Best Teen Checking Account Online: Capital One 360 MONEY
For teens who prefer banking online rather than through a bank branch, Capital One's 360 MONEY account delivers a competitive interest rate with low fees and a number of options designed for use by parents. As with many of the bank's online products, the Capital One 360 MONEY account requires no monthly fee or minimum to open. Capital One is able to eliminate such fees because the account is accessed online rather than through brick-and-mortar services. Modern consumer banking is increasingly dominated by mobile features, and getting your child started in a similar system can help prepare her to use similar financial apps as an adult.
With two joint owners —one adult at least 18 and one student under 18 —Capital One 360 MONEY divides control of the account in a way that ensures safe spending as well as practical learning. While the student holds a debit card that can make regular purchases, the adult is able to set up alerts by text or email to prevent overdrafts or excessive spending. Parents can also make deposits into the 360 MONEY account from their own funds, just in case their child's balance falls too low. As with regular banking activities like making transfers or viewing transaction history, all parental features can be accessed through the Capital One app.
Best Brick-and-Mortar Teen Checking: Wells Fargo Teen Checking
If you'd rather start your child off with an account that offers traditional branches and ATM access, Wells Fargo might be the optimal choice. Wells Fargo's Teen Checking Account cannot be opened online, but parents who want to introduce children to the concept of brick-and-mortar banking may actually prefer taking their children to meet with a banker as a first step. While banking as a whole seems to be headed towards an online and mobile model, it never hurts to stay close by in-branch services, where you can get your questions answered in detail by a real person.
Besides providing great access to traditional methods of banking, the Teen Checking Account also includes features designed to keep the experience safe for high school students. Wells Fargo allows parents to set up recurring transfers from their own Wells Fargo balances to the Teen Checking Account, along with customizable limits on daily spending. Most banks simply set very low arbitrary limits on teen accounts, but having the option to adjust those limits can be highly convenient if your child's activity demonstrates that they should be allowed more financial freedom —or if they need closer guidance.
Best Credit Union Checking for Teens: Alliant Free Teen Checking
Among credit unions, Alliant does the best job of providing teenage customers with a checking account that both teaches and earns interest. The 0.65% APY on any balance in Alliant Teen Checking makes it just as strong as the credit union's High-Rate Checking account for adults. Besides this unusually high rate for a teen account, Alliant makes it easy for parents to monitor account activity and transfer money as needed. The account also imposes low daily limits of $100 on cash withdrawals and $300 in spending. Many parents will see these limits as appropriate, but responsible teens may feel differently, making it important to discuss spending levels before opening an account.
The Alliant Free Teen checking account is also highly affordable, with no ongoing fee and no up-front costs other than the $10 nonprofit donation required to qualify for membership. On top of that, teens get up to $20 per month in ATM rebates, more than enough to cover the occasional withdrawal fee at a non-Alliant ATM. Alliant is the only place we found that provides such reimbursement on a teen account. The credit union's standard products may appeal to parents as well, with much higher interest rates available than at most comparable banks. We offer a breakdown of the differences between credit unions and banks here.
Best Checking Account for Military Kids: USAA Youth Spending
USAA Youth Spending offers a good solution to the unique challenges faced by military families, who often move every two or three years. USAA is a military-only bank with a strong reputation for excellent customer service anywhere in the country. Parents who are already members will likely want to keep their child's account at the same institution. Because the Youth Spending account automatically transitions to a full-fledged USAA Classic Checking account on the student's 18th birthday, it's also an excellent long-term solution that will be useful no matter where your family goes.
For its part, the USAA Youth Spending account's flexible features and low fees make it a valuable proposition compared to generic alternatives. Parents can set ATM and debit limits as they choose, much like at Wells Fargo —but at USAA, you can also choose whether or not your child can make transfers and deposits. This can be particularly important for kids who have paychecks to deposit from part-time work. All these options come with no monthly fees on the account, although you will have to fund the account with an opening deposit of at least $25. USAA has no physical branches, instead allowing up to ten free ATM transactions and up to $15 in reimbursements for non-USAA ATM fees every month.
Summary of Best Teen Checking Accounts
We've chosen to review each of the accounts above as best for a different financial situation, but we've also provided a table to help you compare them side by side.
|Best For...||Account Name||Monthly Fee||Features|
|Online Banking||Capital One 360 MONEY||$0||Earns 0.25% APY on all balances, parental approval required for deposits and transfers|
|Brick-and-Mortar Access||Wells Fargo Teen Checking||$3||Nationwide branch and ATM access, customizable daily spending limits|
|Credit Union Account||Alliant Free Teen Checking||$0||Earns 0.65% APY on all balances, $20 in monthly rebates on ATM fees|
|Military Kids||USAA Youth Spending||$0||Customizable spending limits and transfer permissions, $15 in monthly rebates on ATM fees|
Finding the Right Account for Your Teenager
In our research, we found that there is a standard set of features you should expect in a good teen checking account. Teen accounts are usually set up for joint ownership, with an adult acting as a co-owner. This arrangement ensures that parents can view the transaction history and make deposits into the account. If you're hoping to use a teen checking account as an educational opportunity, it makes sense to keep a steady eye on your child's progress. All students need guidance occasionally, and going over specific details about their financial habits will help you find areas for improvement much more quickly.
Teen accounts should also be free, but not all banks guarantee free checking for high school students. We recommend that you start by looking at whether your current bank offers a decent teen account option, since many places will waive the monthly fees as long as the parent has an active bank account at the same bank. Note that banks also set their own age limits on teen checking accounts, so you may find it necessary to wait a few more years or look elsewhere if your child is particularly young.