Online banking app for teens
February 24, 2021 5:24 AM   Subscribe

Looking to hear about people's experiences using online banking apps aimed at teens.

We tried Greenlight and it didn't work for our needs—they had a limit on how much you could transfer to your kid, and that didn't work for us. My 13yo is interested in Goalsetter because it is black-owned and because it offers "they/them" as pronoun options in the signup form. But I wonder if other people have used it?

I've looked at the websites for other apps, like Step and Current but they all seem much the same based on their websites, so I'd like to hear about people's experiences.

We don't care about setting spending limits or blocking specific merchants, or about monitoring our kids' spending. We just want them to have accounts of their own, with debit cards, that we can transfer their allowances into for them to spend without having to ask us if they can use our debit card, and so that we don't have confusion about how much money they have left. Sadly, our credit union doesn't issue debit cards to minors, or we'd just get them accounts there.
posted by Orlop to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I just saw a commercial for gohenry the other day. No personal experience with it, but thought it might be useful for your comparison. Our credit union has a special program for 13-19 year olds that includes a debit card and that worked great for us, so you might have better luck shopping other CUs in your area.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 10:42 AM on February 24, 2021

Capital One 360 has the option to add a teen account to your account. The Capital One 360 account is nice for international travel. It is easy to transfer back and forth between the accounts (not sure about limits there). The online interface is nice. The app is good. Customer service has always been satisfactory. Credit card accounts can also be associated with the main account. No fees. No minimum balance.
posted by RoadScholar at 11:49 AM on February 24, 2021

I looked into this quite a bit a few months ago. My wishlist was:
- a debit card (not a prepaid 'credit card')
- my teen being a named account holder
- no overdraft fees/no ability to overspend current balances
- low ATM fees
- low minimum balance/monthly fees
- decent app-based tools for budgeting and goal setting
- FDIC protection.

I also wanted to stay away from Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Initially I looked into Simple, FamZoo, M1, Robinhood, GoHenry, Bluebird, Greenlight, and a few others. I hadn't heard of Goalsetter but it looks interesting. Anyway, I ended up choosing a Capitol One Money account. From my research it seemed like the biggest differences between the Capitol account (& card) and the others were the fees. Capitol One doesn't charge a fee just to have an account, vs. most of the smaller services have fees of around $60/year, plus some costs for depositing into the account, and no interest. The other big difference was my kid getting a true debit card vs. a prepaid card loaded with money which, if lost, is simply lost. One way to think about the costs of any given service is to estimate how much money your kids might have "in the bank" over the course of a year, then tally up all the fees associated with the service, and see if that percentage sits well with you. IIRC, for my kid it was about 4% that we would pay for the pleasure of giving our money to one of the services.

Oh, and a couple of providers had no way to contact any customer service, either by email or phone. That was a red flag. Mostly what I learned was that the trendier services were more likely to play fast and loose with practices, data, and policies. Or at least made it difficult to figure out what their practices, data, and policies were. Because this was a kid's account, I was wary of obscure info. Some of those companies have come under scrutiny for a number of reasons.

With my kid, I made them sit through my reasoning about why one service was more logical/economical/convenient vs. another, and what I liked and didn't like about different ones. This I considered part of his financial education, learning to assess financial institutions and understand how they make their money and how they use your money, and how you pay for access to your own money. Goalsetter has a lot of things going for it. You could always start with a low balance on Goalsetter to see how well it works for you, and shift your thinking if there are places where it doesn't meet your needs.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:34 PM on February 24, 2021

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