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I have a child who has expressed interest in using a debit card. He knows about money, can count coins and banknotes, and really wants to have a debit card. I want to use this as a learning experience for him so that he can understand that having a piece of plastic is not magic, and doesn't result in unlimited money from an ATM.

I've contacted several financial institutions, and the best they can come up with is one of the following:-

  • A custodial account
  • A joint account, but with no debit card for the minor
  • Some sort of 'prepaid' account from U.S. bank with a card, but not with his name on it

I also understand that I can get a prepaid card, such as Serve, but per their Terms of Service, he'd have to be 18 to get a card in his name.

The goal here is to be able to:-

  • Have a debit card with his name on the card
  • Be able to use an ATM to view balance/withdraw/deposit
  • Be able to make a purchase via Visa/MC/AMEX (depending on issuer)
  • Ideally have online access
  • Ideally not have fees, except possibly a once-off set-up fee

I don't mind co-signing for any legal terms.

Is there an account type out there with these features?

Note: Capital One 360 has a MONEY account that seems to meet these requirements, bar the age restriction (the minimum age is 8). Hence the <8 qualification.

Update: I just posted an answer regarding Capital One MONEY, which no longer has the <8 restriction

closed as off-topic by Chris W. Rea, Michael, Brythan, Pete B., NL - Apologize to Monica Jan 8 '18 at 17:44

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  • "Questions seeking product or service recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." – Chris W. Rea, Michael, Brythan, Pete B., NL - Apologize to Monica
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    What country are you from? In the US minors cannot enter contracts, so no-one will give a 8 y/o a card. – littleadv Jul 8 '15 at 7:04
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    @littleadv Based in USA. From what I understand, this isn't entirely correct - while a minor can't enter a contract, he could be a joint account holder (with parent/guardian accepting responsibility). Capital One has this type of account, but the minimum age is 8y.o. See my update to the question. – CJBS Jul 8 '15 at 7:25
  • I couldn't find any reference to 8 y/o, I only found reference to "teens". – littleadv Jul 8 '15 at 7:46
  • @littleadv They refer to the account holders as "teens," but when you go to open the account it is explained that "The teen must be at least 8 years old." – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jul 8 '15 at 12:49
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    @CJBS If you do find a card, your son might find that store clerks will be reluctant to accept it from a 6 or 7 (even 8) year old. He won't be able to show a driver's license if the clerk doubts that it is really his card and not one he took from his parents. Instead, let him use real cash. It's more fun handling real cash than just seeing numbers on receipts, and in my opinion teaches the value of money better. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jul 8 '15 at 13:04
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It seems the age restriction for the Capital One MONEY account has been removed; I just read the entire terms and conditions and there's no minimum age requirement.

I just finished opening Capital One MONEY accounts for a child who is <5 and a child <8. Both now have activated debit cards and online access. Their accounts are accessible via their card, but also appear under my online banking login, as they are joint accounts. It is possible to deposit cheques, but no cheques are issued for writing. Debit card access is provided for ATM withdrawals and purchases.

And the design on the card is really nice; my son said it looks like the $100 bill.

enter image description here

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In the UK, the Osper card would do the trick exactly. The closest thing I can find in the US is the USAA Youth accounts which appear to be what you need but have some restrictions on mobile access until the youth is 13.

  • 1
    Note that not just anyone can sign up with USAA. They have membership requirements. – mikeazo Jul 8 '15 at 17:10
  • I'm not eligible for USAA, as I have no affiliation with the military. – CJBS Jul 9 '15 at 6:34
  • @Vicky - I came across Go Henry in the UK, too. Seems like a good option: gohenry.co.uk – CJBS May 18 '17 at 6:05
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I'm not certain if you can get a debit card with it, but if you have a PNC in your area, they have a special kind of account designed around teaching financial literacy to children: https://www1.pnc.com/sisforsavings/tour.html . I'm not sure if you can get a debit card for the child or not, but the custodian gets one I believe, and the child gets a special online login to manage the money, so if you don't mind the name issue, it might be worth looking into.

If you don't have PNC, maybe one of the banks in your area have a similar program?

  • Seems that has a card with no age restriction (as you mention, doesn't indicate for whom), but the account has a heap of fees associated with it. Thanks. – CJBS Oct 19 '18 at 6:41
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You might consider a Green Dot card. You can personalize the name on the card. There is no risk of over-drafting. There are some fees when you fill the card in stores, but it is free to open and manage online. Check out their site and see if it will work for you. It could be a great pair with a joint bank account for you and your kids.

https://www.greendot.com/greendot/

Rock on for teaching personal finance and responsibility to your kids!

  • @Bo_ I've had experience with Green Dot, and they've got a pretty bad reputation. They charge high fees for what they offer ($5.95/mth - my son won't be making 30 transactions, or a monthly $1000 deposit), and further, per their sign-up page "The person registering this card must be at least 18 years old." (See bottom: greendot.com/greendot/getacardnow). If I was to take the prepaid route, and not register, I'd use AMEX's Serve. – CJBS Jul 8 '15 at 18:51
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    I'm glad you know a bit more about it. If I happen to see anything else, I'll post again. Perhaps there is a market for this kind of thing. Cash Card for Kids. --Almost like this lesson in personal finance could turn into a lesson in venture capitol. – Bo_ Jul 8 '15 at 21:27
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GreenLight offers a paid service for $5 per month that requires an adult primary account holder, and then unlimited accounts, including minors, as part of that service. I saw no minimum age requirement (see section "Minors as Sub-Account Cardholders").

https://www.greenlightcard.com/index.html

Disclaimer: I haven't tried this service

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