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Best Teen Checking Accounts of 2018

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

Features

Alliant Credit Union
Overall bank rating:
Capital One 360
Overall bank rating:
Wells Fargo
Overall bank rating:
Golden 1 Credit Union
Overall bank rating:
Monthly feeNoneNone$3; avoid by opting out of paper statementsNone

Interest Rate

0.65%0.25%NoneNone
Branch and ATM coverage80,000 ATMs; 12 branches39,000 ATMs; 24 cafés and limited services at over 600 branches13,000 ATMs; 6,000 branchesOver 30,000 ATMs; over 70 branches in California and select services at 5,000 Co-op shared branches nationwide
Minimum opening depositNoneNone$25None
Overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee $25 NSF feeNone; transactions that overdraw account will be declined. Bounced checks will incur a $9 NSF fee.$15$29.50
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Alliant+Credit+Union
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on NerdWallet
Capital+One
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on NerdWallet
Wells+Fargo

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Golden+1+Credit+Union
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on NerdWallet

Alliant Credit Union Free Teen Checking, 0.65% APY

Best interest rate

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Alliant+Credit+Union
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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.

Other perks include:

  • No monthly fee
  • Access to over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide

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.

Capital One 360 Money Account, 0.25% APY

Best online-only option

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Capital+One
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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’s Money account also:

  • Has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Allows access to 39,000 ATMs across the country

Capital One 360 also offers a Kids Savings account with an impressive APY of 1%.

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.

Wells Fargo Teen Checking Account, no interest

Best brick-and-mortar option

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Wells+Fargo

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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.

The Wells Fargo Teen account comes with:

  • A $3 monthly fee that can be avoided by enrolling in online statements
  • Access to 13,000 ATMs and 6,000 branches across the country
  • No interest

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. Parents can also control spending and withdrawals.

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

Golden 1 Credit Union, no interest

BEST VARIETY OF ACCOUNTS

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Golden+1+Credit+Union
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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. That said, none of these accounts will earn any interest either.

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. 22, 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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