April 12, 2021

Best First Checking Account for Kids

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Financial literacy doesn't happen overnight. Help your child develop good money habits with these starter checking accounts for kids.

Most school curriculums don't teach personal finance 101—and it shows.

Without financial education, it's easy to fall into a trap of low savings, debt, and even bankruptcy.

But good habits can be learned, and it helps to start young. Give your child hands-on experience with money by opening their very first checking account.

Here are the top 5 child checking accounts to give your kid a head start on financial wellness.

Joint vs. Custodial Checking Account

Children under 18 can't open their own checking accounts. But they can share an account with a parent. If you're looking to open a bank account for your kid, you have two options:

Joint Checking Account
Joint accounts list you and your child as owners. You and your kid will both be able to deposit and withdraw cash.

Custodial Checking Account
With this type of account, the child is the owner. But the parent oversees the account as the custodian. Parent permission is needed to access funds until the child is of age (usually 18 or older). Once they reach adulthood, the child gets full control of the account.

Both accounts are great for teaching your kids basic money habits. It's way easier to understand how to save and spend money when you have bank transactions that log it all.

Kids often learn best with practice and hands-on experience. Joint accounts can give your child a bit more independence. Custodial accounts can offer more structure if your child needs it.

Whichever starter checking account you choose, you'll still be able to keep an eye on your kid's spending habits—and steer them in the right direction to build healthy money habits.

Best Checking Accounts for Kids and Teens

Financial education should start young. Give your teen the upper hand with these top checking accounts for minors.

Axos First Checking

Axos Bank offers a great starter checking account with a free debit card. It's a joint account, so you and your kid will both have equal access. The account even earns a little bit of interest to give your teen a taste of real-life adulting.

The account has a daily spending limit to prevent overspending. But the account is forgiving even if your kid makes some mistakes along the way: there are no overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees.

Axos Bank has a nice, simple app with mobile deposit capabilities. You can turn on notifications to get alerted whenever there's account activity. And, Axos is secure. They offer anti-virus and malware protection and 128-bit SSL encryption.

  • Account type: Joint
  • Age: 13-17 years
  • Interest: % APY
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Daily transaction limits: $100 cash, $500 debit
  • Minimum to open: $50
  • Overdrafts: No fees

Copper Banking

Sick of your kid constantly asking to borrow your card? Copper is an app that lets you transfer money to their own debit card—all while teaching them fundamental money skills. You also get complete access to their account to easily monitor spending.

The app goes beyond simple banking services. It also engages your teen to learn about spending, saving, and budgeting. There are interactive quizzes and tools like goal setting and automated savings to help your kid develop good money habits.

Parents can set up allowances and transfer money through the app in seconds. Plus the debit card gives your kid access to over 55,000 ATMs. But keep in mind that while Copper doesn't charge any additional ATM fees, you're responsible for the ATM's fees.

Copper uses secure encryption and is FDIC-insured, so your money is protected.

The account doesn't earn interest, unfortunately. But with important lessons on spending and saving built into the app, it's still a great way to teach your kids about personal finance.

  • Account type: Joint
  • Age: 13-17 years
  • Interest: None
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Daily transaction limits: $500 cash, $2,000 debit
  • Minimum to open: $0
  • Overdrafts: No fees

Alliant Teen Checking

Alliant Teen Checking is another joint account with easy mobile access. The app gives insight on how your child is spending money. You'll both be able to view spending habits and see which categories eat up the most money.

The account bears some interest too. All you have to do to qualify is opt in to e-statements and make at least one monthly electronic deposit (direct deposit, ATM, or bank transfer) into your child's account. Pretty simple!

Overall, it's a great first bank account with access to 80,000+ free ATMs. And if you can't get to a free ATM, they'll reimburse up to $20 in ATM fees per month. Although there are no maintenance fees, they do charge a non-sufficient fund fee.

The account is NCUA-insured (like the FDIC, but for credit unions). Because Alliant is a credit union, you have to be a member to open the Teen Checking account. One way to do this is by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success. Visit their site to learn more about who is eligible to join Alliant.

Once your child reaches age 18, the account automatically converts to a regular Alliant Checking Account. You'll remain as a joint owner until your kid removes you.

  • Account type: Joint
  • Age: 13-17 years
  • Interest: 0.25% APY
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Daily transaction limits: $100 cash, $300 debit
  • Minimum to open: $0
  • Overdrafts: $25 non-sufficient funds fee; no-fee Overdraft Protection available

Chase High School Checking

If you already have a checking account with Chase, check out the Chase High School Checking account for your teen. It's a straightforward account that doesn't earn interest. But you get the benefit of a large network of physical branches with in-person support.

The account must be linked with a parent's personal checking account. There are no monthly fees, and you can set up alerts to keep tabs on your kid's spending. Once your child turns 19, the account converts to a checking account or a college checking account.

You can easily send and receive money with Zelle® or Chase QuickPay. Your child's allowance money can be transferred to their account in just seconds—lucky kid!

  • Account type: Joint
  • Age: 13-17 years
  • Interest: None
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Daily transaction limits: $500 cash, $300 debit
  • Minimum to open: $25
  • Overdrafts: $34 insufficient funds fee

Capital One MONEY Teen Checking

This joint account from Capital One is perfect if you really want a head start for your child. The MONEY Teen Checking account is for kids age 8+. The app comes with parental controls, and you can teach them how to spend and save responsibly. And, there are no fees or minimums to open.

The app also encourages good money decisions, like saving birthday money and allowances for financial goals instead of spending it all.

Your kid will get a taste of financial freedom with the debit card and access to 70,000+ free ATMs. But don't worry! You're still in control with the app for parents. You can set up alerts, lock and unlock the debit card, and more.

Once your teen turns 18, they can move their balance into a regular 360 Checking account or keep it in the MONEY account.

  • Account type: Joint
  • Age: 8-17 years
  • Interest: 0.10% APY
  • Monthly fees: None
  • Daily transaction limits: $500 total purchases/withdrawals
  • Minimum to open: $25
  • Overdrafts: Funds may be transferred from any other Capital One account you have

How to Choose the Right Account for Your Kid

A checking account is a checking account, right? As long as it keeps your money safe, it'll get the job done. But there are a few factors you should definitely consider before opening any bank account for your teen:

Monthly or transactional fees
Many accounts have no monthly maintenance fees. Others might waive the fee if you meet certain requirements. Make sure you can realistically hit those requirements if you don't want your checking account to be as low cost as possible.

Most banks do charge some fees for transactions like wire transfers or overdrafts. These are usually avoidable, but it's good to be aware of them anyway.

Insured by FDIC or NCUA
Don't trust a bank or credit union if it isn't backed by the FDIC or NCUA. In case the bank defaults and closes up shop for good, your money will still be safe up to $250,000.

Is there an easy way to deposit cash or check? Find out how to actually put money into your account. This is mostly an issue for online banks. You probably won't have access to a physical branch that can handle every kind of transactions.

Access to funds
Does your bank have an extensive ATM network? How easy is it for your child to spend money? If you want to limit your kid's spending, find out how you can set some parental controls. It'll be great for your peace of mind.

Online vs. traditional
Both types of banks have their merits. Online banks typically have higher APYs and fewer fees. Traditional banks have in-person customer service and large ATM networks. Figure out which features are most important to you and your family.

How to Teach Your Child About Money

If you're looking to open a first checking for your teen, you're already off to a great start! Here are a few other tips to get the ball rolling in your kid's financial education:

Set a good example
Kids are always watching and learning (even if you don't want them to). Talk to your child about how and why you manage your money. Don't just silently check on your accounts or add to your savings. Bring your kids into the conversation so they can learn from you.

Get them to make savings goals
Help your kid set short-term and long-term financial goals. Does your kid really want the latest video game release? Saving up for the game themselves can help kids truly appreciate a dollar.

Encourage your youngster to set long-term goals too. You can really drive home how important it is to save for the future.

Point out scams and frauds
Young people are savvy, but they're not impervious to identity theft. Teach your kids to watch out for common internet scams and sketchy sites that ask for personal information.

Bottom Line

A first checking account lets your kid get familiar with responsible money management. As a parent, you'll still be there for every step of your child's financial journey. But a bit of financial independence will teach them important money lessons they'll carry into adulthood.

No matter which account you choose, be sure to check in on your child's spending. Most apps encourage good spending and saving habits. But constructive talks with mom and dad can really cement all the great money lessons your kid will learn along the way.

Donna Tang is the head of purpose and audience at CreditDonkey, a bank comparison and reviews website. Write to Donna Tang at donna.tang@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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