Current Accounts Knowledge Hub

Bank cards and mobile apps for children

It’s a great idea to get your children used to using bank cards to help them manage their money. However, there are a lot of options. Our guide helps you to find the right kind of card and mobile app to boost your child’s financial know-how.

Cartoon of five hands holding phones displaying financial apps.

Should I get a cash card for my child?

If you think your little one is ready to learn how to be responsible with money and use a card in shops, in cash machines, or even online, then getting them a cash card could be a great move.

We all know how important it is to become financially literate. And as it turns out, it’s becoming easier than ever for kids to have their own cash cards and track their spending and, hopefully, their saving, through mobile apps. Although some high street banks are still a little behind the times when it comes to children’s accounts, there are a plethora of alternative businesses popping up offering a realistic financial experience for fledgling savers.

For those who feel that their kids are ready for their own cash card, it’s important to check out all your options as the choices vary quite dramatically. Some families may opt for a more traditional savings account with a big-name bank, while others may want to try out a new app-based model, with a prepaid card that children can control themselves.

Below, we will look at these different options in more detail to help you find the right kind of banking card product for your children.

What cards come with children’s bank accounts?

Bank accounts aimed at children are usually available from 11 years of age and offer either a debit card or a cash card.

Many of you reading this article will have already opened a savings account for your child. Birthday money, the odd cash gift from relatives, or even cash rewards for helping with the housework may all be totting up in the account and you may be thinking that it’s about time you let the little monkeys get their hands on some of their cash.

These bank accounts will usually offer a debit card, which can be used in shops and to make online purchases; or a cash card, which can only be used to take money out at ATM machines. In addition, many of the high street banks now have mobile banking apps that help your kids keep track of the cash in their account and also help them to learn how to use the different types of banking apps they may use as an adult.

Advantages of traditional cards linked to bank accounts

  • Your children will learn how a bank account operates
  • The accounts and cards are easy to use
  • The accounts and cards are free
  • As a parent, you may prefer them to be banking with a well-known name
  • They can go in-branch if necessary
  • They can withdraw cash free-of-charge
  • Kids can’t spend more than is in the account

Disadvantages to traditional cards linked to bank accounts

  • They are usually only available from 11 years of age
  • Parents have less control over spending
  • Banking is evolving quickly and prepaid cards may be the future
  • Some accounts and cards don’t have apps yet

What are app-based prepaid cards?

These cards and apps are aimed at kids as young as 6 and can be topped up by parents who can also set limits on spending and even keep track of what their children are buying. If this all sounds a little too Orwellian for you, don’t worry, children actually seem to really enjoy using the apps, seeing how their savings are mounting up and tracking their spending.

This option is still relatively new and there are still only a few brands offering these kinds of cards and apps directed specifically at children. However, as a growing number of adults are using financial apps and prepaid cards to keep track of their spending, it makes sense that children’s banking would follow suit.

Advantages to prepaid, app-based cards

  • Teach children a more modern type of banking
  • Gives parents more opportunity to set limits
  • Gives parents the ability to track spending
  • Helps children learn financial discipline
  • Attractive to children with bright colours and branding
  • Cards are available at a younger age
  • They often offer a free trial month

Disadvantages to prepaid, app-based cards

  • Services charge monthly fees of up around £3 per month - The fees charged by the prepaid card issuers extend beyond the usage fee and also include fees, often around 50p per transaction, to withdraw cash from ATMs. Some also charge other fees such as top-up charges and fees on spending abroad, so watch out.
  • Don’t include traditional bank accounts
  • Money is entrusted to very new, alternative financial businesses
  • Only a limited number of brands available to choose between

What are pocket money apps?

Pocket money apps are simple mobile financial apps that parents can use to pay their children their pocket money and children can use to track their pocket money. They can set savings goals and some even involve animated stories that help even the youngest savers to get interested in money and become financially educated.

It seems that the days of the piggy bank may be over!

Features of pocket money apps

  • Animated and/or bright eye-catching visuals
  • The use of storytelling to help engage young children
  • Ability to increase pocket money in line with good behaviour
  • Recommended amounts based on national averages
  • Multiple accounts, for siblings, can be managed simultaneously
  • Savings targets can be set
  • Photo sharing
  • Children can input their own information
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