Updated March 26, 2024

Best Bank for 18 Year Olds

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Opening a bank as an 18-year-old is one of the best ways to start learning about money early. But with all your options, where do you even start?

Which bank is best for 18-year-olds?
Here are the best bank accounts for 18-year-olds:
  1. Chase: best overall
  2. Discover® Bank: for best cashback program
  3. Bank Of America: for money management programs
  4. Capital One: for money-savvy teens
  5. Copper: for best educational tools
  6. Wells Fargo: for best college campus programs
  7. U.S. Bank: for easy teens checking account
  8. Axos Bank: for variety of accounts
  9. Quontic: for unique banking rewards
  10. MPH Bank: for high savings interest

When it comes to bank accounts, the earlier you start, the better. The problem is that there are so many options to choose from.

To help you weigh out your options, here's a list of some of the most popular accounts for 18-year-olds.

Can you open a bank account at 18?
Yes, most banks will allow you to open a bank account on your own at 18 years old. If you're younger, you may need to open a joint account with a parent or legal guardian.

Best Bank Accounts for 18-Year-Olds

Banking doesn't have to be hard, especially if you're just starting out. The bank account should be convenient to open, easy to use, and have exclusive benefits.

Which type of bank appeals most to you as an 18-year-old?

With that, here are the best bank accounts for 18-year-olds.

Chase for The Best Overall

Chase is one of the biggest banks in the US. It is a great place to start if you're opening a bank account for the first time.

The Chase College Checking account is made specifically with students in mind.

What we like about Chase:
Chase has one of the highest-rated mobile apps in the country. It includes features like Autosave, which will help you grow your savings by setting goals and creating spending rules.

The app includes customizable alerts, online check deposits, financial management content, bill payments, Zelle integration, and more.

With 4,700 branches and more than 15,000 ATMs around the country, Chase is a great option for those going away for college.

What we don't like:
The Chase College Checking account doesn't let you earn interest on your savings. This means your money stays stagnant after you deposit it.

If you use non-Chase ATMs, you'll be charged:[1]

  • $3 fee per withdrawal at a non-Chase ATM in the U.S. and the U.S. territories. $5 fee per withdrawal at a non-Chase ATM outside of the U.S. and the U.S. territories. Surcharge Fees from the ATM owner/network still apply. U.S. territories include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

These extra fees could be a pain if you don't have any Chase-supported ATMs nearby.

After the expected graduation date, the monthly maintenance fee is $12 and can be waived with ONE of the following actions each monthly statement period:

  1. Have electronic deposits made into this account totaling $500 or more, such as payments from payroll providers or government benefit providers, by using (i) the ACH network, (ii) the Real Time Payment or FedNow network, or (iii) third party services that facilitate payment to your debit card using the Visa® or Mastercard® network
  2. Keep an average ending day balance of $1,500 or more in your checking account.

Discover® Bank for Best Cashback Program

Books, school supplies, groceries, and nights out with friends can break the bank if you aren't careful. Luckily, Discover® Bank has an account that gives a little bit back every time you spend.

With a Discover® Cashback Debit account, you get 1% cashback on up to $3,000 each month in debit card purchases. See website for details.

What we like about Discover:
If you have a lot of school expenses, the 1% cashback Discover provides could be a big help. It allows you to get up to $30 back every month, giving you more spending power for the next month.

Discover also has a great mobile app to help you track and manage your expenses. It includes features like mobile check deposits, an ATM finder, a bills hub for auto payments, and more.

They also have an Early Pay feature, which lets you get your paycheck up to two days in advance.

You can also pair it with the Discover® Online Savings Account. You can earn a competitive APY on your savings and watch your money grow.

Both the savings and cashback accounts have close to no fees, including no overdraft charge. This could be useful for young adults who are worried about accidentally overdrawing.

What we don't like:
Discover only has one brick-and-mortar branch in Greenwood, Delaware. So, if you prefer in-person banking, you'd need to travel to the location (unless you reside near the area).

Can you open an account online?
It depends on the bank. If you're 18 years old or older, most banks will let you open an account online. However, if you're younger, you'll probably need to head to the nearest branch with a parent or legal guardian.

Bank Of America for Money Management Programs

Another titan of US banking, Bank of America is a great place to start if you're looking to open your first account.

They offer the Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking® account which waives all monthly fees for those under 25.

What we like about Bank of America:
The Bank of America has two programs to help students save and learn at the same time:

  • Keep the Change Program - This program rounds up all your debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and transfers the difference from your checking to your savings account.

  • Better Money Habits Program - In partnership with Khan Academy, this program offers financial courses and educational materials across a wide variety of topics.

They also have thousands of financial centers and ATMs, making them easily accessible.

What we don't like:
The Bank of America has an out-of-network ATM fee of $2.50 each within the U.S. and $5.00 each outside the U.S.[2] This could add up and eat into your money if you don't have a Bank of America ATM nearby.

The Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking account also doesn't offer interest on your savings, keeping your money stagnant whenever it's not in use.

Capital One for Money-Savvy Teens

Capital One offers options for teens looking to get started early, parents who care about their child's finances, and both looking to create a joint account.

They have the MONEY Teen Checking Account which comes with a highly-rated mobile app. You'll be able to manage your finances, track your spending, and contact 24/7 customer support wherever you are.

With nearly 300 branches and 70,000+ fee-free ATMs nationwide, you'll always have easy access to your money.

What we like about Capital One:
Capital One has budgeting tools that will help you manage your finances more conveniently.

With their checking account, your total balance is divided into two categories: Spendable and Set Aside.

This makes it easy for anyone to save money and manage their spending.

Capital One's MONEY Teen Checking Account also comes with a debit card (featuring parental controls), which is a huge step towards financial independence.

Though it does not have a competitive APY, the account allows young adults to still earn interest on their money.

In a study done by J.D. Power, Capital One received the highest rating for online and mobile banking satisfaction among all national banks.

What we don't like:
Access to their customer service via telephone is limited. You might experience a significant wait before reaching a customer service representative.

The hold times when contacting Capital One can be quite lengthy, which can be frustrating, especially when it involves your finances.

Copper for Best Educational Tools

Copper is a fintech company that provides financial wellness and education.

They provide a ton of educational tools and resources to help teens become financially independent.

This is perfect for parents looking to teach their children money management skills at an early age.

What we like about Copper:
The Copper account includes everything a young adult will need to save and manage expenses. They also have an app with interactive and educational tools for teens to learn more about finances.

Copper Earn gives users the chance to earn money while gaining financial literacy. This feature not only offers financial incentives but also educates users about the value of money. This'll help teens and young adults get an even bigger head start on their future.

What we don't like:
Copper doesn't have any physical locations and there is no publicly listed customer service phone number.

Wells Fargo for Best College Campus Programs

With over 5,200 branches and approximately 11,000 ATMs across the country, Wells Fargo is one of the biggest banks in the US.

The Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking account is designed for lower balances, making it a perfect starting point for young adults.

The account has a service fee of $5 per month. However, it can be waived if the account holder is between the ages of 13 and 24 or if the account is linked to one of the cards from the Wells Fargo Campus Card program.

What we like about Wells Fargo:
The Wells Fargo Campus Card Program is designed specifically for students. They have perks and benefits like waived monthly fees, and a maximum of 4 free cash withdrawals at non-Wells Fargo ATMs.

They also have the CollegeSTEPS program which gives students access to online resources on money-related topics.

They can learn things like how to manage money, plan and pay for college, understand credit, and more.

What happens to student accounts when you graduate?
Typically, student accounts will automatically convert into regular checking accounts once you graduate. Remember that this may mean you have to pay monthly fees once it converts.

What we don't like:
The Wells Fargo Campus Card program is only available in 20 participating schools in the country.[3] If your school isn't part of the list, you won't have access to its perks.

There are also no ATM fee reimbursements if you aren't part of the Campus Card program, which means you can be charged up to $5 for transactions made via non-Wells Fargo ATMs.[4]

U.S. Bank for Easy Teens Checking Account

With over 2,000 branches nationwide and more than 4,200 ATMs, U.S. Bank is another great option for teens looking to get a head start.

Their Bank Smartly Checking account is free and has special perks for college students. It includes waivable monthly maintenance fees and 4 free transactions on non-U.S. Bank ATMs per statement period.

What we like about U.S. Bank:
U.S. Bank has a Campus Banking program to help students manage their money better.

It includes several perks such as a campus card that merges your student ID with your debit card and on-campus branches and customer advisory centers.

U.S. Bank also has an easy-to-use mobile app where you can cash checks online and pay bills.

What we don't like:
U.S. Bank's Campus Banking program is only offered to 37 participating schools which means its benefits aren't accessible.[5]

Also, once the account holder turns 25, monthly maintenance fees are reinstated. They can only be waived if you have $1,000 in monthly direct deposits or an average account balance of $1,500.

Axos Bank for Variety of Accounts

Axos Bank is a completely digital bank that offers different types of accounts: Essential Checking, Rewards Checking, and CashBack Checking.



What we like about Axos Bank:
With Axos, you can pick the type of account that suits your needs best. Luckily, all their accounts have unlimited ATM fee reimbursements and no monthly fees.[6]

What we don't like:
Axos caters more to those who prefer mobile banking since they have no physical branches in the US.

How many student bank accounts can you open?
As much as you want. In fact, many people consider opening multiple bank accounts to be a smart financial move.

Quontic for Unique Banking Rewards

Quontic is also a purely digital bank. They offer a couple of different checking accounts.

Whether you're interested in high-interest checking, want cashback rewards on your purchases, you can choose the one that's best for your needs.


What we like about Quontic:
Quontic offers some of the most unique products and rewards programs for checking accounts.

They also have the Quontic Pay Ring which is a sleek, black wearable accessory. With it, you can leave your debit card at home and pay for things with just a tap of your ring.

Additionally, none of Quontic's checking accounts charge you any monthly service fees or overdraft fees.

What we don't like:
The minimum opening deposits on each checking account is higher than some other options. If you decide to go with one of their accounts, make sure to have at least $100 for the initial deposit.

How much money should I keep in my checking account?
It's best to keep at least 1 month of living expenses in your checking account, plus a 30% cushion. Figure out all your living expenses, track your spending over several months, and figure out what your magic number is.

MPH Bank for High Savings Interest

MPH Bank is a bank backed by the over-century-old, FDIC-insured Liberty Savings.

Standing for "Makes People Happy," they offer one of the most competitive APYs for teen checking accounts on the market.

The MPH Bank First Account is an online checking account designed for those aged 10-24. It comes with a digital debit card and its mobile app includes features like personalizable dashboards, Zelle integration, and useful financial tools.

What we like about MPH Bank:
MPH Bank's biggest draw is its competitive APY. This is especially enticing for teens and young adults looking to keep their money moving.

MPH Bank's First Account acts as both a checking and savings account for kids and teens. It has all tools they need to start saving and managing their money.

What we don't like:
Despite it being backed by a long-running institution, MPH Bank was only founded in 2018. This means that they aren't as renowned yet compared to well-established banks.

MPH Bank's applications are often at max capacity. If you want to open an MPH Bank First Account, you may need to join a waitlist.

What Do You Need To Open A Bank Account?

At 18, you can legally open a bank account on your own. Here are all the requirements you'll most likely need to provide:

  • A valid, government-issued ID (a driver's license, passport, or state ID)
  • Birth date
  • Social Security number
  • Initial deposit (if the account requires it)
  • Co-owner's details (if you're under 18)
  • Proof of enrollment (if you're opening a student account)

Should an 18-year-old have a bank account?
Yes, because starting early gives them a valuable head start on managing their bank account. It'll also help build their financial reputation, teach them how to manage their money and allow them to make mistakes in a safe environment.

How To Choose The Best Bank

Each person will have their own banking preferences, depending on what you prioritize in an account. Here are some of the most important factors you should consider:

Monthly Minimums and Fees
Ideally, you'll want an account with no or low monthly fees. You'll also want the freedom to spend your money without having to worry about a minimum balance.

Mobile App and ATM Access
Teens and young adults who are always on the move will need their money to be easily accessible. This means having a solid mobile app and thousands of available fee-free ATMs nationwide is a must.

Educational Resources and Budgeting Tools
Budgeting tools and an educational resource library could go a long way. They allow you to learn while banking and put you on the right path to being financially literate and independent.

Earnings on Savings
Look out for accounts that offer high APYs. These will allow your money to grow over time, giving you more spending power as the years go by.

Access to a Debit Card
Debit cards give you the ability to take your money wherever you go. They also serve as a quick and easy way to pay for purchases.

What is your most important factor when choosing a bank at 18?

Methodology

We put ourselves in the shoes of an average young adult looking to get started in personal finance. We looked at the different features being offered and considered which ones would benefit any 18-year-old lifestyle.

The first factor that came to mind was easy access to funds. Which banks had accessible ATMs? Which had strong mobile apps? The account would need to serve teens who are both homebodies and always on the go.

Next, we thought of the minimum deposits and fees. For many teens, opening a bank account is their first step into personal finance. High minimum deposits and fees would only act as an unnecessary barrier.

We also thought about the educational resources and budgeting tools each bank offered. Ideally, any teen would want to learn while they banked. We looked at the resource library available as well as how interactive they were and how they'd appeal to younger audiences.

Bottom Line

Choosing a bank to start out with is a huge step towards adulthood and financial independence, so it's important that you look at all your options carefully.

That said, you aren't limited to having just one account. You can mix and match different accounts to satisfy all your needs. Just make sure you get the hang of it first before diving into multiple options simultaneously!

References

  1. ^ Chase. Additional Banking Services and Fees: Deposit Account Agreement - Fee Schedule, Retrieved 9/7/2023
  2. ^ Bank of America. Bank Account Fees, Retrieved 9/7/2023
  3. ^ Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo Campus Card Program Participating Schools, Retrieved 9/7/2023
  4. ^ Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo Consumer and Business Account Fees, Retrieved 9/7/2023
  5. ^ U.S. Bank. U.S. Bank Campus Banking Find your school, Retrieved 9/7/2023
  6. ^ Axos Bank. Personal Deposit Account Agreement and Schedule of Fees, Retrieved 9/7/2023

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Which type of bank appeals most to you as an 18-year-old?
27% Traditional brick-and-mortar bank
54% Online bank
14% Credit union
4% Community bank
1% Digital-only neobank
Source: CreditDonkey
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