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Greenlight Parents Raise
Financially-Smart Kids

Greenlight® is the debit card for kids that parents manage from their phones with flexible parental controls.

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.

Michelle Ibbetson, a middle school teacher in Westminster, Calif., said she saw firsthand that children could be careless about cash. At the end of a week, her classroom is often littered with change that students have left behind.

Determined to help her own children be savvy about money, she signed up more than a year ago for an early version of Greenlight. Her children — Dallin, 10, and Adelle, 12 — review their balances themselves, on cellphones that they can check out from their parents periodically.

“Every Monday, they get a deposit if they did their chores the week before,” she said.

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.

Flexible Control for Parents

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.

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Chores is the new app feature that helps you easily manage one-time or weekly chores, and motivates kids to get them done.

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Set Greenlight to pay allowances automatically. No more searching for loose change on allowance days!

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Real-time notifications tell you where and when your child spends. And reporting lets you and your child review spending choices. 

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Just tap to send instant funds to your child, from wherever you are.  

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Greenlight Gift is a simple way for Greenlight kids to receive gifted funds on their Greenlight Cards for birthdays, holidays, or any occasion.


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What people are saying

I love Greenlight. As a mom of 4 kids, it makes paying allowances and spending money for trips so easy. I get to choose where they can spend money. It eases my mind to know that wherever they are or whoever they are with, I can make sure they have the money they need for whatever might come up!!

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Samantha B.

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