Prepaid debit card vs bank account: what's the difference

Prepaid debit card vs bank account: what's the difference

A prepaid debit card, unlike a traditional debit card, is not tied to a bank account. When you use a prepaid debit card, you are spending money already loaded onto the card. Some prepaid kids' debit cards, like GoHenry, come with lots of extra features for parents and kids. Keep on reading to learn the key differences between a prepaid debit card and a bank account.


Related: What age can you get a debit card? 


What is a prepaid debit card?

A prepaid debit card is an excellent alternative to carrying cash around in a wallet or purse. It’s also perfect for anyone who doesn't have a traditional bank account but wants to participate in the digital economy. A prepaid debit card can be used online, at ATMs and in stores.


Prepaid debit cards bring together the same features and functions as ordinary debit cards but with greater peace of mind, as there’s no chance of spending more money than what’s been loaded onto the card. They're also great for kids who are starting to learn about financial education, helping to instil good money habits from an early age.

How does a prepaid debit card work?

Prepaid debit cards need to be loaded with funds before you can start to spend with them. Once money has been added, you can only spend up to the amount available. This means that you can't run into debt as you might with a credit card or overdraft. You don't need to connect your prepaid debit card to a bank account in order to use it, and with GoHenry, you and your child can manage the money on the card through your own app.


Related: How do prepaid cards work

How can I get a prepaid debit card?

The easiest way to get a prepaid debit card for your child is by using GoHenry. To sign up, simply download the GoHenry app or get started here — it only takes a few minutes to apply.


You’ll receive the card by post within a week. All you have to do then is make a minimum deposit of £5 to activate the card. Once active, you’ll have access to all the special features that come with it, including (but not limited to):

  • Regular pocket money payments
  • Set up paid tasks
  • Instant money transfers
  • Spending notifications
  • Block & unblock the card
  • Set spending controls
  • Apple Pay
  • In-app Money Missions

Your child will even have access to contactless payments, though this function will only become active after the first chip and pin payment has gone through.

What age can kids get a prepaid debit card?

Children as young as six can get a GoHenry prepaid debit card. GoHenry's Youth Economy Report 2022 found that over 70% of young people in the UK and US now say that earning their own money is important, so now is a great time to think about setting your child up with a prepaid card if you haven't already.


Related: Should you get a prepaid debit card for your kids?



What age can kids get a bank account?

Most banks require children to be at least 11 years old to open an account, but age requirements can go up to the age of 16. Children can generally open a bank account themselves as long as they have an adult present. Some banks will let kids over the age of 16 open an account independently.


Related: Kids bank account guide

Are prepaid debit cards better than bank accounts?

One of the biggest benefits of prepaid debit cards is that they come with parental controls. With prepaid cards like GoHenry, parents can have as much control as they want over their kids' accounts. They can help their kids set up savings goals, set spending limits and choose which retailers their kids can or can't spend money. There are usually very limited parental controls on children’s bank accounts.

How to choose a prepaid debit card?

Prepaid debit cards are great tools for parents and kids together when it comes to learning about budgeting, financial responsibility and money management. 


A GoHenry prepaid debit card comes with the following features:

  • A personalised debit card with your child's name and a design of their/your choosing
  • A separate mobile app for parents and children
  • Parent accounts that let you manage your child's account and see their transaction history
  • The ability to set spending rules to limit when and where your child can spend their money
  • Free cash withdrawal at any ATM that accepts Visa
  • Access to in-app Money Missions to accelerate your child’s financial education
  • The ability to set savings goals for your child, which help them learn about budgeting and saving for their future
  • Regular pocket money payments made from your parent account
  • The option to set tasks for your children, which are paid through the app when they’re marked complete
  • Real-time spending notifications whenever your child uses their card
  • Apple Pay (available to ages 13+)



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Written by GoHenry Published Mar 30, 2022 ● 5 min read