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It's never too soon to begin teaching your kids (or grandkids) about money and the role a bank account plays in their financial well-being. The earlier you begin, the earlier you can teach them healthy banking habits and how to harness the power of money. Here, we'll show you how to open a bank account for a minor and offer a few tips for getting them off to a good start.
While there is no federal law stating a minor can't open an account in their name alone, some state laws say that anyone under the age of 18 can only be named on a joint account. In other words, they need a parent or legal guardian to set up a custodial or joint account for them. Even if you live in a state without such a requirement, most banks insist that children under the age of 18 have an adult who will serve as a joint account holder. When you think about it, it makes sense. After all, what bank wants to talk business with a 6 year old?
In addition, most banks won't allow a child under the age of 13 to be named on a checking account. You may want to wait on a checking account until a child is old enough to have a job. It's around that age that learning how to balance a checking account becomes easier, too.
Part of the beauty of opening a savings account for a child is teaching them about the magic of compound interest and how the interest an account earns eventually earns interest of its own. The truth is, the best interest rates on savings accounts are currently offered by online banks, primarily because they have less overhead than brick-and-mortar banks and can pass those savings on to their customers.
However (and this is a big however), there's something to be said for making it an "experience." As convenient as online banking may be, making it an experience is easier to do at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union. We'll touch more on this topic in a moment.
Here are some of the hallmarks of a great kids' savings account:
One more thing. Look for a bank where customer service seems kid-centric. We know it can be hard to tell, but a kid-centric bank offers materials for children (like coloring books) and employees appear happy to work with children.
A moment ago, we mentioned that opening an account at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union can be a fun experience that gets your child excited about banking. The first step is to make opening the account memorable. Here are some ways to do that:
Because you'll be opening a joint account with your child, you'll need information about each of you, including:
If your child is working and wants to open a checking account, you'll still need to be a joint account holder if they're under the age of 18. The fun thing about helping a teen open an account is how much you can involve them in the process. Invite them to help you find a bank with no minimum balance requirements or fees.
If access to a mobile banking app is important to your teen, make sure it's part of your search parameter. For example, you could ask a bank, "If my teenager opens an account with your bank, will they be able to download a mobile app?" Better yet, ask if the bank has an app designed for young people (some do).
When it's time to open the account, be prepared to provide the same identifying documents and to make an initial deposit. You know your child best. If you're concerned about how they might handle a debit or ATM card, lay down strict ground rules. That may include a requirement they check with you before using either card.
Opening a bank account of any kind with your child is chock full of benefits, including:
Finally, the best thing about opening a bank account for your minor is the opportunity it allows you to teach them about finances while they're young and impressionable, offering financial confidence they may not find anywhere else.
You can open either a custodial or joint account with a child under the age of 18. After they turn 18, that account can be converted into their name alone.
Almost any bank will allow you to open a joint or custodial account for your minor child. As long as you sign on as the custodian or joint bank account holder, a bank knows it has an adult it can contact if there's an issue with the account.
No, most states require a parent or guardian to be a joint account holder. Even if you live in a state that has no law on the books regarding minors and banking, chances are strong that any bank you approach will have its own rules requiring a parent or guardian to be jointly responsible for the account.
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