Understanding Your Options

Can you have a checking account if you’re under 18?

Yes, you can have a checking account even if you’re under 18. However, if you’re under 14 years of age, you won’t be allowed to open the checking account. Keep in mind that checking accounts require a parent or legal guardian as a co-owner. Banks won’t open an account to anyone who’s under 18 without an adult on the account.

Most accounts marketed as “bank accounts for kids” come in the form of joint accounts, although they go by different names:

  • Student Checking
  • Savings Clubs
  • Looney Toons Accounts
  • Youth Savings Accounts
  • Teen Checking Accounts

Having a checking account with another person comes with risks. In a standard joint account, each account holder has 100% access to the funds, so either the adult or the child can drain the account and cause overdraft fees (unless the bank restricts what the child can do).

Should students under 18 years of age open a checking account or just use a prepaid card?

Students under 18 years of age should open either a checking account or get a prepaid card. The choice lies solely on what you’re looking for and what benefits you the most. For starters, both options come with various perks. Students should learn about budgeting and what better way to do that than using a debit or prepaid card? The cards give children control over their own cash but also allows parents to monitor the spending and offer guidance as needed.

Though children have their own debit card, parents can check spending online or on a mobile app. If you’re considering using a prepaid card keep in mind that it doesn’t impact the teen’s credit score.

Chase bank offers a high school and college checking account to students.

The high school checking account is for students 13 to 17 years old at account opening with a parent/guardian who co-owns and has an existing qualifying Chase checking account. This account requires:

  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • $6 monthly service fee or $0 when you have any 1 of the following each monthly statement period:
  • A linked qualifying personal parent/guardian checking account
  • OR a direct deposit made to this account
  • OR a $5,000 average ending day balance in this account
  • $25 minimum deposit to open

It’s important to keep in mind that when the student turns 19, the Chase High School Checking account will become a Chase Total Checking account.

The college checking account is available for college students 17 to 24 years old at account opening with proof of student status which includes:

  • $0 for up to 5 years while in college or $0 when you have a direct deposit made to this account
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Access to 16,000 ATMs and 5,100 branches
  • Chase debit card with chip technology
  • 24/7 customer service

What to look and what to watch out for when choosing?

  • Make sure to look for the additional fees that each account comes with
  • Avoid outrageous fees
  • Look for the option that you can benefit from the most
  • Look for features like no or low fees for funding and maintaining the account
  • Online account monitoring
  • Convenient ATM access
  • The ability to set spending limits

Use the Venn diagram below, to determine which option works best for you.

What will you need to open a checking account or to get a prepaid card?

For a checking account:

  • Identification: You’ll need to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport. Non-drivers can get a state ID card at the Department of Motor Vehicles office.
  • Personal information: Full name, date of birth, Social Security number, phone number, and email address.
  • If you’re opening a joint checking account, you will need the other person’s identification and personal information.

For a prepaid card:

  • You won’t need an identification since most of the prepaid cards are available online.
  • Personal information: Full name, address, email address, and phone number.
  • Prepaid cards are easy to obtain so there isn’t much information required.

Finally, opening a checking account with a debit card or getting a prepaid card is totally up to you. Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages. Since parents worry that handing their teens a credit or debit card will result in identity theft, they often sought out prepaid cards. A checking account with a debit card for teenagers could be linked to a savings account, reinforcing the habit of setting money aside for longer-term goals. Whereas some prepaid cards offer the ability to sequester funds, however, the money usually doesn’t earn interest. That being said, make sure to choose the option that best fits your circumstances.