Greenlight the Debit Card and Money App for Families

What is Greenlight?

Greenlight is a fintech company launched in 2014 by co-founders Tim Sheehan and Johnson Cook. The company is based in Atlanta, Georgia and has more than 3 million users.

Greenlight claims to help families raise financially smart kids by offering a debit card that parents can use to pay allowances and monitor spending. Greenlight offers investing opportunities as well. With the Greenlight card, kids have the chance to learn about spending and saving, and the other services offered by Greenlight can help kids learn the basics of investing

What Greenlight could improve

  • Monthly fee: There’s a monthly fee for using Greenlight. Depending on where you live and the bank you use, you might be able to get a joint account with your children and get a different kids’ debit card for free, which allows you to add money quickly and easily without a monthly fee. There are also investing apps that don’t charge monthly fees while allowing custodial accounts for kids.
  • Parent-paid interest: Instead of paying a yield, the Greenlight card requires parent-paid interest if you want your kids to earn a yield. Other banks pay a set interest rate, even if it’s a small amount. Instead, with the Greenlight card, you have to pay the interest for your children, which can be a hassle.

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Greenlight vs. other debit cards for kids

The Greenlight debit card isn’t the only debit card for kids out there. Here’s how Greenlight stacks up against FamZoo, GoHenry and BusyKid, three of the most popular competing debit cards on the market.

  • FamZoo vs. Greenlight: Like Greenlight, FamZoo lets parents transfer money directly to their kids’ debit cards and helps parents and kids work together to track saving, spending and giving. However, FamZoo doesn’t offer the kid-friendly investment opportunities that come with the Greenlight + Invest and Greenlight Max plans. A FamZoo subscription costs $5.99 per month, though families can save by paying for multiple months (or years) in advance.
  • GoHenry vs. Greenlight: GoHenry is another popular kids’ debit card, and like Greenlight, parents can fund kids’ accounts, set limits on spending, help their children set aside funds for charitable giving and more. As with FamZoo, the biggest difference between GoHenry and Greenlight is that GoHenry does not offer any type of investing platform. GoHenry costs $3.99 per child per month, and you can customize your children’s debit cards for $4.99 each.
  • BusyKid vs. Greenlight: BusyKid is probably the closest match to Greenlight, in terms of features and options – including the option to help your child set up an investment account and learn about the fundamentals of investing. BusyKid is also less expensive than Greenlight. A BusyKid family plan costs $19.99 per year and comes with one BusyKid prepaid Visa spend card. If you want to set up BusyKid accounts for multiple children, you’ll pay an additional $7.99 per child per year.

Greenlight trustworthiness and BBB score

We use ratings from the Better Business Bureau to help determine how a business deals with customer issues. The BBB gave Greenlight a B rating because it has received a high volume of complaints. 

A strong BBB rating doesn’t necessarily ensure your relationship with a business will be perfect. You’ll also want to talk to customers or read online customer reviews to get a better idea of whether Greenlight may be suitable. 

Greenlight hasn’t been involved in any recent public controversies. 

The Greenlight Mobile App

The Greenlight mobile app comes with tools that give you more flexible controls than other debit cards, like parental controls to manage precisely where and how much your kids can spend or the ability to create chores and pay allowances. Your kids can also use the mobile app with a different experience to yours to access money management and financial, educational tools, like their chore lists to earn money. However, your kids can still use the debit card without the mobile app if, for example, they don’t have access to a smartphone.

Let’s review the different plans Greenlight offers through their app:

Greenlight Debit Card at $4.99/month

Access core tools for your kids to earn, save, spend and give money, with a debit card managed by you that is FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Some of the features you can access through the mobile app to help your kids become financially independent and responsible include:

  • Set up to five children under your parent account.
  • Assign chores and create chore lists tied to monetary perks for your kids to “earn” their cash.
  • Set up automatic transfers to automatically pay allowances that your kids can divide between their Spend, Save and Give accounts.
  • Make instant transfers from your bank account to your child’s card.
  • Get real-time alerts when your child’s Greenlight card is used.
  • Select specific spending limits, locations, and stores where your kids can spend money with their debit cards.
  • Track balances and transactions of your child’s account at any time.
  • Freeze the debit card in case of theft or misuse. You can turn it on and off from the app.
  • Your kids can round up purchases to the next dollar to automatically add the change to their savings.
  • Your kids can set savings goals and track progress to teach them about the importance of saving.
  • Decide if you want your kids to use the debit card at an ATM or not and how much money they can withdraw.
  • If you have a teen who is old enough to have a job, set up a direct deposit to get paychecks paid directly into their account.
  • Choose if your kids can use their debit card to pay through Google Pay or Apple Pay, as long as they meet the minimum age required to use these apps.
  • Have complete visibility on your kids’ spending, saving goals, transactions, and more.

Greenlight Debit Card + Greenlight Invest at $7.98/month

When you upgrade your plan to this one, you get all the core tools and debit card features explained above as well as a platform where your kids can invest in real-time with your permission. Greenlight opens a brokerage account in your name that your kids can use to make investments with your approval. There are no fees on the trades you make, only the cost of upgrading to this plan. The extra investment features on this plan include:

  • Buy companies’ shares.
  • Start investing with as little as $1.
  • Pay no trading fees.
  • Approve every trade right from the app.

Greenlight Max at $9.98/month

Access all the features on the Greenlight app, the Greenlight debit card, the managed investment platform for your kids, PLUS identity theft, phone, and purchase protection. Get all the features of the plan above and these extra ones:

  • Access priority customer support to reach their customer service team faster.
  • Get alerts, monitoring, and restoration for your whole family in case of identity theft.
  • Cover damaged, lost, or stolen cell phones up to five kids.
  • Repair or replace items you purchase that are damaged or stolen.

What We Dont Like About Greenlight

Here are some potential cons that we see.

  • Interest is paid by the parents, not by the bank
  • No cash deposit option available (you need to deposit into your bank and transfer the funds)
  • Transfers can take a few days

Notably, transfers can sometimes take up to three to five days. That means you’ll have to plan if you want to make sure your kids get paid on the days you’ve set up for them. 

All in all, getting a child a Greenlight debit card could be a good experience and a helpful way to teach them how to earn, budget and save money. 

What is the Greenlight debit card?

The Greenlight debit card is a debit card for kids. This prepaid debit card allows parents to transfer allowance money and other funds into their children’s debit accounts and gives kids the ability to learn how to manage money with a debit card instead of using cash for their day-to-day spending.

How does Greenlight work? Parents start by setting up a virtual wallet with Greenlight. Once the parent’s Wallet is in place, parents can transfer money directly to their kids’ Greenlight debit accounts, as well as set limits on where that money can be spent. Parents also get an alert every time the Greenlight debit card is used to help them monitor how their children are spending their money.

Children can use the Greenlight mobile app to track their balance, create savings goals and set aside money for charitable giving. If parents decide to link their children’s allowance to specific chores (including recurring and one-off responsibilities), children can use the Greenlight app to track their chore list and mark chores as completed.

Greenlight card reviews are mixed, with the company receiving a B from the Better Business Bureau and 4.3 out of five stars on Trustpilot. The most common complaints involve unexpected difficulties with financial transfers, whether a parent is attempting to put money into or withdraw money from their child’s Greenlight account.

Keep in mind that the types of Greenlight card reviews that show up on sites like the Better Business Bureau are often heavily weighted towards the negative. So, if you’re considering the Greenlight debit card for your kids, it’s worth looking into the card’s pros and cons before making your decision.

Greenlight Fee Schedule and Balance Limits

All FeesAmountDetails
Monthly Usage (only one fee plan, as selected by primary accountholder, applies per monthly billing period)
Monthly Fee – Greenlight$4.99$4.99 per month, per family (up to five kids)
Monthly Fee – Greenlight + Invest$7.98$7.98 per month, per family (up to five kids)
Monthly Fee – Greenlight Max$9.98$9.98 per month, per family (up to five kids)
Get Cash
ATM withdrawal (in-network or out-of-network)$0.00No fee to make cash withdrawals with your Card at any ATM. ATM operator fees may apply.
Other
Card Replacement$3.50First replacement is free; subsequent replacements are $3.50 per Card.
Card Replacement Express Delivery Fee (optional)$24.99
Custom Card Fee (optional)$9.99
Cash Reload Fee$0 (N/A)Greenlight doesn’t allow for direct cash reloads. Must deposit money through the Parent Account and then have it transfer to child’s Greenlight card
Card Balance, Spend, Deposit, Withdrawal and Transfer Limits
Maximum card balance– $10,000 per parent account – $5,000 per child account
Maximum daily and monthly spend limits (families)– $1,000 per day per family – $5,000 per month per family
Maximum purchase limit– $1,000 per day per family – $5,000 per month per family
Direct deposit limit– $500 per day per family – $5,000 per month per family
ATM withdrawal limit– $100 per day per child – $500 per day per family
Debit card transfer limit– $20 to $500 per day (minimum and maximum amounts of a value reload by Debit Card) – $20 to $2,500 per month (minimum and maximum amounts of a value reload by debit card)
ACH transfer limit– $1 to $200 per day per primary account (minimum and maximum amounts of a value reload by ACH) – $300 per month per family

Is Greenlight Debit Card Secure?

Greenlight’s bank partner, Community Federal Savings Bank, manages Greenlight debit cards. Community Federal Savings Bank is an FDIC-insured bank that adheres to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. 

Also, the Greenlight website says that all app communications use state-of-the-art encryption. 

Greenlight vs. Chase First Banking

We compared Greenlight to Chase First Banking, another debit card offering.

                                                  Greenlight
                                                  Chase

Sign-up fee

 None

Sign-up fee

 None

Monthly service fee

$4.99, $7.98, or $9.98 depending on plan

Monthly service fee

 None

Learn moreLearn more

Your decision between these two debit card options may hinge on each company’s opening requirements and whether you’re willing to pay a monthly service fee.

Only current Chase checking account holders may open Chase First Banking. If you don’t have a Chase bank account or don’t want to open a new bank account, you may favor Greenlight. 

You may prefer Chase First Banking if you’re looking to avoid monthly service fees. Greenlight currently only offers a one-month free trial, and after that, you’ll need to choose between three plans to keep using the app’s features.

How to Open a Greenlight App Account

  1. Apply for a Greenlight account
  2. On the landing page, enter your mobile phone number and click the “Get Started” button to submit
  3. Go to your phone to collect your confirmation code and enter it in the box labeled “Enter Confirmation Code” and click “Confirm Code
  4. Create your account by entering your email address, creating your own password and selecting what your kids will call you. Click Next.
  5. Begin by entering your child’s name and mobile number (if they have one) and birthday. Click Next if you only have one child to add or Add another child if you have more than one to add. Do this for each child you wish to get a Greenlight card.
  6. Provide your personal information followed by accepting the Cardholder Agreement and hit Next.
  7. Finally, set up your funding source and submit your Greenlight application for verification and approval.

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