Melanie Cox McCluskey, a copywriter in Pittsburgh, likes the idea of having more control over her 10-year-old daughter’s spending. She’s a Greenlight subscriber and initially put $20 on a prepaid card for her daughter, an amount she replenishes as needed. Eventually she expects her daughter will add the money she earns from odd jobs so Ms. McCluskey won’t have to add funds as frequently. Ms. McCluskey says she gives her daughter the freedom to make spending choices, but feels more confident knowing she can make certain stores off-limits.
“It’s just as much for their benefit to learn about money as it is for my ability to have control over spending,” Ms. McCluskey says.
Companies like Greenlight have released reloadable cards that can be used like debit cards — but only for stores preapproved by the card’s primary account holder. Parents can make sure the $500 earmarked for textbooks, for example, is spent only at the campus bookstore, says Greenlight CEO Tim Sheehan. Some companies allow account holders to block categories of purchases, such as alcohol, in addition to individual merchants.
Though it could be nerve-wracking watching your student stumble through adulthood for the first time, methods like these will show if he or she can be financially responsible. “At some point, you’re going to have to release the reins and let them go,” Sun says. “If you raised them properly, you’ve got to trust yourself, too.”
What sets Greenlight apart from most other debit cards are the parental controls. Using the free Greenlight app, parents can divide their kid's money into two categories. The first category enables your child to use the card anywhere. The second category is restricted to specific retailers (e.g., Starbucks) or specific types of retailers (e.g., restaurants). If a child tries to spend money at a store the parent hasn't approved, the transaction will be declined unless the child has sufficient funds in his or her spend anywhere category.
This is by far and away my favorite feature of Greenlight. We all know that interest rates are at historic lows. Even with online banks such as Ally, a savings account doesn't pay more than about 1.50% APY. The low interest rate can be a hurdle when trying to teach children the importance of saving. Watching a savings account grow is worse than watching paint dry.
With Greenlight, a parent can set the interest rate on their child's account. The interest of course comes out of the parent's account, not from Greenlight. But it can be a great way to teach a child the power of compounding. And since we are typically talking about a relatively small amount of money, even a 10% rate won't wreck the parents' budget.
Greenlight Financial Technology Inc, an Atlanta-based producer of a smart debit card, raised $16 million in Series A funding. TTV Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including New Enterprise Associates Inc, Relay Ventures, SunTrust Bank, Ally Financial, nbkc bank, Canapi and the Amazon Alexa Fund.
When you’re a parent shipping a kid off to college, it’s hard not to worry about every possible financial mishap, like is that money meant for textbooks paying for a music festival ticket? But there are ways to ensure students are making the right financial decisions without hovering over them.
Greenlight is the only such card that allows parents to specify in advance the specific stores where kids can spend, said co-founder and chief executive Tim Sheehan. The Greenlight card runs on an app that both parents and kids use, and kids can send a spending request through the app for their parents to approve — or not — with a click.
Parents also get real-time alerts when their child uses the Greenlight card, so it ends up functioning almost as a location-monitoring system, Sheehan said. There’s also a feature that lets moms and dads get their change back if they give their kid, say, $20 for a night out and not all of the money gets spent. Sheehan said his teenage son complained this feature would ruin a steady income source for kids his age. Parents can also freeze the card at any time and the card can never be used to take cash out of ATMs.
With Greenlight parents can give their kids debit cards that provide unprecedented control and transparency into how and where they are used. By combining the cards with a mobile app that provides account information as well as transaction data,
For a low monthly fee, parents can instantly transfer cash to their children’s cards, get alerts when children make purchases, and set store-level controls around where children can make purchases. It also provides easy ways for parents to automatically fund allowances or freeze cards if they’re lost or stolen.
With Greenlight, you can pick the kinds of stores -- or even specific stores near you -- where your child can spend. Or let them spend anywhere. It’s all up to you, with our patent-pending parental controls.
Cash can be lost, stolen, defaced, or torn. But a sturdy Greenlight card comes with your child's name (and PIN) built in. And it can be instantly shut off–from either your phone or your child's–the minute it can't be found. Learn More
Real-time notifications tell you where and when your child spends. And reporting lets you and your child review spending choices.
Set Greenlight to pay allowances automatically. No more searching for loose change on allowance days!
“I never have cash these days so when my kids want to go out with their friends, it was always a huge headache. Finally, I have an answer with Greenlight!" Rachelle K. Peachtree Corners, GA
Take a month and see how Greenlight works for you, on us. After your trial ends, pay just $4.99/mo for your whole family.