Top 10 money apps for kids
From pocket money management to financial education, smartphone money apps come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We take a look at some of the most interesting ones out there.
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Thanks to smartphones and tablets, you can teach children about how to manage money a lot more effectively than by filling a piggybank or slipping the odd coin under their pillows on the orders of the Tooth Fairy. The apps in this list range from a game that teaches younger children about how bank accounts work, how to save to online accounts with prepaid cards that allow children to spend the money you give them with appropriate limits and supervision.
We’ve identified the most interesting features of each app, along with their review score averages and price (as at 30 March 2020).
Halifax’s kids pocket money survey 2019 found that just 3% of parents currently treat their children via an app, so if you go for that option, you’ll be ahead of the trend.
With a contactless prepaid debit card, Nimbl is another kid’s account app option. On the parental side, you can instantly transfer money to your child’s Nimbl card, receive alerts when they spend money and review statements to check out their spending habits. There’s the ability to set spending controls and you can securely lock and unlock your child’s Nimbl card from the app. Kids get instant alerts to know when money has come into their account, have an easy to understand statement and can see what spending controls you’ve put in place. They can also invite friends and family to send gifts straight to their Nimbl savings account and manage micro-savings themselves, putting a little aside whenever they use their card. There are no charges for UK ATM withdrawals but taking out cash overseas costs £1.50 a time and there’s a 2.95% exchange rate fee for foreign currency transactions.Read more
2. Rooster Money
Whether you’ve got a regular pocket money routine or just dole it out when chores are completed or your child achieves something spectacular, Rooster Money will let you keep track of the total owed. The idea right now is that you hand them the cash when they want to spend it and change the total in the app, but Rooster is gearing up to launch a prepaid card to link it with a real savings account. One nice feature is the ability to add pictures of items that kids are saving up for and set a savings target. Children can see how much money they’ve saved and how they’ve spent it in an easy to read statement. The paid version adds interest rates, allows you to add unlimited guardians to each account, set up regular outgoings, and link jobs to allowances so they have to be completed before the balance increases.Read more
If you want your child to start learning about saving and spending money but with plenty of controls, gohenry could be a good option. You get a parent account, which allows you to top up your child’s allowance and apply rules on how they can spend that money. Your child can see their balance and the spending limits you’ve put in place. They get a card that can be used in shops, online and to withdraw cash. That might sound scary, but you get an instant notification whenever they use the card, can set weekly spending limits, and block both online purchases and ATM withdrawals. The card automatically prohibits age-restricted purchases. You can also link pocket money payouts with tasks, so that it’s only paid into their account when they’ve cleaned their room or done their homework. There are no fees for payments or ATM withdrawals in the UK, but there’s a 2.75% currency exchange fee for payments abroad and £2 ATM withdrawal fee. You can add cash to your child’s card once a month for free, but there’s a 50p charge per load after that.Read more
4. Pigby’s Fair
Designed by NatWest and Aardman, Pigby’s Fair is designed to teach younger children about saving and spending without you having to put any money on the line. The app doesn’t include any in-app purchases and is free to download. It takes children on a trip through an animated fairground where they can manage their own stall, develop new stock, and earn virtual money that can be deposited at Pigby’s Bank. New levels and items are unlocked by reaching their savings goals. There are three fairground attractions to play along the way –– Crockery Smash, Zapp! and Hook-a-Duck –– to keep things exciting.Read more
Osper is a prepaid debit card and app combination. It’s designed for children between 8 and 18-years-old and you can order up to four cards. The app lets you set monthly or weekly allowances, as well as being able to instantly pay in money if you want to give your child a treat or there’s an emergency. You can establish daily spending limits and age-restricted purchases are blocked. There’s also a monthly savings option, which automatically stashes away a chosen percentage of their funds. Kids might not enjoy that particular feature as much as you do! Osper sends a text if a transaction has been declined and you can see your child’s purchases in real-time within the app. Loading an allowance is free but instant top-ups cost 50p. ATM withdrawals are free in the UK but cost £2 abroad, while foreign purchases come with a 3% fee.Read more
The makers of iAllowance claim that it’s had a role in getting over 20 million chores completed. The app allows you to track the amount of allowance you owe to each child and virtually prod them to encourage them to finish tasks linked to their pocket money earning potential. The information syncs across devices and you can even email or print reports on how your child is doing. The ability to set up unlimited different piggybanks for each child means you can help them separate their savings for different goals. For younger children, you can set up balances that use time or stars rather than money. If you dish out pocket money on a weekly or monthly basis, iAllowance will automatically update the piggy banks to reflect that and you can setup rewards to ‘cash in’ when your child reaches a set goal.Read more
Pennybox* combines chore and pocket money tracking in one place. Both parents and children can suggest actions, jobs and tasks and attach a suggested financial reward to them. When your child completes a task, the reward is added to the balance in their Pennybox wallet. Kids can upload photographs of their completed tasks and you’ll get alerts when they ticked off an item or want to make a withdrawal from their earnings. The app is simple but allows you to manage multiple sets of chores and pocket money, establishing a clear connection between helping out and being rewarded. *Not currently available in the UKRead more
Otly! is a bright and friendly allowance tracker. It has two parts – the Otly! app for parents and an optional companion app that you can install on your child’s device, Otly! Jr. The main app allows you to set up a digital record of your child’s allowance and keep track of how much they’ve earned and, crucially, spent. In the Otly! Jr. app, children can separate their pocket money into different savings pots, see graphs of how their savings will grow and get a countdown to the next allowance. The app also lets your child send you a request to spend some of their money.Read more
Built in Sweden but with support for pounds as well as kroner and euros, Gimi is designed both to help you and your child keep track of their allowance and chores, but also to provide financial education along the way. Your child’s virtual piggy bank automatically fills with the weekly allowance you set and you can define rewards for specific tasks. There are three sets of lessons within the app which you and your child can work through, themed around Earning, Saving and Spending, with more promised soon. They help identify financial topics to discuss as well as leading you through the app’s features and are accompanied by bright animated videos.Read more
Originally developed in 2011 by then 11-year-old Dani Gafni and her father, Bankaroo allows children to keep track of their pocket money savings and learn about things like interest, matched savings and negative balances. You can also set up savings goals and the app rewards actions like performing tasks and completing goals with fun, colourful badges. The paid version allows children to set up multiple accounts and transfer virtual currency between accounts so they can send virtual funds to their siblings or friends with the app. For younger children, you can set the allowance they earn as hearts, stars or points rather than currency.Read more
Mic Wright is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, politics and popular culture. His work has appeared in publications including Times Money, GQ, and the New Statesman. Read more