Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Teenagers in 2021
A prepaid debit card is an excellent way to teach your children how to manage money.
Kids as young as 12 can get a card in their own name, funded by you – or even by their own part-time job – then spend within certain limits determined by you.
It’s a valuable tool to teach your children financial responsibility.
Best Prepaid Debit Cards for Teenagers
For the best prepaid debit cards for teenagers, we'd recommend:
- American Express Bluebird: Best for easy reloads and ATM access
- TD Go Prepaid Card: Best for big bank familiarity
- FamZoo: Best for handling allowances
How we picked
We've analyzed more than 20 prepaid card options (available nationwide) to narrow down the best prepaid debit cards for teenagers that we’d recommend.
The key factors considered were:
- Convenience of reloads
- ATM access
- Parental controls
American Express Bluebird: Best for reloads and ATM access
Bluebird by American Express is a prepaid account that isn’t specifically for teenagers, but it works perfectly for them nonetheless.
When you sign up for the Bluebird program, you can give up to four debit cards to anyone you choose.
Not only does the card force your child to learn how to spend money using a debit card, but you can also use SetAside Accounts so they can put money away for future spending needs, like saving for an upcoming vacation or the purchase of a car.
The account comes complete with the Bluebird Mobile App that accepts mobile check deposits. You also have standard AMEX benefits, like purchase protection, fraud protection, customer service, roadside assistance, emergency assistance, and more.
American Express Bluebird Details
|Minimum age||13 and older, but an adult must be the primary account holder|
|Set up cost||No activation fee, $0 to set up online, $5 to set up at retail locations|
|Reload/deposit fees||No fee for direct deposit, cash or debit card at Walmart, online with a debit card, or Mobile Check Capture by Indigo Money in 10 Days, but 1% or 5% of check amount ($5 minimum) for Money in Minutes|
|ATM fees||No fee at 33,000 MoneyPass Network locations, otherwise $2.50 plus any fee charged by ATM owner|
|Other withdrawal fees||Cash Pickup Powered by Ria (at 4,500 Walmart stores), $3 up to $500, $6 for $500.01 to $1,000, and $9 for $1,000 up to $2,900 (tax funds only)|
|Transaction fees||$0 for Bill Pay, $0 for Bluebird check transactions; $0 for sending money between Bluebird accounts, otherwise $4 up to $50 transferred, $8 for $50.01 to $1,000, $16 for $1,000.01 to $2,500|
|Reload limits||Set by parents|
|Card limits||Set by parents, up to $5,000 for checks and $750 per day for ATM withdrawals|
TD Go Card: Best for big-bank familiarity
The TD Go Card is a Visa card that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.
As a parent, you have the ability to monitor your child’s spending online, and you can even set up email or text alerts to follow the activity on the fly.
The card can easily be reloaded any time, either online or using your smartphone. It also comes with Apple Pay.
The TD Go Card does charge a fee of $1 per reload, so you may want to keep that activity to a minimum.
But, there’s no capacity to reload with cash even by depositing it into a TD Bank ATM. Funding can be provided only through a TD Bank debit or credit card.
TD Go Card Details
|Minimum age||13 and older, but an adult must be the primary account holder; you must also be a TD Bank customer with either a checking account or a credit card|
|Set up cost||$4.95 card purchase|
|Reload/deposit fees||$1 per reload|
|ATM fees||No fee at more than 1,200 TD Bank ATM locations, otherwise $3 plus any fee charged by the ATM owner|
|Other withdrawal fees||None|
|Reload limits||Up to $500 per day, with a maximum card balance of $2,000; can reload by debit or credit card, or fee-free by direct deposit of payroll or government benefits checks|
|Card limits||Set by parents up to $2,000 per day, but ATM withdrawals are limited to $60 per week|
FamZoo: Best for managing allowances
FamZoo describes itself as a virtual family bank designed to help teach your kids good money habits.
It provides private online family banking in which you act as the banker, and your kids are the customers.
It works based on a prepaid card with each child having separate access to their own accounts. It’s a debit MasterCard that can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
You can even set up allowance payments or chore payments as compensation for assigned work your children do around the home.
The idea is to teach your child the value of work and the concept of earning money. You can even set up penalty fees if assigned chores are not completed.
There are no setup fees. A flat monthly fee – which can be reduced with upfront payments – covers your full participation. The fee covers your entire family of up to four members.
FamZoo Prepaid Card Details
|Minimum age||12 and older can get a card in their own name, under 12 can get a card under their parent’s name|
|Set up cost||None|
|Monthly fee||$5.99, but drops to $4.33 per month if you pay $25.99 in advance for six months, $3.33 per month if you pay $39.99 in advance for 12 months, or $2.50 per month if you pay $59.99 in advance for 24 months; the fee covers a family of four members, with another $2 flat fee (not monthly) for each additional family member|
|Reload/deposit fees||No fee for direct deposit from payroll checks; you can also use bank transfer with no fee charged by FamZoo though your own bank may have a fee of up to $3; $.95 if you transfer funds from your bank using PopMoney; $4 - $6 per reload at a participating retailer using MasterCard rePower, GreenDot @ the Register or GreenDot MoneyPak|
|ATM fees||No fee at 33,000 MoneyPass Network locations; no fee to FamZoo for out-of-network ATM usage, but ATM network owner may charge a fee|
|Other withdrawal fees||N/A|
|Reload limits||Up to 99 reloads per day, not to exceed $2,500 per day – card balance cannot exceed $5,000|
|Card limits||$5,000 per day on purchases; $510 per day maximum ATM withdrawals|
Why Get A Prepaid Card for Your Child?
In today’s economy, it’s become far more common to make everyday purchases using a debit or credit card rather than cash.
This is especially true of online purchases.
A prepaid debit card can give your teenager a taste of financial freedom while learning how to better manage money.
The best part:
While they’re learning, they’ll still be under your supervision.
By helping them to get comfortable with the proper use of a debit card, and the spending limits it imposes, you’ll be preparing them for future financial responsibility.
You can even use a prepaid card for common activities, like paying your kids allowances or paying bonuses or other incentives for a job well done.
That can include good work in school, athletic accomplishment, or special tasks completed at home for the family.
Getting a Prepaid Debit Card for Teenagers
Since a child is a minor, he or she will not be able to have a financial account in their own name until they reach the age of majority in your state.
But until that happens, they can have a debit card issued in their own name but connected to an account you control.
This serves two purposes:
First, it gives you ultimate control over the account.
You can decide how much money to load on the card and even set spending limits.
Second, it enables your child to begin making purchases using “plastic”, which is the most common means of exchange today.
The earlier in life they become comfortable with that process, the better prepared they’ll be for the financial challenges of adulthood.
The reload process on prepaid debit cards varies somewhat from one card to another.
Those issued by banks typically will require you to reload the cards with transfers from a bank account you hold with the institution that issues the debit card.
But there are all kinds of additional options.
One common one is through direct deposit. You can allocate a portion of your own paycheck toward prepaid debit cards for your teenagers.
Or, if your teenager holds a job, he or she can have their paycheck direct deposited onto the card.
Still, other cards enable you to make transfers from external banks or even person-to-person transfers.
What to Look for in a Prepaid Card for Children
Control over the account is a major consideration for parents.
Ability to set card limits
When a teenager or child first gets a prepaid debit card, they’ll need to learn quickly that it isn’t a source of magic money.
That is, you can set spending limits that they’ll be forced to work within.
Any card you select should give you the ability to set those limits, as well as to monitor the activity.
You should receive email or text alerts each time the card is used.
That will show you exactly how your child is spending the money you’ve allocated. You should also have the option to lock or unlock the card, either because the card is lost or stolen, or because your teenager is not using the card responsibly.
You’ll also want to be certain the card has universal application.
It should be eligible for use for online and point-of-sale purchases, as well as for cash withdrawals at ATM machines.
It should also go without saying that the fees need to be reasonable. You certainly don’t want to find yourself paying the equivalent of $10 per month in fees for what amounts to about $100 in spending activity.
To that end, some prepaid debit cards charge a flat fee, while others work with multiple fees.
That may include reload fees, and fees for certain transactions, like cash withdrawals.
- Gives your teenager an opportunity to begin learning financial responsibility.
- That education takes place with you in full control over the account.
- A prepaid debit card gives your child the ability to take part in transactions wherever a money card may be required.
- There’s less concern about theft or the loss of the card than there would be with cash, since a debit card comes with built-in protections.
- A prepaid debit card will give your child access to the benefits of banking, without having final control over a bank account.
- Frequent use of a prepaid debit card in the teen years will have your child fully prepared for finances well in advance of reaching adulthood.
- Prepaid debit cards come with a variety of fees, and some can be prohibitively expensive.
- Your child may not be quite ready for a debit card; the “right age” is different for each child.
- Even if you set spending limits, it’s possible your child can make poor spending decisions within those limits.
If you haven’t gotten a prepaid debit card for your teenager you’re missing out on a major opportunity to teach him or her financial responsibility.
Kids don’t learn about finances in school, so it’s up to parents to teach them. And there’s no better teacher than experience.
You can give them that experience by providing them with their own prepaid debit card.
Consider one of the cards described above and choose one to sign up for today.
It’s the kind of thing that’s best done before they go off to college.