FamZoo vs. Greenlight – Who Has the Best Prepaid Debit Card for Kids?

FamZoo and Greenlight are family-friendly budgeting and financial education solutions built around prepaid debit cards for kids. They’re both designed to set kids up for financial success while giving parents the final say in how and where youngsters spend their money.

FamZoo and Greenlight have a lot in common, including built-in chore and allowance features, spending limits, long-term savings goals, instant parent-to-kid transfers, and more. But there’s plenty to distinguish the two apps as well. FamZoo’s budgeting and money management features are even more comprehensive than Greenlight’s, but Greenlight has FamZoo beat when it comes to investing, identity theft protection, and other value-adds.

Which is right for you? Spend some time getting to know these two apps and then decide for yourself.

Key Features of FamZoo and Greenlight — Plans and Pricing

FamZoo and Greenlight are both great at what they do — empowering kids to take control of their finances while keeping parents in the loop. 

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FamZoo has a single plan that costs between $2.50 and $5.99 per month, depending on payment frequency. Pay month-to-month and cancel anytime for $5.99 per month, or prepay $59.99 for 24 months of service to unlock the lowest effective monthly rate. FamZoo offers intermediate prepayment options as well — six and 12 months.

Meanwhile, Greenlight has three monthly plans with different features and capabilities:

  • Greenlight: The base plan includes Greenlight’s core features, including a debit card and built-in savings account. It’s $4.99 per month.
  • Greenlight + Invest: This plan adds parallel investment platforms for kids and parents. It’s $7.98 per month.
  • Greenlight Max: This plan adds identity theft protection, cash back on eligible debit purchases, and some other value-added features. It’s $9.98 per month.

FamZoo — Features and Capabilities

FamZoo’s single plan comes with a free, FDIC-insured Mastercard debit card for up to four enrolled kids. Adding more cards incurs an additional one-time fee of $3 per card. For lost or stolen cards, the first two replacement cards are free. Then a $3 replacement card fee applies.

FamZoo includes all the following features and capabilities.

Mobile App and Browser Access

FamZoo works well on small and large screens. It has separate mobile apps for iOS and Android, plus a browser version better suited to laptops and desktops.

Money Requests and Reimbursement Requests

Kid users can request funds right in the FamZoo app, specifying the amount and reason for the request. The same interface supports reimbursement requests for expenses already paid by the kid.

Instant Parent-to-Kid Transfers

FamZoo supports instant transfers from parents’ linked bank accounts to kids’ debit cards. There’s no waiting period for funds to arrive, and the transfer is secure — FamZoo never has your external bank account details.

Cash Reload Options

If you don’t want to transfer funds electronically, FamZoo supports cash reloads of its cards at thousands of participating Green Dot and Mastercard rePower locations. You’ll find reload points at major retailers like Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven, and Kmart. Some locations may support paper check reloads as well.

IOU Accounts

IOU accounts track funds held outside of FamZoo on your kids’ behalf. Common uses for IOU accounts include:

  • Tracking promised allowance or chore payments you haven’t made yet
  • Tracking informal family lines of credit that your kids can draw on
  • Tracking funds held for other purposes outside of FamZoo, like education savings
  • Managing funds for younger kids who aren’t ready for their own debit cards yet

When you transfer funds from an IOU account to a FamZoo debit card, FamZoo credits your IOU account. That way, you’ll know how much you still owe your kid or how much you’re still holding on their behalf.

Direct Deposit for Teens

FamZoo has a free direct deposit feature. If your kid works outside the home, use it to direct their paycheck into their FamZoo debit card account.

Card Activity Alerts

FamZoo delivers real-time card activity alerts detailing individual transactions, their amounts, and the remaining balance on the card. Use this feature to keep tabs on your kids’ spending and monitor balances.

Detailed Decline Information

When an attempted debit card transaction is declined for any reason, FamZoo notifies the kid user and the parent. This notification includes the reason for the decline, such as an insufficient balance or incorrect PIN, and offers advice on how to avoid the same outcome in the future. 

Missed Payment Tracking

If you can’t make a scheduled payment to your kid because your funding account has an insufficient balance, FamZoo tracks the deficit in an IOU account and settles it once you do have enough funds in the account.

This feature works in reverse as well. If your kid can’t make a scheduled payment to you because they don’t have enough money on their debit card, FamZoo sets up an IOU and settles it when the money’s there.

Card Lock and Unlock

You can lock and unlock your kids’ debit cards with a few taps in the FamZoo app. You can do this for any reason, from a lost or stolen card to a financial time-out brought on by ill-advised spending.

Customizable Subaccounts

FamZoo’s subaccounts feature enables envelope budgeting for every kid on your plan. Set up each subaccount to correspond to a different budgeting category or spending goal and fund them accordingly.

Allowance Features

Automate your kids’ regular weekly allowance with recurring deposits or split payments among multiple subaccounts.

Chore Features

Use FamZoo’s powerful chore feature to:

  • Visualize your entire household’s chore list with a single-view chore chart
  • Assign chores to individual kids or let them claim open chores on a “first dibs” basis
  • Automatically send payments for specific chores once they’re marked done
  • Split payments for chores among multiple accounts
  • Levy financial penalties on kids who don’t get their chores done
  • Review chores to make sure they’re done before sending payments

Parent-Paid Interest

Pay interest on your kids’ debit card balances using your primary funding account as the source. You can customize the interest rate — potentially paying much more than a regular savings account — and also cap the balance eligible to earn interest.

Automated Family Billing

Automatically debit your kids’ card accounts for their share of household expenses, such as cellphone bills or streaming services. This feature pulls from the card to your primary funding account.

Greenlight Plan — Features and Capabilities

Greenlight’s base plan costs $4.99 per month. It comes with a Mastercard debit card for up to five kids and includes all Greenlight’s core financial tools. However, it doesn’t have all the value-adds that set Greenlight apart from other kid-friendly debit cards and personal finance apps. 

Here’s what the base plan does include.

Financial Education Content

Greenlight has a ton of age-appropriate financial literacy content and tools, such as videos and articles produced for a young audience. Greenlight also has kid-friendly quizzes, games, contests, and sweepstakes, all designed to promote smart money management. 

Payments for Chores and Allowance

Greenlight lets you specify weekly, biweekly, or monthly allowance payments right in the app. If you wish, you can tie these payments to successful completion on specific chores. You have three options:

  • A flat-rate allowance that’s not at all related to chore completion
  • A hybrid option that only pays the full allowance amount after all assigned chores are complete
  • A fully chores-based allowance that requires your kid to complete every assigned chore before they get a dime

1% Greenlight Savings Reward

Eligible Greenlight savings balances earn an effective 1% interest rate — better than many high-yield savings accounts, and more than enough to demonstrate the power of compound interest. Payments come each month, regardless of account balance or activity.  

Parental Controls

Greenlight’s parental controls include:

  • The ability to lock and unlock the card in the app
  • Real-time spending notifications with merchant details
  • The option to disable certain transaction types or spending categories
  • The ability to set dollar limits for allowed transaction types or categories
  • The option to enable biometric authentication methods, such as touch or face ID

Direct Deposit

Greenlight allows paycheck direct deposit for older users. If your kid works outside the home, set up direct deposit to see in real time how they’re putting their paycheck to use. 

Greenlight Custom Card

Greenlight offers customized debit cards bearing the user’s picture. If you want to add one for your kid, it’ll cost you a one-time fee of $9.99 — plus $24.99 if you want to cut the standard seven- to 10-business-day shipping time down to two or three business days.

Greenlight + Invest Plan — Features and Capabilities

Greenlight + Invest adds a low-cost investing platform for parents and kids. It costs $7.98 per month. For that, you get everything in the Greenlight base plan, plus:

Investing for Kids

Greenlight’s kid-friendly investment account features: 

This is a brokerage account in the parent’s name only, not a custodial investment account that also bears the kid’s name. You can revoke access to it at any time. 

Investing for Parents

Greenlight lets you invest on your kids’ behalf in the app as well. You use the same account to do so and get all the same benefits, including fractional share trading on eligible equities and no commissions.

Greenlight Max Plan — Features and Capabilities

Greenlight’s most comprehensive plan is Greenlight Max. It costs $9.98 per month.

On top of everything in the Greenlight + Invest plan, it adds cash back on eligible debit card purchases, identity theft protection, and other value-adds:

Identity Theft Protection

Kids are frequent victims of identity theft because there’s often no one checking their credit regularly. That makes it easy for identity thieves to open fraudulent accounts in their name without being detected. And it’s why Greenlight Max offers built-in identity theft monitoring, notification, and restoration for kid users.

1% Cash Back on Eligible Debit Card Purchases

Greenlight Max pays 1% cash back on eligible Greenlight debit card purchases. Rewards accrue monthly and automatically drop into kids’ savings accounts at the end of each period. 

2% Greenlight Savings Reward

Greenlight Max boosts the effective interest rate on savings balances to 2%, paid monthly. 

Greenlight Black Card

Greenlight Max comes with a special black debit card at no additional cost. It’s more solid and much cooler-looking than the standard version.

Priority Customer Support

Greenlight Max users always cut to the front of the line when they need assistance. This priority customer support promise applies to chat and phone calls, although Greenlight doesn’t make any representations about exactly how long you’ll need to wait for help. 

Cellphone Protection for Up to Five Kids

Greenlight Max comes with free complimentary cellphone protection insurance for up to five devices. It’s provided by Virginia Surety Company and available in all states except New York.

Purchase Protection

Certain Greenlight debit card purchases get complimentary purchase protection coverage that defrays the cost of repairs or replacements, subject to policy limits. Greenlight’s purchase protection is also provided by Virginia Surety Company and is available everywhere but New York state.

The Verdict: Should You Choose FamZoo or Greenlight?

FamZoo and Greenlight both excel at teaching kids of all ages about money and setting them up for financial success in adulthood. The key differences lie in the details. 

You Should Get FamZoo If…

Famzoo is a better fit if:

  • Your Kids Have Complex Money Management Needs. When it comes to household finances, FamZoo can handle virtually any degree of complexity. If your kids have complex money management needs, perhaps because they’re working outside the home while saving for multiple long-range goals, FamZoo’s robust features can help.
  • You Have Lots of Household Chores to Assign. FamZoo makes it easy to assign chores and pay kids for their work. Greenlight has a built-in chore feature too, but it’s not as customizable or robust.
  • You’re Willing to Prepay Well in Advance. FamZoo’s monthly fee is as low as $2.50 per month per household when you prepay in advance. Commit to at least two years of FamZoo to get the best deal.

You Should Get Greenlight If…

Greenlight is a better fit if:

  • You Want Greenlight to Pay Your Kids Interest. Greenlight savings balances earn up to 2% interest, higher than most high-yield savings accounts. FamZoo balances earn interest too, but only if you pay it out of your pocket. 
  • You Want to Teach Your Kids About Investing. Greenlight + Invest has a kid-friendly investment account that’s a perfect first brokerage account — and a great investor education tool — for your tween or teen. 
  • You Want Cash Back on Eligible Purchases. Upgrade to Greenlight Max to earn 1% cash back on eligible debit card purchases. Although not quite on par with the best cash-back credit cards, that’s a nice rate of return for an entry-level card.
  • You Want Built-in Identity Theft Protection. Greenlight Max also comes with complimentary identity theft protection. The package includes identity monitoring, notification, and restoration.

Both Are Great If…

Both FamZoo and Greenlight are excellent options if…

  • You Have Older Kids Working Outside the House. Both Greenlight and FamZoo make it easy to direct-deposit your kids’ paychecks into their debit card accounts. From there, you can fund savings goals, control their spending, or simply keep tabs on how they manage their money.
  • You Want to Keep Tabs on Your Kids’ Spending Activity. Both apps are built around the idea that parents should know what their kids are up to, financially speaking. Either way, you’ll never have to wonder — or worry — about your kids’ financial behaviors.
  • You Want to Set Savings Goals for Your Kids. Both apps have savings goal features. Whether your kid is saving up for a new bike or putting money away for college, this is a cornerstone of financial empowerment.

Final Word

FamZoo and Greenlight both earn high marks for teaching kids about basic money management concepts. Use either one consistently and your kids will be in a stronger financial position when they’re ready to go out into the world.

The FamZoo and Greenlight apps are anything but carbon copies, however. They have distinct features and serve different audiences, which means the right app for you and your kids might not be the right app for your neighbor and their kids. 

FamZoo really shines when it comes to managing chores, allowances, and family finances in general. Greenlight is more of a catch-all personal finance app for kids, with built-in savings and investment accounts along with a slew of value-added features. 

The ideal choice for your family depends on your household’s money management needs and your financial goals for your kids. Now that you know how FamZoo and Greenlight stack up, you’re ready to make the call.

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