Greenlight Checking Review 2022: Features & Getting Started

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By Shannon Lee

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What happens when your kids go beyond the point of spending an entire allowance on toys and need to learn to manage that money wisely? Financial literacy is a vitally important skill for anyone, and you can begin teaching your kids about finances as early as they can count out change. As they get older, Greenlight helps them learn to manage money with a debit card, with you in firm control along the way.

Who Is Greenlight Checking For?

Greenlight is a debit card designed specifically for kids, especially those under the age of 13 who are not yet old enough to get a debit card through their local bank. By allowing the parent to deposit money onto the card, the company can bypass the government’s age rule and give parents the opportunity to help their younger kids learn about finances. Greenlight is not a traditional checking account, but a debit card that helps kids manage their money, all while giving parents the ability to monitor and control their child’s spending.

Compare Greenlight Checking to Others

When researching a card that helps your kids with financial literacy, you’re bound to come across several, all of which are competing for your business. When evaluating what’s out there, keep in mind a few points, such as fees and requirements. See how Greenlight stacks up against other bank accounts designed for kids.

GoHenry

GoHenry offers a starting fee of $3.99 per month, compared to the $4.99 for Greenlight’s basic plan. However, GoHenry seems targeted at younger kids who aren’t yet into investing or curious about how compound interest works.

FamZoo

When it comes to options, Greenlight offers three, while FamZoo offers two. They are designed differently, in that FamZoo offers not only the prepaid card and parental controls but also an IOU option, where parents can track what their child owes to friends or family. Take your time to look through what each card, bank, or app offers to ensure you choose the right one for your child’s financial life.

Top Features of Greenlight Checking

Greenlight offers a variety of features that make it ideal for kids who want to learn how to handle their own money.

Mastercard branded

Greenlight partners with Mastercard, so the debit card is good to use anywhere Mastercard is accepted — and that covers the vast majority of merchants. This also makes the card an international option, not just one that can be used within the U.S. or near a particular bank region.

Accepts deposits from friends, family, or employers

The debit card is connected to a parent’s bank account, so transferring money to your child is easy. The card can also be used as a way for employers to direct deposit your child’s paycheck or as a way for friends and other family members to transfer money for special occasions, to pay them back for a purchase, or just because.

Strong parental controls

Parents can monitor their child’s spending habits through their app dashboard, check on balances, transfer money, and if they are using the investment option, they can approve trades. Parents can perform automatic transfers or handle them manually. They can also set parameters for funds, such as how much a child can spend at a particular merchant, or what they have to do to get money, such as completing certain chores.

Three plan options

There are three options for those who choose Greenlight.

  1. The basic plan is $4.99 per month and includes the financial tools, educational app, parental controls, and a 1% savings award.
  2. The upgraded Greenlight + Invest is $7.98 per month and includes all of the above, as well as an investing platform.
  3. Greenlight Max offers all of these perks as well as a 2% savings award, 1% cash back on purchases, a specialized card, priority customer support, and protection against identity theft, damaged or lost cell phones, and fraudulent purchases. The cost for the Max plan is under $10 per month.

Financial management tools

There are educational tools right in the app, for parents and kids alike, that explain how the financial world works. Management tools include monitoring the spending on the card, which allows for good discussions on better choices. Greenlight also partners with Million Bazillion and Kahoot! to bring even more education and tools to the parents and kids who use the Greenlight system.

How to Get Started

Greenlight requires basic financial and personal information to start the process. These include the following:

  1. Email address
  2. Mobile number
  3. Mailing address
  4. The name of the child who will use the card
  5. A valid debit card or bank account
  6. Personal identifying information, such as names, social security numbers, and birth dates

Simply click the “get started” button, enter the information as prompted, and go through the easy verification process to prove you’re the parent. After that, you can choose the plan and start the 30-day free trial.

Rating the Features

What makes Greenlight stand out? Let’s take a deep dive into the features to help you decide if this particular card is right for you and your kids.

User experience

Signing up for Greenlight is very simple, and the physical card is delivered within a matter of a few business days. Activation and getting started seem simple as well. However, some have found that the card is difficult to cancel if you choose not to continue using it, so be prepared to spend some time with customer service to resolve the issue if you do choose to stop using Greenlight.

Fees and rates

Greenlight doesn’t offer a free option. The basic plan is $4.99 per month, followed by Greenlight + Invest at $7.98 per month, and Greenlight Max at $9.98 per month. You can add on a custom card for an extra one-time fee of $9.99, and get expedited shipping for the card for $24.99.

Transparency

Greenlight promises no hidden fees, and this includes no fees for commissions or trades. There is no minimum spend requirement, nor is there any ATM fee or overdraft fee. There are no fees for international use. The monthly fee allows you to add five children and two parents for the same price.

Flexibility

The card offers three options that allow for expanded financial literacy over the years, but it doesn’t come at a significant price; kids can start to invest with as little as one dollar.

Customer support

It’s possible to contact a representative through chat, email, or phone. Customer support is available Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 11 PM eastern time, and on weekends from 8 AM to 9 PM eastern time. Someone is also available during major holidays from 8 AM to 8 PM eastern time. Leave a message outside of those hours and someone will follow up during the next business day.

Pros and Cons of Greenlight Checking

There are many mobile apps available that you can use to teach your kids how to manage their finances. When seeking the ideal way to help your kids learn to manage money, it pays to learn everything about the company you choose. Here are the pros and cons to this one:

Bottom Line

Teaching your kids about finances, well before they are out on their own and forced to deal with their own bank accounts, is a savvy parenting move. By teaching them early and well, you can help ensure that they keep their financial life as strong as possible. Starting out with a card that teaches them the basics — with you in control at all times — is a good way to spark their journey with care.

About Author
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Shannon Lee
Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist who has spent over twenty years writing about personal finance, home improvement, education, relationships, and medical and health topics.