Getting my kids their own debit cards

When Jase was five we began giving him a small allowance to teach him about money. In the beginning, I would put cash in his wallet. When he went to store, he paid for his items. We did the same for Lexie when she turned five. (For those of you who don’t know, the kids are now 12 and 9.)

Then in 2015, the kids received iPads for Christmas and with that came online purchases for apps and games. As online purchases became a norm and with Jase making money doing yard work, it became easier to keep track of their money on a spreadsheet.

As time passed, we ended up just keeping track of their money virtually and stopped putting cash in their wallets. It was easier with online purchases or for the times when we were out at the store and they didn’t have their money with them.

But this meant that I had to know how much they had. I would have to remember to check the spreadsheet before we left or before the kids bought anything online. The information was tied to this one file and the kids didn’t have access to it. And with us making purchases for them and just keeping a running tab, we worried they weren’t effectively learning money management.

We decided to look into other ways to handle their money or more importantly, put them back in charge of their money. We looked at apps, but they didn’t improve what we were already doing. My husband’s office uses a debit card through Wal-mart, but it charges a fee every time you add money which we would be doing weekly for their allowance. We were going to look into a PayPal account but while it may do what we want, it didn’t have the ease of access for us to oversee their accounts.

A quick internet search led us to the answer to our problem. We found three programs designed to let kids or teens have their own debit card with proper parental monitoring.

Current offers a Visa card for teens. It allows teens to put money into three different wallets – savings, giving and spending. Parents can set up allowances and chore charts and have the option to set spending limits and block purchases from certain categories.

The main negative in our case was that your child had to be 13 to have a card.

Price: $3/month for one kid, $4/month for two kids (each additional kid is an additional $1/month) – billed upfront yearly.

Greenlight offers a Mastercard for teens. While similar to Current, it does not offer payment for chores, and there is no way to divide money into savings, giving and spending categories. The card also cannot be used at ATMs or to get cash backs on purchases.

Price: $4.99/month per family.

FamZoo also offers a Mastercard. With this program you can do a virtual tracking of money or you can opt to get a debt card attached to your child’s account. If you opt for a debt card for anyone under 13, the card will be in your name, but after they turn 13, the debit card can be in the teen’s name. You can divide the money into savings, spending and giving but each one will be on a different card. You can also set up allowance and chores.

Price: $5.99/month for up to 4 cards. There is a discount if you pre-pay making the amount as low as $2.50/month.

After weighing the pros and cons of each card and reading reviews for each program, we decided to go with FamZoo. We signed up for three cards – one for each child and then one for me (aka The Bank). My card holds the money I want to be able to transfer to their cards.

We loaded the app on Jase’s phone and Lexie’s iPad. They have their own log ins and can only see their own information. On my app, I see all accounts and can review their purchases.

They have tried them out at the store with no problems, and we linked their cards to their iTunes and Xbox Live accounts.

The only negative we have had so far is that I put money on Lexie’s card for the school book fair, but they couldn’t process her payment. They only take credit cards and hers is a debit card. (Actually, it brought up a screen where the librarian could call and process the payment, but the librarian wasn’t willing to do that for fear it would take too long.) It worked out okay as I had my credit card with me. Seconds after making the transaction, I moved the money out of Lexie’s account and back into my FamZoo account. Problem solved.

I think we are going to like the FamZoo cards, and I definitely think it will help the kids be more aware of their money and where they are spending it. It will put the money management back in their control instead of mine.


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