The best way to teach teens about money and financial management is to actually let them use real money. This Step review will provide you information about how this new financial app is ideal especially for young people out there.
As a parent, one of our responsibilities and obligations is to teach our children how to handle money right. The earlier we expose them to financial management and money stuff, the better — as they will surely benefit from it in the long run.
Unlike before, parents of this generation are more privileged because there are a lot of existing tools that would help them develop their kids to be financially savvy.
Thanks to technology, mobile banking exists. Needless to say, there are banks out there that specifically focus on providing teenagers their banking needs.
Also, as compared to the older generations, the younger generation is actually keener in knowing how to handle their finances, which is actually a good thing.
In fact, according to a study conducted by Raddon, “a Fiserv company and provider of innovative research, insightful analysis and strategic guidance to financial institutions,” it was found that out of the 2,500 respondents (all high school students aged 16 to 18), most of them are “eager for financial education and have done more to further their knowledge of financial matters than preceding generations.”
Furthermore, the research finds that 56% of the respondents “believe programs or seminars from financial institutions are very or extremely important sources of personal finance information.”
The study also revealed that 67% of the “Gen Z” respondents already have a bank account at a financial institution — either personal or as a joint account together with their parents.
In terms of banking preferences, the study shows that 34% prefer banking in a more traditional way, while 37% of the respondents prefer banking through digital or electronic channels, and the remaining 28% think that all financial institutions are the same — whether it be conventional or digital — and that they’d rather go for what is convenient for them.
This study alone shows that teaching banking, as well as financial management as a whole to the younger generation, is actually easier today, because they, themselves are into it. They thirst for knowledge. They want to learn, which is great for parents, right?
Now, as you can see in the study we just mentioned, most of the young people lean towards digital or online banking, because after all, it is more convenient than traditional banking, right?
As we all know, people these days especially the young ones are more into what’s convenient and fast rather than the old, slow-moving style – and this is very apparent in their choices including when it comes to banking.
Speaking of banking, when it comes to digital banking per se, there are a lot of choices available out there. But, only a few focus on the banking needs of teenagers — one of them is Step.
The following sections of this Step review will provide you with the necessary information to help you gauge if this one’s the right financial institution for your teen or not.
Specifically, we are going to focus on answering the following questions:
- What is Step?
- Who is Step for?
- What are the products offered by Step?
- How to do banking with Step?
- Is Step safe?
- What to like about Step?
- What not to like about Step?
Now, let’s dig into what Step Bank is all about and what it has to offer especially for the young people –
WHAT IS STEP?
First of all, let’s talk about what Step is all about. As a parent or guardian, it is our responsibility to make sure that we have the best partner in teaching financial management to our teens.
Thus, it is always best to do a little background check. Good for you, you don’t need to go elsewhere because we are going to provide you with some of the most important details that you need to know about Step.
Here you go –
Founded in 2018 by CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko, Step’s mission is “to improve the financial future of the next generation.”
Technically, Step is not a bank, rather, it is a fintech. It is a financial app that comes with a debit card and is specifically oriented towards teenagers. But, all its banking services are provided through its partner-bank, Evolve Bank & Trust.
Since Step is a financial app, it means it does not have a physical brand, and that everything is done digitally. However, the company is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.
Step, as mentioned, targets teens, specifically those between the 13 and 18 age range.
This online banking solution does not charge fees and has no minimum requirements, which makes it even more appealing to the younger generation. More so, the financial app advertises an annual percentage yield that could go as high as 2.5%.
Interested to know more about Step? Below is a very informative video by Tech Hustler. He tackles the app, and how you can make cash fast by using it.
WHO IS STEP BEST FOR?
Step, as mentioned earlier, was designed to help educate young people on financial management.
The account was made specifically made for anyone aged 13 years old and above.
Step would be most appealing to those within the said age range who wanted to learn more about handling money and banking. It’s also ideal for those who want to start building their credit early.
To create an account, though, they need a parent or guardian to sponsor the account.
WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS OFFERED BY STEP?
Unlike a typical online bank, Step does not offer a variety of product choices. It only has one, and it is what we consider a “lite” version of a checking account for teenagers.
Once you sign up for Step, you automatically get the Step Card, which is powered by Visa. According to its website, it is “a new type of secured spending card that has a few extra features over traditional bank cards.”
The Step Card combines both the benefits of a conventional debit and credit card, which means you only get to spend what you have deposited in your Step account. That leaves you a lot of security and peace of mind knowing you won’t be spending much more than what you have and you can. Needless to say, you don’t have to worry about paying interest like a typical credit card.
With the Step Card, your teenager gets to also enjoy the following features:
- Can be linked to Apple Pay and Google Pay
- Track real-time balance
- Helps build credit
- Send and receive money from other Step applications or members in an instant
- Learn more about financial management
- Referral credit of $3 for every person you invited to create a Step account
- Parental monitoring through the parent account
The Step Card in itself is a physical debit card. Once you open an account and request the card, expect to receive it within seven to ten days.
While waiting for the card to arrive, you can use your Step account by linking it to Apple Pay and Google Pay.
HOW TO DO BANKING WITH STEP?
In the previous sections, we talked about what Step is all about, who is it best for, and the product it offers. This time, in this part of our Step review, we are going to provide you details on how to bank with Step.
First of all, you have to be at least 13 years old to be eligible to join Step. Also, you need to have a parent or guardian to sponsor the account for you.
To join, all you have to do is visit the Step website, and click the “Get Started” button. You will then be asked to input your phone number. Otherwise, the application process will not push through.
Step use cell phone number to verify the account, and to ensure that only the user can access his or her money. Step sends an SMS code as verification that the account is linked to the right mobile phone number.
Step is only available for residents of the United States as your mobile phone has to be issued by any of the US mobile phone carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
To proceed with the account application process, you will be asked to provide other personal information such as your name, address, and your Social Security number. By the way, Step does not perform a credit check, but similar to most banks, it does use the SSN to verify the customer’s identity.
Once you have completed all the account application process, you may now start banking with Step.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Step is a financial app and does not come with a physical branch. Unfortunately, Step account holders have very limited ways to fund their accounts.
The only way to deposit money into your Step account is from another bank through a debit card or by linking the Step account to a PayPal, Venmo, or CashApp account. While both options can have their disadvantages, the good thing about linking it to a debit card is that you can transfer the money and use it immediately. Meanwhile, moving money through PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp will take between one and three days.
Step accounts do not have access to mobile checks or cash deposits. The same goes for paper checks. However, it is possible to make direct deposits from an employer. The process is pretty much similar to that of regular banks.
Meanwhile, when it comes to withdrawing funds, it’s pretty much the same. You have to move money into another checking account. Unfortunately, the Step Card can only be used to make purchases, but not to withdraw cash. However, who knows, Step might just add this feature in the future.
As mentioned earlier, Step does not charge any fees including monthly, overdraft, or service fees, which makes it one of the best ways to teach your kids financial management really.
IS STEP SAFE?
Similar to other online banks, one of the major concerns of customers is the security and safety of their personal data and money.
So, in this part of our Step review, we are going to look into how safe and secure Step is.
To ensure that all personal data shared are safe and secured, Step follows the standard safety and security measures to help avoid possible fraud or identity theft threats. Step also built-in a bank-level security and data encryption to make sure that customer information and account are safe all the time.
As with your money, all Step accounts are insured up to $250,000 per account through its banking partner, Evolve Bank & Trust, which is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Additionally, every purchase made using the Step card is also protected by VISA’s Zero Liability Policy. This basically means the account holder will never be responsible for charges that are not authorized.
Overall, we got to say that Step is safe and secured – also taking into consideration that the Step app is rated 4.5 in the Appstore.
WHAT TO LIKE ABOUT STEP?
So, now that you already know what Step is about, what it offers, how to bank, and more, it’s time to share with you our list of things that we like about this financial app.
This is a summary of the notable features that make Step stand out from other financial platform of the same type.
Some of the things we like about Step include the following:
- No Minimum Deposit Requirement – One of the things that we particularly like about Step is that it does not have a minimum deposit requirement, which obviously means they are serious about making it teenager-friendly. Well, we all know that not all teens have the capacity to always fund the account. So, it’s really a good thing.
- No Fees – Another plus is that Step does not charge any fees including monthly maintenance fee, overdraft fee, and service fee.
- Builds Credit – Building credit is not easy for adults. But, with Step, as young as 13 years old, you can already start building your credit. As you know, having good credit is key to take full advantage of bank offerings once you’re an adult.
- Parental Monitoring Capability – Step comes with a parental monitoring capability through the parent account, which is good because parents get to track their teens’ expenses and see how their spending habits are.
- Referral Fee – Step pays a referral fee to those who are able to invite people to create a Step account. The fee is $3, which is not bad at all.
- Safe and Secured – Step has installed bank-level security and data encryption to protect customer information and accounts all the time.
- FDIC-Insured – All Step accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor. Thanks to its bank partner, Evolve Bank & Trust.
WHAT NOT TO LIKE ABOUT STEP?
This Step review will not be complete without a list of the things to not like about Step. These, though, can be improved eventually.
So, our list includes:
- No Interest on Deposits – Unlike typical deposit accounts, whether it be traditional or mobile banking, Step does not earn interest on deposits. So, if you want your kid to learn to save, at the same time, earn from their savings, you may have to look for another bank.
- No Physical Branches – As mentioned, Step is a financial app, and does not come with any physical branches. Again, if you or your teenager opt for a more traditional way of banking, Step is not the right financial institution for you.
- No ATM Access – Although Step comes with a debit card, it only functions as a credit card. It does not allow you to withdraw cash from ATM portals. However, who knows, maybe this is already part of Step’s future plans.
- No Cash, Paper, and Mobile Check Deposits – Step account holders can only fund their account by transferring money from another account. Unfortunately, there are no other means to fund the account apart from that. So, if you find this inconvenient, there are other mobile banks out there to check out.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON STEP REVIEW
Step is an online financial app specifically designed to cater to the needs of teenagers. This app was designed to help teach the younger generation how to properly manage their finances.
Step offers a lot of notable features including no monthly maintenance fee, no service fee, and no overdraft fee. Additionally, this financial app also helps build the account holder’s credit at such a young age.
The financial app also comes with parental monitoring capability to help parents track their kids’ spending, and see how well they are in handling their money.
Step comes with a debit card that functions like that of a credit card. The only difference is that you need to fund the card to be able to use it. While it can be a not-so-good feature for some, it actually works to help teens learn how to spend within their means or within the money, they have on their account.
So, given all the features Step offer, do you think this fits your needs and preferences?