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Best Teen Checking Accounts 2017

Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts
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NerdWallet’s Best Teen Checking Accounts and Prepaid Debit Cards

A teen checking account can guide future adults toward better spending habits and make them more familiar with banks and credit unions.

Below are some of the best checking accounts we’ve seen for teens.

» For tips on features and tools, see how to choose a teen checking account

Alliant Credit Union
Alliant+Credit+Union
Learn more
at Alliant
Overall bank rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

Capital One 360
Capital+One
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.5 stars out of 5

Wells Fargo
Wells+Fargo

Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

3.0 stars out of 5

Wells Fargo
Golden+1+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Overall bank rating:

4.0 stars out of 5

Best interest rate

Alliant Credit Union Free Teen Checking, 0.65% APY

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Alliant+Credit+Union
Learn more
at Alliant
Alliant’s free teen checking account is a step above the rest. The account is available for kids 13 to 17 and comes with a 0.65% annual percentage yield as long as you enroll in free electronic statements and receive at least one electronic deposit a month, which can include a transfer from a non-Alliant bank or credit union.

There is no monthly fee, and teen account holders have access to more than 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs. The account must be held jointly with a parent or guardian, and both must be Alliant members. Membership is easy, however; a one-time donation of $10 to a specific charity is all it takes if you don’t otherwise meet the broad eligibility requirements. Once one person gains membership, immediate family members are eligible to join.

Alliant does charge a $25 nonsufficient-funds fee, but you can avoid that by keeping an eye on the available balance.

Best online-only option

Capital One 360 Money Account

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Capital+One
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Capital One 360’s Money account comes with a 0.25% APY and more than 39,000 free ATMs. Teens can sign in or use their mobile app to keep track of their spending, deposit checks and get low-balance text alerts. The Money account is available for those younger than 18. Capital One 360 also offers a Kids Savings account with an impressive APY of 0.75%.

The online-only bank makes it easy for parents and their teens to track spending habits and create automated savings plans, a plus if you’d like to teach your child smart money management.

Best brick-and-mortar option

Wells Fargo Teen Checking Account

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Wells+Fargo

Read full review
on NerdWallet
In NerdWallet’s rating, Wells Fargo has its drawbacks, but the Teen Checking Account — available to ages 13 to 17 — is one of the bank’s bright spots. Parents can control spending and withdrawals, and the bank offers 13,000 free ATMs and more than 6,000 branches across the country. Teen customers can dodge the $3 monthly service fee by enrolling in online statements. Although Wells Fargo’s online tools are a nice add-on, the account’s overdraft policy is a selling point: The fee is $15, well below the $35 on other Wells Fargo checking accounts, and you won’t be hit with more than two per day.

» Looking for something for a younger crowd? Browse the best savings accounts for kids

Best variety of accounts

Golden 1 Credit Union

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Golden+1+Credit+Union
Read full review
on NerdWallet
Golden 1 Credit Union has three free checking accounts to meet a variety of teen and college student needs, including those who are just beginning their financial journey and seasoned students who needs frequent ATM access while traveling across the country:

  • New Generation checking has low ATM withdrawal limits, so 16- and 17-year-olds who are just getting started with personal finance are less likely to go overboard with spending.
  • Freedom checking lets account holders make deposits and withdrawals without the presence of a parent or guardian. This option is for students who are 16 or 17 and maintain a B average or higher.
  • Student Checking provides college students 17 and older access to more than 30,000 Golden 1 and Co-op ATMs across the country. After five years, this account converts automatically to a Golden 1 free checking account.

All teen checking accounts come with a free box of checks and don’t have any monthly maintenance fee or minimum opening deposits.

You can join Golden 1 Credit Union by becoming a member of the Financial Fitness Association, which costs $8. You can also qualify if you live in certain California counties, belong to a sponsoring organization or are a relative of a current member.

»Want more options for high school graduates?  Check out our roundup of the best checking accounts for college students

»If you’re still unsure your kid is ready for a bank account, prepaid debit cards provide an option. Explore NerdWallet’s best prepaid debit cards

Perks for parents

For any type of checking account a minor signs up for, parents likely will have to co-sign. That gives them the ability to access the account, monitor transactions and advise their children. It also means sharing responsibility for fees and other consequences, such as overdraft charges, so you’ll want to find a bank or credit union that keeps those to a minimum.

Other perks may also be important, such as the ability to earn interest. If features like high yields are more of a priority than having an account marketed specifically toward teens, it’s worth browsing other good checking account options that have those benefits.

Updated Nov. 15, 2017


METHODOLOGY

To determine the best accounts, we took a close look at 70 financial institutions, including the largest U.S. banks based on assets, debit card volume, Internet search traffic and other factors; the nation’s largest credit unions, based on deposits as well as broad-based membership requirements; and other notable and/or emerging players in the industry. We rated them on criteria including annual percentage rates, minimum balances, fees, digital experience and more.

Financial institutions surveyed include: Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express, Aspiration, Associated Bank, Bank5 Connect, BankDirect, Bank of America, Bank of Internet, Bank of the West, Barclays, BB&T, BBVA Compass, Boeing Employees Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One 360, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIT, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Comerica Bank, Commerce Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Discover Bank, EverBank, Fidelity, Fifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First National Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, GoBank, Golden 1 Credit Union, GS Bank, HSBC Bank USA, Huntington Bank, KeyBank, M&T Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, PurePoint Financial, Qapital, Radius Bank, Regions Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Simple, Star One Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, State Farm Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank, Synchrony Bank, TCF Bank, TD Bank, Union Bank, UFB Direct, USAA, U.S. Bank, Varo, Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, and Zions Bank.

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