Back-to-School Debit Cards

Back-to-school is infiltrating every aspect of my finances, from my wallet to my bank statements.

My latest statement included a brochure on debit cards for college co-eds. Apparently, my bank offers a special card program designed specifically for students who are leaving the nest this fall. In the case of my bank, parents must open and maintain the accounts, though their college-bound students can access the funds via a bank-issued Visa or MasterCard debit card. Moms and dads can then track their kid’s spending throughout the academic year.

Bank cards are just one of dozens of options parents have if they are interested in keeping tabs on their child’s spending habits while he is away at college. Bill My Parents MasterCard is another debit card option that can be used by children 13 years and older. Teens can access money from ATMs or use the card at retailers and restaurants that accept MasterCard. One of the parental perks associated with this card is that it can be controlled by mom and dad. There is an option to reload the card when funds dwindle, and parents have the ability to lock or unlock the card. The downside is that the card comes with a host of restrictions. For example, there is a minimum load amount of $10.00, and a maximum reload of $2,500. In addition, the maximum dollar amount allowed on the card is $5,000 and teens are limited to spending $500 per day. Monthly service fees are also charged, as are fees for reloading the card, withdrawing cash and not using the card for a certain amount of time.

Thankfully, my daughter is not even close to flying the coop for college, but when she does, I plan to get her a debit card linked to my PayPal account. This option is available for kids 13 years and older and allows students to purchase necessities online and in stores using the card. I like this option because it allows parents to monitor the card’s use online. What’s more, there is no minimum or maximum card reload or balance limit. Plus, you don’t have to pay extra for activation or monthly usage, though there is a fee associated with reloading the debit card with a credit card and withdrawing money at a bank.

How do you monitor your student’s spending?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.