Teaching your child about money is an important part of being a parent. A kids bank account can provide your child with opportunities for hands-on practice where financial responsibility is concerned, and could go a long way toward setting your child up for future financial success. A study by the University of Michigan found that low- and moderate-income children with savings accounts containing even modest balances (e.g., less than $500) are over four times more likely to graduate from college.
Here’s what you need to know about how to open a kids bank account, including the features you should look for in a checking or savings account for your child before you apply. You’ll also learn how to prepare to apply for your child’s first bank account and some tips on how to manage and monitor the account once it’s open and active.
1. Account Type: Checking or Savings?
When you decide to open a bank account for your child, two of the most popular options to consider are checking accounts and savings accounts.
- Savings accounts: Children may be ready to benefit from a kids savings account at a young age, once they express an interest in shopping, saving, or any other money-related activities. A savings account may also be a way to get them interested in money.
- Checking accounts: Checking accounts are often better suited for older children who are ready for more financial responsibility, like debit card management, writing checks, and managing a basic budget.
Regardless of the type of account you choose, you’ll likely need to open a joint bank account with your child as long as they’re still a minor. A few states let minors open savings accounts on their own. However, many financial institutions require a responsible adult to co-open deposit accounts with children, even though federal law doesn’t place specific age restrictions on how old a person must be to open a savings or checking account.
2. Compare Banks and Bank Accounts
Once you figure out the right type of deposit account for your child, it’s time to start comparing your options. Different banks and credit unions offer a variety of benefits and perks where their kids’ bank accounts are concerned. And while there’s no such thing as a “perfect” bank account for your child, you can search for a deposit account that’s best suited to your child’s needs.
What To Look For in a Checking Account
Below are some key features to look for when opening a child’s checking account.
- Age restrictions: It’s common for financial institutions to place age restrictions on children’s checking accounts. You must be 13–17 years old to open a Chase High School Checking account, for example. U.S. Bank’s Smartly Checking account is open to anyone, but you’ll get a monthly fee waiver if you open a joint account with a youth of 13–17 years old.
- Fees: You don’t want your child to waste a chunk of their money each month on bank fees. So, be on the lookout for financial institutions that offer free checking accounts (in terms of no monthly fees) and limit other fees as well.
- ATM benefits: Certain banks and credit unions may offer larger ATM networks, low (or no) ATM fees, and ATM fee reimbursement. These benefits could be meaningful if your child may need access to cash on a regular basis.
- Interest rates: Checking accounts aren’t known for offering the highest interest rates available on deposit accounts. Yet some financial institutions are more generous than others when it comes to the annual percentage yields (APYs) they pay their customers. It may be worth shopping around to find an account with a decent APY, but this shouldn’t be much of a concern when it comes to checking accounts.
Although most checking accounts have a low APY or none at all, some do offer a good rate even compared to savings accounts. See the best high-interest checking accounts to learn more.
What To Look For in a Savings Account
Here are several key benefits you may want to search for as you look for the best savings account for your child.
- Age requirements: Banks and credit unions are often more lenient when it comes to age restrictions for kids savings accounts compared to kids checking accounts. You might even be able to open a savings account for an infant. Nonetheless, be sure to confirm age requirements with any financial institution you’re considering.
- High APY: Finding a bank that offers an attractive APY could help your child’s savings grow at a faster rate. Seeing their money grow could help your child get excited about saving money at a young age.
- Easy access to funds: Avoid banking with a financial institution that makes it difficult for your child to access their cash when they want to spend their savings. A bank or credit union with too many or too strict withdrawal restrictions could frustrate both you and your child.
- Minimum balance requirements: Pay attention to minimum balance requirements when you open a kids savings account. Does your child need to maintain a certain balance to avoid a monthly maintenance fee, keep their account open, or earn interest? If so, make sure these balance requirements are child-sized.
3. Prepare to Apply
After you narrow down your top choice, it’s time to prepare for your application. When you gather the details you need in advance, the application process for a new account will go much smoother.
Here are some of the documents and information you might need to provide on your application for a kids bank account.
- Identification documents for you and your child: Acceptable forms of ID may include a driver’s license, state ID card, passport, etc. Some financial institutions might require a secondary form of identification as well, like a student ID or major credit card.
- Minimum deposit: If the financial institution requires a minimum deposit to open a kids savings or checking account, you’ll need to prepare at least this amount to submit along with or shortly after your application.
- Proof of address: A utility bill or financial statement may be able to fulfill this requirement.
Best Checking Accounts for Kids
|Bank Account||Age Limit to Open||Minimum Deposit||APY*|
|Axos Bank First Checking||13||$50||0.10%|
|Capital One MONEY||8||$0||0.10%|
|Alliant CU Free Teen Checking||13||$0||0.25%|
|Chase First Banking||6||$0||N/A|
|USAA Youth Spending||13||$25||0.01%|
*APYs are accurate as of publication.
See why we picked the above checking accounts as the best, and explore other options:
Best Savings Accounts for Kids
|Bank Account||Age Limit||Minimum Deposit||APY*|
|Capital One Kids Savings Account||Up to age 18||$0||0.30%|
|USAlliance Financial’s MyLife Savings for Kids||Up to age 12||$0||2.00% on first $500|
|Alliant Credit Union’s Kids Savings Account||Up to age 12||$100 to earn interest||3.10%|
|Spectrum Credit Union’s MySavings Youth Account||Up to age 21||$0||7.00% up to $1,000; lower rate after that|
|Northpointe Bank’s Kids’ Savings Account||Up to age 18||$100||1.50% APY up to $1,000; 1.50%–1.12% APY up to $9,999.99; 1.12%–0.35% for $10,000+|
*APYs are accurate as of publication.
See why we picked the above savings accounts as the best, and explore other options:
4. Apply for the Bank Account
Depending on the financial institution you choose for your child’s first savings or checking account, the process of applying for a new bank account may vary. With online banks and credit unions, for example, you’ll probably need to fill out an application on your computer or mobile device and upload any necessary documents.
Financial institutions that offer both in-person branches and online banking may let you apply online or make an appointment to open a kids bank account at a local branch. Meanwhile, smaller local banks and credit unions may only offer the option to open bank accounts in person.
Regardless of how you apply for the bank account, consider involving your child in the process. When you let your child participate in setting up their own bank account, you can teach them important financial lessons that are more meaningful than simply reading about money skills online or in a book.
5. Fund the Bank Account
Next you’ll want to add cash to your child’s savings or checking account. If you open the new account in person, it’s easy to deposit cash or a check while you’re at the bank or credit union. However, if you open a kids bank account online, funding the account might be a different process.
With online bank accounts, you can often deposit money in one of the following ways (depending on the terms of the account).
- Make a mobile deposit (check or money order) into the new account.
- Deposit cash at an in-network ATM (if allowed).
- Transfer funds from another bank account.
6. Activate the Debit or ATM Card
If you opted to open a kids checking account, the account is likely to come with a debit card your child can use to pay for purchases and withdraw cash from their account. (Note: Most savings accounts don’t feature debit cards, but those accounts often include ATM cards instead.)
Once your child receives their debit or ATM card, you’ll need to activate it. Again, it can be fun and educational to involve your child in this process. Your child may also need to set up a PIN that they can use to withdraw cash from their account.
7. Managing and Monitoring the Account
Depending on the financial institution, you may be able to set limits to manage how your child can use their new checking or savings account. Most of these features, if they’re available, should be accessible in the account’s online or mobile app settings.
Some kids checking accounts, for example, allow the joint account holder to limit transaction amounts on debit cards and set up account alerts. These restrictions aim to encourage responsible spending. Other accounts may let you set up permission requirements before your child can make withdrawals, debit card purchases, or send funds from their account.
Is My Child Old Enough for a Bank Account?
There’s no such thing as your child being too young for a bank account, especially if you want a dedicated place to save money for them. However, if your child doesn’t have a bank account yet and you’re trying to figure out the right time to open one, here are a few signs they might be old enough.
Your child might be ready for a bank account if they have:
- Money of their own (e.g., from an allowance, a part-time job, birthday money, etc.).
- An ability to count bills and coins.
- Big-ticket items they want to purchase.
- Shown an interest in credit cards, debit cards, or other financial products you use in your day-to-day life.
Can I Open a Bank Account For My Child Online?
Many financial institutions—especially online banks—let parents open joint checking and savings accounts online for their children. However, other banks and credit unions might require you to visit a branch in person to fill out an application and submit documents to open a new kids bank account.
How Much Money Do I Need To Open a Kids Bank Account?
Minimum deposit requirements can vary from one financial institution to another. Some kids bank accounts, like Capital One’s Kids Savings Accounts, feature no minimum deposit requirements at all. Other financial institutions might require a small deposit to open a kids savings or kids checking account.
Even if a bank doesn’t require a minimum deposit to open an account, you might have to maintain a minimum balance to avoid monthly maintenance fees or earn interest on the account.
Should My Child Use a Debit Card?
If your child has shown responsibility with money, they might be ready to handle a debit card. A well-managed debit card could improve your child’s overall financial literacy by providing firsthand experience practicing sound money management skills. Plus, a debit card can be a convenient way for your older child to pay for purchases, especially when you’re not with them.
Some debit cards feature parental controls that allow you to set up spending restrictions and alerts for added security. See the best debit cards for teens to learn more.
University of Michigan. "Small-dollar children's savings accounts and children's college outcomes by income level."
Chase.com. "Enjoy $200 as a new Chase checking customer."
USBank.com. "Set your child up for success."