Getting a Checking Account for Your Teen

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 1, 2020

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Personal Finance
May 6, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Properly managing your money requires the right tools. A checking account is a must for everyone, including teenagers. In fact, the right checking account teaches young people how to handle their finances responsibly. When helping your teen open their first checking account, you need to consider several factors.

A joint account is an easy way to introduce your teen to money management while still retaining some control. A joint account requires that one adult be an account holder. All account holders have full access to the funds and can use the money as they like unless you put some restraints on what your teen can do, such as incur overdraft fees.

As a parent, you can use a joint account to monitor your child’s financial dealings. Most banks require a teen account to have an adult co-owner until they turn 18. Then, your teen can have an account not linked to a parent or other adult.

You can also ensure that your child has a savings account, so they can start putting away some cash for a rainy day, bills such as car insurance or even some college savings. American Express is offering a savings account with high-yield interest rates; check out our American Express savings account review.

Look for an account with a low minimum deposit requirement and free or inexpensive checking. Make certain that the overdraft charge is something you can both accept. For instance, Wells Fargo charges $15 per overdraft item with a limit of two per day.

Your teen will want a debit card that they can use at a number of ATMs without being charged a fee. Before committing to an account, make certain that your teen will have plenty of places to get quick cash without paying for the privilege.

If you expect the account to have a healthy balance, it’s important to look for a bank that pays interest on checking or has a special teen savings account with desirable terms. That way you can help teach your teen to responsibly spend and save.


As you set your teen up with a checking account, it would be a great time to start some conversations about credit, what it’s good for and what to watch out for. You don’t want to see your teen in over their head when it comes to debt, so it’s good to get them started off on the right foot.

If your teen is interested in their own credit card, whether for the convenience of plastic, for online shopping or for the security of a credit card, it’s possible to get them one. They can begin their credit history safely.

Your teen may be a good candidate for a prepaid credit card. You can teach them how prepaid credit cards work and what the pros and cons are. Since there are no credit checks for a prepaid credit card, and you can’t overspend what you have already loaded they might be a great fit for your teen.

Many teens work part-time jobs and need a safe place to keep their money. In addition to providing security, a bank account helps teens learn to manage their money and introduces them to important financial tools such as automatic bill pay. They will soon be making their own way in the world, so it’s important that they learn money management early.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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