With the school summer holidays in full swing, the options for keeping your kids amused are probably fast diminishing. Now might be the time to teach them valuable lessons about money: a proliferation of pre-paid cards and apps which give your children their first taste of financial independence but allow you to monitor their spending. Here’s our pick of the best.
Nimbl sits in the no-frills end of this market. Aimed at those between eight and 18, this prepaid debit Mastercard and smartphone app aims to empower kids to learn about money in a safe environment.
Safety and parental supervision are high on its priorities list. It’s prepaid (from a parent’s bank account), so you don’t have to worry about overdrafts, and also sends parents instant alerts on all spending and lets you set weekly and monthly spending limits. As well as this, it bars spending on age-restricted products – so it can’t be used in pubs, gambling sites and websites with adult content for instance.
However, a word of warning: while it’s cheap at just £10 a year, you can incur a number of additional charges –a thorough breakdown of these is available on the website. It will cost you £0.49 for ATM withdrawals, and £2.50 to terminate an account. Those topping up the card via the mobile app will have to pay £0.15 per transaction. You also need to use this card regularly – there is a dormancy fee of £0.99 a month once the card has been inactive for three months.
While we’d like to see some of these charges (particularly the mobile app one) dropped, Nimbl is one of the cheapest in the market and applying add-ons like this simply help keep its overall costs down.
On the face of it, Osper is another pre-paid debit card for eight to 18-year-olds. It offers a similar suite of services, including parental control over spending and real time tracking of purchases.
However, we think Osper has set its sights on being more than simply a kid’s bank card. It already has a discernible community feel, with ‘Osper parents’ (including TV personality Davina McCall) and its tips and tricks section helps to make finance relevant.
In terms of pricing, there are two separate tariffs available: standard (Osper) which costs £18 a month, and a premium service (Osper Learn) costing £36 annually. As well as the basic features, Osper Learn allows young people to save towards anything with Savings Goals: popular options have included “my first car” and “kitten” (how cute!) It also lets friends and family load money for free.
3. Go Henry
Go Henry was designed by a group of parents looking to help children learn about financial independence. As a result, the safety features are well designed; like the other cards, it allows parents to track what their children are spending money on (using real time notifications), and allows a transfer of money from their account to their offspring’s.
But what marks Go Henry out from other pre-paid cards is the unique tasks and chores feature that allows parents to set jobs for their children to complete in order to earn extra money. This helps kids to make the connection between having cash and earning it. An added perk is that children can customise their own card – possibly slightly gimmicky, but a good way of getting kids excited about the product.
As for pricing, with a monthly fee of £2.49, it is higher than similar products, but hardly prohibitive. On the flip side, other services, such as ATM withdrawals are free (except abroad where it will cost around £2 per transaction).
This is a free app rather than a prepaid card, but we thought it was worthy of a mention. Rooster Money has a simple mission: to help parents teach their children (ages four and upwards) about the value of money in a digital age.
By signing up to its digital tracker, your children can keep track of their money, save towards goals and earn rewards while parents can oversee what money goes in and out of their account. Additionally, kids have the chance to play in The Rooster Village: a Farmville-style virtual world.