Cards vs. Cash: What Is the Safest Option For Your Child?

Cards vs. Cash: What Is the Safest Option For Your Child?

As society becomes more cashless, it can get tricky for kids who are starting to go out with friends on their own, making their own purchases, or who have to pay for public transportation. Rather than carrying around a wad of cash, having a card in their pocket can serve as a safe payment option. The question is are they ready to use debit or credit cards?


Here, we examine each payment method to help you decide the safest option for your kid's wallet.

Cash vs. Cards

Letting your kids walk around with too much cash can be risky — it could even make them easy targets. There may also be times when kids run short on cash, such as if they go on a school trip or an outing with friends. Leaving you on calls (or driving to meet them,) to get more cash to them. 


Having a debit or credit card would give them purchasing power or money access as needed, so you have peace of mind knowing they won't be left stranded. And if the card is lost or stolen, their account can be frozen while the card is replaced.

How does a debit card for kids work?

There are a few different types of children's debit cards, from prepaid cards for kids to reloadable debit card for kids. Some are tied to the child's own bank account, while others are controlled by the parent.


No matter the type, the main distinction of a debit card is that there is a source of funds that it draws from.


Key benefit: Debit cards are a great way to teach money management without the risk of overspending or getting into debt. 


Main drawback: Using debit cards does not help kids build credit, something that will become more important in the later teen years.

What about children's credit cards?

Children can't actually get a credit card on their own, and even grown children must have an income, or be a college student in order to qualify. However, parents can add their kids as authorized users on their accounts.



  • A child, even as an authorized user, can start to build a credit history by having a credit card in their name. It also teaches them concepts like borrowing, interest, and credit scores.
  • Credit cards have zero liability should fraudulent activity take place.


  • The parent is ultimately responsible for any balances that the authorized user accrues.
  • If you don't pay the bill in full, you are charged interest.

The verdict: start with a children's debit card

Debit cards are the safest alternative to carrying cash, especially for younger kids. Even better, if you choose a debit card like GoHenry, you'll combine the convenience of a card with a digital app that teaches money management and budgeting skills.


Unlike prepaid debit cards or a kids bank card, GoHenry is a reloadable debit card for kids that can be used for purchases or to withdraw cash from an ATM – it's up to you, the parent, to decide how and where the card can be used. You can also set spending limits, load money onto the card through the app (great for allowance), and monitor activity.


Over time, once your kids mature and develop their money skills using a debit card, then you can introduce them to their first credit card. Once they have both a debit card and a credit card in their wallet, they can be less reliant on cash.


 Which options work best for your family? Tweet us your thoughts @gohenry with #letstalkmoney
Written by GoHenry Published Feb 1, 2022 ● 2 min. read