Would You Give Your Teen a Debit Card? Check out PASS from American Express

*Keep reading to see how to get an extra $25, FREE! *

My philosophy of parenting resembles my philosophy for life.

  • Be realistic and honest
  • Educate yourself; know the risks and rewards of behavior
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Always love and honor God and others

Money in your pocketSo, in talking about money with my kids, I want to use these same guidelines.  From the time they were very young, I’ve been talking to them about money management on their level.  We had the three “banks” for Save, Tithe, and Spend; I made them out of tissue boxes.   (Yes, I’m too cheap, er… frugal, to buy the actual $40 kit for that!) Whenever they wanted to buy something, I’d talk them through their decision, weighing the pros and cons, and whether the item meant enough to them to spend money on.  And I still do that.

There comes a time when you have to teach kids about the realities of modern money management.

  • It is ever so important NOT to spend more than you have. Even while dealing with “cards,” they must make sure they save first, then buy.
  • At some point, they will need a card. I usually discourage the use of credit cards, although we have one for emergencies.  Working with a debit card means you can make purchases online, and you don’t have to carry cash.  Some people will say we should totally discourage using debit cards, but I’d rather teach my children now, with my guidance, rather than wait for them to move out and decide to experiment on their own.
  • Knowing teens’ organizational habits, we need to work to have a concrete record of expenditures, and not rely on them keeping receipts. Heck, *I* have trouble keeping receipts, thank goodness for my detailed bank statements, and carbon copy checks!

So that’s where PASS from American Express® comes in.

Pass is not a Credit Card, and different than most debit cards. PASSSM Card is a Prepaid, Re-loadable Card thatPAss Cards copycan be used anywhere American Express is accepted. And it really does give the parent complete access and control over the money in the account.
  • The funds are replaced if lost or stolen
  • Parent and teen have the ability to track spending
  • There is no impact to teen’s credit history
  • You can set up auto reloads, if you have a monthly allowance
  • Parent and teen have access to budgeting tips and financial tools
  • You cannot spend more than is currently loaded on the card

My oldest daughter is already very responsible, so I thought it would be a good time to let her try out the PASS Card to make her first purchase… Shoes, of course! Around this time, we usually get the kids each a pair of shoes for the summer (We also happened to be going to Disney World), so instead of buying the shoes ourselves, we loaded some money onto a PASS Card, and let her buy them! Here is our experience, in video:

A few things to think about if you try PASS From American Express:

  • Most Prepaid Re-loadable Cards do have fees and this one is no exception,  The monthly fee for the PASS Card is waived until October 2011, so you can try it out free.  After that, the fee is $3.95 per month, for access to the planning/analytics tools.  There is also a $1.50 fee for use at the ATM.
  • I usually  shy away from cards with fees, but you have to decide for yourself if $47.40 per year is worth the extra control, and tools you have available with PASS.
  • I would have to strictly forbid the use of the PASS Card to get cash from an ATM.  My purpose for the card would be so they wouldn’t have to use cash, and that also takes away my ability to track purchases.  With this, as with all privileges, there would have to be ground rules and consequences. Plus, I wouldn’t want to pay the ATM Fee.
  • Along with the card, I can still employ the “envelop system,” with a ledger sheet for each budget category.  We could set up times to go through the purchases and make sure they stay within a predetermined budget. I think this is good practice whether you use a card or cash.

Get an extra $25 when you load your PASS Card

  • Go to www.AmericanExpress.com/PASS, register for a card (FREE until October 2011).
  • Use the code SS25 to get an extra $25 automatically loaded onto your PASS Card!
  • You can cancel at any time, if you decide the card is not for you.
  • The code expires April 15, 2011 so HURRY

Disclosure: I was compensated through She Speaks for my time testing out the PASS Card.  All opinions are my own, and completely honest.

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)


  1. I’m going to try this one out BUT in NC, the State Employee’s Credit Union has something similar. It’s a CashPoints Global and it works the same way but with a fee added benefits. First, it’s only $1 a month. Second, it’s a VISA instead of AMEX and not everywhere takes AMEX. Finally, you can connect it to your other NCSECU accounts and manage it online.


  2. Donna
    Twitter: donnashenk

    We just started having our daughter earn a “commission” by doing chores. I think when she gets older we’d like to encourage her to use cash. I’m not anti debit cards, however when I was young my parents also gave me a pre-paid credit card. They also hoped that it would teach me responsibility. (sorry I can’t remember the name it was a LONG time ago) They tracked my spending online as well. To be frank; although I was well behaved during that time, once I was on my own, even with a debit card, I got into trouble. I think that once you have a piece of plastic in your hand money seems easier to spend. At least, that was true for me. Cash is tactile, each bill has value. Like I said, this just is my opinion.

    P.S I loved your video. Your girls are adorable!


  3. I think its a great idea.

    The sooner kids start to learn more about the value of money the better.

    This is also a form of trial and error in that if they make a mistake, or misuse the tool, there is measurement and a teachable moment.

    Plus we are now in the electronic age, and this is what they are going to have to deal with in the future, so why not start out with the same tools?


  4. Amanda Bryan says:

    Great article. I looked into prepaid cards, and decided against it. Instead I opened up a MONEY account for my teen with ING Direct. No fees or minimums whatsoever. Also think it’s great that they’re making financial aspects cool for teens with a Facebook page and sweepstakes.


    Definitely worth checking out, great option for teen banking!


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