Natwest Rooster Money offers a free app, available to children over age four, which enables you to set chores and give simple rewards. If you just get the app, you will not be opening an actual account, so any pocket money is still given in cash – but it’s an engaging way of showing your child the basics of earning and saving money.
There is also a prepaid card, for children aged six to 18, which comes with a parent account and app for you and a debit card for your child. You can set spending limits and decide whether your child can use the card to spend online, in shops, for cash withdrawals from ATMs, or all of these.
Children will be able to see the available balance in their “Spending” pot on the app – and you’ll be able to see where the money is going. They can also set money aside into a “Savings” pot, which can earn interest at a rate that’s set (and paid for!) by the parent.
Launched in 2016, and bought by Natwest in 2021, Rooster Money now has more than 200,000 users worldwide.
The Rooster Money app is slick, colourful and entertaining, meaning kids will love it. It’s easy for them to see what chores you want them to do to earn pocket money, from hoovering or doing the dishes to sweeping up leaves. Their money is kept in two pots – “Spending” and “Saving”, helping them to form a healthy habit of setting some of what they earn aside right from the start.
Is it safe?
The money held in a NatWest Rooster Money account with a Rooster Card is ring-fenced in an account with the high street bank NatWest. The money you deposit, however, is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme FSCS should Rooster Money go bust.
Your child can only spend the money that is available on the card so there is no risk of them going overdrawn or getting into debt. You are also able to see every transaction they make directly on the app.
Attempted transactions at merchants that sell products for over-18s will be blocked and if you want more control, you can disable the cash withdrawal option.
The app generates a new CVV code (three-digit security code) every time your child wants to use the card to pay online, which adds an extra layer of security, and you can freeze the card from the app if it gets lost or stolen.
As Rooster Money isn’t a bank and it’s the parent providing their child with money, it currently doesn’t have any sustainable options.
The prepaid debit card is made from eco-friendly degradable PVC, meaning it will eventually degrade completely when left in compost, landfill or other microbe-fish environments. You’ll just need to ensure you cut out the chip and magnetic strip before you throw it away.
Unique selling points
- Teach your child to save. The app has a ‘savings’ pot which enables you to set up your own interest rate. This means the more money your child saves, and the longer the time it’s in the pot, the more they get back – just like the real world. Rooster says the average rate that parents give is a market-beating nine per cent. Lucky kids!
- Spending control features. You can decide whether your child can use the card to spend online, in person, to withdraw cash from ATMs or all of the above. You can also set spending limits.
The plus points
- Assign your child a chore and reward them when they complete it. The reward can be in the form of money (which you’ll have to give in cash at this stage) or, for younger children, a star in the app.
- Set visual goals. For example, you could set a goal to collect 10 stars. Once they reach it, you could buy them a toy of their choice or organise a day trip they’d love.
- Child log in. Children can have their own login, whether on their device or on yours, to see how much they’ve earned and how they’ve been doing compared to the past.
The prepaid card:
- Parental control. You get an account with sort code, dashboard on the app and notifications, giving you full control as your child learns to manage their money.
- Autonomy for your child. Your child can earn money for chores and good behaviour and spend the money they have in their “spending pot” using the card.
- Security. The card can be frozen from the app. The app sets a new one-time CVV each time the card is used for more secure online purchasing.
- Fees. The yearly fee can add up for larger families. You’d need to weigh up how much you are spending in fees in relation to how much pocket money you give your child/children.
- Top up fee. There are 10 free top-ups to the child account a month, but the 50 pence charge each time after that is not ideal when most parents give children small amounts weekly.
- No interest. Rooster Money doesn’t pay any interest on money in the account – parents can choose to do this for their child, but many ‘normal’ bank accounts aimed at children will offer some kind of real interest.
Cost of use
There are three plans to choose from. If you go for the card, or Plus option, there’s a one-month free trial so you can try before you buy.
- Free For three years plus. With this, you only get the most basic features of the app, so you can set chores and reward your child when they complete them, but not much else.
- Rooster Plus (for age 5+). This costs £14.99 per year or 99 pence per month for the whole family and includes the app’s more advanced features, such as the ability to add interest to the savings pot.
- Rooster Card (for ages 6 to 18). This costs £19.99 a year or £1.99 per month and includes all the app’s features, plus a prepaid card and a parent account.
If you are a Natwest, Ulster Bank or RBS current account holder, you can get a 12 month subscription to Rooster Plus for free. For all customers, there is a one-month free trial on Rooster Plus or Rooster Card.
Using the card is free. There are no charges for making card payments or withdrawing cash from ATMs up to £50 a month, and three per cent per transaction after that. This includes withdrawals abroad (a rare feature for a children’s account).
Up to 10 transfers from the parent account to the children’s account are included for free and it’s 50 pence each time after that. This isn’t ideal when most children’s pocket money is paid weekly and shorter-term rewards can be more enticing for them.
How do these costs compare to competitors?
Compared to its competitors (such as gohenry and iAllowance – which are both £2.99 per month), Rooster Money is among the cheapest options. gohenry includes free payments and ATM withdrawals in the UK, but only one free transfer from the parent account to the child account each month (after that it’s 50p each time).
Bear in mind that traditional children’s current accounts usually come for free. So, when you decide to use a prepaid card with a monthly or annual fee like RoosterMoney instead, you’re paying for parental control and the educational features. If these aren’t important to you (perhaps your children are old enough to be trusted with how they use their pocket money), it probably isn’t worth the fee.
Similar pocket money apps worth considering are:
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