The 7 Best Debit Cards for Teens in 2019

Teach your kids financial stewardship early

The best debit or prepaid cards for teens will charge minimal fees, offer flexibility in reloading funds and allow parents access to the card (especially important for kids on the younger end of the teenage spectrum).

Older teens with a part-time job and responsibility for their own cell phone bill or other charges may also benefit from features such as bill pay and direct deposit. The best debit cards for teens offer these services for free. The ability to check their account balance online or through a mobile app is also a plus. We've reviewed debit cards from a variety of banks and selected the best. Our list includes:

  • Best Overall: FamZoo Prepaid Debit Card
  • Best for Earning Interest on Savings: Mango Prepaid Mastercard
  • Best for Cash Reloads: American Express Serve FREE Reloads
  • Best for Big Spenders: American Express Serve Cash Back
  • Best for Multiple Teens: Akimbo Prepaid MasterCard
  • Best for Online Security: Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card
  • Best Checking Account Debit Card: BB&T Debit Card

To help you find the perfect one for your child, we've whittled down all the card options out there to these seven. All info is current as of June 2019, but terms and availability do change, so be sure to read the fine print yourself.

Best Overall: FamZoo Prepaid Debit Card

FamZoo
Courtesy of FamZoo

What we like: Both parents and teens can have access to the FamZoo prepaid debit card. Money can be transferred between accounts on a recurring basis if necessary. For parents who want to start building responsibility, the card can be tied to jobs and chores. FamZoo gives parents the ability to lock and unlock the card either to control access to the card or as an extra layer of security to protect against fraud and unauthorized purchases.

FamZoo doesn’t charge fees for reloads, but some providers may charge their own fees. There’s also no fee for direct deposit. Parents may choose to have some of their pay direct deposited to the FamZoo card as a source of funds. This is especially beneficial since transfers between cards are free and instant.

What we don't like: You must have a paid FamZoo subscription, which is $5.99 per month, to use the card for the whole family.

  • Card Purchase Fee: The first 4 cards are free; $2 for each card beyond the 4th
  • Monthly Fee: $5.99
  • Reload Fee: Up to $6 depending on the reload method
  • ATM Fee: Free for in-network. Varies by out-of-network

Best for Earning Interest on Savings: Mango Prepaid Mastercard

Mango Money
Courtesy of Mango Money

What we like: Teaching teens to build good savings habits is just as important as helping them learn to develop good spending habits. Opening a Mango Prepaid Mastercard gives teens the option to also open a savings account with up to 6% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) and the option to make six transfers out each month.

The Mango Prepaid Mastercard doesn’t charge a fee to sign up, activate, or load funds via bank transfer. Other fees are minimal: $5 monthly, $3 to withdraw from an ATM. It can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted. Teens can manage their account with a smartphone app.

What we don't like: To qualify for the 6% APY, Mango requires signature purchases of at least $1,500 and a minimum balance of $25 by the end of the month. 

  • Card Purchase Fee: $9.95 for a custom card
  • Monthly Fee: $5
  • Reload Fee: None
  • ATM Fee: $3

Best for Cash Reloads: American Express Serve FREE Reloads

AmericanExpressServe
Courtesy of AMEX

What we like: American Express has three different versions of their Serve prepaid debit card. The FREE Reloads version charges no cash reload fees.

The reload network has over 45,000 locations across the country. Reloads can be made at convenient locations such as CVS Pharmacy, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Rite Aid, Walmart, 7-Eleven and more. Teens can also reload funds from a bank account.

There’s no charge for card replacement, subaccounts, customer service or withdrawals from a MoneyPass ATM. The card itself is free if you order online. Other free services include online bill pay, fraud protection, and early direct deposit.

What we don't like: There's a $6.95 monthly fee that can't be waived, which makes this card only worth it if you make frequent cash reloads that would otherwise cost $3.95 with most other prepaid card.

  • Card Purchase Fee: $3.95 in retail locations; $0 online
  • Monthly Fee: $6.95
  • Reload Fee: $0 at select locations
  • ATM Fee: Up to $2.50 at non-MoneyPass ATMs

Best for Big Spenders: American Express Serve Cash Back

AMEX Serve Cash Back
Courtesy of AMEX

What we like: Teens who spend several hundred dollars each month may benefit from the American Express Serve Cash Back. Purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back. Cash rewards are added to your card right away and they can be redeemed at any time.

Of course, it takes a little more discipline to manage a prepaid debit card that pays rewards. Teens have to learn not to overspend simply so they can earn additional rewards.

Other perks of the card include no-fee early direct deposit, free in-network ATM withdrawals, fraud protection, as well as 90-day purchase protection on purchases up to $1,000.

What we don't like: The card comes with a $7.95 monthly fee. You'll have to spend more than $795 each month to breakeven on the fee and get value from your rewards.

  • Card Purchase Fee: $3.95 in retail locations
  • Monthly Fee: $7.95 
  • Reload Fee: $3.95 for cash reloads
  • ATM Fee: $2.50 if you use a non-MoneyPass ATM

Best for Multiple Teens: Akimbo Prepaid MasterCard

AkimboPrepaidMasterCard
Courtesy of Akimbo

What we like: The Akimbo prepaid debit card to manage all of their teen accounts is idea for families with more than one teen. Akimbo lets you open several separate prepaid cards that are all tied to a master account. Each prepaid card can be managed from within the Akimbo app.

The first subaccount card is free. Additional subaccount cards have a one-time fee of $4.95 each. Each card can be enabled and disabled from within the app and parents can receive a text update after each update. This feature is great for parents who want to monitor their teens’ spending.

Fees on the Akimbo Prepaid Debit Card are minimal. There’s no enrollment or monthly fee and no fee on signature purchases. There is a $.99 fee for PIN transactions, a $1.98 fee for ATM cash withdrawals and a $.33 fee for ATM balance inquiries.

What we don't like: If your account is inactive for 12 months, you’ll pay a $5.95 fee beginning in the 13th month.

  • Card Purchase Fee: $4.95
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • Reload Fee: $4-$5 for cash reloads
  • ATM Fee: $1.98

Best for Online Security: Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card

Movo
Courtesy of Movo

What we like: The Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa puts online shopping safety first by allowing users to create a secondary disposable account number that can be used to make online transactions. This keeps the primary account number from being exposed in a hack or a data breach.

There’s no monthly or activation fee. The Movo Virtual Prepaid Visa Card also doesn’t charge a fee on purchases, ATM withdrawals made at any of the 6,000 in-network ATMs or for an inactive card. Teens have to be careful not to attempt to withdraw more than the balance on the card – Movo will charge a $1 fee if an ATM transaction is declined. Out-of-network ATM transactions are also charged a fee.

Teens or parents have a variety of options for reloading cash: direct deposit, bank transfer, Paypal or Venmo balance, debit card transfer or via cash at certain retailers. Reload times can take up to three business days depending on the method.

What we don't like: You'll be charged a monthly inactivity fee of $4.94 if your card is dormant for 90 days. You can only load a maximum of $5,000 each day. If your direct deposit is higher than that, you'll need a different card.

  • Card Purchase Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • Reload Fee: 2.9% + $.30 per transaction when you add money from another card; None for other methods
  • ATM Fee: Up to $2

Best Checking Account Debit Card: BB&T Debit Card

BBT
Courtesy of BBT

What we like: If you have an older teen and live in one of 16 states with a BB&T location, the BB&T debit card is a good option. You don’t actually have to live near a bank branch – you can open the account online. Teens can’t apply on their own; at least one applicant must be 18 to 21 years old. One applicant must be the legal age in the state where the account is being opened – also 18 to 21 in most states.

Most prepaid card services are completely free. There’s no fee for transactions, direct deposit, bill payments, mobile banking and withdrawals at BB&T ATMs. The prepaid card can be used wherever Visa cards are accepted.

There’s a monthly maintenance fee of $3 and a fee for using a non-BB&T ATM to make a withdrawal. Teens have to take care to keep up with their card: there’s a $10 fee to replace the card and $15 to replace the card with express delivery.

What we don't like: The BB&T Debit Card can be opened online, but the card is available only in states where there's a BB&T location.

  • Card Purchase Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: $5.00 or $3.00 if you load $1,000 in a month
  • Reload Fee: None when you use Visa ReadyLink participating merchant locations
  • ATM Fee: $3.00 for non-BB&T ATMs

Disclosure

At The Balance, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.