I currently use a PayPal student debit card account to send money to my dad but I got a notice yesterday that PayPal is closing all of the student debit accounts.

My dad is utterly hopeless with money and calls me at least twice a month to ask for money for financial "emergencies." After dozens of overdrafts the bank cancelled his account he can't get another one without a cosigner, which I won't do because I don't want to be stuck with the bill for his reckless spending habits.

I need a way to be able to send him $100 to $200 quickly from an online account. I don't want to have to drive to a bank or store to reload a pre-paid debit card, or wait 3-5 days to transfer from my bank account. Ideally, I would like to be able to transfer money from my bank account to a main account and release small amounts to him as needed. I don't trust him to only spend a little at a time, he will keep spending until the transactions get declined. It can't have the option of allowing him to spend more than the card contains because I don't want to pay a bunch of overdraft fees.

Has anyone used the debit cards for kids? Are they easy to manage? My dad keeps complaining that I treat him like a kid but hey, when the shoe fits, right?

  • Have you looked at amex blue bird?
    – quid
    Aug 31, 2016 at 18:12
  • 2
    I think this isn't closable as product recommendations; but I also think we need to not answer it with product recommendations. This is asking for a general approach, not a specific card, I think; but that's also how we need to answer it.
    – Joe
    Aug 31, 2016 at 18:28
  • Sorry, I overlooked the restriction on product recommendations in the help center. Thanks for the bluebird idea, I will look into it. Aug 31, 2016 at 20:06
  • I haven't tried it yet but bluebird.com appears to be similar to PayPal student.
    – user49076
    Oct 3, 2016 at 12:44

5 Answers 5


Most banks offer prepaid cards nowadays that should fit the bill here. I would recommend first checking with your bank to see what they offer, as that's probably the easiest, and perhaps cheapest, option.

My bank, for example, has an entirely fee-free prepaid card that, while marketed towards teens, is entirely applicable for this case. Other banks seem to offer similar products; some of them have more or less fees, but almost all that I've seen are better than the commercial products you'd find in a grocery store.

As an example (and I don't know anything about it so I don't specifically recommend this, just exemplifying what I mean):

Note that the fees vary, some should be able to be used without ever incurring fees and some have fees you won't avoid. Most seem to have the concept of "sponsor", or NFCU inverts it (you are the cardholder, your dad would be the "companion cardholder"), but in either way it means you can load money (and generally would be the sole money loader) and your dad could then spend it.

If your bank doesn't offer what you want, you may want to consider getting an account with a provider that offers what you're looking for, so to make deposits easier. Most of these allow deposits from other sources than checking accounts with that bank, but in many cases you may incur a fee or take longer for the money to clear.


My dad keeps complaining that I treat him like a kid but hey, when the shoe fits, right?

That right there is some wisdom.

I would question why you need a student account. If I found myself in this situation; and, decided to participate. I would open a savings account (no debit card) in both of your names. This account would have little or no fees, have a branch convenient for both of you, and no ability for him to overdraft. When I wanted to, I could deposit money into his account, and he could withdraw.

You might even open your own account at the same bank that he does not have access to. Then it is a matter of transferring the money into his account which can be done by mobile phone.

The thing that I would say to you, beyond your question, is that you are choosing to participate and enabling this insanity. By "quickly" sending him money you are not allowing him to find alternatives for his poor behavior.

If it was me, I would require that he have some sort of financial literacy education. He needs help budgeting, planning, and managing a bank account. I am a Dave Ramsey guy, so I would require him to attend FPU, that I would happily pay for ~$100. Alternatives are more than fine, mostly there has to be progress in his financial literacy and behavior.

If he asked for money in the future, I would ask to see his budget and explain what went wrong. If there was no budget, there would be no money. If there was some legitimacy to his need, I would help meet it. One example would be the company he worked for did not meet payroll. That is something mostly beyond his control and can really hurt when a person is just starting to take control of their life. So yes, I would send a check in that case.

However, that choice is yours.

For perspective, when my son was 18 he came to me for help with habitual bounced checks. He wanted me to pay the fee and probably pay it every month that he went crazy. I paid the fee once, and I provided the education he needed. After that he learned and was quickly a self-sufficient adult. I also made it very clear that I would only pay it once.

My situation was normal, parents should teach their children. Your situation is insanity. There is no way you should be put in the situation you are in with your father. He needs to grow up, and you will have to help him somewhat. If nothing more you should cut him off financially.

  • I think your answer has wisdom in it, but it may or may not be applicable here. It's not uncommon as people age for them to lose self control and the ability to rationally make decisions (such as, deciding whether to spend money on something or not); it's very possible this is what's going on here, and that it's unlikely the father will be able to truly learn better habits.
    – Joe
    Aug 31, 2016 at 18:40
  • Yeah, my dad is elderly and in poor health. He's at the very awkward stage where he is making poor decisions but not so poor that we can do anything legally to prevent his behavior. I know I'm enabling him to continue making bad decisions but at the same time he is my father and I don't want him to starve or go without his prescriptions. If he wasn't so obstinate and irrational, I wouldn't have a problem, but the only help he will accept is cash handouts. Aug 31, 2016 at 19:49
  • @user1959712 I don't mean to take the conversation off topic, but has your father always been this way with money management, or has it been something that you feel has worsened as he has grown older? The reason I ask is because poor impulse control and loss of executive function are signs of frontotemporal dementia, which can include a worsening ability to manage finances and an increase in impulse buying. I am not a clinician but if we're talking about a neurodegenerative issue, then simply dealing with the financial stuff is not enough.
    – heropup
    Sep 5, 2016 at 21:04
  • @heropup Thanks for the concern. My dad's never been good with money, particularly saving and budgeting. He didn't have much education and always worked service jobs that were paid frequently in small amounts, like taxi and delivery driver. Now that he gets social security once a month he usually ends up short by the end of the month. I've offered to take over his finances so that his bills get paid on time and he has grocery money all month but he refuses to be "treated like a child." Sep 9, 2016 at 22:23

Just create him a regular PayPal account, then so to the Pay Pal prepaid card page, https://www.paypal-prepaid.com, order a card an attach it to his personal paypal account. Unlike student account, you have to do 2 transfers, one into his paypal account, and then to the prepaid card.

That is an answer! Unlike those of use with teenagers under 18 who now have their student accounts jacked from them and there really isn't a good option.

Not happy with PayPal right now.I am sure there is a government bureaucrat somewhere behind this decision.


You don't have to do the prepaid PP card, just get him his own PP account and then order him the PP debit MC. It will act as a debit on his PP account just like the Student Account card.


Open an account for yourself at this credit union: https://www.alliantcreditunion.org/ Very easy to qualify and they have free service to send money directly to your dad's bank account overnight.

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