Your kid’s first bank account doesn’t have to be a traditional bank account. Several legitimate financial technology companies offer family finance apps with kid-friendly debit cards, customizable parental controls, chore management systems, and even parent-paid interest.
FamZoo is one of those companies. For my money, it’s one of the best. And with no minimum age for kids to join or no limit on the number of kids you can have on the account at one time, it’s never too early or too late to start using it.
Of course, you want to know what you’re getting into before downloading any finance app. Take a few minutes to understand FamZoo’s features, capabilities, upsides, and downsides.
What Is FamZoo?
FamZoo is a personal finance app for families. Major features include debit cards for kids, family and personal budgeting tools, chore assignments and payments, and basic banking capabilities like direct deposit and electronic funds transfers. Each account corresponds to a family unit, with a single recurring fee that covers all debit cards on the account and all advertised features.
FamZoo allows an adult account holder — generally a parent or guardian — to monitor kids’ usage and set parental controls that limit what they can do with their funds. Unlike most family finance apps, it doesn’t require a smartphone.
Funds held in FamZoo accounts have deposit insurance up to the current FDIC limit of $250,000.
What Sets FamZoo Apart?
FamZoo stands out from other kid-friendly debit cards and finance apps for several reasons:
- Sophisticated chore management capabilities. FamZoo has everything you need to assign, track, and compensate for your kids’ household chores. It’s a big improvement on your family’s chore whiteboard or whatever other nondigital system you use.
- Parent-paid interest. FamZoo balances don’t earn interest by default, but you can encourage your kids to save by paying them interest out of your own account. You’re free to set the interest rate and the balances it applies to, making it easy to incentivize specific financial behaviors (like saving regularly).
- No external bank account needed. FamZoo is easier to use if you have an external bank account, but unlike most family finance apps, it doesn’t require one. You can fund your account with cash at thousands of load points around the United States, or with direct deposit from a qualifying employer or government benefits provider.
- No smartphone needed. You don’t need a mobile app to access FamZoo. You can log into your account from any device with an internet connection. FamZoo even has a text messaging interface that utilizes simple text commands for common functions like funds transfers and payments.
Key Features of FamZoo
FamZoo has straightforward pricing, kid-friendly debit cards, a range of access options, and tons of financial features for the whole family.
FamZoo requires a paid membership. There’s only one membership level that includes all features, but you can save a considerable amount of money if you prepay in advance. The longer you pay in advance, the more you save:
- Pay by the month: $5.99 per month
- Prepay six months: $25.99 ($4.33 per month)
- Prepay 12 months: $39.99 ($3.33 per month)
- Prepay 24 months: $59.99 ($2.50 per month)
If you’re paying by the month, you can switch to a prepaid membership at any time.
Account Access (Mobile & Web Apps)
You can access your FamZoo account through the FamZoo mobile app (iOS or Android) or through its website. If you don’t have a smartphone or haven’t downloaded the app, you can perform many FamZoo functions through a text message commands system, but this is probably too clunky to use as your primary FamZoo interface.
Kid & Adult Debit Cards
Every person in your family can get a debit card if they (or you) want, including young kids.
Your account needs at least one adult card owned by someone 18 or older (generally a parent or guardian). This is the master card for the account. You can add additional adult cards for your spouse or co-parent and any offspring 18 or older.
Cards for kids under 18 have built-in parental controls. Teens 13 and older jointly own the card with you, while you’re the legal card owner for kids 12 and under.
Direct Deposit for Teens & Adults
Teen and adult cards can accept direct deposits from employers, government agencies, and other qualified payers.
You can split the direct deposit between multiple FamZoo cards, or between one FamZoo card and an external bank account. This feature is useful if FamZoo isn’t your primary bank account and/or you’d like to share part of your paycheck with your kids (or they with you).
You can reload FamZoo debit cards via direct deposit, transfers from external bank accounts or digital wallets, and cash deposits at tens of thousands of retail load points nationwide. You can find retail load points at many Walmart, CVS, Kmart, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven, and Walgreens outlets. Retailers generally charge a fee for cash loads — often $4.95 per load, but it can vary.
Parental Monitoring & Controls
FamZoo has some basic parental monitoring and control features:
- Card lock and unlock, which allows you to put a kid in financial time-out if they’re overspending (or in trouble for nonfinancial reasons)
- Activity alerts, which ping you in real time when a kid uses their card
- Money requests, which allow you to approve or decline kids’ attempts to transfer money into their account
- Decline info, which provides detailed information about every declined transaction
Allowance Payments (Instant Card-to-Card Transfers)
FamZoo allows instant card-to-card transfers, which are ideal not only for one-off grants to kids but for weekly or monthly allowance payments. You can automate these transfers if you wish so you don’t have to initiate every single one.
Chore Management & Payment Tools
FamZoo has a sophisticated chore management and compensation system. It’s built around a “chore chart” that you can use to assign chores, specify a dollar value for successful completion of each, and mark each as completed (thus releasing payment) when they’re done. You can assign chores directly to specific kids, create a “first dibs” chore chart that allows kids to assign chores to themselves, or both.
If you trust your kids, you can allow them to mark chores complete. Or you can use the chore review feature to hold payment for completed chores until you confirm they’re done.
If you prefer, you can reverse the payment-for-chores arrangement and set negative values for negative chores. In other words, instead of a $5 payment for “making the bed,” you can assign a $5 chore penalty for “not making the bed.”
With FamZoo, each user can create as many customizable subaccounts as they wish, earmarking each for a specific purpose (or no purpose). This is a useful feature if you’re teaching your kids the basics of envelope budgeting, encouraging them to separate emergency savings from discretionary savings, or helping them save for specific goals.
FamZoo pays no interest on balances, but it does have a parent-paid interest feature that lets you reward kids for saving. You can pay interest on a specific subaccount or on a kid’s entire balance, and you’re free to set whatever rate you wish.
Automated Family Billing
You can use your FamZoo account to cover shared expenses like utility bills and automate payments on them, just as you would with a regular bank account. This is a big help if you don’t have another bank account.
FamZoo is an affordable family finance app with above-average chore management features and useful tools for savers of all ages.
- Sophisticated chore management and payment features. Unless your current bank or money management app has a digital chore management platform that rivals FamZoo’s, FamZoo’s is an improvement on whatever system you’re using.
- One fee for the whole family. FamZoo is reasonably priced. Unlike some family finance apps, it charges one monthly fee for the entire family, rather than by the card or child account.
- Significant savings when you pay in advance. You can save more than 50% off the monthly fee when you pay 24 months in advance. That sounds like a long time, but if you’re happy with FamZoo, you can use it for much longer — until your kids are out of the house, or even beyond.
- Subaccounts help kids budget and save. FamZoo’s subaccounts feature makes it easy for kids (and parents) to save for specific goals, separate emergency cash from everything else, or create and fund category-based buckets for everyday spending.
- Direct deposit for teen and adult users. Teen and adult cards can accept direct deposit from employers and benefits providers. Even if you’re the primary breadwinner in the home, you can allocate a portion of your paycheck to FamZoo and the rest to your main bank account.
- Doesn’t require a smartphone or linked bank account. FamZoo has user-friendly mobile apps for iOS and Android, but you don’t have to use them if you don’t want. Its web app is just as capable, and it even has a text messaging interface that you can use for everyday money management.
- Open to all ages. FamZoo has no minimum age. This is a notable advantage over family finance apps and kid-friendly debit cards that cut off eligibility at age 12 or 13.
FamZoo’s few downsides include a distinct lack of educational features and no built-in interest or rewards — parents have to pony up if they want.
- Limited educational features. You can teach your kids a lot about managing money simply by using FamZoo, but maybe that’s not enough. Unlike competing apps like Greenlight and GoHenry, FamZoo has no education vertical to speak of — no articles, videos, games, or tutorials.
- No FamZoo-paid interest or rewards. FamZoo pays no interest on balances in any accounts, nor does it have a debit card rewards program. If you want to encourage your kids to save more or spend wisely, you have to do so out of your own pocket.
How FamZoo Stacks Up
FamZoo shares the spotlight with several other popular family finance apps built around kid-friendly debit cards. One of the most popular is Greenlight, which has a wider range of features at correspondingly higher cost.
|$5.99 per month or less
|$4.99 per month and up
|Parent-paid or Greenlight-paid
|Debit Card Rewards
|Yes, with higher-priced plans
FamZoo is an affordable, all-ages family finance app for families big and small. It really shines on chore management and payment — it’s almost certainly better than your current system — and is ideal for parents who want to encourage kids to save more. In a mobile-saturated world, it’s also nice that FamZoo doesn’t require a smartphone.
FamZoo does fall short in some important ways though. Chief among these are its nonexistent rewards program and lack of FamZoo-paid interest. If you want to reward your kids for saving, you need to pay them out of your own pocket. It would be nice if FamZoo had more educational resources too.
Ultimately, it’s your call as to whether FamZoo is right for your family or whether a different family finance app makes more sense.