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

  • 2
    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, 2015 at 7:04
  • 5
    @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, 2015 at 7:25
  • 2
    @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. Jul 8, 2015 at 13:04
  • 1
    @BenMiller - My son already has several credit cards with his name on them (on my acct), and I've never had a problem with him using them (when I'm there). However I don't want him to have a credit card, and I don't leave them with him -- they're for building his credit record, not for his daily use. He can already make cash transactions - the aim here is to demystify the plastic == magic cash fallacy.
    – CJBS
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:58
  • 1
    @AndyT In the U.S., an additional account holder will have the account details reported to his credit report irrespective of age. Just like for debit cards, not all credit card issuers will allow a minor to be an additional account holder, though.
    – CJBS
    Jul 9, 2015 at 17:06

5 Answers 5


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. (My son enjoys checking the balance, even if he's not withdrawing -- which helps reinforce the concept that money doesn't just "come from the card" without limit.)

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

CapitalOne Money Card

Also available: Chase First Banking


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, 2015 at 17:10
  • I'm not eligible for USAA, as I have no affiliation with the military.
    – CJBS
    Jul 9, 2015 at 6:34
  • @Vicky - I came across Go Henry in the UK, too. Seems like a good option: gohenry.co.uk
    – CJBS
    May 18, 2017 at 6:05

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, 2018 at 6:41

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.


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, 2015 at 18:51
  • 1
    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, 2015 at 21:27

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").


Disclaimer: I haven't tried this service

  • 1
    I used Greenlight for my daughter for about 2 years. A couple of months ago she tried to buy a candy bar and her card was declined despite the app showing there was $100 in it. We called and they said they had to reconcile the account and that the app was wrong. It took them a month to do that and now the app says she has $70, more than enough for a candy bar. Plus having to dictate every little category where she is allowed to spend money is a pain. I just switched to Capital One and will be closing the Greenlight account ASAP. GL is a nightmare. Jul 16, 2020 at 19:10

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