Content of the material
- What are the pros and cons?
- Greenlight Cards Products
- Prepaid Debit Card for Kids
- Parental Controls
- Parent Paid Interest
- Instant Money Transfers
- Chore Plans
- Allowance Automation
- Savings Rewards
- Round Ups
- Direct Deposit
- Customized Cards
- Identity Theft, Phone and Purchase Protection
- What is the Greenlight debit card?
- Is Greenlight safe?
- What Greenlight Can Do Better
- Rates and fees
- The Greenlight Mobile App
- Greenlight Debit Card at $4.99/month
- Greenlight Debit Card + Greenlight Invest at $7.98/month
- Greenlight Max at $9.98/month
What are the pros and cons?
Pros No cost other than the monthly plan fee Its spending category and store settings, real-time purchase notifications, customizable chore sheets, automated allowance system and savings options make a comprehensive control suite for parents The Greenlight Max plan’s account monitoring, purchase protection, and cellphone protection benefits are especially helpful for kids and teens Unlike its rivals, the issuer backs positive habits with up to 1 percent cash back on spending and 2 percent monthly compounded Savings Boost rewards One of the few prepaid cards in its class to offer an investing platform—a key, often neglected money management lesson Doesn’t require creating a new checking or savings account Cons The $4.99 to $9.98 monthly plan fees can be more expensive than similar prepaid debit Mastercards for kids Many of the card’s best perks and rewards to help offset the cost are locked behind the Greenlight Max tier Money transfers, spending controls and investment actions are tied to the primary accountholder, which may make it difficult for multiple parents or guardians to manage the app without a joint account Unlike some competitors, requires frequently managing a mobile app in addition to the physical debit card
Greenlight Cards Products
Prepaid Debit Card for Kids
A prepaid card is a type of payment card that can be loaded with funds in advance and then used to purchase goods or services without incurring debt from the issuer.
The most common type of prepaid cards is a prepaid debit card (which acts like making bank account withdrawals when purchasing goods and services).
Prepaid cards for a child allow you to avoid non-sufficient funds fees or overdraft charges because they can only spend what they have on the Greenlight card.
Parental controls are one of the key features provided by Greenlight Debit Card, as they lead the industry in terms of granularity of control.
Greenlight uses a permission-based spending rules system whereby parents can set rules for specific stores and spending categories. When parents set these controls over spending, this allows them to place their preferred limits on their child’s spending at a particular store or within a particular spending category.
We will cover these details more next.
- Store-Level Spend Control
Greenlight is the only prepaid card which allows you to select each and every store where kids can use their Greenlight card. And, for parents really concerned this might not be enough control, Greenlight Card issues you an alert as soon as your kids try to spend funds where they shouldn’t.
But, even if they shop where they are allowed, you still receive an alert anytime the Greenlight debit card gets used. Further, it also tells you when a card gets declined for any reason. This level of insight as to when, where and how much money your kids are spending is unmatched by any other minor debit card.
Though, do you want even more flexibility through the controls you can put in place?
You can relax this by choosing to place your child’s allowance money (or any other funds you’ve loaded onto a Greenlight card) into the Spend Anywhere spending category. This allows them to spend their money where they want.
Your child can use funds held in the Spend Anywhere category at any merchant online or off which accepts Mastercard for payment.
Also, you should have the option to connect your child’s individual Spend Controls to their Spend Anywhere fund so that they can combine funds toward a desired purchase.
For example, if your child goes to make a purchase for $7 at Walmart, but their Spend Control only has $6 in the balance, when this setting is turned on, the difference will come from your child’s Spend Anywhere Spend Control. This avoids having the purchase get declined.
- Spending Categories
Greenlight categories purchases commonly made by kids and teens into five categories:
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
- Online Gaming
When you first join Greenlight, your last four spending categories (“Gas Stations”, “Grocery Stores”, “Restaurants”, and “Online Gaming”) act more like budgetary guidelines than actual spending rules.
Meaning, you can set funds in the Spend Anywhere account balance and have all these categories set to Pull Overages from Spend Anywhere in your Spend Control Settings.
As an exception, Any ATM has this turned off by default to prevent your children from withdrawing more than the balance set for the Any ATM Spending Category amount.
- In-App Approvals
In the event your child goes to a new store without prior approval but doesn’t carry a high enough balance in their Spend Anywhere Spend Control, they can contact you through the app to make a real-time request for additional funds.
- Freeze Your Child’s Greenlight Card
If you lose a Greenlight Card, have it stolen or otherwise want to disable your child’s card temporarily, you can simply turn off their Greenlight card through the parent app. When it’s found, you can simply turn it back on.
Parent Paid Interest
Paying your own interest rates is a big perk of some checking accounts for minors, as it can help parents incentivize their kids to save money. It’s a way to teach your child the benefits and responsibilities that come with managing money, setting goals and saving funds toward achieving them.
Parent-Paid Interest is an annual percentage rate that you set for your child’s General Savings in the Greenlight app. Their account will earn the interest on the first of each month and all you have to do is set up the instant transfer into their account from your parent’s wallet.
Greenlight calculates and pays interest monthly based on the average daily balance of your child’s “Total Savings” for the previous month. This represents the total amount saved between General Savings and Savings Goals.
With this feature, you can choose how much interest their savings earns. If you want them to earn a lot, then you can set your interest to pay up to 100% interest.
But if that is too expensive and you’d rather pay a legitimate interest rate, then you can set the amount to as low as 1%. It’s up to you!
This feature will show your children the power of saving. You can teach them how savings grow with each month’s payment.
Instant Money Transfers
The instant transfer capability is really beneficial for parents. When a child is too small to have a job or your teens are too busy to go with you to the bank, it’s up to you to give them some spending money each week.
Transfers from your card to your Parent’s Wallet will show up immediately while transfers from your bank account will generally be available for validated bank accounts with sufficient funds 3-4 business days after initiating the transfer.
Depending on your history with Greenlight, the company may provide instant funding to expedite your transfer.
Many parents use this as a way to pay for weekly chores. The instant transfer capability eliminates the need to make a trip into an actual bank, which could be difficult for children with no transportation or adults pressed for time.
Plus, it helps parents to see how much money they give their children and can help them determine if they should give more or less as time goes on.
Chores aren’t always the most fun, there’s no sense in denying it. There’s even a split in whether you should pay your children for doing chores. One cohort believes allowance shouldn’t be earned through work but mainly given as a teaching tool to learn how to manage it when stakes are low.
The other links paying an allowance to earning a wage and taking pride in your work. No matter where you fall, chores are useful behaviors to begin building because they can translate to positive outcomes outside of childhood.
Greenlight gives you the tools to set up, administer and oversee a chore plan or schedule. The program offers routine tasks that can start as unpaid which then allow you to add gradual tasks you do pay for because they require more time and work.
You can use your app to schedule or even automate your chore schedule. The app allows you to:
- Set chores that repeat weekly—or multiple times per week.
- Set single-time chores for bigger tasks like spring cleaning, babysitting or mowing the lawn.
- Manage and track recurring chores and also place money transfers on autopilot (if you choose to pay them).
- Provides an open discussion opportunity into the chores expected and what they need to do before checking them off and getting their recurring transfers.
For reference, the five most popular chores families assign on the app are:
- Clean your bedroom
- Take care of the pet
- Wash the dishes
- Take out the trash
You might consider starting here and working your way up to more tasks you deem equally important.
Kids who do their chores tend to have better professional success later in life.
Though, the motivations behind doing chores can also be something worth exploring: are your children doing more around the house because they know you’ll pay or because it gives them a stronger sense of accomplishment?
All people are different, which means their motivations differ as well. However, establishing routines can build healthy habits that last a lifetime.
That’s why setting up a chore system early and rewarding them with financial earnings can lead to positive outcomes. What we do as children often guides what we do as adults.
Therefore, earning an allowance for helping around the house can give children a sense of responsibility and pride.
Greenlight’s feature, Allowance Automation, allows parents to set up specific chores for their children on the parent app. Once they complete that chore or each time it is assigned, they will receive a payment.
Parents can choose whether they want to pay them once every week (or month), or on a daily basis.
The best part about this feature is that parents can customize the allowance depending on their child’s age and what they’re doing around the house.
For example, if your child does regular chores like sweeping, washing dishes or taking out trash then you might want to give them $0.50 for every time they do it.
If you want children to do chores that require more detailed instructions, then it’s best to pay them a higher allowance. This will give them the incentive they need and encourages your child to follow through with what is asked of them.
It can be difficult for parents to balance providing children with an allowance while making sure it doesn’t go overboard. By setting up a system with Allowance Automation, you can measure how much they are earning and the time it takes for them to complete their chores.
The best debit cards for kids are not just about teaching responsibility. They’re also savings accounts in disguise, since the money gets drawn from the linked checking account on the card itself and all transactions go through it.
Learning to manage these funds can teach kids how to save and budget their money in the short-term but also toward longer-term goals.
Greenlight offers their version of a savings account through its Savings Rewards feature.
The basic Greenlight and Greenlight + Invest plans offer a savings boost of up to 1% on the average monthly balance up to $5,000. This sounds like an interest rate, though Greenlight names it differently.
Though, like a rose of any other name, it still smells as sweet.
Further, Greenlight Max plan participants see their Savings Rewards double to 2%.
Much like the famous micro investing app, Acorns, Greenlight also adds more saving capability through their Round Ups feature.
This enables kids to round up purchases to the next dollar and add this money to their Greenlight General Savings automatically or on a per transaction basis.
For example if they spend $3.25 at the Disney Store, they can round up that purchase to $4.00 and automatically save the difference of $0.75. Parents and children can manage Round Ups from the Savings page in their app.
One of the best features that may be available on a debit card for kids is direct deposit. Direct deposit means that a child’s paycheck will go directly to their account, rather than just getting an envelope from work and then handing it over to mom or dad for money management.
Direct deposits are also good because they can help a grown-up manage when money should come into the bank account and when they know they need to transfer money for any expected expenses.
Greenlight Debit Card allows teenagers with jobs to receive their paychecks directly on their card as a source of funds.
A common feature among kids’ card companies, Greenlight allows you to customize your children’s cards. If you’d like to order a Custom Card for $9.99, you can do so by following the prompt in the notification section of your Parent Dashboard.
Identity Theft, Phone and Purchase Protection
As part of the premium Greenlight Max plan, the company offers you identity theft, phone and purchase protection for up to five children.
- Identity Theft – Greenlight provides identity theft monitoring, alerting and restoration services for the whole family. Coverage provided by Experian.
- Phone Protection – Coverage for damaged, lost or stolen phones for up to five kids on the Greenlight Max plan. This protection allows for imbursements related to the cost of replacing or repairing your child’s cell phone in the event of damage, or up to $600 per claim if it is damaged, lost or stolen. You have 2 claims available per calendar year up to an aggregate of $1,000 per card per calendar year. A $25 deductible applies per claim for the coverage provided by Virginia Surety Company, which is unavailable to plan members in the state of New York.
- Purchase Protection – Purchase protection allows qualifying users to seek reimbursement for the cost to repair or replace an item that was purchased in full with the Greenlight card. This is allowable if the purchase becomes damaged or was stolen within 4 months (120 days) of the date of purchase or delivery, up to $100 per item and an aggregate of $1,000 per calendar year.
What is the Greenlight debit card?
The Greenlight debit card is a debit card for kids. This prepaid debit card allows parents to transfer allowance money and other funds into their children’s debit accounts and gives kids the ability to learn how to manage money with a debit card instead of using cash for their day-to-day spending.
How does Greenlight work? Parents start by setting up a virtual wallet with Greenlight. Once the parent’s Wallet is in place, parents can transfer money directly to their kids’ Greenlight debit accounts, as well as set limits on where that money can be spent. Parents also get an alert every time the Greenlight debit card is used to help them monitor how their children are spending their money.
Children can use the Greenlight mobile app to track their balance, create savings goals and set aside money for charitable giving. If parents decide to link their children’s allowance to specific chores (including recurring and one-off responsibilities), children can use the Greenlight app to track their chore list and mark chores as completed.
Greenlight card reviews are mixed, with the company receiving a B from the Better Business Bureau and 4.3 out of five stars on Trustpilot. The most common complaints involve unexpected difficulties with financial transfers, whether a parent is attempting to put money into or withdraw money from their child’s Greenlight account.
Keep in mind that the types of Greenlight card reviews that show up on sites like the Better Business Bureau are often heavily weighted towards the negative. So, if you’re considering the Greenlight debit card for your kids, it’s worth looking into the card’s pros and cons before making your decision.
Is Greenlight safe?
Is Greenlight legit? Yes. Greenlight debit accounts are FDIC-insured and you can use Greenlight debit cards nearly everywhere Mastercard is accepted.
Where can’t Greenlight be used? Greenlight has safeguards in place to prevent the Greenlight debit card from being used for purchases that are not considered child-friendly, such as dating services or online gambling. Greenlight debit cards also cannot be used to purchase wire or money orders or to receive cash back at the point of sale.
What about the Greenlight app – is it also safe to use? Yes. The Greenlight app uses industry-standard encryption to ensure that all data communicated through the app is as secure as possible.
What Greenlight Can Do Better
- Monthly fee on Investing plan. While useful to have every financial decision housed on the same platform, Greenlight’s investing plan starts at $7.98 per month for up to five kids. If parents don’t need the controls or insight provided by the Greenlight debit card, they could instead opt for a cheaper custodial account through an Acorns Family plan ($5/mo) at a lower monthly fee. Likewise, you can go with a BusyKid debit card system which costs only $19.99/year (though $7.99 per year per extra card with other fee potential as well). While it has less functionality and lower customer satisfaction scores, it does come at a lower price point as compared to the Greenlight + Invest plan’s fee.
- Require approval for allowance transfer (not automated). After using the mobile application to pay my son for chores as a test, I noticed how the feature automatically transfers funds without requiring prior approval. If I took no action, the payments would transfer regardless. If I set single time chores which require manual approval, I don’t believe this would happen.
- Reload cash options. Greenlight does not currently offer the ability to reload cash directly onto the card from participating retailers nationwide. Having this access, even for a fee, can promote more accessible populations who are currently underserved by financial services. Options like Famzoo allow this at locations like Walmart or Target, albeit for a fee charged by retailers on the Mastercard Reload network.
- Parent / child loans. Options like Famzoo and BusyKid allow parents to lend money to their kids (either with interest or not) to pay for larger purchases a kid cannot finance alone. Having this feature can be a safe environment for learning about credit before moving on to a credit card or other loan product outside of the home.
Rates and fees
One unavoidable downside to the Greenlight card is its ongoing cost: $4.99 per month for the basic plan, $7.98 per month for Greenlight + Invest and $9.98 per month for Greenlight Max. Since you may not be able offset these costs via Savings Boost or cash back, you’ll need to decide whether each plan’s features are worth it.
Outside of these monthly fees, however, the Greenlight card carries hardly any mandatory fees. Unlike many prepaid cards, the Greenlight card charges no fee for adding funds to the card and no issuer fees for ATM transactions at home or abroad (though you may still be subject to standard ATM operator fees). There’s also no fee the first time you need to replace your card ($3.50 per card after that).
There are limits to how much money you can keep on the Greenlight card, but the main caps to consider are the maximum account balances ($15,000 for the Primary Account/parent and $7,500 for the Sub-Account/child), daily spend limits ($1,500 across all accounts), and monthly spend limits ($7,500 across all accounts).
The Greenlight Mobile App
The Greenlight mobile app comes with tools that give you more flexible controls than other debit cards, like parental controls to manage precisely where and how much your kids can spend or the ability to create chores and pay allowances. Your kids can also use the mobile app with a different experience to yours to access money management and financial, educational tools, like their chore lists to earn money. However, your kids can still use the debit card without the mobile app if, for example, they don’t have access to a smartphone.
Let’s review the different plans Greenlight offers through their app:
Greenlight Debit Card at $4.99/month
Access core tools for your kids to earn, save, spend and give money, with a debit card managed by you that is FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Some of the features you can access through the mobile app to help your kids become financially independent and responsible include:
- Set up to five children under your parent account.
- Assign chores and create chore lists tied to monetary perks for your kids to “earn” their cash.
- Set up automatic transfers to automatically pay allowances that your kids can divide between their Spend, Save and Give accounts.
- Make instant transfers from your bank account to your child’s card.
- Get real-time alerts when your child’s Greenlight card is used.
- Select specific spending limits, locations, and stores where your kids can spend money with their debit cards.
- Track balances and transactions of your child’s account at any time.
- Freeze the debit card in case of theft or misuse. You can turn it on and off from the app.
- Your kids can round up purchases to the next dollar to automatically add the change to their savings.
- Your kids can set savings goals and track progress to teach them about the importance of saving.
- Decide if you want your kids to use the debit card at an ATM or not and how much money they can withdraw.
- If you have a teen who is old enough to have a job, set up a direct deposit to get paychecks paid directly into their account.
- Choose if your kids can use their debit card to pay through Google Pay or Apple Pay, as long as they meet the minimum age required to use these apps.
- Have complete visibility on your kids’ spending, saving goals, transactions, and more.
Greenlight Debit Card + Greenlight Invest at $7.98/month
When you upgrade your plan to this one, you get all the core tools and debit card features explained above as well as a platform where your kids can invest in real-time with your permission. Greenlight opens a brokerage account in your name that your kids can use to make investments with your approval. There are no fees on the trades you make, only the cost of upgrading to this plan. The extra investment features on this plan include:
- Buy companies’ shares.
- Start investing with as little as $1.
- Pay no trading fees.
- Approve every trade right from the app.
Greenlight Max at $9.98/month
Access all the features on the Greenlight app, the Greenlight debit card, the managed investment platform for your kids, PLUS identity theft, phone, and purchase protection. Get all the features of the plan above and these extra ones:
- Access priority customer support to reach their customer service team faster.
- Get alerts, monitoring, and restoration for your whole family in case of identity theft.
- Cover damaged, lost, or stolen cell phones up to five kids.
- Repair or replace items you purchase that are damaged or stolen.
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