Are prepaid debit cards good for children?

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  • Taking responsibility: it is better to teach children how to use their own bank account with a debit card attached, rather than hand them a prepaid debit card, according to Dave Ramsey

    Taking responsibility: it is better to teach children how to use their own bank account with a debit card attached, rather than hand them a prepaid debit card, according to Dave Ramsey

Dear Dave,

Iíve seen lots of companies marketing prepaid debit cards for children. They seem to position them as a way parents can set spending limits for their children. Do you think these are a good idea? It seems to me they are just a form of conditioning to get children to rely on cards.


Dear Keith,

I agree with your assessment. I donít recommend prepaid debit cards for children, except in very unusual situations. Letís say your kid was going on a trip, and you wanted him or her to have something in their pocket for limited access to cash. But if theyíre old enough and responsible enough, Iíd rather them have a traditional debit card attached to their own account.

What I really want parents to do is teach their children how to work, give, save and spend wisely. Itís all about teaching your children to become good adults, and handling money is part of the equation. How does that apply to something like a prepaid debit card for a kid? For the child, theyíre looking at it like mom and dad are an ATM. They donít equate it with real money unless they put their cash into the card.

I suggest helping them open a checking account with a debit card attached around age 15 or 16, provided you have taught them ó and they have demonstrated ó wise money-management practices up to that point. Teach them to reconcile and balance the account, and walk with them when they do this so they donít slip into the idea a debit card is some magical portal to free money.


Dear Dave,

Iíll be getting married in a few months, and I just finished reading some of your books. You make a lot of sense, but now Iím wondering if I need to talk to my fiancee about postponing the wedding until I pay off all my debt. How do you feel about this?


Dear Nick,

First, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I admire your desire to get out of debt and take control of your finances, but youíre talking about marrying the woman you love. You do not have to be debt-free to get married.

If you guys are on the same page when it comes to money, and youíre both willing to work together on paying off any debt after youíre married, thereís no reason to postpone the wedding. You two shouldnít be paying each otherís debt before you get married, but once the rings are on your fingers, and youíre pronounced ďas one,Ē then everything shifts from being ďmineĒ and ďhersĒ to ďoursĒ.


Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven bestselling books, including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 13 million listeners each week on 585 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on the web at and on Twitter at @DaveRamsey.

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Published Sep 2, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 1, 2017 at 11:43 pm)

Are prepaid debit cards good for children?

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