Helping kids gain hands-on money skills can start with learning how a bank account works. After all, bank accounts can provide a hub for most people’s daily financial life. You may be surprised to know that there are many options if you want to open a bank account for a child. While a person typically has to be 18 to open their own account, a child can generally open a bank account at any age — as long as a parent or a guardian serves as a joint account holder.
What Age Can You Open a Bank Account?
How old do you have to be to open a bank account? Usually, a person has to be 18 to open their own account. However, there isn’t a federal law that sets a minimum age at which you can have a bank account. Each state can have its own regulations regarding accounts for young savers and, depending on the state, financial institutions also may have the ability to set their own rules.
If you’re interested in opening an account and are unsure of age requirements, you may want to contact a few different financial institutions to ask if they have an account that suits your needs.
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Can a Minor Open a Bank Account?
Usually, you must be 18, or the age of majority in your state, to open a bank account without a parent or guardian. But there are ways in which a minor can open a bank account and have his or her name on it. Some popular options include:
A custodial account is an account an adult opens on behalf of a minor. The money held in the account belongs to the minor but is controlled by the custodian — usually a parent — until the minor reaches the age of majority (typically 18 to 21, but it may vary by state). There are a few different types of custodial accounts, including savings, educational savings, and investment accounts.
With this type of account, the minor won’t be able to access funds on their own, and they won’t be issued an ATM card. Generally, a custodial account changes over to an individual account when the child reaches adulthood.
A joint account lists both a minor’s name and an adult’s name as co-owners, and they have equal control of the account. If the goal of the account is to help a minor learn financial responsibility or to give them control over their own money — but with an adult’s guidance — this might be the right choice. These accounts usually offer the parent the ability to monitor and control the account to some degree. For instance, the parent might set spending limits and get notified of transactions.
Depending on the child’s age, you may want to start with a joint savings account. Or, you might decide to look into the perks of a teen or student checking account that offers youth-friendly benefits (like low minimums and fees), and a debit card and/or checks for purchases and withdrawals.
When minors reach the age of majority, they may choose to keep a joint account, but they also may want to transfer the account to just their name. As another option, they can open a new, individual account that better suits their current needs.
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Can a Minor Withdraw Money from a Bank Account?
If you’re wondering if a minor can withdraw money from a bank account, the answer is: It depends. With a custodial account, it is likely that the child cannot touch the money. The adult likely maintains control until the child reaches majority and becomes the account owner.
However, with a joint account, the child may be able to deposit and withdraw funds, just as the adult on the account can. That said, parental monitoring and controls can often be set up.
What Age Can You Get a Debit Card?
Typically, checking accounts for kids and teens offer debit cards. The age at which a minor can get a debit card will be determined by the bank offering the account. This feature may only be available to teens, but some banks (such as Chase) allow six-year-olds and up to get debit cards.
There are also options like prepaid or secured debit cards that can be used by kids. GoHenry offers them to children as young as age 6 to help them learn money management skills, while Greenlight says there is no minimum age for its debit card. It is likely, however, that you will find plenty of parental monitoring and controls in place, so it’s not as if the child can spend all their money on a whim.
What Will I Need to Open a Bank Account?
Whether you plan to open a bank account online or in person, you can expect to be asked for identification and certain types of documentation. Most account applications are straightforward and easy to complete; still, you may save some time by confirming that you meet all the criteria for a particular type of account before you get started.
You may have to provide the following information and documents when you set up a bank account:
• Government-issued photo identification, such as a valid driver’s license or passport
• Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
• Contact information, including your full name, address and phone number
• Proof of address, such as a utility bill or some other type of official document with your current address (you can print an online statement if you’ve gone paperless)
• Student bank accounts may require proof of school enrollment, such as a student ID or acceptance letter
• Joint account holders should be ready to provide required documents for all parties named on the account
This can mean that you may need one or more of the following forms of ID for the child who will be on the account:
• Social Security card
• Birth certificate
• School photo ID
• Immunization record
In addition to the above items, a minimum deposit to open an account may be required as well.
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What to Consider When Choosing a Bank Account
Your goals for the account and how much participation you want the child to have can help you decide between a savings account vs. a checking account and between a custodial account or joint account.
Some other things to keep in mind as you compare accounts include:
If you and/or your child expect to make frequent deposits and withdrawals, you may want to be sure the account comes with access to a large ATM network, easy online banking, or a convenient branch location.
Many banks and credit unions have minimum balance requirements for savings and checking accounts. If you and your child would struggle to meet that threshold, you may want to look for an account that has a low or no minimum balance requirement.
Earning interest isn’t necessarily a top priority with a bank account, but every little bit helps. Learning how an annual percentage yield (APY) works and how interest is calculated can be a good teachable moment for kids. What’s more, watching their money grow can be educational and motivational for young savers.
Does the financial institution have a reputation for reliable and helpful customer service? This could be important if you have questions or need help with disputing a transaction.
Fees can quickly eat away at a teen’s hard-earned money, especially if they’re using a non-network ATM to make withdrawals. You may want to find accounts that offer no or low monthly fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees.
Whether you prefer online vs. traditional banking, be sure to check out the financial institution’s web and mobile platforms. It’s likely both parent and child will be using these tools on a regular basis.
Though having a checking or cash management account can be a big step toward financial independence, it can be wise to put some parental controls on a minor’s account. Many accounts allow parents to monitor their child’s transactions so they can offer timely guidance.
Will the money in the account be insured by the FDIC or NCUA? Will your personal and financial information be protected from unauthorized access with two-factor or multi-factor authentication? If one of your reasons for using a bank account is to keep your money safe, these can be important questions to ask.
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Opening a Checking Account vs Savings Account for a Minor
As you consider options for opening a bank account for a minor, you may be faced with the decision of whether to go with a checking or a savings account. Here are some key differences to be away of; they can help you find the right fit:
|Checking Account for Minors
|Savings Account for Minors
|Typically not interest-bearing
|Intended for daily spending
|Intended to accrue funds towards a goal
|Comes with a debit card
|Usually doesn’t come with a debit card
|Withdrawals may be only 6x per month
|Has ATM access
|May not have ATM access
|May involve fees
|May involve fees
|Likely to be FDIC-insured
|Likely to be FDIC-insured
Though there is likely a minimum age to open a bank account on your own (typically 18), minors can generally share a joint account with a parent or guardian until then. There are several types of accounts that kids and their parents might consider depending on their needs and goals, so it’s important to do a little research before choosing an account.
For example, you might want to prioritize the account’s APY if you hope to grow the money on deposit. But if the account is for daily spending, you might want to focus on low fees and easy access to a wide network of ATMs.
If you’re searching for a banking partner that offers all of those features, see what SoFi offers. Our Checking and Savings Account pays a competitive APY, charges no account fees, and provides access to a network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs within the Allpoint Network.
What is the youngest age to open a bank account?
In terms of at what age you can open a bank account, there’s no single rule. Typically, though, you must be age 18 or the age of majority in your state to have your own account. But, via joint accounts and custodial accounts, even younger individuals can have some banking privileges.
How do I open a bank account for a minor?
To open a bank account for a minor, you typically need various forms of identification, proof of residence, and an opening deposit. If the minor will share the account, they will need to provide identification as well.
Can a child get a debit card?
A child can get a debit card. On many of the joint accounts for minors, a debit card is part of the offering. You may find them for kids as young as age six. There are also some secured or prepaid debit cards for minors, some with no minimum age available.
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