Opening a bank account for a minor can be a great idea. It provides young students with financial literacy and responsibility and allows them to handle their own budget in an independent setting. Still, it comes with some added responsibilities and prerequisites that should be taken into consideration.
It used to be that bank accounts for teens were fraught with crazy overdraft fees (and other hidden costs which made account-holders rack up huge payables to the banks. Since then, consumer protection agencies and the government have fought to restrict such practices. It’s still a good idea to be careful, but by and large, teen checking accounts make solid stepping stones for future financial maturity.
The added risk of giving a teen access to an account means some added requirements for opening one. In general, here are the things you will need to open up a teen bank account:
What do you need to get an account?
To be Old Enough
Many banks have realized the economic benefits of having an account tailored to teens. In nearly all cases, though, the minimum age to get an account is 14, and the max is 17.
Have a Cosigner
Even if you do make the age cut, all banks will require a cosigner. A cosigner is somebody, in this case, a parent or legal guardian, who will act as a joint account holder along with the teen. This means that they will have equal parts legal ownership of the account, but the teen will still have access to all its services like a debit card, online banking, etc.
Most accounts will require a minimum account balance or at least a minimum initial deposit. This is usually a relatively small amount but a requirement nonetheless.
Official government photo-id is a must for pretty much all financial activity, like opening a bank account. If you don’t have a U.S.-issued ID, you’ll probably need to use your passport.
There are several accounts for teens that make it easy and safe for them to handle their money. These are safe from the “surprises” which make so many parents hesitant to open up an account for their kids. The accounts allow adults to manage the student’s access and view their activity. You can set spending limits on many of them and subscribe to emails and texts alerting you of all activity.
Teen Bank Accounts:
Teen Checking Account
Parents: Full access to account
Students: Free checking account, no balance requirements, Free debit master cards, Text Alerts, .10% APY
Age: 8+ (cosigner required)
More Info: Visit Capital One
Student Value Checking Account
Parents: Full access to account
Students: $0 Monthly fee, $10 opening minimum deposit—> no minimum balance, Alerts
Age: 14-25 (cosigner required)
More info: Visit Santander Bank
Parents: Full access, overdraft protection option from a Wells Fargo savings account
Students: Online access, $25 opening fee, and $5 monthly service fee (unless you choose online-only statements).
Age: 13-16 (cosigner required)
More Info: Visit Wells Fargo
Exposing teens to the financial world early on can give them the skills to be responsible and savvy when managing their money. Still, whichever account you end up choosing, it’s best to feel comfortable with the institution you’re dealing with. It will likely end up being the teen’s bank account once they become a young adult, so starting that relationship early is key as it can lead to a better track record as an account holder, which may be very beneficial in the long run.