An Update on the Youth Cash Card Experiment

Peyton with His Wells Fargo Youth Cash Card
My Youngest Son with His Wells Fargo Youth Cash Card

Remember back in December when I wrote about how I was rethinking my kids’ allowances? Well, it’s been a little over six months since we opened youth cash cards for our kids and I thought it would be good to give you an update.

So far, so good!

Not every bank offers youth cash cards. We bank with Wells Fargo and they offer them (unfortunately, I did a search on Wells Fargo’s website and didn’t find much information so you’ll probably need to speak to a banker).

Our boys love them. They don’t have to worry about cash. They can take their cards with them wherever they go and use them just like a debit card. Several of the merchants we have gone to have made comments about the kids using a debit card, which I thought was kind of cool. A couple of them wouldn’t accept the cards because they were suspicious of the fact that they were kids. But, for the most part, I would say this has been a success.

I set up my account to automatically deposit their allowances on the 1st of every month. It forces the boys to budget their money, which I think is a good thing.

One frustrating aspect was the fact that the boys weren’t very good at keeping track of their balances and were always asking me to check them for them (they don’t have web access). I showed them how to keep track of their balance in a journal and they did pretty good with that. Then I figured out that they could check their balance over the phone and showed them how to do that.

I get their statements sent to me once a month so they know that I or their mother will see everything they spend. I also have access to their accounts through my online account. The boys don’t have access to their accounts online, which is okay with me.

Anyway, for those of you looking for a solution to giving kids cash in a cashless society, I would recommend you look into getting them a youth cash card.

6 thoughts on “An Update on the Youth Cash Card Experiment”

  1. My bank doesn’t offer these, but I wish they did. My daughter’s been doing great saving money and choosing what to spend it on. She likes watching her savings grow!

  2. Last year after my oldest turned 13 we went to Chase and opened a teen/student checking account (w/me as guarantor or whatever the call it.) Now all birthday checks are deposited by him and he has finally opened himself up to actually using the debit card aspect of his card. For our vacation this month I reminded him he did have to worry about taking more than $20 b/c he had his whole checking acct balance at his disposal if he desired something. He bought a Earth t-shirt at the CA Museum of Sciences and a book at a Napa Valley bookstore. Now he gets to learn to SUBTRACT from his check register, too!

    If only he’d write a check and finally see that his bank statement won’t always agree w/his check register!!

    2 more years and the next son will have an acct as well…

  3. I have an uneasy feeling that this article is Visa’s dream come true.

    I’d be concerned that exposing my children to ‘plastic’, even though it is a secured check-card, would somehow be a gateway (or encouragement) for using a credit card later in life.

    Currently my kids only handle cash, but there will be a time (probably when they get jobs), that I will have teach them about all of the banks ‘products’, and the benefits and pitfalls of them.

  4. No uneasy feeling on my part, LOL. Our boys are good savers and a checking acct/debit card is one way to safeguard their spendable cash. It’s a fool who walks around w/tons of cash in his/her wallet.

    In addition, as each starts his checking account, his credit history begins as well…Being responsible w/a checking account is the 1st of many steps to becoming a responsible money manager.

  5. Has the children figured out how to pay for the buddy’s stuff and take the cash for it? Any large McDonald’s purchases for $30 bucks for buddies?

    Not sure where I stand on this (with JLP vs. LOL) but I think the exposure at the very least to be responsible with plastic today is better than when they hit 19 at College.

  6. I’ve grown up with credit cards and only recently learned how to use them (that is, pay the full balance every month). I see their advantages, but also their disadvantages, which include the almost universal raising of prices by the 2-5% fee they charge merchants. I decided last year to take a trip on which I only used cash for a month, walking around like a fool with hundred of dollars in my wallet. (As it was a research trip, I was usually in “rough” areas). I found that merchants tended to be far more accepting and happy with cash than with a card, and I tended to create a more personable experience while spending time in a community. Added to that was the loss of temptation to spend more than I had. So, I think I’d prefer to start children off with cash regardless, get them used to understanding the “reality” of money though have management of a junior savings account, and then later helping them along with their first credit card when I feel they’ve reached that level. After all, a $20 bill slipping out of your hand feels heavier than the scribble of a pen at the end of a receipt.

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