No matter which monthly plan you choose, the Greenlight card should offer solid perks that can help kids save money and build responsible financial habits.
All Greenlight cardholders earn at least 1 percent on their average daily savings balance and get access to unique money management features and basic protections like FDIC insurance and zero fraud liability. But for a little extra, you can also unlock additional rewards opportunities and features, including the card’s cash back program.
The base Greenlight plan, available for $4.99 per month, will get the job done if you’re satisfied with a 1 percent Savings Boost, money management tools and education, but it may be worth opting for the Greenlight + Invest level (available for $7.98 per month) if you’re interested in additional features that help kids learn about investing and make it easy for parents to invest for their child’s future.
The third tier, Greenlight Max, may offer the best value. You’ll enjoy all the perks of the base and Greenlight + Invest tiers, plus an extra 1 percent Savings Boost (for a total of 2 percent earnings), as well as unlimited 1 percent cash back on purchases and exclusive perks like dedicated customer service and future limited-time offers on top of the rewards.
Here’s a quick look at some of the key benefits that come with the Greenlight card, depending on your plan:
Parental controls and money management options
The Greenlight program is made of three components that both the parent or guardian (the primary accountholder) and the child (sub-accountholder) can use: the sub-accountholder’s debit card, the sub-accountholder’s Greenlight mobile app and the primary accountholder’s mobile app. Kids can use the physical or digital version of the debit card to make purchases, while parents can use the app to:
- Monitor and approve each purchase as it happens
- Set general spending limits and limits on specific store or category purchases
- Create chore lists and one-time tasks for kids tied to an allowance
- Reload the card balance
- Set up direct deposits to teens’ cards if they work part-time
- Freeze and unfreeze each debit card
These features help kids get hands-on experience with budgeting and earning money while giving parents visibility and control over where and how much they spend. According to Greenlight’s research, the top transaction categories for kids and teens are grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, online gaming and ATMs, so you can even set spending limits for each of these individual areas.
While many of these features are similar to those you’ll find on other kid-centric debit cards programs, Greenlight offers more in-depth customization options than most.
The Greenlight card can also help kids learn the power of responsible saving decisions. You can set up “Savings Goals” toward big expenses like college or a car, or short-term purchases like games. Meanwhile, the “Round Up” feature can help pitch in by taking the leftover change from each purchase and putting it toward these plans or your child’s general savings.
You can take things a step further and teach kids the value of compounded interest with its “Parent-Paid Interest” rate you set yourself that accrues using the primary accountholder’s funds. You can set this rate at anywhere from 1 to 100 percent, allowing savings to grow at a much faster pace than you’d get with the typical APY and demonstrating how money can grow when you save.
As with similar kid-centric debit cards, Greenlight offers a gift option that allows people outside your family accounts to load cash onto the card. Friends and family can send a gift of $25, $50, $75 or $100 via text or email, which can be redeemed easily through the app. Gift-givers can even designate how kids can use their funds—anywhere, at a select store or only toward their Greenlight Savings account.
Greenlight + Invest
A unique feature among debit cards for kids, the Greenlight + Invest monthly plan will unlock educational modules and parent-approved stock and ETF trading opportunities for your family.
Since it’s tailored for learning about the investing space, it’s built to be easily accessible. You can set your risk tolerance, establish your investment timeline and buy most U.S. market stocks with no trading fees to worry about. You can even buy into fractional stocks with as little as $1.
All the while, you’ll stay entirely in control since your child can’t make trades without your permission and the brokerage accounts are in your name as the primary accountholder. You decide how money is invested and how any gains are used.
The investment platform available with the mid-tier monthly plan is one of Greenlight’s most unique and compelling features and isn’t offered by competitors like Famzoo and Gohenry.
Exclusive Greenlight Max protections
Along with an extra 1 percent Savings Boost and unlimited 1 percent cash back on purchases, the Greenlight Max tier gets you several valuable perks that can easily make the extra cost worth it. Not only are these features—including purchase protection, cellphone protection and account monitoring—usually reserved for credit cards, but they can also come in especially handy for kids and teens.
The Greenlight card’s cellphone protection covers eligible damage, theft and breakdowns up to $600 per claim across up to two claims (or $1,000 in total reimbursement) each calendar year per card on your account. This is already a relatively rare and prized perk among credit cards, but the Greenlight plan stands out with the inclusion of breakdown damage over time and the fact that you don’t have to pay your cellphone bill with the card to be covered. Unfortunately, however, New York residents aren’t eligible.
Eligible purchases are also covered against damage or theft for up to $100 per item (up to $1,000 per year) for 120 days (90 days for New York residents) from the date of purchase or delivery if it was paid in full with the card and damaged or stolen. This purchase protection even covers popular consumables like beauty products, fuel, food and medications.
Greenlight Max also comes with robust account monitoring tools. While primary cardholders get a run-of-the-mill credit monitoring service through Experian, children get an extensive Child Monitoring Service that scours the web and dark web for their personal information, including their Social Security number, email address, phone number, banking account details, medical ID number and more. If your child’s information is compromised, you’ll even get a dedicated agent under the full-service identity restoration service to help you with next steps.
Considering this level of service usually requires additional subscriptions, the Greenlight Max plan could be a great resource to have in your corner if your child is still learning to be safe online.
Depending on your Greenlight card tier, you can get unexpected value from its unique Savings Boost feature, flat-rate cash back or both.
All cardholders earn at least a 1 percent Savings Boost reward each month based on their average daily savings account balance (on balances of up to $5,000). That’s an impressive rate of return considering the current average APY is 0.60 percent.
Greenlight Max members fare even better, earning double the Savings Boost (2 percent) and unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases. Taken together, that’s much better than most cash back debit cards can offer.
While you may not earn enough via cash back or Savings Boost to completely offset your monthly Greenlight plan fees, they can still help young cardholders see how their savings can grow through responsible use.
How you earn
Without Greenlight Max, the only way to earn rewards from the issuer is through the 1 percent per annum Savings Boost that’s awarded monthly based on the child’s General Savings and Savings Goals balances. Subscribing to Greenlight Max doubles the Savings Boost to 2 percent, but every tier only earns these rewards on an up to $5,000 average daily savings account balance per family (with a maximum of five cards on your plan).
Savings Boost works by multiplying your child’s average daily savings account balance by the rewards rate and dividing the result by 12 to determine the monthly reward. For example, a $1,500 balance with the basic monthly plan would earn $1.25. This would then be added to the savings balance and apply toward the following month’s potential reward. This is essentially an issuer-funded increase to the child’s APY that makes compound interest more noticeable, encouraging smart saving.
Greenlight Max members also earn unlimited 1 percent cash back on all eligible spending, which gives young cardholders an excellent opportunity to practice earning rewards before they get a full-fledged rewards credit card. Only some debit cards earn rewards—let alone unlimited, flat-rate cash back. For example, the Discover Cashback Debit account, a popular cash back debit card, only earns 1 percent cash back on your first $3,000 in purchases each month.
How to redeem
All Savings Boost and cash back earnings are automatically added to your child’s savings and counts toward their next month’s Savings Boosts reward. This makes it easy for kids to save, with no need to worry about which redemption options will offer the most value.