June 5, 2022

Step Review

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Is Step a legit app? Learn the pros and cons to see if Step is a good card for your teen.

Overall Score

3.7

Savings

2.5

Checking

3.0

Price

5.0

Customer Service

3.0

Minimum Deposit to Open

5.0

Mobile App

3.5

Ease of Use

5.0

Education

2.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • No monthly fee
  • Build credit with Step Card
  • Early direct deposit
  • Doesn't earn interest
  • No in-app educational content
  • Few parental controls

Bottom Line

Simple banking app and debit card for teens

If you haven't started teaching your kids about personal finance, they're probably learning on their own.

So how can you make sure they're picking up good financial habits?

Banking apps like Step are designed to teach teens financial literacy. In this guide, see if the Step Card is right for your teen and how it compares to Greenlight and Copper.

What is Step?

Step is a banking app and secured spending card designed to teach teens financial literacy.

Step itself is a financial tech company, not a bank. But it does offer banking services through Evolve Bank and Trust.

The company was founded in 2018 by CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko. The pair have more than 50 years of combined experience in financial technology. Today, more than 2 million people have joined Step.

AgeNo minimum
Monthly Fee$0
Minimum Deposit$0
Apple App StoreStarStarStarStarStarEmpty Star (4.4)
Google Play StoreStarStarStarStarStarEmpty Star (4.3)

Is Step Banking legit?
Step Banking is a legit banking app popular with Gen Z users. The platform offers banking services through Evolve Bank and Trust, which is a member of the FDIC
. Funds in the account are protected up to $250,000 in case the bank ever defaults.

Step Banking Features

Step Banking offers a convenient mobile app and debit card for teens. Find out how the financial app can help your teen build credit and manage money.

Step Card

The Step Card acts like a hybrid of a debit card and a credit card. The contactless Visa card lets your kid access money in your kid's account, similar to a debit card. Your kid can only spend the amount in the account, so there's no way to overspend.

Unlike a normal debit card, the Step Card builds credit—sort of like a credit card. Each transaction contributes to your kid's credit history. Because there's no interest or monthly payments, it's not as risky as a traditional credit card.

Your kid can also access money on the go with the Step Card. The card lets you withdraw money at 30,000 no-fee ATMs nationwide, but you can't deposit at an ATM. You can only fund an account through the app with a linked bank account, debit card, or direct deposit.[1]

Does the Step Card build credit?
The Step Card is a secured spending card that builds credit just like a credit card. Unlike a credit card, there are no monthly payments or interest to worry about. You can only spend the amount that is in your linked account.

Step Mobile App

With the Step mobile app, adding money to the account is easy. Parents can link a bank account or debit card to send money instantly or set up recurring allowances.

The app also offers peer-to-peer payments, so kids can easily send or receive money from their friends and family.

Direct deposit lets your kid receive paychecks from their first job. Setting up direct deposit through Step can even help your teen get paid up to 2 days early.

In addition to spending and receiving money, the Step app offers a savings goal feature. Your kid set up specific goals to save toward. Watching the progress bar fill up can be a satisfying way to encourage your kid to save.

Step Parental Controls

With any financial app geared toward kids, some form of parental controls are a must. With Step, both parents and kids get access to the account through their own separate apps.

Parents can view their kids' spending habits, transactions, and balances. If your kid is low on money, you'll know through the app.

Step doesn't offer robust parental controls like some other apps do. But it still allows parents to monitor their kid's account. You can also set up alerts to stay up-to-date on what your kid is doing with their money.

Step Fees

Step Banking is meant to make banking easy and painless for teens. So, it has zero fees. There are no monthly fees, overdraft fees, ATM fees, or interest rates to pay.[1]

There's also no minimum deposit required, which makes getting started even easier.

How does Step make money?
Step doesn't make money by collecting fees from customers. It earns money from the interchange fee charged by the credit card network. Each time a customer uses the card, the credit card network collects a fee from the seller. Step gets a percentage of that fee.

Step Banking Pros and Cons

Not sure if Step is right for your kid? Review these pros and cons below for the quick takeaway.

Pros

  • Completely free, no hidden fees
  • Helps build credit from young age
  • No interest rates, monthly payments, or risk of overspending
  • Early direct deposit
  • Includes separate app for parental monitoring
  • Includes ATM access
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Few parental control options
  • ATM Withdrawal limits of $250 in a day
  • No in-app educational content
  • Few features compared to competitors
  • No investment account
  • Balances don't earn interest

How to Open a Step Account

There's no minimum age limit to join Step. Anyone under 18 can join with a parent or guardian to sponsor the account.

Opening a Step account is simple. Here's how to get started:

  1. Go to the Step website and Get Step.
  2. Download the Step app.
  3. Create an account and enter your personal details.
  4. Get your Step card in the mail within 14-21 business days or sooner.
  5. Activate your card.

Be prepared to provide information like your full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and address for the application.

Step won't perform a credit check when you open an account. But because Step offers an FDIC-insured banking, it needs this info to check your identity.

How It Compares

Is Step Banking or Greenlight better? Find out how Step compares to other popular competitors.

Step Banking vs. Greenlight

Greenlight is a paid banking app and debit card that offers way more helpful features than most free accounts. It can help your kid spend, save, invest, earn interest, and a lot more.

If you're looking for a product that teaches all the personal finance fundamentals, Greenlight is a great place to start. There are 3 different pricing plans to choose from, and the monthly fee covers up to 5 kids:[2]

  • Greenlight ($4.99/mo.): Includes debit card, basic banking, educational content, high-interest savings, and parental controls.

  • Greenlight + Invest ($7.98/mo.): Adds an investing platform and research tools for kids and parents.

  • Greenlight Max ($9.98/mo.): Adds higher savings interest rate, cash back on purchases, identity theft protection, and more.

Greenlight is a better choice if you want your kid to get a lot of experience with important personal finance topics. But you have to pay a monthly fee. Step is a simpler, free app with fewer features and fewer educational tools.

Step Banking vs. Copper Banking

Copper Banking and Step are two very similar apps. Both offer a free debit card for teens, early direct deposit, and a slick app to appeal to teens. Copper is only open to teens age 13 or older. But it offers a lot more functionality compared to Step.

Copper incentivizes kids to learn about personal finance by offering rewards for completing short quizzes and educational videos. Teens are encouraged to set goals, budget, and save money on the app. It makes learning about money fun and breezy.

It also has a larger network of free ATMs. Your teen can withdraw cash at more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs for free. Copper does not charge any fees, so it's a hassle-free way to help teens learn about money.

Step Banking vs. Chase First Banking

Chase First Banking is another free account that offers a free checking account and debit card for kids and teens. If you're an adult who already has a Chase checking account, you're eligible to open an account for your kid.

The account is open to kids between 6 and 17 years old. And it comes with a lot of extra features you won't find with Step.

The app supports a chores list, allowances, and robust spending controls. You can assign dollar amounts to chores for your kid to earn. You'll also be able to set limits on how much your kid can spend and where they spend it.

Bottom Line

Step is a good free banking app for kids and teens. The app isn't as full-featured as a lot of its competitors. But it's a good first step toward financial literacy.

The account lacks educational tools and robust parental controls. But overall, it can be a convenient way for your kid to spend and receive money, and manage their first paychecks.

Want to learn more about other banking apps for kids? Check out these popular alternatives:

References

  1. ^ "Your Step Visa Card FAQs": Step, 2022.
  2. ^ Greenlight. Plans, Retrieved 5/6/2022
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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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