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3 Great Debit Cards For Teens: A Student’s Opinion

Reviewed by Candace Bowers
Managing Editor
Finances
Written by Fiza Usman
Updated: July 10, 2024
14 min read
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Pathward®.

In order to encourage good financial education at an early age, parents are encouraged to introduce debit card usage to kids. We cover free debit cards for teens to make it easier for them to decide which card is most helpful. A debit card is one of the best ways to show how to properly deal with money without having to deal with the consequences of debt.

While a debit card offers greater leniency, it can still be a little nerve-wracking to manage responsibly. To avoid creating greater problems in the long run, one should understand how to effectively use a debit card. This includes knowing which is the best debit card for you, bearing in mind the additional fees that vary among banks.

Regardless of whether you are a parent looking to teach your teenager financial responsibility or a teenager eager to learn how to manage your own money, a teen debit card can be an excellent tool to help one gain financial independence while remaining safe in case anything were to go haywire.

This article will explore debit cards for teens by highlighting the essential features to consider, as well as tips for responsible usage.

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The Need for Teen Debit Cards

Financial literacy is a vital skill that is critical for success in adult years, so adopting a strong foundation is crucial during teenage years. By providing your teen with a debit card, you grant the unique opportunity of hands-on experience in managing their finances, making responsible spending decisions, and tracking their expenses.

A term that is used frequently is financial literacy, but what does it mean specifically? The term encompasses having a wide range of knowledge and skills, including effective budgeting, saving, investing, and making informed financial decisions. The earlier you expose your teenager to the world of debit cards, the faster you can equip them with practical tools that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Firsthand experience with using a debit card allows teens to learn about money management in a controlled environment. The importance of money often clicks faster with practice than any other method. Physical access to a debit card gives them the benefit of seeing the immediate impact of their spending decisions, as the funds are deducted directly from their account. This real-time feedback helps them develop a sense of responsibility and accountability for their financial choices.

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Review of Great Debit Cards for Teens

Generally, one is only allowed to create a checking account in their name if they are over the age of 18. Anyone over the age of 13 may open a debit card with the help of an adult, usually parents or other family members of the kind.

Given these restrictions, you have to be mindful of which debit card will be best suited for you and your family. All things considered, it is clear that the decision to choose a debit card should not be overlooked. To further our review, let's explore three top contenders in the market.

bold.org app

Bold.org’s Bold Visa® Debit Card

Bold.org is a platform that is committed to helping students fight student debt. Bold.org has now created its own student debit card in affiliation with Visa. One awesome aspect of the Bold Debit Card is that it allows students to keep their, scholarships and debit card information in one place.

Unique to the Bold Debit Card is its ability to turn everyday purchases into points that can be directly redeemed towards student loan payments, offering a practical pathway to debt freedom with every transaction. 

With the Bold Debit Card, students earn 1 Bold Point for every $2 spent across any category, turning routine expenses like groceries, coffee, or fashion into valuable points.*

Furthermore, the Bold.org platform amplifies these rewards with opportunities to boost points through exclusive deals, partnerships, and targeted bonus opportunities, doubling down on the benefits.

For those not focused on student loans, Bold Points* can also be redeemed for cashback.

Get Started with the Bold Debit Card

Earn rewards that help pay for school.* Apply for the Bold Debit Card today!

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There are no excessive expenses such as a monthly fee or parent-paid interest, making it a popular choice among parents. The FDIC provides security for your deposits at banks and savings institutions that are FDIC-insured, offering coverage up to $250,000 for each depositor.** The FDIC provides security for your deposits at banks and savings institutions that are FDIC-insured, offering coverage up to $250,000 for each depositor, and applies to all types of account ownership.

Although FDIC insurance covers deposits in all types of accounts at FDIC-insured banks,  it does not cover non-deposit investment products, even those offered by FDIC-insured banks. For more information about coverage and limitations, see the FDIC website.

With this debit card, students can prepare ahead for collegiate expenses while simultaneously obtaining an expansive education. Despite being a new advancement, the Bold Debit Card, in my opinion, is great due to its overall value for both parents and teens.

greenlight debit card

Greenlight Debit Card

Greenlight debit card stands out for teens due to its comprehensive parental controls, empowering parents to set spending limits, allocate funds, and manage where the card can be used. Parents have complete control over their child's spending. Parents can set spending limits, allocate funds for specific purposes (like allowances or savings), and even choose where the card can be used (online, in-store, etc.).

In fact, parents receive real-time notifications of their child's spending activities, allowing for immediate oversight and teaching moments. Additionally, there is a family app that allows parents and children to interact regarding financial matters, fostering communication and understanding about money.

It also doubles as an educational tool, offering resources that teach children about budgeting, savings goals, and basic financial concepts. Security features, including instant card locking, ensure safety. The transparency between the parent account and the child's account is unbeatable.

Overall, Greenlight offers a balanced blend of financial education and parental oversight, making it a standout choice for kids learning about money management.

chase debit card

Chase Total Checking

The Chase Total Checking debit card is highly regarded for its widespread accessibility and user-friendly features. Given its impact and recognition globally, debit card holders can be rest assured that they will be able to access their personal accounts from an abundance of areas. It offers access to a large network of ATMs, making cash withdrawals convenient without atm fees.

Its mobile app and online banking platform enable easy account management, bill payments, remote check deposits, and fund transfers. Similarly, with physical branches available in many locations, customers can also access in-person assistance when needed.

Although there's a monthly service fee, it can be waived by meeting specific criteria, such as maintaining a minimum balance or setting up a direct deposit. Chase also occasionally provides sign-up bonuses, and its responsive customer service further enhances the banking experience.

Ultimately, choosing the right debit card for your teen requires careful consideration of their spending habits, your preferences as a parent, and the features offered by each card. By weighing the pros and cons of every card you become acquainted with, you can make an informed decision that best suits your teen's financial needs.

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The Importance of Financial Literacy for Teens

Financial literacy moves beyond the basics of merely using a debit card; it's about understanding the broader concepts of personal finance that are present in other important decisions. A debit card, even if it is a prepaid debit card, inevitably opens the door to discussions about budgeting, saving for the future, and setting financial goals. These conversations can serve as the groundwork for a lifetime of financial success.

Moreover, financial literacy motivates teens to continue to make informed decisions about their money. It shows the major aspects of participating in a consumer world by evaluating the costs and benefits of every purchase and service, even such as credit cards, loans, and investments.

With this knowledge, they can avoid falling into debt traps and instead make choices that align with their long-term financial goals later in life when the repercussions are much more dire.

Furthermore, financial literacy equips teenagers with the skills to navigate the already complex financial landscape. In today's digital age, where growing reliance is on online shopping and mobile banking, the protection of financial information to detect potential scams is serious.

The debit card will help the initial understanding of how to maneuver around online security measures to develop good habits to safeguard their financial well-being.

teen debit cards

Safety and Convenience of Debit Cards for Teens

Generally, parents rely on cash to provide weekly or monthly allowances to teach their teens about money. While cash is certainly a step in the right direction, it doesn't accurately reflect future financial experiences. At some point, everyone has to get a debit or credit card to deal with larger amounts of funds and obtain a positive credit history.

Additionally, cash comes with its own set of risks, often leading to loss or theft. It becomes too easy for someone to take all your earnings, with no chance of getting it back. Debit cards offer a safer alternative, as they have enhanced security features with the inclusion of PIN numbers and control over freezing or blocking cards instantly.

While a big concern, safety is not the only advantage of using a debit card. Convenience is another significant factor. In today's evolving world, where things are becoming more technologically advanced, debit cards provide a hassle-free way for teens to make purchases.

Whatever the purchase may be, a debit card allows them to complete transactions swiftly and efficiently. It eliminates the stress of transporting bunches of cash at once. Since the money is not borrowed like a credit card and directly comes from the bank account, they won't have to worry about how to pay interest.

Another plus is that debit cards provide the convenience of making online purchases, which is essential in an increasingly digital world. As more retail brands rely on online databases to house their shops and reach a larger consumer base, consumers are relying on a physical debit card to buy.

At the push of a few buttons, teens can order books, gadgets, or even groceries without leaving the comfort of their homes. This saves time and exposes them to the benefits and challenges of e-commerce, preparing them for the future of retail.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Debit Card? | Bold.org
Find out how old you have to be to get a debit card and what you need to know to get started with your first bank account.

Features to Look for in a Teen Debit Card

Now that the importance of a debit card is established, deciding which one to use can honestly be the hardest step. Choosing the right debit card for your teenager is almost the hardest part of getting a debit card, as it needs to be tailored to fit your teenager's needs. While there are many options available, it's essential to consider certain features that can make a significant difference in their banking experience.

Spending Limits and Parental Controls

One of the most important features to assess when comparing debit cards is their spending limit. In order to set realistic boundaries, you want to distinguish which ones are actually tailored to your teen's needs. This element keeps within a reasonable budget and helps establish responsible financial habits. When you set spending limits, you don't have to compromise their sense of financial independence by maintaining some control over their spending.

In a similar realm to spending limits, parental controls on these debit cards for kids are another crucial aspect to consider. Keep in mind that your kids probably don't have a lot of experience with this much financial freedom, which is why you need to be vigilant about their utilization.

Look for cards that offer real-time transaction notifications, allowing you to stay informed about your teen's spending habits. Some cards even provide the ability to block certain merchants or categories, offering an added layer of control and supervision.

With these features in place, you can guide your teen toward making smart financial decisions while giving them the freedom to manage their own money.

Fees and Charges to Avoid

Like any other financial product, understanding additional aspects, such as overdraft fees and charges associated with the purchase, is important. Regardless of how straightforward something may seem, there are always additional components that can change one's entire perception.

This same ideology applies to teen debit cards as well. Without proper research, you might miss out on crucial factors that would put your teenager in a harder position. Avoid cards that charge unnecessary fees for activities such as ATM withdrawals, declined transactions, or even inactivity.

Instead, opt for cards that have lower rates applied to loading and reloading options, as well as low or no monthly maintenance fees. Every penny saved against these fees can be better spent towards your teen's financial growth. Picking a card that embodies favorable fee structures will put your teen's money much further.

debit cards for teenagers

Ease of Use and Accessibility

As the world evolves towards a digital day and age, teenagers should have a debit card that complements their lifestyle. Among the diverse array of debit cards for kids, the most popular are those that give easy access to users.

It is no surprise that all teenagers appreciate user-friendly interfaces that make managing their finances a breeze. Find debit cards that offer intuitive mobile apps or online platforms to track purchases. These tools can be life-changing in allowing your teen to know their limits, set savings goals, and receive notifications about their account activity.

Without this bonus feature, teens could underestimate their spending from their checking account or go above what is left in the bank account. These apps encourage transparency that will be beneficial for any debit card holder.

Furthermore, consider how accessible ATMS are without having to pay high fees. A vast ATM network ensures that your teen can withdraw cash conveniently in any emergency, regardless of where they are.

Make sure not to disregard these critical features when choosing a teen debit card. Even the smallest detail can empower your teenager to develop healthy financial habits and gain valuable experience in managing their money. Remember, the right card will make a big difference in your child's future financial literacy.

Tips for Teaching Teens to Use Debit Cards Responsibly

Once the debit card is acquired, the most important becomes how to use debit cards responsibly. Chances are that teenagers will make some mistakes along the way, so implement these strategies to ensure that problems are resolved quickly.

Even though debit cards can be freeing and convenient for managing money, you must instill good habits early on. Here are some tips to help you guide your teen toward responsible debit card usage:

Setting Spending Limits

One of the best ways to create a good groundwork and promote responsible usage is by setting spending limits on your teen's debit card. Teach your teenager to not only create a budget but also adhere to it. This will teach them both how to prioritize expenses and the value of saving for long-term goals.

It will show them how valuable money is and why it should be spent responsibly. By instilling the basics of healthy financial habits, you are setting them up for immense success before even reaching adulthood.

Monitoring Transactions Regularly

Regularly reviewing your teen's transactions is crucial for identifying any suspicious or unauthorized activities and unreasonable spending. Take advantage of the transaction notifications offered by most debit cards to stay on top of their spending. By being on top of these purchases, you can guide them towards smarter financial choices early on so that the same mistakes don't become patterns.

Make it a routine to sit down with your teen on a regular basis to review their transactions together. This not only helps you keep track of their spending but also provides an opportunity for valuable discussions about money management.

Inquire about purchases and encourage them to reflect on the reasoning behind them to help them distinguish between necessary and wants. In these frequent conversations, you can truly reorient their mindset when it comes to spending.

Discussing the Consequences of Overspending

Overspending is a common pitfall for teens and adults alike, especially when it's the first time they have started to use their own money. Instead of becoming angry, engage in open and honest conversations with your teen about the consequences of overspending, such as debt and financial stress.

Let them see the consequences of their actions to encourage better spending habits in the future. By explaining the long-term impact of impulsive shopping, you can encourage your teen to think critically about their purchases and make more mindful spending decisions.

If it is too risky to trust your teen with a debit card, it might be worthwhile to look into prepaid debit cards as they provide a similar sense of freedom with financial consequences. Unlike a regular debit card, there is no banking account, so it's like a universal gift card that can be used almost anywhere. You can add as much money to it as you can to guide them through money management.

You can even share personal stories or real-life examples of individuals who have faced financial difficulties due to overspending. Discuss the stress and burden that comes with accumulating debt and how it can limit their future opportunities. By painting a realistic picture of the consequences, you can help your teen develop a sense of financial responsibility and self-control.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Debit Cards for Teens

Can a debit card be used internationally?

Yes, debit cards can typically be used internationally at ATMs and merchants that accept major card networks like Visa or Mastercard. They offer convenience for travelers by allowing access to funds in local currency and facilitating purchases. However, fees such as foreign transaction fees or currency conversion charges may apply, so it's advisable to check with your bank regarding their international usage policies and any associated costs before traveling.

Can you use a debit card for anything?

They can be used to make purchases at stores, do online shopping, make bill payments, and withdraw cash from ATMs. However, there might be certain limitations or restrictions based on the card issuer or the available funds in the linked bank account. Some transactions, like renting a car or booking certain accommodations, may require a credit card due to security holds or specific policies. Always check with the merchant or service provider if you're unsure about using a debit card for a particular transaction.

When should I get a Bold debit card?

Whenever you are ready to learn about how to adequately handle money and experience a sense of financial independence, the Bold debit card would be a great step in the right direction. It caters to those attending college or high school, and it can help prepare you for everything you should know while saving you time and money.

Interested in obtaining your first Bold Debit Card or learn more about financial security? Look no further, as our Bold Scholarship Blog features all the important information you need to know.

No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with Bold.org, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article.

Bold.org Visa® Debit Card is a demand deposit account provided by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC. Bold.org Visa Debit Card is issued by Pathward, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa U.S.A. Inc. All other trademarks and service marks belong to their respective owners. Register your Card for FDIC insurance eligibility and other protections.

*This product or service is independent of Pathward® and Visa and is neither endorsed nor sponsored by Pathward® or Visa.

**Funds are FDIC insured, subject to applicable limitations and restrictions, once Pathward receives the funds deposited to your account.

†The features associated with the Bold Debit Card discussed in this blog post are provided by Bold.org and are not affiliated with our Bank partners, Pathward®, or Visa.

Fiza Usman
Content Writer

About Fiza

Fiza is a dedicated writer and researcher with expertise in internships, scholarships, career opportunities, and financial aid. Her skills enable her to craft engaging and insightful content that guides students through the complex processes of applying for financial aid and pursuing career opportunities.

She graduated from Boston College, majoring in Applied Psychology and Human Development and Computer Science.

Experience

Fiza has experience in writing blog posts, SEO content, and creative storytelling. On her personal blog, she shares engaging narratives through personal anecdotes. Her international experiences have given her a global perspective, enabling her to connect with a diverse audience. Fiza is committed to making a meaningful impact through her writing, always considering the perspectives and experiences of others.

Since joining the Bold.org team in 2022, Fiza has channeled her passion for guiding students through pivotal stages of their academic journeys. She understands the challenges associated with college life and is dedicated to helping students adjust to their degree programs and manage their finances. Motivated by her own experiences, Fiza is passionate about empowering students by providing guidance and support that she wished she had during her undergraduate years.

Quote from Fiza

“To educate is to empower.”

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