Cash use has been declining for a while. In fact, one in three adults report using no cash within the average week, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center. But your under-18 family members will have a tough time qualifying for a credit or debit card. The Greenlight card gives children access to cashless spending while still letting their parents keep an eye on their activity.
What Is the Greenlight Card?
The Greenlight card is a prepaid debit card that attaches to an app. The app lets you keep an eye on the balance and add money as necessary. You can move money to the card or have a paycheck direct deposited to it.
But Greenlight card isn’t the only prepaid debit card out there. What sets it apart from the many others on the market is that it’s geared toward children. Thanks to the parental controls in the app, you can use it not only as a safer alternative to carrying cash around but also as a way to teach your children about money management.
Read More: Prepaid Card Vs. Debit Card
Who Uses the Greenlight Card?
The Greenlight debit card is specifically for families, appealing to parents who want to teach their children financial responsibility. The card can be used with any merchant that accepts MasterCard. Your child will present the card or insert it into the reader at the register to make a purchase.
But the real user of a Greenlight card is the parents. You’ll simply download the Greenlight app and set it up, then connect to your own bank account to transfer money. You can add money using a debit card or bank transfer. No credit card funding is allowed.
The Greenlight App
One of the best features of the Greenlight prepaid debit card is its mobile app. Once you have your card, simply go to the Apple Store or Google Play store and download the app to your device. You’ll set things up and add some money, then be ready to go.
The app has many useful features, including:
- Turn the debit card on or off with one tap on your screen.
- Help manage your kids’ money by setting spend categories. You can set up spend limits at specific retailers or by type of merchant. You can also set a Spend Anywhere category and the money will come from there if your child runs out of money in a category. If a child runs out of money, you can also set it to send you a real-time notification to approve or disapprove the purchase.
- If your child has a smartphone, the app will send notifications when money has been added. You’ll get notifications when chores are completed and money is spent.
- The chore management screen lets your child check off when tasks are completed.
- The budget-setting section helps children learn how to manage their money, including setting savings goals.
Read More: Budgeting Games for Kids
Greenlight’s Allowance Feature
Your kids’ Greenlight accounts can provide an easy way to pay allowance. You just go to the parent dashboard and set up an amount to autopay weekly, biweekly or monthly. You can also direct portions of each payment to go into savings, various spend categories or the “give” category, which contributes it to a charity of your child’s choosing.
Many parents choose to tie a child’s allowance to a list of chores that are required each week. Greenlight’s chore feature is designed to help you with that. You can set up a chore list and even assign a dollar amount. At the end of the week, you can review the list and adjust the forthcoming allowance payment accordingly.
Greenlight Prepaid Debit Card Personalization
One of the most unique, kid-friendly features of the Greenlight debit card is that you can customize it. This allows you to add your child’s photo, a picture of a beloved pet or anything else your child loves. You can pull the image directly from your computer or phone, as long as it meets the image guidelines.
You’ll need to own the rights to any photo you upload. So an image of a favorite cartoon character would be rejected. You won’t be able to use a photo taken by a professional photographer, either, and you’ll need to have the permission of all people included in the photo.
You can create a customized debit card in your dashboard or in each child’s settings. From your dashboard, simply click customize child’s card, select the child whose card you’re customizing and upload a photo. It will take five to 10 business days for the new card to arrive.
Greenlight Prepaid Debit Card Pricing
Parents can get up to five kids' cards with a family membership. You can try out the service with a free 30-day trial, then cancel if you don’t want to continue. After that initial 30 days, you’ll pay $4.99 a month. Customizing your card comes at a fee of $9.99 per card.
Once you’ve placed your order, it will take five to 10 business days for your Greenlight cards to arrive. You can expedite this by paying $24.99 for two-day shipping. If you lose any of your prepaid cards, you’ll have to pay $3.50 for a replacement.
Greenlight Prepaid Debit Card Security
There are two features to look at when you’re talking about debit card safety. One is the security of the card itself. Your Greenlight account comes with a MasterCard that is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Your account also includes FDIC insurance to protect any funds you deposit.
The second feature relates to how safe it is for your child to carry it around. It’s far safer than cash, since the funds are protected even if it’s lost or stolen. You can lock the card at any time and attempted transactions will be declined. If transactions are made before you lock it, Greenlight will cover it as long as you call 888-483-2645 as soon as you discover it lost, as detailed in your cardholder agreement.
Read More: Debit Card Fraud Procedures
Greenlight Card Limits
A Greenlight debit card isn’t meant to serve as a bank account, but it does have very generous balance limits. As the parent, you can have up to $10,000 in your account to distribute to your children. Each child’s account can have up to $5,000 at any time. Your first ACH or debit transfer to the account must be at least $20. Once you’ve started, that deposit minimum drops to $1 if you transfer by ACH.
Greenlight also puts spending limits on your family. Each account will have a $1,000 purchase limit every day, with a $5,000 purchase cap per month. Each card has a $1,000 daily limit and $5,000 monthly limit, as well, so if one child spends more than others, the entire family can reach its monthly limit before the month is out.
Greenlight Purchasing Limits
Although your prepaid debit card will work as a typical MasterCard, there are limits on where the card can be used. If your card is declined at the register, check to make sure the merchant doesn’t fit into one of Greenlight’s prohibited categories:
- Wires and money orders
- Security brokers and deals
- Adult services, including massage parlors
- Gambling, including lottery tickets and online casinos
- Horse-related gambling
- Non-sport gaming
- Cashback at the register
- Using Greenlight Savings
Greenlight isn’t just a prepaid debit card provider. It’s also a tool to help parents teach children about money management. One of the best ways to do this is to take advantage of the Greenlight Savings Account feature. You’ll add money to this account the same way you’d add it to the debit card. Just choose Savings when you’re depositing the funds.
The difference between Greenlight Savings and a traditional savings account is that you, the parent, pay the interest. Simply choose an interest rate you think is fair and you’ll be charged interest on any money you put in. Obviously, this is designed as an educational tool, but it can also be a great way to help your child set money aside for a large purchase or to move to a custodial savings account later.
Alternatives to the Greenlight Card
Although the Greenlight debit card has plenty of benefits, it’s important to note that you’re paying a $4.99 monthly subscription fee. Other debit cards for kids may have a lower subscription fee, but pay close attention to how many cards you’ll get for that amount. Some debit cards charge by the card, so you may end up financially better off going for that option versus paying a monthly fee for multiple years.
The savings feature of the Greenlight card makes it especially worth some research into other options. There are plenty of banks offering kids' accounts that give parents management authority. Compare Greenlight to other custodial savings accounts. You may find combining a custodial savings account with a standard prepaid debit card works better.
Greenlight for Older Children
Many parents choose a Greenlight prepaid debit card for their older children. If your 16-year-old son or daughter has a part-time job, it’s an especially valuable option because a paycheck can be directly deposited to the account. In those early months, you may like that you can keep an eye on your child’s spending and even add a little extra money as you see fit.
But there are some disadvantages to using kids' cards for a teen. To use a Greenlight card at a gas pump, you’ll have to enable the Pay at the Pump feature in the app. Once it’s enabled, your young driver won’t be able to use the card inside the gas station.
Greenlight at ATMs
There may be times when your child needs to pull a little money out of an ATM. There are ATMs at malls, movie theaters and other locations, so it can be handy to have a card that allows ATM withdrawals. A Greenlight card can be used at any ATM with the Mastercard, Visa Interlink or Maestro branding on it.
Your child will face some limitations with this, however. An ATM withdrawal won’t be allowed until a card has been used for at least one other purchase. Your child will only be able to withdraw up to the amount in the account, and third-party lenders may charge a fee for each transaction.
Adding Greenlight to Payment Wallets
Another benefit of the Greenlight card is that it can work with your Apple Pay or Google Pay account. Apple Pay is only available for children ages 13 and up, while Google Pay isn’t available until a child reaches the age of 16. But if your child has an account, you’ll just need to add the Greenlight card to your Apple Pay Wallet or Google Wallet so that they can purchase songs, videos, apps or features within apps.
Adding Greenlight to your Apple or Google Wallet is also one of the easiest ways to pay for ridesharing services. It’s important to note that your under-18 children won’t be able to sign up for Uber or Lyft or take a ride without an adult present. But it can come in handy if your children are in college.
The Greenlight card is more than a prepaid debit card. It comes with an app that helps you manage your child’s spending. It’s a great way to discuss financial literacy as a whole family while teaching your youngest family members financial skills that will prepare them for adulthood.
- Pew Research: More Americans Are Making No Weekly Purchases With Cash
- Magnify Money: Greenlight Debit Card Review
- Apple: Greenlight Debit Card for Kids on the App Store
- Google Play: Greenlight Debit Card For Kids
- Greenlight Card: How Do I Set up an Allowance for My Child?
- Greenlight Card: Greenlight’s Guide to Chores
- Greenlight Card: Are There Photos That Can’t Be Used for Custom Greenlight Cards?
- Greenlight Card: What Fees Are Associated With Greenlight?
- Greenlight Card: FAQs
- Greenlight Card: How Greenlight Keeps Your Private Data Secure
- Greenlight Card: My Child's Card Is Lost/Stolen, What Do I Do?
- Greenlight Card: Greenlight® Prepaid Mastercard Cardholder Agreement
- Greenlight Card: Are There Places I Can't Use My Greenlight Card?
- Greenlight Card: Greenlight Savings: The New Way To Teach Your Kids the Value of Saving Money
- Finder.com: Compare the Best Debit Cards for Kids
- NerdWallet: 5 Best Savings Accounts for Kids
- Greenlight Card: Can My Child's Greenlight Card Be Used at a Gas Pump?
- Greenlight Card: Using the Greenlight Card With Uber & Lyft
Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a ghostwriter for a credit card processing service and has ghostwritten about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, Ecommerce Insiders, GoBankingRates, and ThriveBy30.