Should you get a prepaid card for your kids? (pros + cons)

Should you get a prepaid card for your kids? (pros + cons)

Want to give your kids a taste of financial independence, but wary of handing over a full-fledged credit or debit card? A prepaid kids debit card may be the answer. It gives you greater control over your children’s spending with less risk.


But before you make the jump, you’ll want to explore the pros and cons. Keep reading for a rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of kids’ prepaid debit cards, how they work, and how to choose the right card for your child. 


Related: What age can you get a debit card?




How do prepaid debit cards for kids work?

Prepaid debit cards for kids work like regular debit cards except they’re not linked to the funds in a bank account. Instead, you pre-load them with money. So your kids can only spend up to the amount available on their card. 


Like a traditional bank debit card, kids can use a prepaid card to make purchases online or in-store. And withdraw cash from ATMs. But unlike a traditional debit card, you can get a prepaid card for kids as young as six.


What’s more, they typically come with features designed to teach kids about managing their money. Plus, parental controls, card protection, and ways to monitor your child’s spending, 

What types of prepaid cards for kids are there?

There are several different types of prepaid cards for kids available in the USA:


  • GoHenry prepaid debit card 

  • Greenlight debit card for kids

  • BusyKid Visa prepaid spend debit card

  • FamZoo prepaid Mastercard

  • PayPal prepaid Mastercard

  • NetSpend Visa prepaid card

  • Bluebird American Express prepaid debit account

  • Serve American Express prepaid debit account.


Related: Different types of debit cards


What are the advantages of prepaid cards for kids?

A prepaid debit card is a great way to teach your kids about money and prepare them for the digital economy. Here are a few of the advantages:



A prepaid debit card can give your child a sense of financial independence. They can learn to manage their money without relying solely on you.  


Widely accepted

Your child can use their card to make purchases wherever a debit card is accepted. 


Easy to get 

As many prepaid cards don’t require credit checks they’re easy to get. You can usually sign up for an account online and add your child as a user. Then load money onto the card from your own bank account. 

No risk of debt

Since prepaid cards aren’t linked to bank accounts there are no overdraft fees. And as your child can only spend up to the amount loaded onto the card, there’s a much lower risk of falling into a negative balance.

Financial education

Prepaid debit cards can be a great tool to teach children about money management and budgeting. They’ll learn how to save, spend and track their expenses. 


Some cards, like GoHenry, come with in-app financial education tools to boost your child’s financial literacy too. 


Parental controls

Parents can control how much money their kids spend by setting monthly or daily limits. This helps prevent overspending and encourages responsible spending habits. 


Some prepaid cards (like GoHenry and Greenlight) alert parents in real-time every time their child makes a purchase. You’ll also get notified if the card is declined.  (Read more about our parental controls)



Prepaid debit cards can be safer than carrying cash as they’re easily replaced if lost or stolen. You can usually block the card in your parent app and unblock it if it’s found again.


Prepaid cards also provide a record of transactions. Which is useful to help track expenses and monitor potential fraud. 


Pay in allowance and tie to chores

You can set up a direct transfer to pay in your child’s allowance on a regular basis. Plus, some cards let you link an allowance to paid chores or tasks. 

Set up direct deposits

Some cards allow you to set up a direct deposit. So kids or teens with jobs can get their paychecks straight to their prepaid card accounts. 


Friends and family can give directly to the card

Instead of giving cash or a gift card, friends and family can give money directly to some prepaid cards. 






What are the disadvantages of prepaid cards for kids?

There are some drawbacks to prepaid cards for kids. Such as: 


You may have to pay to get a card or activate one. There’s often a monthly maintenance fee too. Some cards may charge for making deposits and using ATMs outside their network.

International use 

Unlike GoHenry, some cards won’t work outside the USA or charge a fee for use abroad. 

Amount limits

Some prepaid card issuers restrict how much you can withdraw, reload or spend in a given period, such as a day or month.

No credit history

Prepaid cards won’t help your child or teen build a credit history. Transactions aren’t reported to the credit bureaus. 

How to choose a prepaid card for kids

You’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided a prepaid card is right for your child. Now you need to choose one. Depending on the needs of your child, what you want from a kids’ prepaid card may differ from what another parent wants. But here are a few things to consider:

  • Mobile app — Prepaid cards for kids typically come with an app. One for the child and a companion app for the parent. Check which extra features come with the app. Will you want to pay in your child’s allowance regularly? Do you want relatives and friends to be able to transfer money to your child’s card?

  • Look for parental controls — Some prepaid cards come with parental controls you can use to set spending limits, block certain merchants and monitor activity through the app.

  • Check where the card is accepted— Make sure the card is accepted everywhere your child may want to use it. If you vacation overseas regularly you may want a card that works internationally. 

  • Check the card’s security features — Look for a prepaid card you can freeze if it’s stolen or lost and replace easily. Make sure it’s FDIC-insured, too, for peace of mind.

  • Check the fees — Watch out for fees for activation, monthly maintenance ATM withdrawal and transactions. Most prepaid cards charge fees, but some offer you more features for your money. Like tools to help with your child’s financial education. 

  • Money management features — Some prepaid debit cards offer great features to help teach your kids how to manage their money. Look out for ones that allow you to set savings goals. Or have chore trackers you can link to your child’s allowance. 


How to get a prepaid card for kids

Applying for a prepaid card for kids is usually straightforward. You either download the app and apply from there or apply online. Typically, you’ll be asked for your child’s name and birth date and your own name and date of birth. You’ll also need to supply a mailing address.


When the card arrives, you activate it online or via the app. Some card issuers require a deposit to activate your child’s card. 


A GoHenry debit card is available for kids aged six and up. It’s FDIC-insured and can be used anywhere that accepts debit card payments. Including overseas. 


Through the parent app, you can pay in money instantly, set up regular transfers (like your child’s allowance) and set spending limits. Plus, you get notified the second they spend. 


What’s more, our fun, in-app Money Missions teach kids how to be financial wizards. Through age-appropriate, bite-sized lessons they’ll learn everything from budgeting and saving to investing in stocks and shares and more.

Written by Charlotte Peacock Published Jun 19, 2023 ● 8 min. read