Yes – debit cards issued by both Visa and Mastercard are now widely available for children and teenagers. The age at which a child can get their own debit card varies from institution to institution, with some allowing debit cards for kids as young as nine years old, whilst others will only issue debit cards for teenagers aged 14 years and over. However, the average age at which a young person can get a debit card in their name is 12 years old.
Once a child reaches the age of 12, they are legally able to open a bank account in their name in Australia. This is the age at which a child is considered able to reliably sign their signature. Once they can have their own bank account, they can also be issued a debit card to allow them to access their money via ATMs, online shopping and EFTPOS machines.
Under the age of 12, children usually have a joint account with a parent or guardian. Debit cards are issued for these joint accounts too, so your child can spend their pocket money, often with parental supervision built into the features of the card.
There are two main types of debit card available for teens in Australia: debit cards linked to a bank account and prepaid debit cards linked to a money app.
Debit card linked to a bank account
These are standard debit cards usually issued by either Visa or Mastercard, which can be linked to your child’s transaction account, savings account, youth or junior bank account. They can be used to make purchases both in person and online purchases up to the maximum amount of money in your teen’s account. If they try to spend more than they have available in their bank account, the card transaction will be declined.
These youth debit cards for kids and teens come in enticing colours and are often customisable from a range of fun templates. Depending on the age of the child, parents can also choose to impose parental controls on some youth debit cards on offer. You'll likely find these cards to be the cheapest overall, as well as being highly convenient for your child to use.
Prepaid debit cards
These are a comparatively recent addition to the Australian banking scene. They’re app-based money accounts which can be opened for children as young as six to eight years old. However, they’re very popular with teens also.
Pocket money can be paid into these virtual accounts by parents and grandparents, sending the money from their normal bank account to the app. Once the funds are in the teen’s money app, they can be spent by using the linked prepaid debit card (sometimes called a spending card), issued by either Visa or Mastercard.
Just like with standard debit cards, it’s only possible to spend up to the amount in the linked money app, with transactions above the account balance also declined. This type of card can also be purchased and recharged through Mastercard and Visa, as well as post offices.
These prepaid debit cards are designed specially to appeal to kids, with some offering customisable card designs in bright colours, or even offering additional silicone wristbands containing a chip which allows a child to use EFTPOS terminals without needing to carry their card. However, these prepaid debit cards come with additional costs and fees and may rely on constant recharging to top up the available funds, so they might not always be the best option for your teen.