Bank accounts for kids has come up, time and time again over the years. Nigel Walsh has looked at them with interest in the past, but never had the need to make a decison – until now….

We are pleased to feature this Guest Blog by Nigel Walsh

Long gone are piggy banks, the regular race around the house over the last 18 months to find 50p for the tooth fairy is getting harder and harder. There’s no cash around, anywhere. We’ve even raided the car, where once there would be money for parking meters, now moved entirely to apps and PayByPhone. Very few people give cash these days – birthday parties are much more convenient with print-at-home – Amazon gift cards… I doubt the next generation will have any clue about Piggy Banks at all, it will be our version of Video Tapes!

But as my son heads back to school, the need is here and now! Everything has gone contactless in the school (as with most of the places we go as a family), so with that I can no longer just lend him a card to nip down the road for a haircut or to pick something up from the shops. I have two kids, so this something I need to do for both at some point. My daughter a little younger, and still believes all things are just paid for by magic and me tapping my phone. Magic! That’s a whole different story!

Emma set me the task, so I off I went. I knew the folks that had entered the market over the years, namely Go Henry and Rooster Money. But what else was out there? I knew Starling Bank had launched their Kids product too, Kite – but what about the traditional banks? For people who know me – I’m also a huge fan of Metro Bank and their coin counting machine – Magic Money, 5 in 5 and much more. Something else I’ve not been to in 18 months+ a bank branch.

I do all this in the backdrop of two recent readings, one from Leda Glyptis and Sharon Kits Kimathi on Financial Inclusion and another on Financial Literacy from the FT. I’ve long been a believer that inclusion comes from education. Both links below.

As a parent, I really was looking for:

  • Less screen time – which is another reason I haven’t bothered to date with any of these (plus of course the small pandemic that meant we have not really been anywhere). 
  • Transparency and control about what is spent where, with limits, alerts etc.
  • Contactless to use a card – or better, on his phone – thats the last thing he is likely to lose.

What he wants:

  • To buy snacks & lunch 

What we don’t need:

  • Help with goals and pocket money
  • Customised cards

But, I also don’t think this is worth paying for. I don’t pay a monthly fee for my banking so why should my kids? My work around too was free and worked well enough until now.

Getting started

Starling Bank – Kite:  As I had moved my Current Account to Starling, I started here as I’m a huge fan, it has had great service and had a certain feel good factor to it, led by Anne Boden and team. It unfortunately failed my first test. The Kite product is £2 per month per child. So that’s £48 for my two, when I pay nothing now.

The features and capability look spot on, I may have even paid for one of the kids if the first one was free as part of my account. I was hoping for something similar to what they did for the Connected Cards they launched a while back. A super smart idea. Why not just give him one of these? I don’t get the same controls, but it may work?

Finally, being clearer online between the Connected Card, The Kids and other options would be helpful, a nice simple comparison chart like Rooster have would be good.

GoHenry: This seems to be the original and biggest, with over 1.5m customers – all these parents can’t be wrong! The site is comprehensive, looks good, easy to use – again fails for me as it has a £2.99 fee per month per child. Thats £71.76 for my two per year. This feels like one of the most feature rich, if we actually needed them all. Equally paying £71.76 when I earn Zero interest practically…

They do make a good and clear case as to why they charge here and are as expected. Ultimately, as they say – its only 75p per week, per child, but…

Revolut Junior – I had missed this one when it launched – I have my own Revolut card, used it a few times but not with any gusto. I’ve also used Revolut for Share Trading and Crypto. Looking into the Kids account further, our first win – get a Junior card for free, just £4.99 delivery!

Looking at the features of the Junior account, not only is it free, I can set up auto top up’s weekly (none seem to do monthly), spending limits and then enable (or not), ATM, Swipe, Contactless and online transactions.

You get to chose from two different designs, (others offer you to customise it which is nice) but wasn’t really a deciding factor for us

There is no fee for one card. I guess my wife could do the same for our daughter in a few years when needed and we would have both for FREE!

Rooster Money: – Another one in quite close comparison to GoHenry – I really like this one, It seems to start from 3+ with a star chart and more (fails my screen time test), but I can see the merits of it for some. All kids are different, we have never had to have the star chart on a fridge. We just do as Emma tells us all, mostly.

There is so much in this one, and has nice progression over time – from chores to cards. Just not for us, our kids know they need to do the dishwasher, tidy rooms, empty bins, make beds etc – and no they are not paid for it.

With a very clear and comprehensive comparison of them all too. At last, clarity and simplicity.

Metro Bank: I have an account here already and long been a fan. The Kids Cash account was a little hard to find online, but doesn’t really tell me much about what it can and cant do re controls etc. The downside, you need to pop into a store to get it opened etc. I may have done this if I knew you could use the app and get alerts etc, but no mention of this at all. 

On the plus side, if I did go with this – we could have gone in and it would have been printed immediately. 

Outside of this lot, I’m sure there are traditional banks that do this too – but the initial feedback online from folks was they were simply abysmal and stuck in the dark ages.

There are many others out there too, not many will have passed my tests above or are familiar enough to me, eg Osper (see below)

Summary

I wonder if the charge is here, simply because we now know people are more fickle when it comes to moving bank accounts. IE, make some money while we can. Like WiFi in hotels 10+ years ago. It eventually becomes free. Long gone are the days of a bank account for life, right?

Nothing here either from newcomers such as Monzo. My thought here being their typical customer is not old enough to have kids that need cards? (I could be way out here). 

This very much feels like the Insurance company that typically goes after 50-65 year olds, but also has a growing book in young drivers – the kids of the said target audience above.

In another idea, Ryan Hanley and I spoke on his podcast about educating kids on money. The key to my sons attention – Minecraft and Fortnite. If there was a Minecraft card, I may have been convinced (pestered) to get that for him. I certainly hope some of the InsurTech’s insure his MineCraft worlds going forward and start to educate on the benefits and rationale for having insurance in the first place! The primary one is his little sister, or a random stranger couldn’t come into his Minecraft world and steal things or blow it all up.

A quick note on Apple Pay. This was one of my primary asks (and his). We all do things by phone these days, but from what I can see, this seems to be limited to 13+. I have my kids devices set up under Apple Family Account, but there is no way to add cards to the wallet. I got as far as adding my Tesco Clubcard to his wallet for when I send him down the road to pick something up, oh and his Football Season ticket. GoHenry seem to mention the limit here, but no one else. In the USA, there is Apple Cash which does seem to be usable by kids, but not in the UK yet.

And the winner is:

The winner here, at least this time around – Revolut Junior. I’ll keep you posted on how we go!, but more importantly – it now has me looking at should I just move all my banking there too and have it all in one place. That to me is quite smart move on their part. (next up, 12 months from now, why I’m paying for Revolut each month, lol).

How did you solve this for your kids, Nigel would love to hear about your tips and tricks.

Thanks to Nigel Walsh | @nigelwalsh for contributing this guest blog.