You’ve been there for all your child’s firsts — their first word, first steps, first time riding a bike on their own, and everything in between. As they’ve grown, you might wonder if they’re ready for another first: their first checking account.
Similar to driving or getting their first job, opening a checking account is an important moment in your child’s life. It can help them learn how to manage their money responsibly and possibly develop good financial habits.
As a parent, you may wonder how to open a checking account for your child. Most bank accounts are reserved for people 18 and older, so if your child is preparing to leave for college, you could help them through the process. But if you want to start earlier, you might want to think about sharing a joint checking account instead.
“Is your teen interested in managing money, saving for different goals and spending on their own?” Kimberly Palmer, a NerdWallet banking expert, told Discover.com. If that’s the case, she notes that a checking account is an excellent strategy that allows them to develop their financial management skills.
So, if you are considering opening a checking account for your child — either a joint account or one of their very own — these tips from Discover can make the process easier.
Look At Fees
Like any financial product, you should always know what to expect, especially when it comes to fees. Financial journalism expert Mia Taylor told Discover that parents should not only know which fees come with the account, but who covers them. For instance, if you open a joint account, your child will probably think you will pay for additional charges. Before you open an account, make sure you clarify any ground rules.
But if you want to open a checking account for your college-bound child, “look for an account with no minimum balance fees or monthly balance fees,” NerdWallet’s Palmer recommends. This will prevent your child from having to fret about unnecessary penalties that detract from their money.
Also, make sure to check ATM fees, especially if your child is moving to a new place. Most banks have an ATM locator that can help them find a free ATM located close to campus or their apartment.
Picking the best bank account for your child requires picking one with features that meet their needs and help them reach their goals. However, it should also align with your preferences. For example, if you share a joint bank account with your young child, you might want an account that lets you establish spending and withdrawal limits. As Palmer explains, “Parents and teens may have different preferences for each of these features, so it’s important to talk about what you’re looking for ahead of time and compare the different options together.”
If you open a joint checking account with your child, you could opt for email or text notifications when they make a purchase or spend over a specific amount. This allows you to monitor your child’s spending and open the door for future discussions about budgets and positive financial habits. These alerts are also important if the bank account penalizes for overdrafts or insufficient funds.
Get Mobile Banking
Unsurprisingly, your child might know how to use a smartphone better than you do. So as you prepare to open a checking account for your child, Taylor suggests looking for one with mobile banking, including mobile deposits and tracking. “Mobile deposits are a huge convenience factor for teens” because they can deposit their paycheck or cash with their phone. Also, check app reviews and look for what other users say about functionality and security.
Tracking spending is never fun, especially for a child. As you plan, have a conversation with your kid about linking their bank account with digital tools for budgeting and spending. If your child opens a digital wallet to send money to their friends, you might want to establish several ground rules. “Only send money to people you know, not to strangers,” Palmer advises.
Although digital wallets are suitable for older teenagers, Taylor reminds parents to keep things simple if they open a checking account for their younger child. “Keep it simple in the beginning,” she notes. “As teens get older, they can add those features on their own.”
Use The Account As A Learning Opportunity
Children pick up financial habits at a young age and will hold on to them for a long time. For this reason, Palmer says talking to your child about money is one of the most important things you can do as you begin this process.
“Ask them what they want to save for, what kinds of items they hope to buy and what—if any—money they would like to donate to a cause that is important to them,” Palmer explains. “A checking account is a useful way to plan for future expenses and savings goals—all lessons that carry into adulthood.”
- Summar, Todd. “Opening Your Child’s First Checking Account: Discover.” Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog, Discover Bank, 9 Mar. 2020, www.discover.com/online-banking/banking-topics/opening-your-childs-first-checking-account/?ICMPGN=OS-BK-FOOTCON.