Why kids should understand the difference between debit and credit cards

Today, it’s not surprising that Americans have shifted from the traditional use of cash to more modern methods of payment like debit and credit cards. According to Fundera, 70% of consumers prefer using cards as a form of payment and 54% prefer using debit cards. 

Debit and credit cards provide convenience, more security than cash and are accepted nearly everywhere. It’s safe to say that while cash may not be going away, teaching children the basics of what credit and debit cards are now will prepare them to use cards responsibly in the future. 

Prepare them for the reality of credit cards

A credit card is a form of payment issued by a bank or business that allows the holder to purchase things on credit. When making purchases with a credit card, you promise to pay back the money you owe (plus any interest!) at a later date. 

When you carry a balance over month-to-month, the lender charges you interest on top of the amount you owe. Carried balances and interest can add up quickly and many families find themselves in a position where it’s tough to pay credit cards off.

In fact, 41% of America’s households have credit card debt. It’s important to introduce your kids to the concept of credit cards while they’re still in the nest – that way, they are prepared to carry one later in life. 

When it comes to teaching your kids, we recommend starting their money management adventures with a debit card. This protects them from overspending because they can spend only the money they have, and allows them to build healthy habits early before they enter the world of credit.

Teach them to manage money with a debit card

Debit cards provide more security than cash and fewer worries about debt than a credit card. A debit card is a form of payment that deducts money directly from a bank account to pay for a purchase. With debit cards, owners can have easy access to their available funds and can often also put money aside for something special using a savings account. 

Kids need to learn how to manage a debit card just like they need to learn how to drive. Whether your child runs their own lemonade stand during the summer, starts their first job or gets an allowance, a debit card can help kids learn to manage balances, save money, and more!

How Greenlight helps

Greenlight helps kids learn how to manage money and form strong healthy habits that will serve them as adults. According to Greenlight CEO Tim Sheehan, the reason Greenlight is a debit card is to “help kids learn to effectively manage the money they’ve earned, as opposed to spending money they may not have.”

Parents are the primary account holders and have the controls to choose where their children can use the card, manage chores and allowances, set parent-paid interest rates on savings, and more. Kids are able to monitor their balances, create saving goals, and learn how to make financially-smart decisions in a safe environment with their parents’ guidance. 

How parents send money using the Greenlight debit card.

Mistakes are just mistakes

With Greenlight, there is no chance for a child to overdraft or overspend since we decline any purchases greater than the child’s available balance. Mistakes are just mistakes! Parents get alerts when kids try to spend more than they have to spark conversations about budgeting and wise spending. 

Parents are able to allocate funds to their child’s “Spend Anywhere” account or choose specific stores where kids can spend and how much they can spend. They can even help their child create a savings goal and contribute money to meet that special goal. 

Ready to teach your child how to manage money responsibly?

Join Greenlight today to start adventures in personal finance with your kids!

Meet Brynn, a 12-year-old entrepreneur using Greenlight to help kids beat cancer

You’ve probably heard: If you have a talent, use it. But how about “Use it for good?” That’s exactly what 12-year-old Brynn G. is doing. Not only does she make and donate custom face masks to schools, she also sells them — and gives 20% of sales to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Yep, that’s a whole lot of good.

Meet Brynn

Like most 7th graders, Brynn has plenty of energy. (Remember those days?) She spends her time cheerleading competitively, skateboarding and hanging out with friends — socially-distanced, of course. Here’s what makes her different: She runs a business. You heard that right — Brynn sews and sells face masks for her own company, B Creates. And she’s not planning on stopping any time soon.

How Brynn got started

Brynn honed her stitching skills alongside her grandma, who handed down the sewing machine she uses today. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Brynn turned sewing into a business. One day at home, she used the extra material from cropping a shirt to make a face mask. Her mom posted it on Facebook and word got out: This girl’s got talent. So, she started making and selling custom masks. And just seven weeks later, she had already sold 569 masks!

Brynn gives 20% of her sales to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — to help save kids’ lives. Did we mention she chose that charity all on her own? Major kudos. Brynn has also donated 20 masks to her local elementary and middle school… because everyone deserves a cool, custom mask, right? Think: colorful leopard, purple cosmic swirls and our personal favorite, llamas.

While Brynn sews the masks herself, she passes over the iron to her mom, Janice, who’s been supportive since the start. At first, Brynn wasn’t so sure about her business idea. She thought she’d get 20 orders, if that. Talking it over with her parents gave Brynn the confidence to really go for it.

After seeing how much money Brynn was making from masks, Janice decided to open her a Greenlight account to track it all. Janice can transfer money from Facebook sales right to Brynn’s Spend or Save accounts — empowering her to take matters into her own hands. So while Brynn is in the business of creating, she’s also learning. And you can’t put a price on that.

What’s next?

Right now, Brynn is using her Greenlight account to save up for a new sewing machine, so she can make more masks and raise more money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The jury is still out on where she’ll buy the new machine, so Janice set her Greenlight account to Spend Anywhere, giving Brynn the “green light” to exercise responsible spending
 
If you’d like to support Brynn’s mask-making business, head to the B Creates Facebook Group. All of her masks are washable, reversible and only $5. And remember: 20% of sales go to help kids who are battling cancer.

6 signs your kids are ready for their first debit card

Letting your kids graduate from handling cash to carrying a debit card is a big milestone. And that leaves us with a big question: When’s the right time?

With the holidays around the corner and gifts to be bought, we’d venture to say right now is the perfect time. If you’re still on the fence, look out for these 6 signs that your kids are ready for their first debit card.

Sign #1: They’re always asking for cash (or worse, your debit card)

Hand them cash and they spend it. Lend your debit card and they lose it. Okay — we’ll give them more credit than that, but you can probably relate. While these options may get the job done, they don’t give you a long-term solution for sending money to your kids. 

With cash, kids won’t learn how to track their balances and set a budget. That’s where a debit card comes in handy — but instead of lending yours, you can get them a special one made just for them.

Sign #2: They’re starting to earn money

Vacuuming once a week or making the bed every day? We’ll leave that up to you. If your kids are starting to earn money — whether it’s an allowance or a part-time job —  they’re going to need a place to put it. And no, we’re not talking about piggy banks.

As soon as your kids start to earn, get them set up with the Greenlight card and app so they can complete chores and get paid an automated allowance. Ready for the best part? When they earn on their own, they’ll start to learn why it’s important to take good care of their money.

Sign #3: They’ve got spending down, but they could use help with saving 

Alright, so they’ve started spending money. That’s great! Spending wisely is a big life lesson on its own. But we have to ask… How are they doing with their savings?
 
The good news is you don’t have to have a long lecture about saving. They’ll learn all about it when they get a debit card and start handling money on their own. Plus, you can help them make saving a habit with automatic saving tricks, like Round Ups (so they send extra cents into savings) and Parent-Paid Interest (so you can set an interest rate on their savings).

Sign #4: They’re ready to buy things on their own

When your kids are starting to order pizza delivery or buy things online, they’ve already made the first step at managing their money. The next step is letting it happen — and putting guardrails in place to make sure they’re spending wisely and safely.
 
Every family is different, so you can use your Greenlight app to set spending limits that will work best for your kids. Let’s say one of your kids is already driving. You can set spending limits for gas only (no sneaky snacks from the gas station). Or maybe you have a child who loves spending at Target. You can set spending limits so those shopping trips don’t get too out of hand.

Sign #5: They’re thinking ahead

Ask your kids if they have anything big they’d like to save up for. Who knows? They may have big plans for their money. If they don’t, help them come up with savings goals. These savings goals can be short-term or long-term. 

Not sure where to start? Here are some of the most popular savings goals from our Greenlight families:

  • AirPods
  • Car 
  • Sneakers
  • College
  • Video games

Sign #6: They’re ready for the money talk

They’re asking you the difference between debit and credit. They’re wondering how much money you make. They’re buying you gifts for your birthday.

While these things may feel uncomfortable at first (talking about money is hard!), this is actually a sign that your kids are ready and willing to learn. Kids learn by doing, so there’s no need to sit down and have a napkin-math lesson on money management. That’s boring! Instead, get your kids their own debit card and let the learning happen naturally — with the help of Greenlight’s balance monitoring, real-time alerts and automated allowance to make your life easier at the same time.