Everything is online now: work, school, photos, music, friends, and even money. Digital platforms make it easier than ever to get money to your child quickly, whether you forgot the fees for your middle schooler’s field trip or want your driving teenager to pick up dinner on their way home.
Learn the most popular options for digital money for parents today.
- The most popular apps for adults to send money to each other—Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal—do not allow minors to use them.
- Apple Pay, aka Apple Cash, offers the most monitoring options for parents but may not be accepted everywhere.
- A children’s debit card option, such as Greenlight or GoHenry, may be the best way to monitor your child’s spending and give them the most flexibility in where they can spend their money.
The extremely popular money app Venmo isn’t yet available for teenagers. The app’s User Agreement specifically requires users to be at least age 18. If Venmo eventually does open up accounts for minors, parents should be sure to protect their children’s privacy by setting all transactions to “private” so that their children’s frequent purchases, locations, and payments aren’t accessible to the public.
Apple Wallet has an option called Apple Cash Family. You can add family members under your own Apple Wallet, which then gives you the control to add money to their account, lock their access to the account, choose to whom they can send money, and set up notifications whenever they make a transaction. Apple Cash Family gives some of the most robust parent monitoring features of the options listed and is the most flexible to truly be used like cash, as most retailers (such as grocery stores) and popular fast-food places (such as Taco Bell) accept Apple Pay.
Other Common Digital Money Platforms
Cash App is available for kids as young as 13. To set up a Cash App account for a 13- to 18-year-old child, a parent or guardian will have to approve the account and serve as the account’s legal owner. Cash App allows parents to get access to their teen’s account activity through monthly statements but does not give instant monitoring options. While parents or guardians can pause or cancel their child’s account at any time, Cash App has much fewer monitoring and oversight features for parents than other options like Apple Cash. The biggest upside to Cash App of the options listed is that you can sign up for a Cash Card for your kid, which essentially allows them to use the card everywhere that they could want to spend money.
Google Pay is available for teens as young as 13. Parents add a payment method to their Google account and can then limit spending to certain apps or types of purchases as well as require parental preauthorization for every purchase that the child makes. The biggest downside of Google Pay for kids is that it only works on Google Play. This means that kids can use the family account for in-app purchases or buying new books, movies, games, and so on through Google Play, but they cannot use it either for item purchases in brick-and-mortar stores or to send money to their friends or family.
Similar to Venmo, minors are not technically allowed to open Zelle accounts.
Just like Venmo and Zelle, minors are not allowed to open PayPal accounts.
While Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal do not technically allow minors to open or use accounts, many parents will just login to their own accounts on their children’s devices. This violates the Terms of Service for these apps and may lead to your account getting shut down permanently. Consider using an app designed for kids to use instead.
How safe are these apps?
As with everything else online, these apps are only as safe as their user allows them to be. Make sure that your teen sets up robust, unique passwords, changes them regularly, and neither shares them with anyone else nor writes them down where someone else could find them.
How can I monitor my child’s spending?
Most apps have built-in parental monitoring features. For example, Apple Cash only allows kids to spend up to their balance, so if you are trying to limit your child’s spending, you can put just the amount that you’re willing to let them spend into their account. If you’re unsure whether the app that you’re using allows parental monitoring, you can also require to know your child’s login information before letting them use the app.
What are good alternatives to these apps?
If you’re looking to teach your child basic money management, then a debit card specifically designed for teens with built-in financial education may be your best option. The Greenlight debit card for kids is Investopedia’s top pick for 2022. It comes with the ability to track spending and savings over time, as well as educational programming and other features that parents are sure to appreciate.
The Bottom Line
Are you looking to give your child a taste of financial responsibility, or do you want a bit of a break from trying to monitor their cash? An app is a great way to do that. The option from Apple gives the greatest monitoring options, and Cash App gives the greatest flexibility on where and how your kid can spend their money. For the greatest flexibility combined with the highest level of monitoring, a debit card specifically for teens will be your best option.