Decades ago, finances for children were simpler.
Perhaps you put up a chore chart on the back of a door somewhere. If they completed their chores, they got an allowance — in cash.
Cash is a rarity these days. But fintech companies are pushing digital boundaries, causing all financial companies to offer more products. That means there are a lot of choices out there for parents who want to teach their kids good financial habits in a responsible and safe way.
What Does Clark Think About the Greenlight Card?
Does Clark like the Greenlight card?
That’s what a listener asked on the June 27 podcast episode.
Asked Steven in Texas: “I want to start teaching my 7-year-old daughter about spending and saving money, and pay her for chores she does.
I’ve seen the Greenlight card advertised on my Instagram. What’s your opinion on this card? Or is there a better card system to use for teaching and paying young kids in your opinion?”
Clark doesn’t like the idea of paying money for one of these cards. He has a strong preference instead of a Greenlight card.
“The Greenlight card is OK. My preference is the credit union programs,” Clark says. “Many, many credit unions have youth accounts.
“They don’t involve a checking account, depending on the credit union, until 14 or 16 [years old]. But they’ll be what is often referred to at a credit union as a youth spending account.
What Is the Greenlight Card?
The Greenlight card is a prepaid debit card with features to teach your children about money and monitor your children’s spending. The base plan costs $4.99 per month and comes with cards for up to five kids.
Some of the features include:
- Transfer money to your kids for free
- Set spending limits for specific stores
- Get real-time alerts when your kids use the card
- Set up chores and pay your kids an allowance
- Earn 1-5% annual rewards
The Case for the Greenlight Card
Christa, Clark’s podcast producer, used Greenlight with her kids.
“I remember you and me arguing about this because I didn’t want you to spend that money [$5 a month],” Clark says.
The money expert opts to pay as little as possible for most things in life with a few exceptions, such as his Tesla, his fitness trackers and watching the NFL on Sundays in the fall.
“To me it was worth it because it does a lot of extra things. You can pay them for chores in there. You can set spending limits,” Christa says.
“It’s software that people are creating and maintaining. And for that much a month, I think they should be paid for creating that software. And it did teach my kids a lot about splitting up the money and how it works.”
Clark would rather you set up your child at a credit union.
“So you and I continue to disagree,” Clark says. “I want to make it clear it’s not a ripoff. They’re not taking advantage of people. You’re getting a suite of services and paying $60 a year for it under the plan you were under.
“I just think if there’s a way to establish a full-on account and relationship like at a credit union, that’s my thing and that’s what I love.”
Why a Credit Union Is a Good Option
A credit union is a member-owned organization that offers traditional banking services.
Banks are for-profit entities. And the larger the bank, the more profit-focused it generally is.
Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations owned by their members. So they’re incentivized to provide better customer service and often offer better loan and interest rates while charging fewer fees.
“I would contact credit unions near you because those [youth] accounts almost always are free. Why are they free? What’s in this for the credit union besides credit unions being a co-op there to serve their members?
“I mean, think about how great it is to have someone as a customer for life from a young age. My wife joined a credit union when she was a teenager. And got her first credit card from that credit union. Still has that same credit card all these decades later.
“And I’ve said, ‘Well, you know, it’s not a very good card. They don’t give you anything special with it.’ And she said, ‘But they’re the ones who were there for me when I was starting out.’ And so out of loyalty and sentimentality, she’s had that same card all along.”
Fidelity Makes for a Strong Alternative
“Fidelity in particular is very welcoming to minor children and having accounts. And the kids are given a certain amount of control directly of the account, which is a unique thing in the stock brokerage investment business,” Clark says.
“And with the big complexes Fidelity and Schwab, you’re able to have all the different kinds of things you’re talking about at no cost. Which I like. I’ve obviously made clear I like no cost.”
Clark would choose a youth account at a credit union or a savings account at Fidelity ahead of a Greenlight card. He’d rather avoid paying what amounts to a $60 annual fee for such a service.
When you think about protecting your money, that makes sense. A child’s savings account is likely to be small.
But he admits that Greenlight isn’t a scam. If it’s worth it to you to easily track your child’s spending, pay them an allowance and set spending limits (even for specific stores) all in the same app, there’s no problem with that.