Looking for a review of the GoHenry card, and want to know more about this debit card for kids?
Read on for our review and an exclusive GoHenry discount code to get a FREE custom card and up to 2 months’ free service on a new GoHenry debit card.
Why a GoHenry Card is a Good Idea
There’s a funny thing about having an only child. It’s ridiculously easy to spoil them. When you’ve only got one child asking for this book, or that app, or this sweater – well mostly, you end up saying yes.
I’m conscious this approach isn’t teaching my daughter anything about the value of money. And it’s something she really does need to learn. Who’s going to teach her if not me?
First, we tried giving Flea an allowance. The problem with this is that I often forget, and only remember when she’s nagging because she hasn’t had anything for three months. I’ve tried paying her in exchange chores but a BIG part of me expects her to chip in, regardless. We’re a family, and we work together to run the household.
On a whim, I decided to get Flea a GoHenry card. GoHenry is a pre-paid contactless visa debit card designed specifically for children. I’ve read about them here and there over the years and decided to give it a go. By the way, this isn’t an official, sponsored review or anything. I paid for GoHenry myself, and I thought our experience might be useful to other parents.
Basically, GoHenry is a visa debit card that kids can use to buy things online or in stores. Adults can load money onto the card as a gift, a regular allowance or as “payment” for tasks that children complete at home.
How much Does GoHenry Cost?
My first query was how the GoHenry card differs from a kids’ bank account, which would also give Flea her own debit card.
The first difference is that you’ll need to pay a GoHenry membership fee and pay to get the card.
The main GoHenry fees to be aware of are:
- £4.99 if you want to get a customised card with your child’s favourite picture and name
- £2.50 per month membership fee for as long as the card is active
- 50p a time to add money onto the card (unless you set up a regular monthly transfer from your bank)
There is a one month free trial, but after that the costs can rack up, especially if you load money onto your child’s card at irregular times, or differing amounts.
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How a GoHenry Card Card Works
A GoHenry card is essentially a pre-paid visa debit card that you load with cash and manage via a mobile app. There is an app for parents, and another for children.
The parent’s version tracks your account balance, and lets you transfer cash onto your child’s card. You can set a regular transfer for an allowance, and/or ad hoc payments which are made when specified tasks are completed.
The other key feature of the app is the ability to set rules. For example, you can specify where/how a GoHenry card should be used, set limits on individual and weekly spending, and whether the card can be used online, or via ATMs.
Flea has her own version of the app, where she can log-in and see her balance, spending history, and what tasks are available for her to complete. She can divert funds to ‘savings’ (hollow laugh) or keep them in her regular balance.
I gave Flea £20 ‘seed money’ and then set up a £5 weekly allowance. Each week, I also add a couple of tasks that Flea could complete to earn a couple of extra pounds. Flea has her own version of the apps which shows her current incentives – walk the dog and get an extra £1 on next week’s allowance, for example.
GoHenry Review: what we thought
After a solid six months, we decided that the idea of GoHenry is admirable. The card lets kids get a feel for using a ‘real’ debit card – GoHenry cards can be used online, in stores and ATMs. And I do really like the idea of encouraging kids to work for extra money.
But there are a few downsides that I think it’s worth bearing in mind:
- First, the costs of a GoHenry card do add up. We worked out that over a year, the GoHenry card cost £30 in membership fees plus £5 for the card and we spent another £5 loading cash onto it. A GoHenry card could get quite expensive if you have more than one child, I think.
- Second, when kids have physical cash, they need to be in a shop to spend it. With my child, when she got money on her GoHenry card it would be spent in minutes, thanks to Amazon. Rather than saving, we found she was wasting money on cheap items that didn’t last.
- Third, we did set up savings policies and Flea managed to save a chunk of money for her holiday. But unfortunately we found that her GoHenry card didn’t work at all, abroad. It was such a shame the first time she tried to buy me a coffee and her card wouldn’t work. I ended up having to pay for her holiday items, which was disappointing for her.
For me the advantages of this set-up were:
- With a bank account there’s the advantage that funds in the account are protected by the UK financial regulator
- The debit card is free and there’s no membership fee, making it free to run the account
- I bank with Santander so I can add money into Flea’s account instantly, and for free.
- Flea gets a debit card that works fine anywhere in the world, so perfect for using those holiday savings!
Overall, the best thing about using GoHenry was allowing Flea to see that blowing your allowance in 5 minutes on Amazon isn’t a great plan.
For younger children under 12 who can’t get a regular junior bank account, the ability to set rules and boundaries does give them some protection. I wouldn’t say my particular child learned that it’s better to save her money and invest in things she really wants, further down the line. But potentially she MIGHT have done.
I have to be honest and say I would only use GoHenry debit card for a limited period until children are 11, and move to a regular bank card as soon as a they are old enough.
I’d love to hear if you’ve tried a GoHenry card – what did you think?