‎Greenlight Kids & Teen Banking on the App Store

Greenlight Basics

Greenlight is a fintech company on a mission to help parents raise financially smart kids. The Atlanta-based company was co-founded in 2014 by Tim Sheehan and Johnson Cook; as of 2022, more than 4 million families have opened Greenlight accounts.

The Greenlight app is specially built with families in mind, and it’s designed for kids of all ages who are ready to start learning about money. Using the Greenlight card for kids, parents can teach their children about budgeting, spending wisely, saving and investing.

The Greenlight debit card is a secured debit card for kids, tweens and teens. This debit card bears the Mastercard logo and can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Kids can even add a selfie to personalize their card design.

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Greenlight Cards Products

Prepaid Debit Card for Kids

A prepaid card is a type of payment card that can be loaded with funds in advance and then used to purchase goods or services without incurring debt from the issuer.

The most common type of prepaid cards is a prepaid debit card (which acts like making bank account withdrawals when purchasing goods and services).

Prepaid cards for a child allow you to avoid non-sufficient funds fees or overdraft charges because they can only spend what they have on the Greenlight card.

Parental Controls

Parental controls are one of the key features provided by Greenlight Debit Card, as they lead the industry in terms of granularity of control.

Greenlight uses a permission-based spending rules system whereby parents can set rules for specific stores and spending categories. When parents set these controls over spending, this allows them to place their preferred limits on their child’s spending at a particular store or within a particular spending category.

We will cover these details more next.

  • Store-Level Spend Control

Greenlight is the only prepaid card which allows y

Greenlight is the only prepaid card which allows you to select each and every store where kids can use their Greenlight card.

And, for parents really concerned this might not be enough control, Greenlight Card issues you an alert as soon as your kids try to spend funds where they shouldn’t.

But, even if they shop where they are allowed, you still receive an alert anytime the Greenlight debit card gets used. Further, it also tells you when a card gets declined for any reason.

This level of insight as to when, where and how much money your kids are spending is unmatched by any other minor debit card.

Though, do you want even more flexibility through the controls you can put in place?

You can relax this by choosing to place your child’s allowance money (or any other funds you’ve loaded onto a Greenlight card) into the Spend Anywhere spending category. This allows them to spend their money where they want.

Your child can use funds held in the Spend Anywhere category at any merchant online or off which accepts Mastercard for payment.

Also, you should have the option to connect your child’s individual Spend Controls to their Spend Anywhere fund so that they can combine funds toward a desired purchase.

For example, if your child goes to make a purchase for $7 at Walmart, but their Spend Control only has $6 in the balance, when this setting is turned on, the difference will come from your child’s Spend Anywhere Spend Control. This avoids having the purchase get declined.

  • Spending Categories

Greenlight categories purchases commonly made by kids and teens into five categories:

  • ATMs
  • Gas Stations
  • Grocery Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Online Gaming

When you first join Greenlight, your last four spending categories (“Gas Stations”, “Grocery Stores”, “Restaurants”, and “Online Gaming”) act more like budgetary guidelines than actual spending rules.

Meaning, you can set funds in the Spend Anywhere account balance and have all these categories set to Pull Overages from Spend Anywhere in your Spend Control Settings.

As an exception, Any ATM has this turned off by default to prevent your children from withdrawing more than the balance set for the Any ATM Spending Category amount.

  • In-App Approvals

In the event your child goes to a new store without prior approval but doesn’t carry a high enough balance in their Spend Anywhere Spend Control, they can contact you through the app to make a real-time request for additional funds.

  • Freeze Your Child’s Greenlight Card

If you lose a Greenlight Card, have it stolen or otherwise want to disable your child’s card temporarily, you can simply turn off their Greenlight card through the parent app. When it’s found, you can simply turn it back on.

Parent Paid Interest

Paying your own interest rates is a big perk of so

Paying your own interest rates is a big perk of some checking accounts for minors, as it can help parents incentivize their kids to save money. It’s a way to teach your child the benefits and responsibilities that come with managing money, setting goals and saving funds toward achieving them.

Parent-Paid Interest is an annual percentage rate that you set for your child’s General Savings in the Greenlight app. Their account will earn the interest on the first of each month and all you have to do is set up the instant transfer into their account from your parent’s wallet.

Greenlight calculates and pays interest monthly based on the average daily balance of your child’s “Total Savings” for the previous month. This represents the total amount saved between General Savings and Savings Goals.

With this feature, you can choose how much interest their savings earns. If you want them to earn a lot, then you can set your interest to pay up to 100% interest.

But if that is too expensive and you’d rather pay a legitimate interest rate, then you can set the amount to as low as 1%. It’s up to you!

This feature will show your children the power of saving. You can teach them how savings grow with each month’s payment.

Instant Money Transfers

The instant transfer capability is really beneficial for parents. When a child is too small to have a job or your teens are too busy to go with you to the bank, it’s up to you to give them some spending money each week.

Transfers from your card to your Parent’s Wallet will show up immediately while transfers from your bank account will generally be available for validated bank accounts with sufficient funds 3-4 business days after initiating the transfer.

Depending on your history with Greenlight, the company may provide instant funding to expedite your transfer.

Many parents use this as a way to pay for weekly chores. The instant transfer capability eliminates the need to make a trip into an actual bank, which could be difficult for children with no transportation or adults pressed for time.

Plus, it helps parents to see how much money they give their children and can help them determine if they should give more or less as time goes on.

Chore Plans

Chores aren’t always the most fun, there&#82

Chores aren’t always the most fun, there’s no sense in denying it. There’s even a split in whether you should pay your children for doing chores. One cohort believes allowance shouldn’t be earned through work but mainly given as a teaching tool to learn how to manage it when stakes are low.

The other links paying an allowance to earning a wage and taking pride in your work. No matter where you fall, chores are useful behaviors to begin building because they can translate to positive outcomes outside of childhood.

Greenlight gives you the tools to set up, administer and oversee a chore plan or schedule. The program offers routine tasks that can start as unpaid which then allow you to add gradual tasks you do pay for because they require more time and work.

You can use your app to schedule or even automate your chore schedule. The app allows you to:

  • Set chores that repeat weekly—or multiple times per week.
  • Set single-time chores for bigger tasks like spring cleaning, babysitting or mowing the lawn.
  • Manage and track recurring chores and also place money transfers on autopilot (if you choose to pay them).
  • Provides an open discussion opportunity into the chores expected and what they need to do before checking them off and getting their recurring transfers.

For reference, the five most popular chores families assign on the app are:

  1. Clean your bedroom
  2. Take care of the pet
  3. Wash the dishes
  4. Read
  5. Take out the trash

You might consider starting here and working your

You might consider starting here and working your way up to more tasks you deem equally important.

Allowance Automation

Kids who do their chores tend to have better profe

Kids who do their chores tend to have better professional success later in life.

Though, the motivations behind doing chores can also be something worth exploring: are your children doing more around the house because they know you’ll pay or because it gives them a stronger sense of accomplishment?

All people are different, which means their motivations differ as well. However, establishing routines can build healthy habits that last a lifetime.

That’s why setting up a chore system early and rewarding them with financial earnings can lead to positive outcomes. What we do as children often guides what we do as adults.

Therefore, earning an allowance for helping around the house can give children a sense of responsibility and pride.

Greenlight’s feature, Allowance Automation, allows parents to set up specific chores for their children on the parent app. Once they complete that chore or each time it is assigned, they will receive a payment.

Parents can choose whether they want to pay them once every week (or month), or on a daily basis.

The best part about this feature is that parents can customize the allowance depending on their child’s age and what they’re doing around the house.

For example, if your child does regular chores like sweeping, washing dishes or taking out trash then you might want to give them $0.50 for every time they do it.

If you want children to do chores that require more detailed instructions, then it’s best to pay them a higher allowance. This will give them the incentive they need and encourages your child to follow through with what is asked of them.

It can be difficult for parents to balance providing children with an allowance while making sure it doesn’t go overboard. By setting up a system with Allowance Automation, you can measure how much they are earning and the time it takes for them to complete their chores.

Related: 11 Best Allowance and Chore Apps for Kids [Easier Family Life]

Savings Rewards

The best debit cards for kids are not just about t

The best debit cards for kids are not just about teaching responsibility. They’re also savings accounts in disguise, since the money gets drawn from the linked checking account on the card itself and all transactions go through it.

Learning to manage these funds can teach kids how to save and budget their money in the short-term but also toward longer-term goals.

Greenlight offers their version of a savings account through its Savings Rewards feature.

The basic Greenlight and Greenlight + Invest plans offer a savings boost of up to 1% on the average monthly balance up to $5,000. This sounds like an interest rate, though Greenlight names it differently.

Though, like a rose of any other name, it still smells as sweet.

Further, Greenlight Max plan participants see their Savings Rewards double to 2%.

Round Ups

Much like the famous micro investing app, Acorns, Greenlight also adds more saving capability through their Round Ups feature.

This enables kids to round up purchases to the next dollar and add this money to their Greenlight General Savings automatically or on a per transaction basis.

For example if they spend $3.25 at the Disney Store, they can round up that purchase to $4.00 and automatically save the difference of $0.75. Parents and children can manage Round Ups from the Savings page in their app.

Direct Deposit

One of the best features that may be available on a debit card for kids is direct deposit. Direct deposit means that a child’s paycheck will go directly to their account, rather than just getting an envelope from work and then handing it over to mom or dad for money management.

Direct deposits are also good because they can help a grown-up manage when money should come into the bank account and when they know they need to transfer money for any expected expenses.

Greenlight Debit Card allows teenagers with jobs to receive their paychecks directly on their card as a source of funds.

Customized Cards

A common feature among kids’ card companies,

A common feature among kids’ card companies, Greenlight allows you to customize your children’s cards. If you’d like to order a Custom Card for $9.99, you can do so by following the prompt in the notification section of your Parent Dashboard.

Identity Theft, Phone and Purchase Protection

As part of the premium Greenlight Max plan, the company offers you identity theft, phone and purchase protection for up to five children.

  • Identity Theft – Greenlight provides identity theft monitoring, alerting and restoration services for the whole family. Coverage provided by Experian.
  • Phone Protection – Coverage for damaged, lost or stolen phones for up to five kids on the Greenlight Max plan. This protection allows for imbursements related to the cost of replacing or repairing your child’s cell phone in the event of damage, or up to $600 per claim if it is damaged, lost or stolen. You have 2 claims available per calendar year up to an aggregate of $1,000 per card per calendar year. A $25 deductible applies per claim for the coverage provided by Virginia Surety Company, which is unavailable to plan members in the state of New York.
  • Purchase Protection – Purchase protection allows qualifying users to seek reimbursement for the cost to repair or replace an item that was purchased in full with the Greenlight card. This is allowable if the purchase becomes damaged or was stolen within 4 months (120 days) of the date of purchase or delivery, up to $100 per item and an aggregate of $1,000 per calendar year.

What Greenlight Can Do Better

  • Monthly fee on Investing plan. While useful to have every financial decision housed on the same platform, Greenlight’s investing plan starts at $7.98 per month for up to five kids. If parents don’t need the controls or insight provided by the Greenlight debit card, they could instead opt for a cheaper custodial account through an Acorns Family plan ($5/mo) at a lower monthly fee. Likewise, you can go with a BusyKid debit card system which costs only $19.99/year (though $7.99 per year per extra card with other fee potential as well). While it has less functionality and lower customer satisfaction scores, it does come at a lower price point as compared to the Greenlight + Invest plan’s fee.
  • Require approval for allowance transfer (not automated). After using the mobile application to pay my son for chores as a test, I noticed how the feature automatically transfers funds without requiring prior approval. If I took no action, the payments would transfer regardless. If I set single time chores which require manual approval, I don’t believe this would happen.
  • Reload cash options. Greenlight does not currently offer the ability to reload cash directly onto the card from participating retailers nationwide. Having this access, even for a fee, can promote more accessible populations who are currently underserved by financial services. Options like Famzoo allow this at locations like Walmart or Target, albeit for a fee charged by retailers on the Mastercard Reload network.
  • Parent / child loans. Options like Famzoo and BusyKid allow parents to lend money to their kids (either with interest or not) to pay for larger purchases a kid cannot finance alone. Having this feature can be a safe environment for learning about credit before moving on to a credit card or other loan product outside of the home.

What is the Greenlight debit card?

The Greenlight debit card is a debit card for kids. This prepaid debit card allows parents to transfer allowance money and other funds into their children’s debit accounts and gives kids the ability to learn how to manage money with a debit card instead of using cash for their day-to-day spending.

How does Greenlight work? Parents start by setting up a virtual wallet with Greenlight. Once the parent’s Wallet is in place, parents can transfer money directly to their kids’ Greenlight debit accounts, as well as set limits on where that money can be spent. Parents also get an alert every time the Greenlight debit card is used to help them monitor how their children are spending their money.

Children can use the Greenlight mobile app to track their balance, create savings goals and set aside money for charitable giving. If parents decide to link their children’s allowance to specific chores (including recurring and one-off responsibilities), children can use the Greenlight app to track their chore list and mark chores as completed.

Greenlight card reviews are mixed, with the company receiving a B from the Better Business Bureau and 4.3 out of five stars on Trustpilot. The most common complaints involve unexpected difficulties with financial transfers, whether a parent is attempting to put money into or withdraw money from their child’s Greenlight account.

Keep in mind that the types of Greenlight card reviews that show up on sites like the Better Business Bureau are often heavily weighted towards the negative. So, if you’re considering the Greenlight debit card for your kids, it’s worth looking into the card’s pros and cons before making your decision.

Greenlight vs. other debit cards for kids

The Greenlight debit card isn’t the only debit card for kids out there. Here’s how Greenlight stacks up against FamZoo, GoHenry and BusyKid, three of the most popular competing debit cards on the market.

  • FamZoo vs. Greenlight: Like Greenlight, FamZoo lets parents transfer money directly to their kids’ debit cards and helps parents and kids work together to track saving, spending and giving. However, FamZoo doesn’t offer the kid-friendly investment opportunities that come with the Greenlight + Invest and Greenlight Max plans. A FamZoo subscription costs $5.99 per month, though families can save by paying for multiple months (or years) in advance.
  • GoHenry vs. Greenlight: GoHenry is another popular kids’ debit card, and like Greenlight, parents can fund kids’ accounts, set limits on spending, help their children set aside funds for charitable giving and more. As with FamZoo, the biggest difference between GoHenry and Greenlight is that GoHenry does not offer any type of investing platform. GoHenry costs $3.99 per child per month, and you can customize your children’s debit cards for $4.99 each.
  • BusyKid vs. Greenlight: BusyKid is probably the closest match to Greenlight, in terms of features and options – including the option to help your child set up an investment account and learn about the fundamentals of investing. BusyKid is also less expensive than Greenlight. A BusyKid family plan costs $19.99 per year and comes with one BusyKid prepaid Visa spend card. If you want to set up BusyKid accounts for multiple children, you’ll pay an additional $7.99 per child per year.

Other Greenlight Plans

So far, this Greenlight card review has focused on the standard Greenlight plan. But there are two other tiers to choose from: Greenlight + Invest and Greenlight Max.

Greenlight + Invest comes with all of the same features as a standard Greenlight account, including:

  • Debit cards for up to five kids
  • Greenlight app dashboards for adults and kids
  • Parental controls
  • Spending, saving, earning and giving tools
  • 1% savings reward

Besides those features, parents and kids also get access to investing. You can start investing with as little as $1, and you have the option to purchase fractional shares of stock and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Kids can research the investments they want to make, and parents can approve them through the Greenlight app.

Greenlight Max includes all the benefits of Greenlight + Invest, with a few nice additions. Instead of a 1% annual savings reward, kids with Greenlight Max plans earn a 2% reward. The Max plan also includes 1% cash back on debit card purchases, which is deposited directly in your kid’s savings account. Greenlight Max users also get access to other perks, including:

  • Priority customer support
  • Identity theft protection
  • Cell phone protection
  • Purchase protection

But more features and benefits mean higher monthly fees. With Greenlight + Invest, parents pay $7.98 per month. The fee for Greenlight Max is $9.98 per month. By comparison, the BusyKid card, another of the most popular debit cards for kids, has many of the same features as Greenlight and costs just $3.99 per month per child. So BusyKid’s only a better deal if you just need one card.

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