Should I Get My Teen a Prepaid Debit Card?

by Guest Contributor

This is a guest post from Janet who writes for CreditCardsCanada.ca

Should I Get My Teen a Prepaid Debit Card?

Should you get your teenager a prepaid debit card?Should you get your teen prepaid debit card to spend money and curb their use of credit cards? It may not be a bad idea to help keep them out of debt.

Increasingly, it seems as thought the prepaid debit card is the way to go for teens. After all, it is a very convenient way to pay an allowance. Just add the agreed-upon amount to the prepaid debit card. You can usually do it electronically, transferring the money easily from your account.

Teen Prepaid Debt Card

A prepaid debit card is also easier and safer for your child to carry around than cash, and it can teach your teenager how to track spending and make responsible money decisions in a world that runs on plastic. Practice with plastic can help equip your teen to make better decisions when he or she gets a credit card.

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But, is a prepaid debit card really the best way to teach these lessons?

Drawbacks to a Prepaid Debit Card

There are drawbacks associated with a prepaid debit card. One of the biggest drawbacks is that these financial products come with fees, fees and more fees. There is no end to the fees! Many prepaid debit cards charge monthly fees. On top of that, you usually have to pay a fee when you reload the card. So, each time you pay your child’s allowance, you also pay another fee.

Other fees include charges for using ATMs, checking a balance, and, sometimes, even engaging in account management online, over the phone or in person. The fees can really start to add up over time, and your child’s allowance can start costing you more than you might imagine.

What About a Regular Debit Card?

Instead of using a prepaid credit card, it might be possible for you to get your child a regular debit card. A checking account is a good idea for a teen; you can open a joint account with your child and beginning teaching money essentials. Find out from your bank if your child can have a debit card. Many banks will issue a debit card, on a joint account, to those who are at least 16 years old (in some cases, teens must be at least 18 in order to get a debit card).

If it is possible to get your child a regular debit card, consider that course of action. Your child can still learn all of the lessons that come with responsible use of plastic — but without all the fees. If you are worried about your child overdrawing the account, you can opt out of the standard overdraft services; when your teen tries to make a purchase that there aren’t enough funds for, the transaction will be rejected.

A prepaid debit card can be a great tool for teaching teens to use money wisely, putting real life money lessons into practice. However it will cost you. Instead, first find out if your teen is eligible for a regular debit card. If that is a possibility instead, opt for that method, since it offers all the same conveniences, but often with fewer fees.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon C

I had a debit card when I was 16 and found it incredibly useful to understand “using plastic”. Apparently it is common for people to overspend on their credit card because they have been distanced from the actual process of handing over cash. I’ve never had that issue because I still consider my Visa credit to be just the same as my first debit card, except that I have to remember to deduct the balance manually.

Plus with all the big banks coming up with apps for mobile banking, it will be very easy to teach teenagers how to keep a track of their remaining balance.

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Kevin @ Debteye

Even though prepaid debit cards come with higher fees, I think those fees will outweigh the lessons that teens can learn about budgeting and spending money wisely.

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