The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.
How (and Why) to Open Checking Accounts for Your Kids
Opening a checking account for your kids is a great way to help build your child’s financial foundation. As an account owner, you can monitor account activity. This quick guide will prepare you for opening an account and share what to look for when shopping around for a credit union or bank for your child.
There are numerous reasons your child should have their own checking account. Most importantly, it’s never too early to start teaching your children about finances. Talking to your kids in a tough economy about things like the difference between credit and debit and the importance of saving can help them grasp some monetary concepts, but opening a kids checking account will start to give them a financial background before they need it.
Did you know? 19% of U.S children have a checking account, according to Statista research.1
With a checking account, you can teach your kids to save money and budget for the things they want to buy. They can build a financial foundation while still living with you, and you can help if any problems arise.
You can help build your child’s financial foundation by teaching them how to make a budget and start saving sooner. (Download this budget worksheet you can use for both yourself and your kids). By teaching children financial literacy and responsibility at a young age, you can set them up for success in adulthood.
Comparing Checking Accounts for Your Child
Many banks and credit unions, including Desert Financial, offer checking accounts for teens ages 13 and older. Research checking accounts at different financial institutions until you find the one that’s best for you and your child.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a checking account for your child:
- The minimum age requirement to open a kids checking account
Some financial institutions allow you to open an account for children under 12, while others have accounts for children 13 and up. Desert Financial currently has no minimum age for savings accounts, but kids must be 13 or older to be on a checking account.
- What happens to the account when your child becomes a teenager (or turns 18)
Some financial institutions will convert a kids account into a teen account and/or give teens full access to their accounts once they become adults.
- Any fees leveraged on the account
These include monthly service fees and minimum balance fees, as well as any minimum deposit requirements. Ideally, you want an account with no minimum balance or monthly fees, like a Free Checking2 account from Desert Financial.
- The technology associated with the account
Ask whether a debit card is provided and whether or not there is a mobile app for tasks like remote deposits and monitoring balances. These are things that your teen will want if they keep the account open after turning 18.
- Parental controls that help you stay on top of things
Look for features that allow parents to maintain control, like receiving email or text alerts for transactions over a certain amount and getting “low balance” notifications to avoid overdraft and insufficient funds fees.
- Ways to maximize the checking account
Consider whether the financial institution offers product discounts for customers/members, cashback bonuses or a free rewards program.
Why a Credit Union?
Start your child off early with a kids checking account at your local credit union. Because credit unions are member-owned, they put their members first!
Credit unions are also known for:
- Giving more back to the community (Desert Financial gave back $3.8 million in 2021!)
- Lower auto loan rates, on average, than banks3
- Paying higher dividends on money markets and CDs3
- Financial education and resources
- Excellent customer service
Opening a Checking Account for Your Child
Many children’s checking accounts are the same as regular checking accounts but must have a parent or guardian as the account owner. Once you’ve found the account you want to share with your child, you’ll need to:
- Gather your documents. Required documents may vary by financial institution, but typically, required documents include your driver’s license, your and your child’s social security numbers, your child’s birth certificate and proof of address.
- Apply for the account. Usually, you need to go into a branch to open a kids account, but some banks and credit unions will allow you to apply online.
- Make an initial deposit to fund the account. Ask a representative at the bank or credit union how much the initial deposit needs to be.
- Activate your child’s ATM or debit card after you receive it in-branch or it comes in the mail.
Experience is knowledge! Children with bank accounts score 22 points higher on financial literacy topics (like identifying common financial products and terms) than those without.4
As the parent or guardian, you’ll have access to the account and can start guiding your child on a path to financial responsibility and success. By the time they’re old enough to get their first job, they could already have robust checking and savings accounts, and a solid financial foundation to build upon.
2Primary account holder must meet Desert Financial’s membership eligibility and credit qualification requirements, including opening a Membership Savings account with a minimum balance of $25. Checking is free; however, fees incurred — such as a stop payment or NSF fee — may apply. For complete terms and conditions, refer to the published Statements of Terms, Conditions and Disclosures.