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

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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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  • Great product for tweens

    My 12-year-old daughter has had this card for about a month, and so far we are thrilled! Children under 13 can’t get a standard debit card from our bank, but this card allows us to auto deposit her allowance and tracks her spending and money through the online app. It completely meets our needs and is helping teach our daughter about managing her finances.

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


  • Would recommend

    I enjoyed this service, and my kid does too. Thanks for providing it to your customers! An awesome way to teach your child responsibly, especially in the digital age. I would recommend to any parent out there.

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


  • Great way to teach teens about credit card responsibility!

    I remember being a teen and finding myself frustrated at my inability to manage my own money. With only an ATM card and a couple of places to use it freely it felt like my money was always trapped. These days there are places that straight up don’t take cash for a multitude of reasons, electronic payments are more and more common and convenient and teens shouldn’t have to wait until they’re of legal age to practice using and maintaining debit cards. My niece and nephew are already excited to have more than gift cards in their wallets!

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


  • Amazing solution for your kids!

    Anyone with kids and trying to teach them both how to be responsible and financial knowledge MUST get this! Not only do every parent I know get this after hearing about it, they all rave.

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


  • Great tool - got us out of several jams

    • By Del Ross,
    • Atlanta, GA,
    • May 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We were never comfortable just handing out cash to our kids, and giving them a credit card when they were young seemed very inappropriate and inconsistent with the kind of parents we want to be. Greenlight's control gives the kids the ability to spend without cash and gives us the oversight that we want.

    On three occasions, we had a child stuck without cash and Greenlight saved the day. Transferring funds for specific purposes was simple and instant. We recommend this service without hesitation.

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


  • My child loves Greenlight

    Greenlight debit card has become part of my family's daily lifestyle. As a family, we set a monthly budget for clothes, candy, Amazon "doo-dads" and "kids stuff" all to fit in one bottom line number per month. The Greenlight card has helped our daughter become fiscally responsible and saves my wife and I a ton of angst each week trying to remember to have cash on hand! Keep up the improvements because we will have this card for many years to come!

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


  • Love my Greenlight

    Greenlight is great. Not only do I use it with my kids to help them with their money but I have also replaced my 80-year-old mother's debit card with the Greenlight card. This way I can be assured of where she is using it and can have peace of mind that no one one will steal it or her number from her. In addition, when she loses her Greenlight card (like she has already), with a simple click on my phone, I know that it is turned off.

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


  • Parent user

    We have Greenlight cards for both of our kids. It's an incredibly convenient way to help them manage their money, for us to know how and where they are spending, and to make sure they always have funds for essentials when we're not with them.

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


  • My kids love it

    • By Matthew May,
    • Atlanta, GA,
    • May 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have a 15 and 11-year-old. We use the allowance feature for our oldest, and our youngest is getting the hang of paying for things here and there. The best experience recently was our son using Greenlight on his school trip - what a relief to have an instant way to get him money in a pinch. Plus we knew he was alive via spending alerts.

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


  • Lifesaver for parents of teens

    We started using Greenlight for our 16-year-old because it was an easy way to transfer money and keep track of her spending. We liked it so much that we also got one for our 14-year-old.

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


  • Great tool, kids love it.

    • By Carlos Dorta,
    • Alpharetta, GA,
    • May 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been using Greenlight for about six months now and it has been a great experience. It really does help me manage and teach my kids how to properly use money, and of course, my kids love having a debit card to use. I only had to call customer service for a security freeze once, and the service was great and it was fixed promptly.

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


Showing 1-11 of 43

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