The differences between cash cards and debit cards

The differences between cash cards and debit cards

Depending on their age and the type of account they have, your child may be offered a cash card or a kids debit card by your bank or building society. Here are the main differences between the cards if you're trying to decide which is best for you and your child.


Related: What age can you get a debit card?


Cash cards and debit cards at a glance


They may look the same, but there is a difference between a cash card and a debit card. In short, a cash card can only be used to make cash withdrawals from your account at an ATM. In contrast, a debit card, also known as a bank card, is a payment card that can be used to withdraw cash at an ATM or when you need to pay directly for items in-store or online.


Related: Difference between ATM card and debit card

What is a cash card? 


A cash card looks like a debit card, but there are key differences:


Pros of a cash card

  • It enables you to withdraw cash at an ATM 24/7
  • You can then pay in cash to keep track of your money and spending
  • You can use your card abroad to withdraw cash


Cons of a cash card

  • You will be unable to pay for goods and services using your card 
  • You can't buy items online with your card
  • You can't set up ApplePay with a cash card


What is a debit card? 


If you have a debit card, it will have Visa, Mastercard, Maestro or Visa Electron logo on the card.


Pros of a debit card

  • Allows you to withdraw cash at an ATM 24/7
  • You can pay for goods and services using just your debit card instead of cash
  • You can pay for goods and services online 
  • You can tap and pay in shops
  • You can set up ApplePay on your phone
  • You can use a banking app alongside your debit card to track your spending, set up saving pots and transfer money
  • You can use the card abroad


Cons of a debit card

  • You need to keep an eye on your available balance, so you don't overspend 
  • You have to take care of your card so someone doesn't steal it and use it to tap and pay
  • You will get charged if you become overdrawn


What's the difference between a cash card and a debit card? 


The key difference between a cash card and a debit card is that a cash card only allows you to withdraw money from an ATM, while a debit card enables you to be in control of a whole host of financial transactions.


How prepaid debit cards work


A prepaid debit card like GoHenry is a debit card where you preload money onto the card in advance. This can be done by transferring money from a bank account or buying a reloadable card from a retailer. Once the money is on the card, you can use it like a regular debit card and reload it as you wish.


Related: How do prepaid cards work?




What are the benefits of a prepaid debit card?


Prepaid debit cards are a good option for people who don't have access to a bank account or who want to control their spending. It's also an excellent option for kids, as they can safely use the card without worrying about overspending. Plus, with GoHenry, the card is linked to a mobile app, where parents can set spending limits for purchases and ATMs, track transactions, and add money to the card.


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


Which is better for kids: cash cards or debit cards? 


Which card you choose depends on your child and what you would like them to learn from using cards. A cash card is a good way for a child to track their spending as they need to know how much is in their account and how much they are taking out.


A debit card teaches more comprehensive financial lessons, including helping children to pay in various ways and track their spending via an app.


Research (CFPB – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) shows that kids start developing values, skills, and attitudes surrounding money in early childhood. So many parents find that giving their children access to a prepaid debit card like GoHenry is a great way to help them learn about money and finances and make that connection between using a bank card and the cash behind that transaction. 


As a parent, this means you can help them build and grow their financial independence and knowledge with a debit card while incorporating safety measures that will give you peace of mind.


Related: Financial literacy for kids


When will the bank allow my child to have a debit card?


A kids bank account can be opened for a child from 11 years old, and children can open a bank account themselves from 16 years old. However, different banks have different policies around debit cards for those under 18s, so check with your bank.


When will the bank allow my child to have a cash card?


Banks usually allow children to have a cash card from 11 when they open a bank account. Though check with your bank when setting up the account.


When can my child get a GoHenry card?


Your child can get a GoHenry prepaid debit card from the age of six. Visit the GoHenry website, click 'Get Started', or download the free app. Your child will receive their card within the next five to seven days. Once the prepaid debit card has arrived, you can activate your parent account and the card by going online or using the app and making a minimum £5 deposit.






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Written by Anita Naik Published May 19, 2023 ● 2 min. read