Is the Greenlight Debit Card Right for Your Kid? A Mom’s Review [2022]

Why the Greenlight Debit Card is a great first step in teaching your kid financial literacy and wellness

If you’re in a season of parenting a tween or teen right now and you want to teach them how to be financially responsible, the Greenlight debit card for kids is a great first step. I know, I know, the thought of your kid having a debit card, making adult-like transactions on packs of gum, nonsensical gadgets, or fidget toys sounds a bit uncomfortable. But the same goes for money as for any other part of parenting — allow your child certain freedoms by first TEACHING them. Then, when you give them privileges, you might be surprised that they step up to be responsible with that privilege and learn a valuable life lesson in the meantime. 

Check out the great features of the Greenlight debit card for kids here and read all about our personal experience with getting our 11-year-old one below!

Dad and son talking

When I was growing up, discussing family finances wasn’t really something we did. I honestly have no idea how rich or poor we were at any given time. But that hush-hush mindset about money is changing now. I think it’s good to be transparent with your kids and family members about finances. Community is all about sharing the load, in good times and bad. 

Getting my son the Greenlight card has opened up some great talking points about being responsible with money — understanding what things cost, why saving is important. It also helps him recognize where he can be helpful and be a part of a team when it comes to being financially savvy. But we’re also careful not to relay too much. There’s certain information that his lack of understanding might cause him to worry or get anxious.

In our family, we trust that no matter how careful one can be with their money, we are not the ones who ultimately provide. We pray and trust that God will give us what we need when we need it. And He has. We’ve learned to be content with little and content with much. Maybe more content with much, haha. My point here is that we love how our son is informed on how God pulled through for us in difficult times or how He’s provided in ways we can’t even explain. 

hand holding cash

How Greenlight makes my life easier

Many parents understand that giving your child an allowance for chores teaches them responsibility and that, in this life, it’s essential to work for what you get. And that’s where the Greenlight card makes those cash to pocket transactions a little easier. 

What parent these days has cash on hand? I sure don’t. In fact, I started racking up a verbal bill with my 10-year-old because I kept forgetting to withdraw money from my bank account. Every Sunday, when he told me it was time to get his allowance, I would realize I didn’t have any cash. 

But the Greenlight Card doesn’t ONLY help with no cash on hand. Here are some other benefits that come along with getting your tween or teen their very first debit card. 

What is Greenlight?

Simply put, Greenlight is a debit card (not a credit card) for kids that can be fully operable by parents. Through an app on the primary accountholders phone, you can categorize two different deposits — one that can be spent by your child anywhere and anytime, and the other that has full parental controls: Parents will receive alerts when purchases are made or declined (part of the safety feature), when requests come in, or when balances get low. Parents can also set spending limits, create chore management, create savings rewards, send monetary gifts, and track balances. Parents can even see the exact stores where purchases were made. The parent’s Greenlight account through the mobile app is an easy-to-use way to set up your child’s savings accounts, make instant transfers, create chore lists, make investments, and so much more.

Greenlight was founded by Tim Sheehan and Johnson Cook, and their headquarters are based in Atlanta, Georgia. So if you’re like to support your country, this is a great option! 

Greenlight believes every child should have the opportunity to become financially healthy and happy. 

This fintech company claims to be THE money app for families by investing in your greatest achievement — your child. 

“With the Greenlight debit card and app, kids earn money through chores, set savings goals, spend wisely and invest. 

Parents set flexible controls and get real-time notifications every time their kids spend money. 

Greenlight celebrates smart money management by rewarding kids with up to 1% Cash Back and 2% on their savings balances.                        

Earnings are deposited into Savings on the 1st of every month.

Use your Greenlight app to invest for your kids’ futures — college, first car, or anything else they’re aiming for. 

Take out your hard-earned investments whenever you’d like and use them however you’d like.”

Now, with over 4 million users, Greenlight is an incredible tool for teaching financial literacy to your kids. 

girl with shopping bags

Benefits of getting your child a Greenlight Card

One of the most important life skills you can teach your kids is being wise with their money — thinking through purchases, investing, saving, home buying, etc. As with much of the advice I give on my blog, I’m all about educating parents to understand the incredible influence they have on their children in every aspect of their lives. We are the greatest example of everything to them. So as you’re doing your best to make financially wise choices, know that your children are watching you. 

They also watch you when it comes to generosity. Are you giving back? And I don’t mean just giving the homeless guy on the corner a 5 dollar bill, but are you modeling what it means to be generous? I think we can model this in simple ways, like, tipping a waiter well if we felt they did a good job. Or making a meal for a family down the street who’s struggling with a life circumstance. When you have friends over, are you spending the money (if you have it) to make them a nice meal with good wine? Or are you buying the cheapest ingredients so you can save all the money you can? 

I don’t believe that being wise with your money is necessarily about saving it all up for future use. It’s about investing in the lives of others around us. Generosity is fading. And while that could be a topic covered in another blog post (I think I might have at one point), just remember this. Your kids watch you. And they learn from you, the good and bad choices you’ve made. I’m not saying be perfect. But if you made a mistake, own it. 

It teaches your child how to be financially responsible with money

Okay, now that I’ve gone off on a tangent, the Greenlight Card can help teach your kids how to be responsible by seeing that a little metal card with numbers on it actually has a source behind it. I’ll never forget when my son asked me for something quite expensive at the store, and I said, “I’m not able to afford that right now,” and he responded, “just use your little metal card thing!” thinking it was some kind of magical money source like the golden egg-laying goose. 

As he gets older, we let him in on what things cost, how if he wants something, he can work for it, and so on. Getting him this Greenlight card was another step in teaching him financial responsibility. 

You can automate transfers to your child’s card

By setting up automatic direct deposits to your child’s card, you don’t have to worry anymore whether or not you paid your child their allowance or not — it can be done for you!

There is no minimum age

Because parents are the primary account holder, there’s no age minimum. However, the primary accountholder DOES need to meet these requirements: Full name, mobile phone number, mailing address, date of birth, and social security number.

Does the Greenlight debit card work with Apple pay or Google Pay? 

A child DOES need to be at least 13 to use Apple Pay and at least 16 Years old to use Google Pay.

You get a one-month free trial!

Other benefits of the Greenlight Card

  • Parents get alerts when their child has spent money through the Greenlight app on their phone.
  • It’s a prepaid debit card for kids, unlike a normal debit card where overdraft issues can arise.
  • The card is accepted anywhere a Mastercard is accepted.
  • The monthly fee is dependant on what card you get, ranging from $4.99 per month to $9.98.
  • Since the world is moving away from using cash, it’s a great way to get your kids acclimated to using debit cards in a safe environment.
  • FDIC-insured up to $250,000
  • Identity theft protection
  • Purchase and cell phone protection
  • Accepted internationally with no foreign transaction fees – great for us since my husband’s family lives in Germany
  • Once your kid gets a job, their paycheck has a place to go other than in an envelope for mom or dad to deposit. 
  • You can create a chore list for your child, and if they have a phone (my son has the Pinwheel Phone for Kids – read review here) they can easily access it through their own Greenlight app. 

Is the Greenlight Debit Card Safe?

“Greenlight blocks’ unsafe’ spending categories, send real-time notifications and gives parents flexible ATM and other spending controls. We also provide additional layers of protection to our families in the form of face or fingerprint recognition and the ability to turn your card on or off directly in the app. 

Greenlight debit cards are FDIC-insured up to $250,000, and come with Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection.”

Do Greenlight Cards Have Fees?

Yes, the Greenlight card does have a monthly fee that ranges anywhere from $4.99 per month to $9.98. 

Here is a breakdown of the added benefits with the higher monthly payment. 

greenlight plans

Greenlight plans start at $4.99 per month and include debit cards for up to five kids. 

If you would like to upgrade to a Custom Card, there is a one-time fee of $9.99. 

The first month is free! There is also an incredible referral program that gives you $40 every time you refer a friend. 

Is the Greenlight Max plan worth it?

The Greenlight max is the highest monthly payment but offers the most benefits. 

“The all-in-one plan teaches your family money management and investing fundamentals. They invest in their favorite stocks and ETFs. You invest for their futures — college, first car or anything else they’re aiming for.

Plus, kids get 1% Cash Back on purchases and earn 2% on Savings.”

The Greenlight max is a great way to teach your child healthy money management skills. 

This plan offers priority customer service for your issues. It includes identity theft protection, cell phone protection — if a phone purchased with their Greenlight card is damaged or lost, it can be protected — up to five kids. In addition, items purchased through the card that get damaged or stolen are also covered through purchase protection and can be replaced or repaired. 

As you can see, the benefits to getting the max plan are many, but maybe not what every family needs.

Does Greenlight offer interest?

Your kids can earn a 1% savings boost with the Basic and Greenlight + Invest plans. The benefit of the Greenlight Max is that balances up to $5,000 are rewarded a 2% savings boost. 

Interest rates are calculated the same way as an APY. 

What if my child’s account is out of money and they need more?

An added benefit of the Greenlight card is that kids can request extra funds; let’s say they are out and about and their purchase amount is more than what they have. With normal debit cards, overdraft fees can occur when this happens. Since Greenlight works as a prepaid card, you can avoid this altogether, and your child can simply request more money, and you can either make their dream of owning a Louis Vuitton purse come true or decline that unnecessary purchase. 

What age is recommended for getting your child a Greenlight Debit Card?

I will give my personal opinion here, but I think this should ultimately be left to the parent. I wish I would have gotten this for my son a lot sooner, like when he started daily chores around the age of 6. That being said, I don’t love that there is a monthly fee. I would rather that money go towards investing, but I understand that companies need to make money somehow. 

What Greenlight could improve

The monthly fee – I could get my son a debit card that is connected to our bank account, but it IS nice to have the added benefits of Greenlight, especially so your kids don’t overdraft or make unnecessary purchases. 

finger pointing to a sad or happy smiley face

How is Greenlight’s Customer Service?

My complaints about Greenlight are few, but since I like to inform my audience of the good and the bad of certain products, I felt I needed to add in this one little bit of information. 

If you opted in for the Greenlight Max plan, you could rest assured that your questions and issues will be addressed immediately, or so they claim with their priority customer support benefit. But it can be a little tricky for those of you who aren’t a Max member. I’ve experienced this firsthand. 

Their app seemed to have some technical difficulties when I tried connecting my bank account and setting up my Parent Wallet. So I reached out to them and didn’t hear back for a few days. This caused me to lose interest, and it actually took me quite a while to get back into setting everything up. 

Once I got it to work, I tried to update my son’s profile on my phone to log in to his account through the app on his Pinwheel Phone. I would press “update,” and nothing would happen. I reached out, but I didn’t hear back again for a few days. 

Not only were they experiencing technical difficulties, it took them a while to help me get things sorted, but they were very kind and helpful in the end. 

What security features does Greenlight offer?

One of the benefits of Greenlight is its security features, which I trickled throughout this article. But to sum it all up, I love that there are parental controls in place to protect and educate your kids regarding finances. The monitoring of investing and purchases can definitely give parents peace of mind when their kids get their first debit card. 

That said, with my son, I don’t even worry about that. Then again, he’s not a teenager yet, but I’m still not expecting that. But I can imagine that this is a massive benefit for many parents. 

Our experience so far with Greenlight

Because I’m not the kind of mom that is into stock options or necessarily needs an investing platform, I feel there are many benefits Greenlight has to offer that we simply don’t utilize. I know my husband is mildly into Crypto, but we don’t have the time to teach our son on investing right now, let alone do it for ourselves. 

I know there are other options for debit cards out there that I am exploring, but Greenlight does the job for now. I don’t care for the monthly fee, especially when I’m not utilizing everything it offers, but I do love that it’s teaching my son how to be financially wise. 

There’s value in seeing what your kids do with certain freedoms, and I’ve really enjoyed observing my once young son mature in his perspective of money and start saving. I like that he gets a savings reward the most — it inspires him to not spend all his money once he receives it like he used to. 

Disclosure: 

I am an affiliate of Greenlight and only promote products I use and truly find helpful for nurturing a safe and healthy household. I find this very useful when it comes to teaching your kids financial literacy. This is not a sponsored post, but me taking the time to give you some helpful information while hopefully pointing you to something that makes your life a little sweeter and making a commission in the meantime. I would never promote something I don’t fully stand behind and support. 

I am in the process of reaching out to other companies like Famzoo, Step, and Gohenry to see if they would be a better option and review for you all. I know that Step doesn’t charge a monthly fee but also doesn’t have the added benefits of Greenlight. But, if you’re not worried about the monthly payment, then Greenlight is TOTALLY worth it. And the great thing is, you can try it out for a month to see if it’s right for your family!

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