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Prepaid Debit Cards

Prepaid debit cards have blown up in the last few years, as credit card companies and financial institutions have realized there's a huge market for these cards in the spending population. People with bad credit scores and immigrant workers, and other shoppers who might have trouble getting a traditional credit card, need the prepaid debit card to make spending easier and more flexible, especially here in the electronic age.

One big part of the prepaid debit card demographic are teenagers and younger children. Many parents want to teach their kids responsibility, and giving them an allowance or spending budget of some sort is a good way to let them learn how to handle their money. Other parents see the hectic life people these days live (including underage children) and figure their child needs some spending power and flexibility. A credit card is unworkable (and impossible), while cash is so easily lost and stolen--and you have no idea what kids are buying.

Prepaid Debit Cards for Children

Prepaid Debit Cards for ChildrenWith a prepaid debit card, you make sure your child has the money he or she needs, while having the kind of parental controls and transaction history to let you know your children are spending on the right things. Most important, a debit card keeps anyone from overspending.

One of the prepaid debit cards for kids you'll come across most often is Visa Buzz from Visa USA. This prepaid Visa card's full name is "PAYjr Visa Buxx Prepaid Debit Cards". You'll find a 12-and-under card for children and a 13-and-over card for teens.

Mastercard's counterpart to Visa Buxx is the Mastercard Allow. This prepaid debit card has many of the same features, and is used to give your children some spending power, without giving them too much spending power. One advantage of the Mastercard Allow is you can set parental controls to make sure they buy cigarettes or a bunch of junk food. Here in a second, I'll give you a full comparison of Allow and Buxx.

Prepaid Debit Cards for Teens

Teenagers have their own Visa Buxx card from the PAYjr Visa Program. This debit card not only is a convenient way to pay at retail stores and online vendors, but it helps teach a young spender financial responsibility while maintaining the shopping flexibility that having a Visa card confers.

Visa Buxx offers a safer alternative to cash, while giving Mom and Dad parent control and oversight capabilities. Since it's not a credit card, your sometimes overenthusiastic teen can't spend you and the spouse into financial oblivion. You can load funds onto the card as needed, either online or over the phone, so your kid never has to be in another town without funds. The transaction history lets you use the Visa Buxx card as a teaching tool, to give a full review of your teenager's spending habits.

Prepaid Debit Cards Comparison

  • Visa Buxx - Monthly Fee: $4.95 - Reload Fee: $2.50 - Activation Fee: $9.95 - ATM Withdrawal Fee: $1.00
  • Mastercard Allow - Monthly Fee: $3.50 - Reload Fee: $3.5% - Activation Fee: $19.95 - ATM Withdrawal Fee: $1.50
  • Student Upside - Monthly Fee: $2.90 - Reload Fee: $2.80 - Activation Fee: $0.00 - ATM Withdrawal Fee: $1.70
  • BillMyParents - Monthly Fee: $3.95 - Reload Fee: $0.75 - Activation Fee: $0.00 - ATM Withdrawal Fee: $1.50

Cards like the Student UPside and "Bill My Parents" have a better fee structure, but there's a lot to be said for having the power of Mastercard or Visa in your back pocket. In each of these cases, remember that the prepaid debit card does not help build a credit score for a youthful spender. For that, you'll need the prepaid credit card.

Internet Prepaid Debit Cards

Prepaid debit cards and the Internet go hand-in-hand. You can use your debit card to withdraw funds from ATM machines, but you can also handle cash transfers online, too. Whether you want to reload your prepaid debit card over the computer or you want to use your debit card to spend at an online vendor, your pre-paid card is also an Internet debit card.

This goes double when you give your child a prepaid debit card. You can use your home computer or Wifi to check up on your child throughout the day. Using the transaction history, you can see what they are spending money on, and see where they are buying their goods and services from. If your teenager has a history of being out-of-place and doing things you would prefer they not do, you can use your Internet connection to track their progress around town. As the old saying goes, follow the money trail.

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