Greenlight debit card review: Comprehensive benefits to help kids save and invest

A smiling parent sitting on a couch next to their child, holding a laptop and showing them how to use their Greenligh debit cardImage: A smiling parent sitting on a couch next to their child, holding a laptop and showing them how to use their Greenligh debit card
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Greenlight debit cards at a glance

Physical locationsNone
Getting startedAfter verifying your information and setting up your virtual wallet, you have to load at least $1 by ACH or at least $20 by debit card
Monthly service fee$4.99 to $14.98 per month for up to five kids
Overdraft feesNone 
Other feesMiscellaneous fees for things like card replacement or designing a custom card
How to depositACH, debit card or direct deposit (for teens with jobs)
How to withdrawATM
Notable featureUpgrade your kid’s debit card to a custom card with a photo of their choice

Greenlight is a financial technology company that offers debit cards for kids and an app with kid-friendly educational information, savings tools and investing options. With Greenlight, parents can oversee their kids’ money habits, set spending limits and restrict certain spending categories.

In this review, we’ll go over what you need to know before getting your child a Greenlight debit card.

5 things to know about a Greenlight debit card

If you’re looking for a kids’ debit card with comprehensive perks, Greenlight may be a good option.

1. Three plans to choose from

Greenlight Core, Greenlight Max and Greenlight Infinity all offer debit cards for up to five kids, financial education videos on the app, basic financial tools, parental controls and basic savings rewards as well as investing options and a credit card for parents.

But only the Max and Infinity plans offer more features like cash back rewards, higher savings rewards, more investing options for parents, investing for kids and the Greenlight Black Card. Infinity also provides family location sharing, SOS alerts and automatic calls to 911 if the app detects that you or your kids have been in an accident.

2. Kids can earn money through chores or direct deposit

The Greenlight app allows you to set up chores for your kids. It pays them an allowance of your choosing depending on how many of those chores they finish. You can also put their allowance on a payment schedule that automatically divvies up the money among their different accounts.

Teens with jobs can set up direct deposit so their paychecks go straight to their Greenlight account. And if they need some extra cash, they can send you a money request from the app.

3. Parental controls and security

Greenlight allows you to receive notifications when your kid spends money, and you can easily turn their card on or off. You can also control how they spend their money by setting up category spending limits and ATM withdrawal limits or by blocking unsafe spending categories.

Greenlight also offers phone, purchase and identity theft protection. So if someone steals your kid’s card or phone and makes a purchase, Greenlight will reimburse you.

4. Investing app for parents and kids

With Greenlight Core, parents can start investing money into their kid’s future. The Max and Infinity plans give parents even more investing options and allow them to guide their kids into learning about investing with educational videos. Kids can invest in ETFs and stocks with fractional shares starting at as little as $1, but you have to approve any trade they want to make.

5. Kids learn to budget and save with Savings Goals

With help from the financial resources available in the Greenlight app, you can teach your child to save with Savings Goals. This gives them options like rounding up on purchases, setting savings goals, divvying up their allowance between checking and savings accounts and earning up to 5% with Greenlight Savings Rewards. Parents can also pay interest on their kids’ savings.

Is the Greenlight debit card good?

Greenlight is a good option for parents looking for comprehensive benefits like customizable debit cards, financial education for kids and saving and investing options.

Parents who want more oversight over their kids’ spending habits may also appreciate the app’s various control features. You can turn your kid’s card on or off from the app, receive notifications when your child spends money and block unsafe spending categories.

If you’re looking for a low-cost kids’ debit card, though, you can find less-expensive options elsewhere.

How much does Greenlight cost a month?

Your first month of Greenlight is free. After that, you’ll pay a fixed monthly maintenance fee. Greenlight Core costs $4.99 per month, Max is $9.98 per month and Infinity costs $14.98 a month. Unlike some checking accounts and debit cards, there’s no way to waive these monthly fees.

If you want to upgrade your child’s debit card to a custom card, there’s an additional one-time charge of $9.99. And heads up: Using an ATM could cost you too — Greenlight doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals, but you may have to pay an ATM provider fee.

Not sure if Greenlight is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Copper Banking: Copper offers debit cards are for teens 13 or older, with features like contactless payment and parental controls. 
  • Capital One: Capital One’s MONEY checking account provides debit cards for kids as young as 8, as well as benefits like robust parental and mobile features — with no fees.

About the author: Jenny Rose Spaudo is a freelance writer and content strategist specializing in finance, technology and real estate. Her writing has appeared in Business Insider, Credit Karma, GOBankingRates and more. Visit jennyroses… Read more.