You have a busy life and probably don't want the hassle of listening to your fussy kid pestering you for money all the time. So why not consider opening up a bank account geared specifically to your teenager? This gives them something to brag about to their friends, but also gives you some peace of mind because they're learning a very valuable life lesson—financial responsibility and how to manage money. But before you sign your teen up, you should do your homework because every account is different. We've tried to make it easier by giving you some tips on what to look for, as well as some of the country's top checking accounts for this age group.

Key Takeaways

  • Many banks offer checking accounts geared specifically to teenagers.
  • These accounts help teach teens financial responsibility and how to manage money.
  • Before opening an account, consider if the account comes with mobile banking options, monthly minimum balances, and fees.
  • Some accounts come with parental controls like text alerts, which allow parents to keep tabs on their teens' spending habits.
  • Parents should also inform themselves of what happens to the account when their teens reach the maximum age for the account.

Account Considerations

For teenagers, having a checking account prior to heading off to college can provide valuable real-world experience in managing a budget, cash flow, and bills. There are numerous options and features for these accounts, all of which can help them become financially responsible adults. Here are a few things to consider.

Mobile Banking: Let's face it, today's teens spend a lot of time on their mobile devices. So it makes sense that the bank your family chooses for your teen(s) offers the convenience of mobile banking. It also helps if there's little or no fees involved with mobile deposits, transfers, and any other transaction done on a phone or tablet.

Monthly Minimums and Fees: Ask about any monthly minimum balance requirements and associated fees. This is especially important for teens, since they have a limited amount of income. Some banks also waive automated teller machine (ATM) fees, while others have no-fee debit card transactions.

Parental Controls: While you may want to allow your teen some financial independence, don't give them free rein over their bank account. After all, these are the formative years of their lives, and you don't want them spending every single penny in their account. This is why many banks offer parents to set withdrawal and debit card transaction limits. Some even send text alerts to parents about their teen's banking activity. Another way to keep control over your teen's spending habits—especially if there are no parental control options available—is to become a joint account holder. 

If your bank doesn't offer any parental controls, consider becoming a joint account holder with your teen.

Account Conversions: Your teen won't stay a teen forever, and that also rings true for the teen account. Check with the bank to find out what happens to the account after the maximum age limit. Does it automatically convert to a regular checking account? Can your teen keep the account along with its benefits during college? You'll want to find an option that comes with as few hassles as possible.

After you've looked at all the key criteria for your teen's account, you'll want to research which banks meet your needs before you narrow down your choice. We've compiled a list of some of the most popular options.

Capital One

Capital One Financial (COF) has an account geared specifically for teens. The Money account is a no-fee, no-minimum account. The account also pays a 0.25% annual percentage yield (APY). This account is also great for tech-savvy teens who don't want the hassle of branch-based banking. Opening the account and doing routine transactions like check deposits and transfers can be done from a mobile device on the Capital One app. Parents interested in tracking account activity can elect to receive text and email notifications for every transaction.

Wells Fargo

The Teen Checking account at Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) requires a $25 initial deposit and comes with no maintenance fees. For parents, notifications on transactions can be sent via text or email, and limits can be set on debit card spending and account withdrawals. Teens can benefit from the money management tools available through the account. The bank offers mobile access for routine banking and fraud monitoring.

Chase Bank

The Chase High School Checking is geared to students between 17 and 24 years of age. The account from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) offers a full suite of ways to track account activity and balances including mobile banking, online bill paying, and account alerts. The minimum deposit to open is $25. The bank requires an adult to link an account to the teen's checking account, which waives the $6.00 per month maintenance fee. The fee is also waived for up to five years while in college or if there is at least one direct deposit into the account every month. Chase also offers a $100 bonus for new accounts until Oct. 18, 2019. In order to quality, new accounts must receive electronic statements and 10 transactions in the account for the first 60 days.

Union Bank & Trust

The Teen Access Checking account at Union Bankshares (UNB) is designed for teens between 13 and 17. It requires $100 to open and does not charge a monthly maintenance fee. The key feature of the account is the ability for parents to set daily spending and withdrawal limits on the ATM or debit card that comes with the account. The account offers access through its mobile banking app, the online banking website, and through its bill-paying program.

USAA

The Youth Spending account offered by USAA Federal Savings Bank does not charge maintenance fees and has no account minimums. The checking account offers adult account co-owners a variety of options to limit spending, withdrawals, and transfers, as well as overdraft protection with linked credit cards or accounts. The account includes mobile banking and online access. After turning 18, the account automatically converts to a free Classic Checking account which also has no monthly fees.

Alliant Credit Union

The teen checking account at Alliant Credit Union offers online and mobile access, as well as limits on spending and withdrawals. The key feature is its APY of 0.65% which is available for accounts with paperless statements and at least one direct deposit per month. Alliant refunds up to $20 per month in ATM fees if the teen uses out-of-network machines. The account also offers a P2P tool for mobile payments. Nonmembers can join the credit union by making a $10 donation to the Foster Care to Success Foundation.

Citizen’s Bank

Opening a student account at Citizen’s Bank, which is a subsidiary of Citizen’s Financial (CFG), comes with no monthly fees until the age of 25. After that, the account incurs a $3.99 fee. There are no ATM fees, whether your teen uses a Citizen's Bank machine or one out of the network, although the other bank may charge a fee. It also provides an account experience similar to joint checking accounts with online access and mobile banking. The advantage for teens is that, when a savings account is linked to the checking account, the bank provides extra tools to help set goals and track savings for the purchase of a car, travel, or college.

Bank of America

While Bank of America Corp. (BAC) does not have a checking account dedicated to teens. But its Advantage Banking account comes with no fees as long as your teen is a student. Parents can also open a joint checking account with teens with all the features of a regular joint account. The bank adds value for teens with a comprehensive plan for college, repaying student loans, and long-term planning, which can help to build a solid foundation of financial knowledge.

First National Bank and Trust

With a checking account focused on 16 and 17 year olds, First National Bank and Trust Company has no monthly fees and a $25 minimum balance to open. To personalize the account for teens, the bank offers high school logo checks and debit cards with personalized photos for a small fee. Mobile banking, online access, and bill paying are included with the teen checking account.

A Local Community Bank

Local community banks generally offer many of the same features as larger banks, but often have a more personal touch, with teen-centric websites, financial blog posts and educational resources. Additionally, the personal environment at smaller banks can be more conducive to the sharing of advice, knowledge and experience from people who have been in the business for years.