I don’t know what I did before I discovered ZAAP! To be honest, I was a bit dubious about the concept of prepaid Mastercard for kids, but I’m a complete convert! I wanted to give ZAAP a test run before writing about it. The children and I have been using the cards for about a month now, and I can say, they have been fabulous for our family, in more ways than I imagined.
What is ZAAP?
Essentially, ZAAP is a pocket money product and financial literacy tool rolled into one. The card is accepted anywhere that prepaid Mastercard is accepted, meaning children can use it in actual shops, and also use it to make purchases online. What is unique about ZAAP, is it is designed with both kids and parents in mind. It provides control features for parents to give them peace of mind, and there are tools for kids to help them learn about managing money.
There is a mobile app that is linked to the ZAAP card and it has a parent and kids version. This means children can track their spending and savings through the app. I also want to run down some of the important parental controls.
The great thing about ZAAP is the children can only spend the amount on the card, and as a parent, you can see exactly what they are spending. The cards can’t be used to withdraw cash, so all purchases are trackable. You can also add money from your parent wallet, and it will instantly be transferred to your child’s card. I’ll go through why this is so handy further below. You can also block the card immediately through the app if they lose it or if there are any issues. I’ll just explain some of the ordering and customised features, and then I want to explain how we have used the cards in our family.
Ordering was super easy, and below is a quick video showing the process.
What my kids love best about ZAAP is the way they can personalise their own cards with a choice of 45 template designs. There are so many different template choices covering many different themes, including sport, animals, emojis, pop and geometric. There is no extra cost for personalised cards (the only exception being if you want to create a card with a personal photograph). Below is a snapshot of some of the card designs.
When I was picking a card for my son, he immediately was drawn to the “Wunderlust” design because it matches his favourite jumper. Below you can see the template he picked, and then the actual card. He absolutely loved it!
My daughter picked the “Pearlescent” template, and you can see the design as featured on the website, and what it looks like as a card. Again, she was thrilled.
The cards arrive in a gorgeous box, and you just pull the tab and BAM, the card pops out. Such a fun way to receive the cards.
Setting Up the App
Once the cards arrive, just download the app on your phone, and if the children have devices, they can add the app too (just select child version). I took a screenshot of what the app looks like. You can control all your children’s cards (if you have more than one) on the same app, which makes it easy. Just follow the steps to activate the card, and then add money to your parent wallet. Depending on how you want to use ZAAP, you can either make regular automatic payments to your parent wallet and the child’s card (for example for pocket money or an allowance) or just top up as required. The card is a one-off $9.95 and the associated account fees are listed here.
Over the past month, we have needed the cards for all types of things! I think it’s useful to hear about the common ways people use products, so I’ll start with how the cards fit into regular family life.
My sister had my son for a few days over the holiday period so he could spend time with his cousin. They went shopping, and my son needed a haircut and clothes, plus he had some birthday money to spend. Instead of what we usually do (my sisters pays and then I pay her back), I just transferred money to his card, and he did it himself. Not only did he like being in control of the buying, but it was also SO much easier than my sister keeping track of what I owe her.
Another example happened during the first week back at school. When I dropped my daughter off, we forgot she had tutoring that afternoon (first week back and still getting into the swing of it). On tutoring days, she stays at school really late and so she usually packs an extra snack for after school. Otherwise, it’s a long time between lunch and close to 6pm before she gets home. So, I just transferred some money over to her card, right then and there in the car, so she could get something from the school tuckshop. It’s great that money will appear on their card instantly.
Saving & Spending
My daughter is too young for a bank account with an attached debit card. But she has saved heaps by doing odd jobs over the year and saving birthday money. Now she has the card, I upload the money, and she still has control over how much she saves and how much she spends. Her first use of the card was to buy some PJs from Peter Alexander she has been eyeing off.
My children are at the age now, where they sometimes get cash for their birthday from relatives. Usually, I keep the cash (for safekeeping) and then when they are ready to spend it, I pay for it with my card. When my son received $30 from a relative for his birthday recently, I just transferred it straight to his card. Done.
I’m generally not a fan of the pocket money concept (giving money to kids each week if they do specific jobs) because I expect the kids to invest in family life, it’s just part of the privilege of being part of a family. We all help out and get the jobs done at our place. I do know of other families where pocket money works really well, though, I just found regular family jobs became about money, and that is not what I wanted.
That said, if the kids are saving for something, I do offer payment for out-of-the-ordinary jobs around the house, and they can do this every week. In the past, we have just kept a notebook of these jobs, adding it up. However now, I simply transfer payments straight to the cards or set up regular payments, depending on the child/situation. The children enjoy being able to see their savings grow. It’s just fabulous.
In recent years, as my children have got older, I have trialled the idea of an allowance. The idea is to provide an allowance each week for certain things, and they have to work out how to keep the budget. One example is tuckshop for my son. His school tuckshop is fantastic (with such a good range of healthy food options), and I allow him to spend a certain amount on tuckshop each week (ordered online through Flexischools). I had a friend who did something similar with a teenage daughter but on a bigger scale. She gave her an allowance each week, and it was her responsibility to keep within budget and buy her own food/clothes etc. for the month. I like these ideas, because it teaches the kids about money and budgeting.
The main advantage with ZAAP (other than the cards look really cool) is the kids can “see” the money accumulate. In our family, we rarely use cash anymore, so the idea of money has changed, and I do think the ways we teach children about money has to change too. Already the children are more aware of money, budgeting and saving. Plus, they enjoy being in control too. But, of course, in these learning phases, it’s good that parents are also involved , and the app that has both parent and child versions facilitates that. I’ve become such a fan, I just wish I had ZAAP years ago!
Check out ZAAP over at the website: zaap.com.au.