How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Debit Card?

Having a debit card is a great way for a young person to begin learning about personal finance. They have to manage an account, keep up with their checkbook (though these days half the time it’s an app instead), and begin good spending/saving practices. Still, it’s hard to know when they should start. How old do you have to be to get a debit card, anyway? 

Generally, you have to be at least 13 years old to get a debit card. Still, there are some children’s debit cards that can go to kids as young as 6 years old. Whether the limit is 6 or 13 in your area, children with debit cards have to have a legal guardian sign on with them to cover liability. 

If you would like to know more about children’s debit cards so you can know if one is right for your young one, you’ve come to the right place. In the sections below, we will break down the ages at which children can receive debit cards along with all the gritty details of how they get one. Additionally, we’ll review the benefits of allowing your child to use a debit card. 

Happy teen holding blank credit or gift card and smart phone looking at camera in the street

Can You Get a Debit Card at 13?

So can a 13 year old really get a debit card or is it some kind of mock debit system built for children? You can, in fact, get a real, full-fledged debit card at the age of 13. Still, it usually has to be on a joint account with your parents or legal guardian. The legal guardian ultimately has control over the account and takes on all the liability in the case of a problem. 

Can Children Under 13 Get a Debit Card?

So what about kids under 13? Is the debit card they receive also real and how young can they be and still get one?

There are many banks out there that don’t really set a limit on how young a child can be as long as it is a joint account with the legal guardian. They will also receive a real debit card so they can begin to learn how to properly manage their money and save in the modern world. 

What Age Can You Get a Debit Card Without a Parent? 

All the age groups we’ve discussed so far can only receive a debit card if they create a joint account with their parents. That may leave you wondering, when can a child/teen get a debit card all on their own?

In most banks you have to be 18 to receive a debit without a parent. Still, there are some that will allow teens as young as 16 to do it as well.  

Should a Child Have a Debit Card? 

This is really subjective to your own values, how you want to raise and instruct your kids and, of course, your personal situation. 

The truth is some kids are ready for a debit card while others likely aren’t. To know if your child is ready for one, pay attention to how they handle other responsibilities in their life. 

Teenager girl on vibrant yellow background holding a credit card

What are the Benefits of Children’s Debit Cards?

Now that we know children can get debit cards, the next logical question to ask would be why should they? What are the benefits of children’s debit cards?

Below we’ve outlined each of the biggest pros for getting a child a debit card so you can know if it is right for your family:

  • Teaches modern money management skills: Kids can learn all about how to manage their money in the modern world by having a debit card from a young age. It will familiarize them with how banking apps work and how to balance their checkbook. Additionally, they will learn how to really track their spending. A skill we all need. 
  • Helps avoid bigger mistakes down the road: If your child makes a mistake like overdrafting while they still have you as a guard rail, they can learn a valuable lesson that would be more difficult to learn later in life. Through experience using a debit card responsibly, they can avoid mistakes a lot of others make when they’re 18. 
  • It allows them to start building a savings: Hand in hand with the money management skills, children will be able to watch their savings slowly grow and develop good habits on what they decide to save for and spend on. 
  • Gives them a sense of responsibility: When you’re a kid, just holding a debit card can make you feel like an adult. If they have one of their own, it will give them a sense of responsibility that will carry through to every other aspect of their life. 

There are plenty more reasons why a children’s debit card can be useful, however these are some of the most important. If you want your children to grow up to be fiscally responsible adults, it starts with things like debit cards and teaching money management. 

Three young people use credit card to purchasing and shopping online

Are there Any Downsides to a Children’s Debit Card?

Where there’s pros, there’s also always some cons. So what are the downsides to allowing your child to have a debit card?

To answer this, we’ve made a brief list of some of the potential downsides to children having a debit card: 

  • It may not be right for every child: Even with the guardrail of a joint account, having your first real debit card is a big responsibility. Think about how many adults have and overuse them. At the end of the day, children develop at different rates. Therefore there are some children who will do great with a debit card and others who may need to wait. 
  • You hold the liability: In the case of an overdraft or any other problem, you as the legal guardian are the one who will have to deal with it. Depending on the situation, this can be costly sometimes. For example, every time the card is charged after overdrafting, it will typically incur a $30 fine. 

For the most part, these problems are fairly minor and easy to address. Perhaps your child isn’t ready for a debit card now, but they may be a year from now. Then all the benefits apply.  

Online banking. Teen boy using credit card and cellphone, buying via internet, orange studio background

So Really, How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Debit Card?

Getting a debit card at a younger age gives a person a head start in learning how to manage their money and save in the modern world. Additionally, it allows children to learn how technology around banking–like apps and digital checkbooks–really work. 

For now, in most places you can get your first debit card–on a joint account with your parents–at the age of 13. However, there are some places where you can get it as young as 6 years old. Either way, you won’t be able to get one all on your own until you are 18. Hopefully by then, in using one as a child, you will be fully equipped to really manage your new account!

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Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.