June 10, 2022

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Debit Card

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Can you get a debit card at 13 years old? Find out the best age to get a debit card and how to choose a debit card for kids and teens.

Getting your first debit card is a financial rite of passage.

It's a taste of financial freedom and a sign you're ready to handle money like a real adult. (No more digging around in pockets for loose change and crumpled bills.)

But how old do you have to be to get a debit card? And how do you know if your child is ready? Find your answers below, plus which kid's debit cards are worth it.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Debit Card?

To open a bank account for yourself, you need to be a legal adult - that is, 18 years old. In Alabama and Nebraska, however, you need to be at least 19 years old.[1][2]

But what if you want to open an account for your child? With help from a parent or guardian, the age for getting a debit card can be much lower.

Typically, a parent can open a checking account for teens ages 13 years and older.[3] Your teen will have their own debit card and account. Once the child is of age, the account can convert to an adult account.

If your kid is younger than 13, a prepaid debit card is usually your only option. These cards usually have low or no minimum age requirements. Prepaid debit cards aren't directly linked to a bank account. You must load the card with money before you use it.

What Age is Best to Get a Debit Card?

The best age for a kid to get a debit card really depends on the kid's maturity level. It's important to have a frank discussion about spending and money management with your kids.

In general, age 7 to 13 years old is a great time to introduce your child to a debit card. At this age, most kids can understand the basics of handling money. Of course, you'll have to keep an eye on their spending at first.

Be prepared for some money mistakes and unwise spending in the beginning. It's all part of the learning process. As long as you're there to guide your child in the right direction, there's no need to worry.

5 Signs Your Child Is Ready for a Debit Card

  1. Your kid gets an allowance. If your kid already receives an allowance, a debit card and banking app can make it easier to transfer, save, and spend the money wisely.

  2. Your kid has a job. Instead of cashing every paycheck, your child can keep their money safe in a checking account or prepaid debit card account. This makes it easier to manage money without fussing with cash.

  3. Your child uses your debit card. Tired of your kid always asking for your card? If they've been using your debit card responsibly, it's a good time to get them a card of their own.

  4. Your child goes out independently. If your kid goes to the movies or restaurants with friends, a debit card offers the right amount of freedom. You can still monitor your kid's spending without having to always be there.

  5. Your kid wants to save and spend money. If your child wants to build up some savings, a debit card can help. Many debit cards allow kids to save money in their account, separate from spending money.

What to Look for in a Debit Card

If you're opening an account for your child, here are a few key features to consider when looking for a debit card:

Age Requirement
First, be sure to check the age limit. Most traditional banks require children to be at least 13 years old. But prepaid debit cards and banking apps often have much lower age requirements.

Fees and Pricing
A debit card with no monthly fee is best if you need a simple account to deposit and spend money. Debit cards with a monthly fee can be worth it if they offer extra features that you want, like educational content or investment accounts.

Whichever route you choose, be sure to find out about all the account fees and banking fees. You don't want to be surprised by high fees for ATMs, overdrafts, or card replacements.

Security
Find out how your debit card provider keeps you safe. Features like SSL encryption and two-factor authentication help keep your account secure. Always be sure your debit card is issued by an FDIC-insured bank. This will protect money in your account up to $250,000 in case the bank fails.

Parental Controls
Kids are going to make some mistakes when they're first starting to manage their own money. A debit card that lets you set spending limits and block merchants can give you peace of mind. Not every debit card offers extensive parental controls, so check to see which options you have.

Savings Goals
Some debit cards allow kids and teens to separate spending money from savings. This is a great way to get into the habit of setting financial goals and working toward them.

Educational Content
Most kids don't learn nearly enough about personal finance. Debit cards for kids often offer an educational app with money lessons built in. If your child is still a novice when it comes to understanding money, this is a fantastic tool.

Pros and Cons of a Debit Card

Pros

  • More convenient and more secure than cash. If your kid loses their card, you can lock the card immediately and prevent others from using up the funds. Plus, it's faster and easier to use than cash.

  • Helps kids feel more confident with money. A debit card can help kids become more financially responsible. It gives young people real-life experience with managing money and forming good financial habits.

  • Difficult to overspend. Debit cards prevent you from spending more than you have in your account. It's a good way for kids to learn how to spend responsibly without racking up a lot of debt.

Cons

  • Limited fraud protection. There are few protections in place if your debit card is used without your knowledge. If you don't report a fraudulent charge within 60 days, you might not be able to recover your money.

  • Doesn't build credit. A good credit score comes with tons of benefits, such as lower interest rates on loans and access to better housing. Unlike a credit card, debit cards don't help you build your credit score.

  • Could cause overdraft fees. If your account charges an overdraft fee, you'll have to pay a fee when your balance dips below $0. If you're in a tough spot financially, this could make a bad situation even worse.

Compare Top Debit Cards for Kids

Ready to open a debit card for your child? Check out how these 3 popular debit cards stack up:

Monthly FeeAge LimitLearn More
Chase First Banking$06-17 years oldVisit Site
GoHenry$3.99/mo.6-18 years oldVisit Site
Copper Banking$013+ years oldVisit Site

1. Chase First Banking

Chase First Banking is a free checking account for kids and teens. The account can help your family manage chores, allowance, and savings goals. But there is a small catch: You can only open an account for your child if you're a current Chase checking customer.

Parents can limit where and how much their kids can spend and get account alerts. It's a great way to keep tabs on your kid without constantly looking over their shoulder. The Chase app makes it easy to send money, assign chores, and view your child's spending.

The debit card can be used at more than 16,000 fee-free Chase ATMs and 4,700 branches in the U.S.

2. GoHenry

GoHenry offers a debit card and an app that gamifies financial education. Kids can progress by completing missions, earning experience points, and leveling up. The lessons cover a variety of topics, including saving, investing, and entrepreneurship.

GoHenry also offers features like chores, savings goals, and parental controls. Parents can set broad spending limits for kids. But the parental controls aren't as robust as Chase First Banking's options.

It costs $3.99 per month to get a GoHenry card.[4] This is a per-child fee, so it could add up if you want to open an account for multiple kids. But if you're looking for an app with engaging educational content for kids, it's a solid choice.

Read more: GoHenry Review

3. Copper Banking

Copper Banking offers a free debit card that's great for teens. The banking app feels modern and teaches about topics like saving, investing, and debt. It's a good choice for teens who have a job and need their own account to manage money.

Copper offers early direct deposit, so you can get paid up to two days earlier. Plus, you can withdraw cash at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide with no fees.

The parental controls are a little lacking compared to the other debit cards. Parents can fully monitor spending and get account alerts. But there's no way to set spending limits. Copper is best for more mature kids who don't need too many training wheels on their debit card.

Read more: Copper Review

Bottom Line

The minimum age to get a debit card is younger than you might think. In general, kids need to be at least 13 years old to get a checking account. But prepaid debit cards are open to kids age 6 and sometimes younger.

A debit card is a great way to familiarize your child with saving and spending responsibly. These are important life skills that your kid will keep for life, so it's best to start young.

References

  1. ^ Alabama Legislature. Alabama Code Section 26-1-1 Infants and Incompetents, Retrieved 5/17/2022
  2. ^ Nebraska Legislature. Nebraska Revised Statute 43-2101, Retrieved 5/17/2022
  3. ^ Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Guidance to Encourage Financial Institutions' Youth Savings Programs and Address Related FAQ, Retrieved 5/17/2022
  4. ^ gohenry. Pricing, Retrieved 5/17/2022

Donna Tang is the head of purpose and audience at CreditDonkey, a bank comparison and reviews website. Write to Donna Tang at donna.tang@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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Chase
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Chase Total Checking® - $200 Bonus

Expires 7/20/2022
  • New Chase checking customers enjoy a $200 bonus when you open a Chase Total Checking® account and set up direct deposit
  • Access to 16,000 Chase ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
  • Chase Mobile® app - Manage your accounts, deposit checks, transfer money and more -- all from your device.
  • Open your account online now
  • Available online nationwide except in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. For branch locations, visit locator.chase.com.
  • Chase Overdraft Assist℠: $0 overdraft fee when you overdraw your account $50 or less*

*We won't charge an overdraft fee if you are overdrawn $50 or less at the end of the business day. Chase may pay, for a $34 fee, overdraft transactions at our discretion based on your account history, deposits and transaction amount. If you've enrolled in Debit Card Coverage, everyday debit card purchases like groceries, may be approved at our discretion when you don't have enough money in your account.

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Greenlight Alternatives

Greenlight Alternatives

Check out the top alternatives to Greenlight Debit Card for Kids to help you save money and enjoy similar features as Greenlight.

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