If you’ve shown any interest at all in getting your kids their own debit cards, you’ve probably come across FamZoo. The FamZoo prepaid debit card is flexible and easy for kids to use, and it is accompanied by an app designed to help parents teach their children valuable financial literacy skills.
FamZoo seems to be gaining popularity, but it isn’t new—this company has been doing business since 2006, and what started as a father making an allowance app to more easily pay his kids has turned into a highly-rated financial product. But is FamZoo a good fit for your family’s needs? Keep reading to find out.
Who is FamZoo For
Average age: Kids ages 12 to 18
Good candidate: Parents who want to play an active role in teaching their children about money management and children who are motivated to learn more about financial literacy and practice
FamZoo claims to be “perfect for all ages,” but it is ideal for older children and teens. With that said, all ages are permitted, there are just different rules for how children in certain age groups are verified and allowed to use these cards. The three age groups are Young Child (<12), Teen Child (13 to 17), and Adult Child (>18).
Young Child: If your kids are less than 12 years old, they may not have a debit card in their own name but may use a card issued in their parent’s name. In this instance, your child may use this card as they would their own and track their spending in the FamZoo app, their card just won’t have their name on it and you may need to verify your identity for certain purchases. According to FamZoo, more than half of all users are younger than 13.
Teen Child: If your kid is between the ages of 13 and 17, they need to pass a teen verification test to prove their identity. Users in this age bracket may have cards issued in their own names.
Adult Child: Yes, your children can still be FamZoo users after turning 18, they just need to provide a little extra documentation. Adult child users are required to complete an adult verification test before their card can be activated.
When your child moves into a new age bracket, you will need to arrange for them to get a new card and complete any necessary identity verification processes.
Features and Benefits
Fees: FamZoo does not charge overdraft fees (this is a prepaid debit card and overdrafting is not possible/permitted), non-cash reload fees, low balance fees, or ATM withdrawal fees.
The two FamZoo products offered are prepaid debit cards and IOU accounts. The prepaid cards can be loaded with money to be used to make purchases and the IOU accounts can be used by parents to track the money they owe their children without actually putting these funds in a separate account.
For this article, we’ll stick to covering the prepaid cards, but you can read more about the FamZoo IOU accounts here. Each FamZoo account may have both prepaid cards and IOU accounts, but you do not have to use both products if you don’t want to.
At least one parent is required to open a FamZoo account, and this parent becomes the account holder and receives a funding card of their own. The parent then must load their card via bank transfer, direct deposit, cash, etc. as this is what they will use to pay their kids.
Parents load their kids’ cards from their funding account. Many parent users choose to make automatic transfers from their cards to their kids’ to pay them an allowance or compensate them for completed chores and jobs. Each automatic transfer can be awarded on an age-based, fixed, or combination basis. Parents can also make transfers instantly between their card and a child’s at any time or kids can request money themselves (more on this below).
To incentivize saving rather than spending and teach their children about compound interest, parents can pay their kids interest on money they put away. This amount is set and paid by parents, paid out at the interval of their choosing.
Another interesting feature of FamZoo is that parents can also charge their kids or penalize them for certain things. This can be a good way to encourage kids to complete chores on time and/or teach them early on to help pay for services they use and share with the family, like internet and phone bills. Parents can also loan money to their kids informally and schedule automatic debits for repayment, even charging interest.
Parents may choose to give each of their kids a single card of their own or to give their children multiple cards each to be used for different purposes.
Whenever a child uses their card, their parent is notified immediately. Users can have these alerts sent to multiple people via text or email. Alerts include detailed information about how much money was spent, where it was spent in terms of location, and at what vendor it was spent.
Cards can be instantly shut off and re-activated from a parent account as well. If a transaction is ever declined, parents are given detailed summaries of why it was declined and whether any follow-up action needs to be taken (e.g. putting more money on a card or making sure their child knows their pin number).
Every FamZoo child user can use the money on their card in three different ways: they can spend it, save it, or donate it to charity. These spend categories allow children to practice simple envelope budgeting techniques by giving all of their money a purpose. They can allocate a percentage of their earnings to each category and have all the money they earn automatically split into these categories.
If a child decides that they need more money on their card, they can request a reload themselves. The parent may approve this request as is, approve it but change the amount of money, or decline it. Both kids and parents can leave notes on such transactions to keep track of what requests have been made and why.
Kids can set savings goals for themselves and use savings projections provided automatically by FamZoo to see how long it will take them to reach a certain goal.
Kids can also create budget categories for themselves to practice good spending habits. They can make budget proposals for the entire year and submit these to their parents for approval, and their parents can then help them adapt their budgets as they see fit.
FamZoo prepaid debit cards can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted, including online.
FamZoo Costs and Pricing
FamZoo pricing is for families of up to four children. The standard monthly fee is $5.95 for a FamZoo account with four cards, but you pay less per month if you pay in advance.
Here’s a breakdown of pricing when you pre-pay:
- 6 months: $25.99 or $4.33/month
- 12 months: $39.99 or $3.33/month
- 24 months: $59.99 or $2.50/month
When you pay month-to-month, you can cancel at any time. If you need to cancel but have paid in advance, you will need to call for a refund.
Other potential charges to be aware of are:
- Cash reload fee of up to $4.95
- Additional card fee for each card after the first four you get for free of $3
- Card replacement fee of $3 each time after the first two free replacements
Right now, you can try FamZoo with prepaid cards for one month at no charge or FamZoo IOU accounts for two months for free.
FamZoo VS Competitors
FamZoo is definitely one of the most educational kids’ debit cards out there. It gives parents total control and there are many opportunities to make notes on transactions, purchases, and other actions. The detailed record keeping aspect of FamZoo is one of the major benefits of this product over others.
Another pro of this product is that these prepaid debit cards don’t need to be funded by a parent account. They can also be funded via direct deposit if they have their own source of income. Also, the parent account itself can be loaded in a variety of ways including direct deposit, bank transfer, cash, and debit card transactions.
FamZoo VS Greenlight
The Greenlight debit card is another popular option for families. Here is a side by side comparison of the two options:
|Monthly Fee||$2.50 – $5.99||$4.99/family|
|Custom Card Design||Not Offered||$9.99|
|Card Replacement Fee||$0||Up to $3.50|
If you pay monthly and have a family of 4, Greenlight beats FamZoo on price, however, if you opt for FamZoo’s “pay-in-advance” plan, you’ll end up saving more with the FamZoo plan.
FamZoo VS BusyKid
BusyKid is another popular choice for families looking to introduce debit cards to their kid(s). Below is a side by side comparison of the two options:
|Monthly Fee||$2.50 – $5.99||$0 – 19.99/year|
|ATM fees||$0||Not Eligible|
|Custom Card Design||Not Offered||Not Offered|
|Card Replacement Fee||$0||$5.00|
BusyKid started as an app designed to motivate kids to save, invest, donate and spend the allowance they earn doing chores around the house. The Spend Card was introduced by BusyKid in October 2017.
Potential Drawbacks with FamZoo
FamZoo is certainly one of the best kids’ debit cards on the market from an objective standpoint, but it’s not for everyone. For example, this product requires parents to manage their kids’ spending closely and approve/deny requests. If you’re not going to take full advantage of all the tools available to you with FamZoo, you might be better off using a different card and app that is a little more hands-off.
However, it goes without saying that the more time you’re willing to commit to educating your children about how to manage their money responsibly and guide them through real-world experiences, the more they will learn.
FamZoo is also a little more expensive than some of its competitors. There are free products that you can use to teach your kids about money management and kids’ debit cards that cost a bit less.
As with many products like this, families with multiple kids get a bit more bang for their buck. If you are most interested in getting the best price or you only have one child and don’t feel this service would be worth it, check out some great alternatives like the Jassby virtual debit card and the Copper debit card in our article about the top 12 best debit cards for kids.
The FamZoo blog and website are packed with positive reviews from users, and you can also visit the site and read posts written by users about their family’s experiences with the product.
FamZoo service receives high praise from the majority of customers as well. Most consumers say they are happy with the support they receive as well as the promptness of service. FamZoo also has a private community of users on Facebook that you can join with questions about the product or tips for other parents.
The FamZoo app is available for both Android and Apple devices. In the App Store, the FamZoo app has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. On Google Play, the FamZoo app has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. Overall, consumers agree that the app is easy to use and functional.
Is FamZoo Safe?
All FamZoo prepaid debit cards are federally insured by the FDIC up to the limit of $250,000.
In terms of protecting your kids from making unsafe purchases or losing money to scams, FamZoo is also safe in this respect. All purchases are protected by the Mastercard Zero Liability policy.
Parents can also take necessary precautions against having their child’s identities compromised by requesting “on-behalf-of” cards for their child instead of a card issued in their child’s name.
How to Sign Up
To create a FamZoo account, register your family here and enter your information for verification. After doing this, just add prepaid cards to your account for your family and enter payment information for your plan. As soon as your cards arrive in the mail, they’re ready to use.
If you have any questions about signing up or registering, you can refer to the FAQs or watch a tutorial video on the FamZoo site.
FamZoo is an excellent kids’ debit card because it offers more real-world money management experiences than the average product like it and comes with more educational resources. The FamZoo platform is very collaborative so this product is best for families that want to work together—parents with time to teach and kids excited to learn. This debit card is packed with features and comes at a value that’s hard to beat.
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