Greenlight Debit Card Review - Should Your Kids Use It?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Feb 10, 2020

Greenlight teaches kids how to manage their money via a debit card and app that their parents fund and set limits for.

The beauty of Greenlight is that you can unify all the aspects of your child’s financial life—spending, saving, giving, chores, and allowance—in one platform. So, instead of hoping that your child picks up good financial habits, you can take control of their learning with one easy-to-use system.

Use our review to understand how Greenlight works and the ways that you can leverage it to teach your child the basics of financial literacy.

Pros: Cons:
  • Provides child a parent-controlled debit card
  • Low monthly fee
  • Has allowance and chore features
  • Android app isn’t as good as the iPhone app
  • Bank transfers take 3 to 5 days
  • Can’t deposit cash via ATM’s

How It Works

Download the Greenlight app and set up a new account that includes you and up to five of your children.

Within the app, your child will have three accounts where they can store money: Spend, Save, and Give.

During the set-up process, you’ll provide Greenlight with a debit card or checking account you’ll use to fund your accounts.

When it’s time to send money to your child’s account, you initiate a transfer that sends money from your connected account to your Greenlight wallet.

From there, you can transfer money to your child’s Spend, Save or Give account. Your child then uses their debit card to spend the money they accumulate in their accounts.

Greenlight does not allow parents or children to put money to the card via an ATM cash deposit.

Features

Three Accounts for Kids

Your child gets a Spend, Save, and Give accounts they access through the app. Your child's debit card is linked to the Spend and Give accounts.

Purchases they make at non-charitable organizations come from the Spend account. Purchases they make with charitable organizations automatically come from your child’s Give account.

To get the most out of this feature, use the three-account system in Greenlight to help your child understand the principles of spending, saving, and giving.

A good technique would be to talk with your child about how they should divide up the money they earn from allowances and chores.

Show them how much you or you and your partner dedicate to spending and saving. Challenge them to adopt the same techniques you do.

If they agree to it, you can go into the app together and set savings goals as well as deposit money into your child’s spend and give accounts.

Spending Control

You can regulate how much your child spends at specific stores (Walmart, Target, etc.) and certain types of businesses (gas, theater, groceries, clothes).

For example, you can limit the amount your child spends at AMC theaters to $20 a month. The transaction will be declined if they spend more than that.

In addition to limiting spending, you can ban purchases at businesses and categories of companies you choose.

Also, you can set the app to send you notifications when your child makes purchases with their Greenlight debit card.

Additional control options you have as a parent and through Greenlight’s default settings include:

  • Choosing to allow/disallow ATM withdrawals
  • Turn off the card in the case of a lost card or suspicious spending
  • Wire transfers, money orders, and gambling deposits aren’t allowed
  • No cash back during purchases

The control you have over your child’s spending should be part of your overall strategy for teaching them about money.

Rather than using the app like a watchdog, pair it with weekly discussions about smart spending and budgeting.

Your child will learn why specific categories have spending limits. They will also learn how to build a budget, which is a great financial foundation for their future.

Allowances

Greenlight allows you to set up an allowance for your child. Payment frequencies include:

  • Weekly
  • Every two weeks
  • Monthly
  • One-time

You set the frequency and amount, and you can tell the app where to send the money (Spend, Save, or Give).

Also, you can automate the allowances to withdraw from your Greenlight parent account without asking you for permission.

Chores

You can set up an unlimited number of chores in your child’s Greenlight account. Choose the chore, the dollar amount, and the date by which the task should be completed.

When your child finishes the chore, he or she can mark it completed. Greenlight will send you a notification and ask you if you want to fund the payment now or later.

One of the key financial principles your child needs to understand is the concept of income versus spending.

Allowances and chores are your child’s primary income source aside from any jobs they have. Your child’s Spend, Save, and Give accounts are where they spend/save their money.

Talk with them about how their spending and saving compares. Look over the past few months of their transactions and show them how much they spend, per month, and how much they earn.

If their past spending will exceed what they earn this month in allowances and chores, work with them to come up with a realistic spending plan.

Savings Interest

Greenlight lets parents set up interest payouts on their child’s savings account. You can choose a rate that you’d like to pay and then automate the interest payments.

This simple feature is an excellent tool for showing your kids how interest works and why it’s essential to save.

Fees and Limits

Fees

Greenlight is $4.99 per month per family with no additional fees. If your child loses his or her Greenlight card, you won’t pay for the first replacement. However, all subsequent replacement cards will cost $3.50.

Limits

Greenlight has a series of limits on how much money you can have in your wallet, how much your child can have in his or her account and other restrictions:

  • Max balance in parent’s account: $10,000
  • Max balance in child’s accounts: $5,000
  • First deposit into parent account: At least $20
  • Max monthly debit card deposits to the parent’s account: $2,500
  • Max daily ACH transfer amount to parent’s account: $100
  • Max monthly direct deposit amount for the family: $5,000
  • Max purchases per day: $1,000
  • Max purchases per month: $5,000

Analysis of Customer Reviews

We read through reviews in the iTunes and Google Play stores to discover trends that are important to your experience as a Greenlight user:

Makes Spending Easier

  • Parents and children commented that the Greenlight debit card makes spending much more comfortable than if kids had to carry around cash.
  • Multiple parents noted that the debit card eliminates the possibility of kids losing money they get from birthdays and holidays.

Kids Love It

  • Many kids say they like the convenience the card offers.
  • They expressed excitement about receiving the card.

Bank transfers are slow

  • Parents complained that it takes too long for checking account transfers to make it into their Greenlight wallet.
  • While it takes 3 to 5 days to do an ACH transfer, you can skip the wait by connecting a debit card. Then, you can make instant transfers.

Multiple issues for Android users

  • Greenlight’s average Google Play review is nearly a full star lower than its iTunes average.
  • Many of the problems Android users complained about focused on laggy performance, random crashing, and login issues.

Review Takeaways

Reviews are clear that the iOS experience is a much better one than the Android experience. So, if you’re an iPhone user, there’s a good chance you’ll have a pleasant experience.

Aside from your operating system, there’s a consensus among parents and kids that the app and debit card are excellent. This mutual appreciation for the app means Greenlight is meeting the needs of those who download it.

If you choose to use Greenlight, leverage its useful function with an overall financial literacy strategy for your child. Teach them about the importance of budgeting, spending wisely, saving, and charitable giving.

The Bottom Line

Greenlight’s popularity among parents and kids is an excellent indication that it can be a fun, manageable way you can teach your children about how to be smart with their money.

The ability to assign chores, provide allowances, and regulate where and how much your kids can spend their money creates a positive environment for financial understanding.

To get the most out of Greenlight, come up with a financial plan for your child before you sign up. Make Greenlight the focal point of that plan. Incorporate the app’s features into your explanations of budgeting, spending, saving, and giving.


Read 43 Greenlight Debit Card Customer Reviews and Complaints

Write a Review
Average Customer Rating: 3.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 20 4 star: 1 3 star: 1 2 star: 0 1 star:  21
Bottom Line: 47% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 43
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  • Fine while I used it - but continued to charge after "confirming" my requested cancellation

    • By Carol W.,
    • Florida,
    • Oct 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This service was ok while I used it. I canceled it - or at least tried to - TWICE after my kids got their "grown-up" bank accounts.

    The first time, I was charged for a few months before I realized it. I called and requested a cancellation again. The lady I spoke with was nice and even refunded the charges and sent me a "confirmation email" stating they had canceled my account. But lo and behold! The very next month, I was CHARGED AGAIN!

    This is getting pretty ridiculous.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Greenlight Card is waste of investment

    • By Vijay K.,
    • Palm Beach Gardens, FL,
    • Jul 25, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Greenlight card is a scam. Even if you don't use also, they charge you $5 on a monthly basis. Also, they tell you that you would get $20 as part of joining which is total lie. They hide all these while issuing the card. Later you will be shocked to know all these things.

    Please do not get this waste card!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Wish I had researched it more

    • By Crystal O.,
    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • Jun 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I thought it sounded simple enough and a great way for kids to have money for the summer. I put $10 on each of my kids' cards so I could test them out. I cannot get either card to work at three separate locations. If an adult cannot easily use this then how can a child? Considering that every store's register system is different, it's too difficult to explain to a kid when to hit debit/charge red/green, yes/no, enter pin.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Card activation

    • By Pedro M.,
    • Florida,
    • May 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    The concept and the marketing are great. My experience was negative just because it took soooo much back and forth to get the card activated and then did not recognize my debit card even though I had to verify that very same card in order to activate it. I don't normally write reviews since I don't have time to do so, but I wasted so much time with Greenlight that I thought I needed to share my experience. Again, great concept and maybe I was just unlucky.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Buyer beware

    • By Alan P.,
    • Fort Lauderdale, FL,
    • May 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not use this service. I put $200 on my account and could never use it. They blocked my card for no reason. So I’m out $200. It’s a scam. And they wanted more personal information after they activated the card and took my money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • It’s good in theory

    • By Sarah M.,
    • Jacksonville, FL,
    • Apr 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I loved the idea at first. But there are definitely a lot of frustrating things I’ve experienced in the few months we’ve been using it. For some reason, even though it’s an MC debit card, it won’t work with certain retailers online. Why not? It’s a debit card. Shouldn’t it work everywhere?! I don’t understand that. Plus my login is the same as my son's. Which means he also has access to the parent's wallet. If he wanted to, he could transfer money to himself or pull money from my bank account. Not that he would (I’d hope, lol), but any kid could. Again, huh? How does that make sense? I may cancel this and do something different. It’s infuriating to be paying a monthly fee for a debit card that ¼ of the time literally won’t work at random retailers.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • This is a scam

    • By Andrea R.,
    • Reno, NV,
    • Mar 29, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This card is a total scam, and I’m concerned for the victims this company is scamming. I loaded money onto the card for my teenager and set it to the setting allowing him to spend the money anywhere. He went to an ATM and tried withdrawing funds and the card was declined. He came home and tried making purchases online. Again the card declined. I went to the app and Greenlight without my consent turned off his card.

    I called customer service and could barely understand what the lady was saying. I finally cracked the language barrier and understood "call morning 8 am, closed," so I called this morning and when they answered it sounded like pure chaos. It literally sounded as if I called someone during a raging concert and could barely communicate with the whatever foreigner on the other end. I wish I could have recorded the ridiculous background noise blaring in the background. After being transferred THREE times, I was told I had to fax them my bank statements and personal information to turn the card back on! GIANT RED FLAG. I informed the agent that this is highly illegal. I didn’t turn the card off and now they want my personal bank info? Super shady.

    After refusing to do so, she finally offered to transfer the funds back to my bank account and close the card. I’m filing a claim with consumer reports so people are aware of this shady business.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Wonderful!

    • By Aimee S.,
    • Arkansas,
    • Mar 29, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been using this app and cards for a couple of years now. I have NEVER had a problem! I started out with two cards, and recently added two more (I have 6 kids). This app is so easy to operate from the dashboard weather you're a parent or a child! I have NEVER had any unsafe issues having it connected to the bank account. I can verify after using it for years it is safe! Very safe and super handy!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 10, 2019

      Company Response from Greenlight

      Hi Aimee! We are so excited to hear that you and your kids are enjoying Greenlight. Thank you for taking the time to share your personal experience and kind words. Your input very much appreciated. Happy to have you with us!


  • Greenlight is great

    • By John H.,
    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Mar 23, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I find it hard to believe so many intense negative reviews on this site.

    We’ve been using Greenlight app and card for almost 2 years and have nothing but good things to say. My kids don’t carry cash anymore, just the Greenlight card, it’s easy to reload, easy to see where they are spending money and easy to turn off the card when they lose it...once.

    They use it online, Amazon and American Eagle and they have used it traveling in Mexico and Europe.

    I love and they do too.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Apr 10, 2019

      Company Response from Greenlight

      Hi John! It is so wonderful to hear your families experience using Greenlight. We love hearing that they have even done some traveling with their cards in hand. Excited to have you and your kids with us!


  • Worst experience ever!

    • By Michele F.,
    • Spokane, WA,
    • Feb 20, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Don’t get this card! No security at all. Fraudulent charges made on my child’s account and blamed him from making online purchases. I called literally 2 minutes after the charge was made and they would not decline the charge so now who knows how long the dispute process will take. Get a normal bank account for your child! I will be reporting to the Better Business Bureau as well. Horrible customer service as well. Not helpful at all besides saying "thank you" over and over again.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Negative psychological effect on kids

    My daughter recently used the card in Glossier, LA. She's out with her friends for her friend’s bday celeb. To my daughter’s dismay, the card was declined! Not once but TWICE! My daughter was embarrassed by this and called me right away. Told me about the embarrassing situation THIS card has put her in. I immediately called Greenlight. An agent named Min answered. Min the agent said that the card is expired. I told Min that I just opened the account not too long ago how can it be expired? I 3-way call my daughter so she can tell Min of the expiration date of the card (the expiration is not until JULY 2023). Since I am not satisfied with the reasons of Min, I asked to be transferred to a supervisor. Hailey the supervisor answered the call. On Hailey's end, she said that my daughter put in an incorrect passcode number. My daughter on the other line said they run at as credit (not the first time it happened and it worked just fine in seat in restaurants BEFORE), and now the supervisor Hailey said because it is a "prepaid" card that it should not be run as credit. I said it was done numerous times before and it worked. Hailey said that she sees in her computer the wrong pin was entered. My daughter said to Hailey the store did not ask for a pin. I asked Hailey what is she seeing in her monitor?

    Is my money safe with Greenlight? Now I am not sure! The supervisor definitely cannot give me the answers I'm looking for! There's money in the account so how can it be declined. Greenlight should think and know that there is a psychological effect when kids get embarrassed! They should be held liable for the product they are selling because as a customer, I have funds in my kids’ account but I trusted them that the money of my kids will be safe, but they brought my daughter embarrassment and do not do anything about this! Shame on you.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


Showing 1-11 of 43

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