What is the Best Prepaid Card & Bank Account for Children?

How can you find the best prepaid card and bank account or card for your child? After searching for the best accounts and prepaid cards for my own boys, I wanted to a roundup of what is available. It can be difficult to pick through all the options and know what will be best for you and your children.

There’s a huge amount of research showing that habit formation in money starts as young as 5, so getting them started with good habits will encourage these positive behaviours for life. Over 40% of what we as adults do every day is down to the habits we have, so starting early is a great opportunity to build positive, lifelong habits. 

To be honest, I would not over worry about which is the best account. I would recommend the aim is to get your children involved in discussions around what that money might be used for in the future. Teach them to attach a meaning and purpose to their savings goals and to help teach them about making sensible decisions with that money.  

But to find the right account, the main things to think about are pre-paid cards, bank accounts, and investing. Those are your 3 main options, and really the choice you make will depend on what works best for you.

I would argue, however, that investments are great for building a future pot for your children, whereas bank accounts and prepaid cards are best for teaching your children about money in the here and now.

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What are the biggest considerations?

Access – Think about how much access you want them to have, depending on how old they are now.  

Ownership – What happens to their account when they reach say age 18. Does it automatically belong to them? You may not want them to have access to a significant sum of money at a time when you may not wish them to.  

Purpose –If you need daily or frequent access stick with bank accounts, savings or pre-paid cards. But with long term you will almost certainly want to consider an investment. The effects of inflation on cash over long periods can be ravishing.

Think Fridge, Freezer, Pantry… 

Fridge = short term – bank accounts and savings accounts like Cash JISA 

Pantry = medium term – fixed term savings account or regular savers that reward you for slightly longer than instant access 

Freezer = long term – 5+ years, investments such as S&S JISA or Pensions 

If you want easy access think about how much. Bank accounts and pre-paid cards are best for instant access. For less regular or future access, look out for regular savers that reward you for regular savings, or Cash Junior ISAs.  

Investing options range from Stocks and shares Junior ISAs (if you don’t mind them having access to it at age 18). You could also consider starting a Junior Pension for them if you want to invest for their retirement. However, many parents want to plan for their children’s first houses, cars and education in which case a pension would not be suitable.  

Age – I would encourage the reward-based accounts up to the age of around 9, where you can reward them for tasks. It encourages great savings habits. Over this age, I would consider childrens bank accounts, pre-paid cards or savings account for infrequent access.  

Many of the prepaid cards for under 18’s offer the best of both world. You can choose to use reward-based functions with most prepaid cards, but you don’t have to. This is great because it means the card can grow with them. For example, you may reward them for tasks for a few years, and then simply stop using that function and switch to paying them a set amount weekly or monthly.

Many of the prepaid cards come with their own account and sort code number so that kids cam have money transferred in to their accounts (great if family members would like to gift them cash for birthdays or Christmas etc).

Children 6-11

Your best option for younger children is undoubtedly prepaid cards. The majority of the best bank accounts on offer require children to be aged 11+, but it is never too early to get started!

There really isn’t a huge amount of difference between the main cards in terms of functionality.

My personal choice, and the card I use for both my boys, is Starling Kite. I love that GoHenry and Rooster have integrated charitable giving options, but they are also the slightly more expensive options.

All of the cards offer some form of spending limits, allowing you to set daily, weekly, or monthly spending limits. Legally, none of these cards will allow spending in shops or online stores which are registered 18+.

Top tip for mobile users: turn your phone on its side for a better comparison view!

GOHENRYSTARLING KITEROOSTEROSPERNIMBL
Fee£2.99pm£2pm£24.99pa£2.50pm£2.49pm
Age required6+6+6+8+6+
Card TypeVisaMastercardVisaMastercardMastercard
Use onlineYes: Option to allowYes: Option to allowYes: Option to allowYesYes
Chip & PinYesYesYesYes
ContactlessYesYesYesYes
ATM withdrawalsFreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Dedicated appYesCurrently housed within parent account app. Child app coming soon.YesYes, parent and child appsYes
Spend TrackingYes: Receive notifications and/or text messageYes: Instant payment notificationsYes: Real time notificationsYes: via the appYes: Instant notifications
Spending LimitsYes, set daily, weekly, and monthly spend capsYes, set daily, weekly, and monthly spend capsYes, set daily, weekly, and monthly spend capsBuilt inYes, set where they can and can’t use their card
Auto Saving OptionYes: Set regular saving amount & set savings goals.Yes: with potsYes: Save towards goals with goals potYes: Set regular saving amount & set savings goals.Yes: Set regular saving amount & set savings goals.
Charitable GivingYes: Set regular giving amounts to partner charity NSPCCNoYes: Powered by Just GivingNoNo
Interest PaidNoNoAdd an interest rate to your child’s savings pot (Plus account only)NoNo
ApplyGet 2 months free hereApply via parent account here3 months free Plus features hereJoin hereJoin here

GoHenry

Not the cheapest card, GoHenry charges £2.99 per month per card. Their app is great, with very easy to use functions and switching from parent to child view.

Get 2 months free here

Starling Kite 

Our personal favourite, Kite is the eagerly awaited offering from Starling Bank. It’s the cheapest prepaid card at £2 per month (£24/yr). 

To order the card, you must already be a Starling current account holder. Once you’ve signed up, you simply add a child ‘space’ and order their free card.

Currently the card is entirely managed via your parent app, but Starling are in the process of building a dedicated child app too.

Get a free card and parent account here

Rooster

RoosterMoney is £24.99 a year (no monthly option).

You simply open an account and then add each of your children.

3 months free Plus features here

Nimbl 

Nimbl is free for the first month and then £2.49 per month, or £28 if you choose to pay upfront annually.

You can use the app or website to manage your child’s card and spending.

Join here

Osper

Osper is also free for the first month, and is then charged at £2.50 per month.

Join here

How can you find the best prepaid card and bank account or card for your child? After searching for the best accounts and prepaid cards for my own boys, I wanted to a roundup of what is available. It can be difficult to pick through all the options and know what will be best for you and your children.

Children 11+

For older children, a bank account is a brilliant idea to further their money management and implement the lessons and behaviour they have learned in earlier years.

Some of the best options available currently are:

Starling Teen

Age: 16-17

Main Features:

  • App based
  • Debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay
  • 0.05% interest on balances up to £85,000

Open an account

Monzo Teen

Age: 16-17

Main Features:

  • App based
  • Debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay

Open an account

Natwest Adapt

Age: 11-17

Main Features:

  • App available
  • Debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay
  • 1% interest on your balance
  • 11-15 a parent must set up the account

Natwest also offer a service call Moneysense designed for 5-18 year olds to teach them about Money. It is an education programme available to teachers, parents and children and focuses on teaching money skills, habits and understanding in a number of ways.

Open an account

BarclayPlus

Age: 11-15

Main Features:

  • App available
  • Cash or debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay
  • Earn interest on your balance

Open an account

Barclays Young Person

Age: 16-17

Main Features:

  • App available
  • Cash or debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay
  • Earn interest on your balance

Open an account

Santander 123 Mini

Age: 13-18

Main Features:

  • App available
  • Debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay
  • Earn up to 3% interest on balance up to £2k

Open an account

TSB Under-19s’ Account

Age: 11-18

Main Features:

  • App available (from age 13)
  • Cash or debit card
  • Contactless, Apple pay, Google pay
  • Earn up to 2.5% interest on balance up to £2.5k
  • Set up direct debits and standing orders

17 to 18-year-olds also get a discount with the AA Driving School.

Open an account

Choosing a Prepaid Card or Bank Account for Children

When choosing the best prepaid card and bank account for children, consider what features do you need? For example, does your child need/want:

  • Receive payments in: choose a card or account
  • Access internet banking: choose a card or account
  • Earn interest: choose some accounts
  • Maximum/minimum withdrawals: choose a card or account
  • Access free additional (such as free driving lessons): choose some cards and accounts
  • Incur little to no fees: choose an account

How can you help to teach children to save money?

Get them excited about money! When you tell kids what to do, the reality is that they tend not to listen! So when we’re talking to them, particularly as they get older, it’s really important that we don’t just tell them how to manage, grow, save, and invest money, but actually show them. 

If you’re reading a book about money, leave it lying around for them to pick up at their own will. Listen to podcasts together. Give them some responsibility around money.

When they are younger, you can play role games with them to teach them about buying and selling. As they get older, get them interested in investing in companies that they interest them. For example if they are using Apple products help them learn about investing in these companies.  

Talk to your children about the things that they want to spend money on in terms of whether they need it or do they just want it. Needs versus wants is a great lesson to learn early on. Encourage delayed gratification for the things they want but don’t need.

Resources:

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