Greenlight Review [2024]: Is This Debit Card Right for Your Kids?

BANKING - BANK REVIEWS
The Greenlight debit card is designed to help teach kids about money, but is it right for your family?
Updated May 18, 2024
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Mother and daughter using debit card

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Financial literacy can be one of the most important skills you work with your kids to develop. Understanding money could help them get ahead in life and reach their goals.

One of the tools available to help your children learn more about money is the Greenlight debit card. In this Greenlight card review, let’s look at the Greenlight card for kids and see whether it might work for your family.

Quick Summary

Parent-friendly debit card for kids

  • Teach your kids financial responsibility
  • Automate weekly transfers to your child's card
  • No minimum age; FDIC insured
  • One month free trial
In this Greenlight review

What is Greenlight?

Greenlight is a fintech company launched in 2014 by co-founders Tim Sheehan and Johnson Cook. The company is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and has over 6 million+ users. Greenlight debit cards are issued through Community Federal Savings Bank, a virtual bank based in Queens, New York.

Greenlight claims to help families raise financially smart kids by offering a debit card that parents can use to pay allowances and monitor spending. Greenlight offers investment opportunities as well. With the Greenlight card, kids have the chance to learn about spending and saving, and the other services offered by Greenlight can help kids learn the basics of investing and personal finance.

How does Greenlight work?

The Greenlight debit card for kids is just what it sounds like — a debit card designed for children to use. As a parent, you can load the prepaid card using the Greenlight app, and your kids can access funds. You can make transfers manually or set up weekly direct deposits. 

Parents also set the terms for adding money, which could include requiring chores, getting good grades, or just providing an allowance. You may also choose to add money to the card for emergency purposes.

Parents and kids both get access to the Greenlight app, but they see different information when they log in. As a parent, you can see what’s going on with your child’s account, including monitoring balances and seeing purchases. 

If the investing feature is included, you can approve each trade. When your kids log in, they can see their balances and set goals, as well as learn valuable lessons. The idea is for them to be able to learn about financial management with a set of tools in the mobile app.

Greenlight card spending and saving balances are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) up to the limit of $250,000. 

On the investing account side, Greenlight is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is also a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). So although there’s no guarantee against decisions you and your kids make about money, you are protected in the event that the Greenlight company fails.

How much does Greenlight cost?

Greenlight Core Greenlight Max Greenlight Infinity
Monthly fee $4.99 $9.98 $14.98
Minimum age None None None
Security features
  • FDIC insurance
  • SIPC insurance
  • FDIC insurance
  • SIPC insurance
  • Identity theft, purchase, and phone protection
  • FDIC insurance
  • SIPC insurance
  • Identity theft, purchase, and phone protection
Features
  • Set goals
  • Spending and saving
  • Earn 1% on savings
  • Allowance
  • Parent monitoring
  • Investing for Parents Lite
  • All Greenlight Core features
  • Earn 2% on savings
  • Investing for kids and parents
  • Priority customer support
  • Identity theft, purchase, and phone protection
  • 1% cash back
  • All Greenlight Core/Greenlight Infinity features
  • Earn 5% on savings
  • Family location sharing
  • SOS alerts
  • Crash detection
  • Driving reports
  • Real-time trip alerts
Get a one-month free trial of Greenlight

Greenlight Core

This is the basic plan from Greenlight. It costs $4.99 monthly and includes the Greenlight debit card, which you can get for up to five kids. You also get access to the Greenlight app, which offers two different experiences for parents and kids. This plan also includes tools that allow kids to see their spending and saving balances, as well as set their own goals. Kids earn 1% on their savings. They can also track items like allowance and other ways of earning.

Parental controls are also included in the Greenlight Core plan. Parents can choose to add funds to the Greenlight card for their kids, as well as set spending limits, store-level controls, and monitor what’s going on in their kids’ accounts. It also includes Investing for Parents Lite. 

Greenlight partners with DriveWealth for its investing, and on the Parents Lite plan, you have access to 10 exchange-traded funds (ETFs). 

The Greenlight Core plan is the least expensive option and can work well for families with younger kids who are just learning about money management. It can be a useful tool to help them learn about how to manage money and set savings goals. If you’re interested in helping your kids develop basic financial literacy, this plan is likely to be adequate.

Greenlight Max

Besides all the tools available with the Greenlight plan, the Greenlight Max plan adds an element of investing. Kids can begin learning about investing money with as little as $1 on a platform designed for them. There are no trading fees involved, and parents have to approve each trade from their parent account.

For those interested in helping their children learn about investing and the importance of getting started, this can be one way to do it. Greenlight helps kids buy fractional shares, providing them with a way to invest in their favorite companies. 

This plan also includes 2% rewards on kids' savings accounts and 1% cash back on purchases, which is deposited into kids' savings accounts. 

Protections offered through this plan include:

  • Identity theft protection: Identity monitoring and alerts that can help you stay on top of identity-related threats.
  • Cell phone protection: If a cell phone purchased with Greenlight is damaged or lost, it can be protected for up to five kids.
  • Purchase protection: Items that are damaged or stolen, and paid for with Greenlight, can be replaced or repaired.

If your kids are old enough to learn about investing and start making those choices, this can be a good plan for your family, though it does come with a cost of $9.98 per month.

Greenlight Infinity

On top of having a Greenlight debit card for kids, as well as access to investing and other financial management learning resources and all the other Greenlight Max benefits, the Greenlight Infinity plan comes with additional benefits. These perks include:

  • Family location sharing: Switch on location sharing to stay connected to your family.
  • SOS alerts: Send an alert to emergency contacts, 911, or both with one swipe.
  • Crash detection: Your app will automatically dispatch 911 when a crash is detected.
  • Driving reports: Teens become safer drivers with personalized reports and weekly snapshots.
  • Real-time trip alerts: Get notified in real time when your kids are on and off the road.

You also earn 5% savings rewards on your savings on average daily savings balances of up to $5,000 per family. 

For $14.98 per month, this plan could be good for families that want all-inclusive protection and access to financial resources and tools.

Greenlight Benefits

  • Kids can earn money through chores, set savings goals, spend wisely, and invest
  • Get real-time notifications every time their kids spend money
  • Kids get up to 1% cash back and 2% on their savings balances
  • One month free trial, then as low as $4.99/ month

What we like about Greenlight

  • Security features: The fact that Greenlight requires parental approval for investments, as well as ongoing monitoring, spending controls, and other security features, can provide peace of mind. Your child can learn and make mistakes, but you help guide their decisions.
  • Educational tools: Teaching kids about how to set financial goals and monitor their money could be easier with the tools offered by Greenlight. The investing tools are also helpful when it comes to making it easy for kids to learn about investing and its benefits.
  • Teaches kids financial responsibility: Because it’s an app with financial management tools, kids can learn valuable lessons. The Greenlight debit card prevents kids from spending more than they have and could help them learn how to manage their money responsibly. 
  • Encourages saving for kids: Greenlight savings offers parent-paid interest, which allows parents to boost their child's savings. It also offers Round Ups, which you can enable to round purchases up to the next dollar and put the difference in savings. The is in addition to the interest kids earn on their savings that's paid by Greenlight.
  • Easy money management for the family: With the Greenlight card, it’s easy for the whole family to manage their money and learn together. Parents can quickly and easily send money to the card, automate weekly transfers to their child's card, and monitor spending and set rules for spending categories in real time. Then it offers the chance to talk about finances and review decisions, so kids have a better learning experience.
  • Customized cards: You can customize your child's card for a flat fee of $9.99.

What Greenlight could improve

  • Monthly fee: There’s a monthly fee for using Greenlight. Depending on where you live and the bank you use, you might be able to get a joint account with your children and get a different kids' debit card for free, which allows you to add money quickly and easily without a monthly fee. There are also investing apps that don’t charge monthly fees while allowing custodial accounts for kids.
  • No ATM network: While Greenlight doesn't charge ATM fees, it also doesn't have a fee-free ATM network, so you'll be charged a withdrawal fee by the ATM. Greenlight recommends making sure there are enough account funds to cover ATM withdrawal fees.

FAQs about Greenlight

What safety and security features does Greenlight offer?

Greenlight offers several security features, including the ability to turn off the card in the app. It’s also possible to add fingerprint or face recognition. Parents can monitor the account and set limits. Greenlight also has FDIC insurance and SIPC insurance to protect your money in the event that the company fails.

Is there a minimum age to get a Greenlight debit card?

There is no minimum age to get a Greenlight debit card for kids. Your child must be at least 18 to get their own credit card account. However, it’s possible for your child to get a credit card at a younger age by becoming an authorized user on your credit card.

Is the Greenlight debit card accepted everywhere?

Greenlight is accepted where Mastercard is accepted because that’s the payment network it uses. Additionally, the Greenlight card is accepted internationally with no foreign transaction fees.

Does the Greenlight debit card work with Apple Pay and Google Pay?

Yes, the Greenlight card works with both Apple Pay and Google Pay as long as your child meets the age requirements with each of those platforms.

What's better, Greenlight or FamZoo?

Greenlight and FamZoo could help your kids learn about financial management and teach valuable lessons while keeping parents in control. Carefully consider your individual situation and needs to determine what’s best for your family.

How to get started with Greenlight

To start with Greenlight, you will need the following information. Gathering what you need ahead of time might help the process go smoother:

  • Email address
  • Mobile number
  • Identifying information, including your name, birth date, and Social Security number
  • Mailing address
  • Children’s names
  • Valid debit card or bank account

Once you have that information, you can click on the “Get Started” button on the Greenlight website. You’ll be prompted to enter your mobile phone number. Once you enter it, you’ll be taken to a page asking whether you’re the parent/guardian or the child. When you confirm that you’re a parent, you’ll be texted a confirmation code. Enter the code, and you can create your Greenlight account.

From there, you’ll be able to choose your plan and then download the app and provide information about the children you want to add to the app. Greenlight offers a 30-day trial, and you can change your plan anytime. It will take 7-10 business days to receive your debit card. 

Bottom line

For parents hoping to help their kids learn about money management, the Greenlight card can be a valuable tool. There are a number of resources, and it makes it easy for you to see what your children are doing with their money at any point.

However, Greenlight does cost money. There are other ways to provide your child with access to a regular or prepaid debit card, as well as learn about investing without paying fees. Many of the best banks offer joint accounts with children, which allow you access and control — though seeing everything probably isn’t as simple as what you’d get with Greenlight. You have to decide what works best with your own preferences for how to manage your money.

If you want everything in one place and in a way that’s easy to see and manage, Greenlight might be worth the cost.

Greenlight Benefits

  • Kids can earn money through chores, set savings goals, spend wisely, and invest
  • Get real-time notifications every time their kids spend money
  • Kids get up to 1% cash back and 2% on their savings balances
  • One month free trial, then as low as $4.99/ month

Author Details

Miranda Marquit Miranda Marquit has covered personal finance for more than a decade and is a nationally-recognized financial expert and journalist, appearing on CNBC, NPR, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, and numerous other outlets.

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