How to choose a teen debit card: What age can you get a debit card?

September 28, 2023

By Alliant Credit Union

How to choose a teen debit card: What age can you get a debit card?

A mom helps her son research debit card options.

The best debit cards for teenagers offer easy transfers, parental monitoring and spending limits. They also offer no monthly service fees, no overdraft fees, ATM rebates and high-interest rates at no additional costs. If you're wondering what age can you get a debit card for your teen, we can help! We take a deeper dive to help you choose the right debit card for teens and the checking account that goes along with it.

What age can you get a debit card?

A child can typically get a teen debit card at 13 years old when a parent or legal guardian opens a joint teen checking account on their behalf. Teen checking accounts are typically available until the child turns 18. When the account holder becomes 18, it’s common for the account to automatically roll into a regular checking account without the spending or withdrawal limits of the teen account. Be sure to check the exact age requirements before opening an account, as each bank and credit union could be different.

How old should MY child be to get a debit card?

How old your child should be to get a teen debit card is really a personal decision for your family. Debit cards that come with a teen checking account will have some extra features to help parents transition. As soon as your child has some independence in their activities, a debit card can be helpful in teaching financial responsibility. Teen checking accounts have minimum age requirements. It's likely your financial institution has checking accounts for as young as 13 but some start at 15.

If you feel like your child is not old enough for a debit card (or they don't meet most age requirements yet), start with a kids savings account. You can monitor their money safely in an account that's less transactional.

Features to look for in a debit card and checking account

Spending limits: The right teen checking account and teen debit card can give your child the freedom they need to make purchases, all with the guidance of an adult. To help teens budget and to give parents peace of mind, debit cards can come with daily withdrawal and spending limits. For example, Alliant’s Teen Checking account has daily debit card limits of $500 in cash withdrawals, $500 in PIN-based purchases and $5,000 in signature-based purchases.

Minimal to no fees: Look for additional debit card perks including fee-free ATMs and ATM fee rebates. You’ll also want to find a credit union or bank account for minors that does not have a monthly fee or overdraft fees.

When shopping for a teen checking account and debit card, have your teen with you so they can see that not every bank account is the same. Some accounts come with fees while others have great rates. As with any account, sit down together and take a look at the fee schedule so they know how to avoid costly fees such as non-sufficient funds (which some accounts have).

Easy transfers and monitoring: Transferring money to your teen’s checking account should be easy once you’re a joint owner on the account. You can schedule recurring transfers or set up one-time transfers. You and your teen will want to be able to monitor the account with a mobile app or online banking. A good teen checking account will also let you set up transaction alerts so you can both be in-the-know when purchases are made.

Compatibility with mobile wallets: We’re all banking differently than we did even five years ago. In addition to having a user-friendly mobile app, you’ll want a debit card that is compatible with mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay. That way, teens can use their debit card with the tap of their phone. Mobile wallets may even be more secure than using the card itself.

Direct deposit and high-interest rates: Say goodbye to those misplaced paychecks! If your teen has a part-time job, they can set up direct deposits into their checking account. They can also watch their money earn more money if the account has a high interest rate.

How a debit card for minors can teach money management

Studies have shown that we get most of our financial advice from our family. When you open a bank account for your child, you can pass on valuable financial tips that will be with your teen for a lifetime.

A debit card can show a teen the value of money and the importance of budgeting for certain goals. Some teen checking accounts come with personal financial management apps within their online banking platform. If your teen is saving for a major purchase like a cell phone, they can look at their debit card expenses to see where they can cut back.

Practicing money management with a debit card can teach teens how to use a credit card as well. With spending limits and a finite amount of cash, a teen can learn to not stretch their budget too thin. By using an app associated with their debit card, teens can learn to monitor their spending and transactions to understand their spending habits. It will also prepare them to monitor their accounts for fraud.

Get an award-winning teen checking account

An Alliant Teen Checking Account is the perfect way to teach financial literacy under parents' control. Each account comes with a debit card for your teen. Open an account today!

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