debit card.

For parents, prepaid cards provide a way to track their teens spending. And they can provide their teens with a gentle introduction to money management.

For both teens and parents, making the best choice among teen cards requires being informed about the differences. We’ve researched the options to provide you with that information.

In making our recommendations, we’ve evaluated (1) convenience, (2) parental controls, (3) additional features that would be useful to parents and teens, (4) card limits, such as card balance and spending limits, and of course, (5) fees to use the card.

Best Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards for Teens

1. FamZoo Prepaid Card

The features of the FamZoo prepaid card show a thoughtful approach to the money-management needs of families with teens. The FamZoo card offers educational tools to help teens develop good habits. Those features, along with its low cost, are why it tops our list of the Best Prepaid Cards for Teens.

With FamZoo, parents can automate allowance payments from their primary card. Or parents can link allowance to chores or other behaviors they want to encourage. They can even charge their teens a penalty for incomplete chores (ouch!) or put their teen’s account on hold altogether (double ouch!).

For teens, FamZoo provides many benefits. Teens can set savings goals. And parents can reward savings by paying interest or even matching funds. Teens also benefit from receiving transfers from their parents’ card instantly. And they can request reimbursement from their parents. Helpful for things like school fees that they’ve advanced.

The cost of the FamZoo prepaid card depends on how you pay. For a month-to-month subscription, FamZoo charges a monthly fee of $5.99 for up to four cards, including the primary (or parent) card. This fee drops to $3.33 for a 12-month subscription and even lower to $2.50 per month for a 2-year subscription.

FamZoo offers some free methods to load funds on the card, including direct deposit. There are no purchase fees. And ATM withdrawals are free at any one of MoneyPass’s 24,000 ATMs.

FamZoo offers a 30-day free trial allowing parents to take it for a spin before making any commitment.

Here are the details:

Convenience: Account control through website or mobile phone Apps for Apple and Android. Direct deposit and other free reload options. Free MoneyPass ATM Network. Broad payment acceptance with the Mastercard network.

Parental Controls: Total control of deposits to teen cards. Real-time monitoring of spending. Ability to suspend teen card use.

Additional Features: Budgeting tools. Ability to set savings goals and even award interest. Incentives (and penalties) to reinforce good habits. Instant transfers between family cards. Reimbursement requests, all through the mobile app or online.

Limits: $5,000 total card balance and spending limit up to the full balance of the (primary) card.

Fees: Monthly fee as little as $.63 per card ($2.50 per month for 4 cards with a two-year subscription). Free transactions, no activation fee, free ATM in-network withdrawals. Direct deposit, bank transfers and some other reload options are free.

2. Greenlight

The  Greenlight prepaid card allows teens to take charge of their money with savings and giving goals and a real-time view into their spending, all wrapped in a gorgeous smartphone app.

Older teens with jobs can even use direct deposit to add their paycheck to their card balance.

And it’s the only card on our list that can be used with both Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Greenlight also provides parents with all the tools to nudge their kids in the right direction. They can allocate allowance payments between spending, savings, and even giving. Parents can set chore schedules and decide whether to make it a condition of allowance. Greenlight adds the unique feature of being able to block specific stores where their teens can use their debit card.

Greenlight’s fees are simple and straightforward. Parents pay a monthly fee of $4.99 per family. That means there’s no additional charge no matter how many child accounts/cards are added to the account. Great for larger families. And the Greenlight card isn’t restricted to teens. Parents can add children of any age. The card can be used without the app for kids without smartphones.

The first month is free and there’s never a commitment. Sweet.

Here are the details:

Convenience: Account control through mobile phone Apps for Apple and Android. Parents add funds from their bank account for free. Parents can automate allowance or transfer funds immediately to teens’ accounts. Broad payment acceptance with the Mastercard network.

Parental Controls: Total control of deposits to teen cards. Real-time monitoring of spending. Ability to suspend teen card use.

Additional Features:  Apple Pay and Google Pay compatible. Ability to set savings goals and even award interest. Instant transfers between family cards. Children can make money requests through the app.

Limits: $10,000 total card balance and spending limit of $1,000 per day.

Fees: Monthly fee of $4.99 per month with unlimited child cards/accounts. Free transactions, no activation fee, no ATM fees (ATM owner fees may still apply). Direct deposit and bank transfers to add money to Greenlight are free.

3. goHenry Prepaid Card

The goHenry Prepaid Mastercard is the only other card on our list that can be used by children younger than 13. Children as young as 6 and young adults up to 18 can use the goHenry card. And parents can set age-appropriate spending rules for each child’s card. So, you can prevent your younger children from using the card online, while allowing the extra freedom for your teens.

With the mobile app (or online portal), parents can set automatic allowance and set chore lists that their children have to complete to earn it.

And teens get an instant view of how much they have left to spend until their next payday. They can also set savings goals and see their progress. Subject to parents’ rules, teens can use the goHenry card for spending like any other Mastercard.

goHenry charges $3.99 per month for each child card. There is no fee for the parent account, no activation or setup fee, and no transaction fees. The goHenry card doesn’t have a free ATM network though. It charges $1.50 per withdrawal. ATM owners may also charge their own fee. Of course, parents can restrict their teen’s ability to get cash at ATMs.

There are no contracts or commitments with goHenry. Parents can cancel anytime. And there’s a 30-day free trial to start out.

Convenience: Account control through easy-to-use mobile phone Apps for Apple and Android or the web portal. Automate payment of allowance. Parents use their bank debit card to add money. Broad payment acceptance with the Mastercard network.

Parental Controls: Parents have total control of deposits to teen cards. Real-time monitoring of spending. Ability to suspend teen card use and ability to block spending by category.

Additional Features: Ability to set savings goals. Attach payments to chores or other tasks. Instant transfers are available to fund teen cards, as well as automated payments.

Limits: $6,000 total card balance and a spending limit of $2,500 per day.

Fees: Monthly fee of $3.99 for each child card, billed monthly with no commitment. Free transactions and no activation fee. ATM withdrawal fee of $1.50 plus ATM operator fees. Adding funds using a bank debit card is free.

What are Prepaid Debit Cards for Teens?

Teen prepaid cards are largely the same as other cards in our best prepaid debit cards list. Teens can use the card for spending in the same way. But prepaid cards for teens are different in two primary ways. First, the card can be issued to and used by a minor (usually at least 13 years old). Most prepaid cards can’t.

Second, a teen prepaid card is generally a “subaccount” of the primary card account. The primary account belongs to the parent. That gives parents control over funding the teen card and oversight of the spending. Teens still receive their own personalized card with its separate balance. They can use it for spending and ATM withdrawals the same as the primary card. But they’re limited to the balance in their subaccount.

Why Consider a Teen Prepaid Card?

Teens have money. Teens spend money. Enter the choice. The good news is that parents and teens have several choices in managing money and spending.

Of course, teens can just use cash. But cash is more likely to be lost or stolen, and not surprisingly, most teens make purchases online–68% as of 2016. So, for most teens, cash won’t cut it in 2020. Prepaid debit cards are safer to carry. Visa, Mastercard, and the other payment networks protect against fraud and unauthorized purchases. And teens can use prepaid cards for online purchases.

A separate checking account with a debit card can be a good option, particularly for teenagers that have a job. However, low balance bank accounts can have more fees than prepaid cards–particularly those in our list.

Checking accounts can also increase the risk of overdrawing the account–a risk that might be greater with teens. Overdrawing a checking account can be a costly proposition. Often banks charge up to $35 for overdrawing the account. And they tack on a daily charge of $2-5 until the account balance is positive. Teens can’t overdraw a prepaid card. They can only spend what they’ve loaded on the card.

Credit cards are an option for older teens–some options are available for 16-18 year-olds. Of course, those cards require parents to open the accounts. As a result, parents’ credit is exposed to the risk of late or missed payments.

And some parents object to teens using credit cards on principal. A credit card can teach teens that they can fund their spending with high-interest debt. Not a great lesson for responsible money management. Prepaid cards can help reinforce the idea of spending only what you have.

The Bottom Line

Today’s teen prepaid debit cards offer families a viable financial management tool. They’re safer than cash. They sidestep some risks of a checking account. They avoid funding spending from debt. And they suit how teens spend money in 2020.

We’ve provided our best recommendations with all the details. Now, as we parents like to tell our teens, make good choices.

Best Teen Prepaid Cards–The List

Best Teen Prepaid Debit Cards
Prepaid Card Activation Fee Monthly Fee
1 FamZoo Prepaid Card $0 $2.50
2 Greenlight $0 $4.99
3 goHenry Prepaid Card $0 $3.99

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