Home > Credit Card Reviews > 3 Parent-Friendly Debit Cards for Kids

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

As children grow up, we expect them to take on more and more responsibilities before they become adults. For example, teenagers are often asked to purchase meals and pay their own way when going out with others.

Although children cannot open their own credit card accounts until they are 18 (or can prove they have income), there are a variety of prepaid debit card products available to adults that allow children to have their own subaccounts. Although the cards don’t influence credit scores and are not listed on credit reports, the cards can get kids accustomed to spending within a budget when using plastic.

How This Works

Parents open up a prepaid debit card account in their own name, and then create subaccounts for their children. Children receive their own cards, which parents can fund, monitor and use to set spending limits. Funds can be added to prepaid debit through direct deposit, by purchasing reload packs, or by adding cash at participating retailers.

In addition to monitoring their children’s spending habits, parents should also be careful to find a card that offers the most features for the fewest fees. Many cards charge a monthly fee and a fee to access cash at an ATM. In addition, some cards also have a cash reload fee. Some of the major cards.

1. Serve From American Express

Serve cards can be ordered online for free, or purchased at many retailers including Walmart, Walgreens and Office Depot. Funds can be added by direct deposit, linked to a bank account, or by writing a check and depositing it with a mobile phone app. Cash can also be loaded for free at more than 19,500 CVS, Walmart and 7‑Eleven locations.

Cards can be used at retailers that accept American Express and at ATMs. Parents who create subaccounts — there is a limit of four — can transfer money to these subaccounts and control ATM access. The card also features free online bill payment to any person or business. Unlike many of its competitors, Serve has a free ATM network with 24,000 ATMs. There is $1 monthly fee for this card that is waived if cardholders use direct deposit or add $500 or more during their monthly statement period. (The fee is not charged in New York, Texas or Vermont.)

2. Visa Buxx

This card is available online and at some major banks such as US Bank, and it is designed specifically for teens to use. Parents load funds onto the card online or over the phone. Parents determine how much money is loaded on the card so they can control their child’s spending (note: there are no subaccounts, and parents cannot control ATM access). Cardholders can also pay some bills online, like those to mobile phone providers. There is no monthly fee for this card, but there is an ATM withdrawal fee of $1.50, plus whatever charges are imposed by the ATM owner. Other fees vary depending on the institution that issues the card. 

3. Bill My Parents

For the Bill My Parents card, the name pretty much says it all. Parents fund the Mastercard-branded card using their credit cards, debit cards or bank accounts by phone or online. Family and friends can also load money onto the card for birthdays or special occasions. Parents can track spending and set limits either online or through a mobile app. In addition, the card can be set to alert parents via text message, and the card can even be locked and unlocked via text. In fact, parents can block the cards from being used at places where they don’t want their children to go. (However, parents have no control over cash-back from purchases.) There is a $3.95 monthly charge for this card and a $1.50 ATM fee, plus any fees levied by the ATM owner. there is no charge to add a recurring allowance, but a 75-cent charge to load funds from a checking or savings account, and a $2.95 charge to load up to a $100 from a credit or debit card.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

At publishing time, the American Express Serve card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Wavebreak Media

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team