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Looking to teach your kids or tweens how banks and debit cards really work? Greenlight may be for you. Learn the pros, cons, fees, and more in this review.
Teaching kids about money is a challenge for today’s parents.
Plus, debit cards are off-limits to kids under 13 (in most states). That’s valuable experience they can’t get.
Greenlight wants to help solve that problem with their prepaid kids’ debit card. Find out how Greenlight works and whether it’s safe for your little one.
What Is Greenlight
Based in Atlanta, GA, Greenlight is a financial services company specializing in debit card for kids and parents. Using Greenlight, parents can instantly transfer funds to kids, manage their chores checklist and automate their allowance.
As of this writing, Greenlight has received $296.5M in capital funding, according to Crunchbase.
The company was founded in 2014 by Timothy Sheehan (former co-leader of Yahoo! Finance) and venture capitalist Johnson Cook.
Is Greenlight Legit?
Yes. Deposits are FDIC insured up to $250,000 and protected by Mastercard Zero Liability Protection.
How Does Greenlight Work?
To sign up for a Greenlight account, parents can follow these steps:
- Provide your name, email, mobile phone number, mailing address, DOB, and SSN
- Provide your child’s name and date of birth
- Connect Greenlight to your debit card or bank account
Parents and children can download the Greenlight app on the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Each can view their own version of the app.
After signing up, you will be sent a debit card by mail.
Let’s take a look Greenlight’s features.
- Monitor spending
- Turn ATM access on/off
- Activate or deactivate the card
- Receive transaction alerts
- Set store-specific permissions if your child should only spend money at specific locations
- Parents can deposit money directly from their checking account
- Teens with a job can set up direct deposit
- Parents can set up recurring allowance payments and/or one-time payments for chores
- Assign weekly or one-time chores
- Set chore due dates and reward amounts
- Add chore descriptions for clarity
- Round-up transfers on debit purchases into your child’s savings account
- Add parent-paid “interest” for account balances to teach about compound interest
- Set savings goals in the app
Is the Greenlight App Safe?
According to Greenlight’s website, “All communications between your phone and our servers use state-of-the-art encryption.”
What is the Greenlight Debit Card?
Your child’s Greenlight debit card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank and can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted (including ATMs) with parental approval.
The debit card is a prepaid card with funds loaded by the parent. This appears to be how Greenlight circumvents particular U.S. states’ rulings on children under 13.
What is Greenlight Max?
The upgraded version of Greenlight, Greenlight Max, opens a connected brokerage account for kids where they can buy and sell real stocks and ETFs on the stock market.
Parental approval is required for every trade, keeping parents in control.
Max also upgrades the basic checking account with a Greenlight Black Card, priority customer support, identity theft protection, coverage for lost, damaged, or stolen phones, and purchase protection.
Greenlight Max costs $9.98 per month.
Greenlight offers a free trial of one month. Thereafter, the fee structure is as follows:
- Greenlight Basic: $4.99/month
Comes with: Kids’ debit card, educational app, core financial tools (for saving, spending, earning, giving)
- Greenlight+ Invest: $7.98/month
Comes with: All of the Basic features plus access to Greenlight’s investing platform made just for kids
- Greenlight Max: $9.98/month
Comes with: All of the Basic features, the Investing platform, Greenlight Black Card, priority customer support, identity theft protection, cell phone protection, purchase protection
Greenlight also offers one free replacement card. Subsequent replacements cost $3.50 each with the option to expedite shipping for $24.99 to receive your new card within 2-3 business days.
Other than that, Greenlight charges no fees.
Pros and Cons
Ready to sign up for a Greenlight account? Review the below pros and cons first to get the main takeaway.
- Excellent parental controls
- Teaching kids the relationship between work and rewards
- Top-notch educational and savings tools
- Relatively high fees
- Can’t deposit cash (must transfer digitally)
- No interest offered
- Difficult to close an account (see below)
App download: App Store, Google Play
Greenlight Common Complaints
Despite an impressive host of features that will interest many parents, Greenlight comes with very mixed reviews online.
|Google Play Store||4.2 stars|
|Apple Store||4.8 stars|
The Trustpilot reviews are somewhat alarming. The most common complaint can be summarized by this review:
“DO NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS CARD!!! I have been trying to stop the monthly for almost a year now. I finally had to call the bank to put a stop payment and the bank was courteous enough to waive the normal fee because they have had other complaints from this company as well. Their customer service is absolutely horrible and they will not let you get out of the program.”
— Bryan G. via Trustpilot
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether Greenlight is worth checking out. If you have any questions for Greenlight, consider reaching out to them directly. (Otherwise, we cover some great alternatives further down.)
How to Contact Customer Support
Email: [email protected]
Text: (404) 974-3024
Call: (888) 483-2645
Greenlight Card Alternatives
Given the complaints above, you may be curious to hear about alternative options. Let’s discuss Greenlight’s top competitors:
Greenlight vs. Famzoo
Greenlight and Famzoo are very similar.
Both have great parental controls and monitoring. Both incentivize savings and allow kids to compartmentalize funds into spending, savings, and charity buckets. Both give parents the option to set recurring allowance payments.
However, there are a few primary differences between Famzoo and Greenlight, listed here:
- Greenlight offers an investment account, Famzoo is banking only.
- Greenlight links to the parents’ checking account to deposit funds, Famzoo does not.
- Famzoo is $5.99 per month with the option to pay in advance up to 24 months to get a discounted rate of only $2.50 per month; Greenlight is $4.99 for basic up to $9.98 per month for Max.
- Customers frequently praise Famzoo’s customer service, citing quick and helpful answers to questions; Greenlight’s customer service appears to be its weak point.
- According to some reviews, the Famzoo app is dated and difficult to navigate compared to Greenlight.
Greenlight vs. Current
Current is geared toward teenagers and their parents, while Greenlight focuses on younger kids.
However, the accounts both possess similar functionality with parental controls and monitoring, spending limits, chore rewards, and store-specific permissions.
Similar to Famzoo, the primary differences between Greenlight and Current are the price point and the ability of Greenlight users to invest money in the stock market with Greenlight+ Invest and Greenlight Max.
Current charges a flat fee of $36 per year, making it less expensive than Greenlight ($59.88 per year in monthly service fees).
Greenlight vs. BusyKid
BusyKid is the most comparable alternative to Greenlight. The company has a 4.0-star rating on Trustpilot, with the overwhelming majority of reviews being positive.
It’s also the only alternative that also allows kids to invest money in the market with an investing feature — included as part of their standard package.
BusyKid is a fraction of the cost of Greenlight at only $19.99 per year as opposed to Greenlight Max, which is $9.98 per month (or $119.76 per year).
Current focuses more on teens while Greenlight focuses on younger kids, so it depends on the age of your child. Greenlight does offer more features than Current (specifically, investing).
7 Tips for Teaching Kids About Personal Finance
- Discuss the value of money: Teach responsibility by introducing your kids to the relationship between work and compensation.
- Emphasize saving: Use kid-friendly ways to introduce the idea of savings, such as saving up for a big toy, video game console, etc.
- Introduce them to credit: Allow them to borrow money with the promise to pay it back later to teach them how credit works.
- Talk about wants vs. needs: For example, they need sneakers for gym, but might want to buy the latest Nikes. Fiscal responsibility is all about prioritizing needs over wants.
- Discuss money often: Financial lessons need to be deeply ingrained to be effective later in life. Consider weekly meetings to talk about spending, saving, and investing.
- Offer incentives for savings: Similar to employer-matching retirement contributions, offer to pay your child a bonus for achieving savings goals.
- Be a good example: Kids mirror their parents’ behavior, especially at a young age. Be a good example by spending within your limits and saving for the future.
The Bottom Line: Is Greenlight Worth It?
Despite the negative reviews on Trustpilot, Greenlight does appear to offer a great app for kids and their parents to learn about spending at a young age.
However, the price point compared to other options leaves Greenlight at a competitive disadvantage. Parents looking to teach financial literacy to their kids may want to consider alternatives, such as BusyKid, to meet their needs.
- ^ “Greenlight Now Valued at $1.2B Following $215M Series C”: Crunchbase, 2020.
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