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How to choose a debit card for minors

A mom helps her son research debit card options.
April 25, 2019

By Katie Pins

The best debit cards for teenagers offer easy transfers, parental monitoring and spending limits. They also offer no monthly service fees, ATM rebates and high-interest rates at no additional costs. We take a deeper dive to help you choose the right debit card for minors and the checking account that goes along with it.

What age can a child get a debit card?

A child can typically get a debit card at 13 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 same spending or withdrawal limits.

Features to look for in a debit card and checking account

Spending Limits: The right teen checking account and debit card could 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 some peace of mind, debit cards can come with daily withdrawal and spending limits. For example, Alliant’s Teen Checking has daily debit card limits of $100 in cash withdrawals and $300 in spending.

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 bank account for minors that does not have a monthly fee. When shopping for a 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.

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 Apply 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 deposit into their checking account. They could 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 minors, 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 take a 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.


Katie Pins is a marketer fascinated with finance. Whether the topic is about the psychology of money, investment strategies or simply how to spend better, Katie enjoys diving in and sharing all the details with family, friends and Money Mentor readers. Money management needs to be simplified and Katie hopes she accomplishes that for our readers. The saying goes, "Knowledge is Power", and she hopes you feel empowered after reading Money Mentor.