Best Teen Checking Accounts 2021

Best Teen Checking Accounts 2021

A teenager's first checking account should include features that help establish good financial habits to take into adulthood. We looked at fees and service options on dozens of teen checking accounts to determine which ones make the most sense for teens in a variety of scenarios.

For many, one of life’s biggest frustrations is how little we learn about money management in our youth. Luckily, with help from the best checking accounts for teens, teenagers and their parents can break this cycle by ensuring that teens learn crucial banking skills well before they enter the adult world. Even better, parents can often aid in the learning process by setting account parameters and keeping an eye on their teen’s spending.

There are plenty of accounts to choose from, so it’s important to first determine what you need. Then, you can vet each account to decide if it’s right for you. To make the search easier, we’ve compiled the top teen checking accounts in specific categories and detailed each account’s features.

Why trust us

Bank accounts aren’t one-size-fits-all — pair that with a picky teen (we get it!), and it can be tough to figure out the best bank account for teenagers. Our list of the best checking accounts for teens in several different categories can help jumpstart your search, whether you’re looking for online banking, brick-and-mortar branches or overdraft protection, or if you’d prefer a credit union or something more specialized.

We looked at hundreds of institutions to find the ones that offer a worthwhile teen checking account. To identify the best accounts available nationwide, we prioritized accounts with low to no fees, mobile access and a teen and parent-friendly experience.

Category
Account
Monthly fee
Best online banking for teensCapital One 360 MONEY$0
Best brick-and-mortar checking for teensChase High School Checking$0
Best teen checking account for overdraftsWells Fargo Clear Access Banking$5, or $0 when primary owner is 13 to 24 years old
Best credit union for teen bankingAlliant Free Teen Checking$0
Best checking account for military kidsUSAA Youth Spending$0
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Best online banking for teens: Capital One 360 MONEY

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Opening minimum: $0
  • Mobile app: Yes

Capital One 360 accounts are the bank’s online offerings, which translates to higher interest rates and fewer fees than its traditional accounts. The MONEY account is part of this suite: It has no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirements and earns 0.10% APY on all balances. While MONEY is branded as Capital One’s teen checking account, it also works as a kids’ checking account, since it’s available for ages 8 and up. And while the teen will have to sign up with an adult co-owner, the adult does not need to be a Capital One customer to take advantage of this offering.

The MONEY account is easy to open and accessible online. It also works in the Capital One mobile banking app, where the teen and adult account owners each get their own login information. The app allows teens to monitor their account and set savings goals. Parents can use the app to pay their teen’s allowance, track the account and lock and unlock their kid’s debit card. The account comes with a Capital One Mastercard debit card in the teen’s name, which they can use to make free withdrawals at any Capital One or Allpoint ATM.


Best brick-and-mortar checking for teens: Chase High School Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Opening minimum: $0
  • Mobile app: Yes

Teens between the ages of 13 and 17 can open a Chase High School Checking account with their parent or guardian at a Chase branch — luckily for these families, Chase reaches far and wide with branches in 38 states and the District of Columbia. The student account must have an adult co-owner and be linked to the adult’s qualifying Chase account.

The Chase teen account itself is simple, requiring no minimum balances nor charging a monthly fee. It comes with a debit card, which is limited to $400 in purchases, $500 in Chase in-branch ATM withdrawals, $500 in other Chase ATM withdrawals and $400 in non-Chase ATM withdrawals per day. The Chase Mobile app enables mobile banking, as well as alerts for transfers, transactions, purchases and more.

Once the teen owner turns 19, the account will automatically convert to a Chase Total Checking account and the teen can choose whether to keep the adult co-owner. They can also choose to convert the account to a Chase College Checking account if they qualify.


Best teen checking account for overdrafts: Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking

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  • Monthly fee: $5, or $0 when primary owner is 13-24 years old
  • Opening minimum: $25
  • Mobile app: Yes

Wells Fargo’s new teen checking account, Clear Access Banking, doesn’t allow overdraft protection or services, so there’s no risk of overdrafting the account, nor are there overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees to worry about. The account also doesn’t come with check-writing capability, but does include a free debit card for teens and the use of bill pay and online payments. Watch out for the out-of-network ATM fees Wells Fargo charges, though — you’ll owe $2.50 for domestic ATM use and $5 for international ATM use at non-Wells Fargo ATMs.

Teens who are 13 to 17 years old must visit a Wells Fargo branch to open an account. Those between the ages of 13 and 16 years must open their account with an adult co-owner; if you’re 17 or older, you can open an account either on your own or as a joint account.


Best credit union for teen banking: Alliant Free Teen Checking

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Opening minimum: $0
  • Mobile app: Yes

The Alliant Free Teen Checking account is one of the best all-around bank accounts for 13- to 17-year-olds. There’s no monthly fee and no minimum deposit or balance requirements. Plus, it earns 0.25% APY on all balances — the same as the credit union’s adult High-Rate Checking — as long as you enroll in eStatements and receive at least one electronic deposit into the Free Teen Checking account. There must be an adult joint owner on the account, who will have full account access and the ability to set up transaction alerts, as well as being the only owner authorized to make outgoing transfers.

The account comes with two free Visa debit cards — one for the teen and one for the adult. You can use these debit cards at over 80,000 ATMs for free, although Alliant Credit Union will also provide up to $20 per month in ATM rebates. The account limits ATM cash withdrawals to a low $100 per day and debit card spending to $300 per day. Many parents will see these limits as appropriate, but responsible teens may feel differently, making it important to discuss anticipated spending levels before opening an account. The Alliant mobile app also comes with spending and budgeting tools to help any teen manage their account.

Both account owners must be Alliant members. Membership is open to employees or retirees of qualifying companies, members of qualifying organizations, immediate family members or domestic partners of an existing Alliant member, anyone who lives or works in a qualifying Chicago-area community and those who become members of Foster Care to Success (whose dues Alliant will pay for you).


Best checking account for military kids: USAA Youth Spending

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  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Opening minimum: $25
  • Mobile app: Yes

Military-only USAA’s Youth Spending account offers a good solution to the unique challenges faced by military families, who often move every two or three years. Parents who are already members can keep their child's account at the same institution. This account is also a long-term asset no matter where the family goes, as it automatically transitions into a full-fledged USAA Classic Checking account on the child’s 18th birthday.

This youth checking account charges no monthly fees and has no minimum balance requirement once you open it with at least $25. Balances of $1,000 or more also earn an APY of 0.01%. Parents can sign up for account alerts, transfer money into the account and choose whether or not the child can transfer money and make deposits. You also may request an ATM/debit card, which can be used at over 60,000 USAA-friendly ATMs. The account’s adult co-owner also has the ability to limit or disable ATM and debit card usage by the minor.

What is a teen checking account?

A teen account is one for kids aged 13 to 17, although you will also see some (like Capital One’s MONEY account) that extend to younger ages. For teens, since you’re under 18 with a bank account, you’ll also need an adult co-owner, often your parent or legal guardian. The adult co-owner typically has the power to call the shots on the account, setting limitations as they see fit. But the teen also has their own agency, as they get their own debit card and access to the account as well.

Depending on the bank, the account may also come with extra tools and features made for budgeting and saving — that way, adult co-owners can help their teen build those skills in real time.

What to look for in a teen checking account

It’s easy enough to open the first teen bank account you see and be done with it. But as a parent, you don’t want to get stuck with an account that doesn’t serve you or your teen. Here is our list of features to look for, which could ensure you find the right account for both of you:

  • Low or no fees: It’s best to teach your teenager early on that paying monthly fees is a thing of the past. Find an account that doesn’t charge a monthly service (or maintenance) fee. Some might implement waiver requirements, but we prefer those that are free outright. You should also pay attention to fees for ATM use, overdrafts, nonsufficient funds, paper statements and replacement debit cards.
  • Debit card: Check whether an account supplies one or two debit cards (one each for the adult and teen owners). And if you’re an avid mobile wallet user, don’t forget to see if the card is compatible. In addition, always check a teen account’s debit card amount limits for purchases and withdrawals.
  • ATM access: It’s always important to familiarize yourself with the extent of a bank’s ATM network. That way, you don’t find yourself stranded in an ATM desert or saddled with out-of-network ATM fees.
  • Online and mobile banking friendliness: It’s likely that today’s teens are all about on-the-go banking. Look to a bank’s website for its user-friendliness, which might hint at the online user experience for customers. Banks also typically have pages dedicated to their online and mobile banking products, which should give you a closer look at what they have to offer and whether it aligns with your standards.
  • Parental tools: Parents will want to check how much executive power is given to the adult co-owner of a teen account, as each account is different. For example, one may allow you to turn off the teen’s debit card altogether, while others might limit parents to viewing the account balance and setting alerts.
  • Budgeting tools: Banks with budgeting and savings tools in their account portals typically get bonus points from us. They’re already great features for adult accounts, which makes them an invaluable asset for kids just learning the banking ropes. Parents should explore the descriptions of an account’s tools (if available) as much as they can, as these tools can help teach your child these all-too-important skills.

How to open a teen checking account

Both the teen and adult co-owner will need to open a teen checking account together. Depending on the bank, you may need to visit a branch to open a teen bank account, but there are several accounts that you can open online — in fact, some accounts are available only online. Additionally, some banks may require the adult owner to have a personal bank account with the bank.

As is standard in opening any bank account, you and your teen will need to provide your personal and contact information. This typically includes the following:

  • Addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Social Security numbers
  • Official forms of identification

If the account requires a minimum opening deposit, you may have to make the deposit during the application process. Some banks may allow you 30 to 90 days to make this opening deposit, but it’s important to check.

If you’re applying online, a decision on your account approval typically only takes a few minutes, if it isn’t almost immediate. It may take a little longer in person, since a representative has to go over your information and documentation manually. Of course, if you’ve mailed in your application, the process will take even longer.

Once you’re approved for the account, you can usually expect to receive your account materials, including a debit card (which you may have to request), within seven to 10 days. You’ll typically gain online and mobile access to the account upon approval.

Lauren Perez

Lauren is a Deposits and Investing Writer for ValuePenguin, with years of experience chasing the best savings account rates out there. She also covers deposits and investing for MagnifyMoney and DepositAccounts. Lauren’s work has been covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSN, Univision, Acorns and more. Lauren graduated from the University of Rochester, where she majored in English. Prior to joining LendingTree, she was a writer at SmartAsset.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.