They Want to Hand Your Kid a Debit Card. What Do You Do?

Then, a few basics. If you’re seeking regular allowance distribution and management, most services can handle that. But if you’re paying your children for chores and want to check tasks off on a line-item basis before pushing money onto a kid’s card, that’s a feature that you should select for specifically. Gohenry does this, and FamZoo helped pioneer it.

Also, what financial behaviors do you wish to encourage — or change? Many parents like to reward savings with automatic interest-rate boosts or goal-based bonuses. “That allows parents to exaggerate the point to make the point,” said Tim Sheehan, Greenlight’s co-founder. So check for that feature if it’s important to you. Greenlight offers it, and FamZoo has a strong offering, too.

Then, there’s the goal of overarching financial literacy. Tanya Van Court, the founder of Goalsetter, has poured resources into that side of her business. “A card is actually an incomplete solution,” she said.

Goalsetter allows parents to pay their kids extra for doing well on financial literacy quizzes and hold money back when they don’t complete them. She’s also trying to persuade credit bureaus to reward 18-year-old Goalsetter customers who are particularly well informed.

“It’s not fair that some kids get added to their parents’ American Express accounts and develop a fantastic credit score when they haven’t spent a dime,” she said. (Step already has a system in place to allow young users to begin building good credit.)

Consider the help you may need, too. “Everyone underestimates customer service,” said Mr. Dwight, of FamZoo, which has a fairly modest roster of 13,000 family clients. “When your teenage daughter is stuck at a gas station, you kind of don’t want a bot.”

He would say something like that, given that his is a sort of home-brewed product, where he and his partner respond to customer inquiries themselves. FamZoo also earns bonus points for the granularity of the F.A.Q. on its website, which bestills my dorked-out heart for the way it anticipates nearly every use (and misuse) case. Test out any start-up you’re considering by sending a message with a question to see what kind of response you get.

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