Host: At what age should my children get a debit card?
Janet Bodnar: It's very important to teach kids of all ages to manage cash but for teenagers the next step in actually managing a cash allowance is getting some sort of a debit card. So, for example what I would recommend first is that they might have an ATM card, a regular ATM card that is perhaps tied to their savings account. This would be maybe younger teenagers 13 or 14 maybe before they have a job of their own.
But the point is they do have access to their own account so that they can put money in with the ATM card and they can take money out. It's not a full fledged debit card so they cannot make actual purchases with it. But they can get access to their money and certainly, if they do start working at the age of 13 or 14 as my son did when he was a freshman in high school again, he could deposit his own money and he could take his money out. Then as they get a little bit older say 16 or 17 maybe now, they really do a have real job they can then have check in account of their own, you may have to cosign with it because they are still minors and the bank may want you to do that but it is not a really big problem. Again, they can have access to the account and they could potentially get a debit card. Again, some banks don't allow kids to have a full fledged debit card until the kids are 18, but if you cosign the account, the check in account the kids can get it earlier.
The debit card itself is the next step, baby steps, first there is the cash allowance then there is the ATM card then there is the actual debit card which gives them the ability to make actual purchases at point of sale but again, as you can see you are doing this incrementally, they are getting experience managing cash so that hopefully by the time they get the debit card they are not going to overdraw the check in account. As it is their money and they are going to know the money is gone and they are going to get hit potentially with a big over the limit charge which you don't want to have happen either nor do they.