A debit card can be a great way to help teach children about money. When children have responsibility for their very own debit card, it teaches them about budgeting, spending and saving. This helps to prepare them for managing their money in adulthood and helps them take an active role in the digital economy. Children's debit cards aren't any different from the debit card you have in your wallet. They are used in exactly the same way — to make in-store and online purchases and to withdraw cash from ATMs.
How old do you have to be to get a debit card?
Children aged 11 to 17 can get a debit card from most high-street banks. Both parent and child must visit a bank branch to apply for the account in the child's name. In some cases, the parent may need to co-own the account and hold an account at the same bank.
There is also the option of prepaid debit cards available to children from age six. Prepaid debit cards like GoHenry work just like a traditional bank debit card and can be used for in-store and online purchases, and to make ATM cash withdrawals.
When should a child have a debit card?
“Generation Z are the first true digital natives, and they are set to be the
first generation of cashless consumers, too,” says Louise Hill, COO and Co-founder of GoHenry. "If we don't teach kids to use money the way we use money (with debit cards and online payments, as well as coins and notes) we risk bringing up a generation who are at a disadvantage when it comes to money management."
So, what's the perfect debit card age? The ideal age for a child to have their first debit card ultimately depends on when they and the rest of the family are ready. Children typically begin forming money habits before the age of seven, and it is at this age when most children start receiving pocket money. Pocket money offers parents the opportunity to build children's money confidence and encourage good money habits from an early age.
You may decide to give your child a debit card a little later, when they begin going out for social activities without you, taking public transport to school or going into town on their own to shop. Debit cards and prepaid debit cards are a great way of empowering your children to make considered and responsible spending choices.
What are the benefits of a child having a debit card?
It's never too early to teach children good money habits, and a debit card can help them learn how to be financially responsible. The more experience a child gets from managing their own money, the better they will manage their finances as an adult. There are different types of debit cards where a traditional debit card can teach your child about:
- Basics of money management and budgeting
- Spending versus savings
- Tracking spending
- Differences between wants and needs
- Learning from mistakes
GoHenry Prepaid debit cards are slightly different from traditional debit cards and offer even more account benefits. They are not connected to a current account and can be used to teach your children important life lessons about money management and budgeting. They also give you more control over your children's spending habits.
With a prepaid debit card, parents can also:
- Set limits on their child's spending, including where they can spend their money and what they can buy
- Monitor their children's spending
- Set tasks that their children need to complete
- Credit the card with birthday and Christmas money, pocket money and money earned from chores
Most major retailers accept children's debit cards and prepaid debit cards. There's also no overdraft facility, so there's no risk that your child will spend beyond their means.
Related: How do prepaid debit cards work?
How to choose the right debit card for your child
There are a few important features to look for when buying a debit card or prepaid debit card.
- Online shopping: Consider whether you are happy for your child to make purchases online, and if necessary, choose a children's debit card that lets you limit online spending.
- Spending limits: Search for debit cards that allow you to put a cap on your child's daily spending, block specific retailers or set limits for cash withdrawals.
- Debit card fees: Most traditional debit cards don't incur fees; however, it's standard for prepaid debit cards to have a monthly or annual fee.
- Simple transfers: Check that you can make quick and easy transfers to your child's account or card.
- Parental controls: While they give you added peace of mind, they also ensure a safety net to support children in making decisions about their money.
Spending notifications: Find out if you can monitor spending and set up transaction alerts when your child has made a purchase, from where and for how much.
- Mobile wallet compatibility: Check if the account is compatible with mobile wallets such as Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.
- Financial education: Those under 18 can benefit from having a debit card that provides access to financial education resources such as interactive videos and quizzes.
- Saving goals: An important part of learning good money habits is to learn the importance of saving. The more a child can take responsibility for their money, the better they will manage their finances in adulthood.
How to apply for a child/teen debit card
Applying for a current account with a debit card is slightly different from applying for a prepaid debit card.
Related: Prepaid debit card vs bank accounts
Applying for a current account debit card
11 - 15 years old:
If your child is between 11 and 12 years old, most banks will require them to apply in the branch. Some will require them to do this up to the age of 15 years old. Either way, children will need to be accompanied by an adult or legal guardian.
16 - 17 years old:
If they are aged 16 to 17 years old, they can either apply online or visit a branch on their own, without a parent or guardian to set up an account. When applying for a children's current account with a debit card, you'll need to supply the following information:
- Proof of the child's identification, such as a full UK birth certificate or passport
- Proof of the parent's identification
- Proof of the parent's address (or for the child, depending on their age)
Once your child's current account is set up, you and your child may be offered a cash card or a debit card. Your child can only use a cash card to withdraw money from an ATM, while they can use a debit card to make online or in-store purchases. From the age of 13 your child can typically get either a contactless debit card or a cash card.
Related: Cash cards vs debit cards
Applying for a prepaid debit card
Applying for a GoHenry prepaid debit card couldn't be simpler. Simply visit the GoHenry website and click ‘Get Started’ or download the free app. You don't need to provide any payment details, and your children will receive their cards within the next five to seven days. Once the prepaid debit cards have arrived, you can activate your parent account and the cards by going online or by using the app and making a minimum £5 deposit.
A GoHenry prepaid debit card is a great way to give your child the responsibility of looking after their own money. It teaches important money management skills as well as how to stick to a budget and the benefits of saving your pennies.