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Best Teen Checking Accounts of 2018

July 5, 2018
Banking, Banks & Credit Unions, Checking Accounts
NerdWallet’s Best Teen Checking Accounts and Prepaid Debit Cards
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

A teen checking account can guide future adults toward better saving and spending habits and make them more familiar with banking.

The following are the best checking accounts for teens we’ve seen.


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

Alliant Credit Union and Capital One 360

Alliant Credit Union and Capital One 360

Features

Alliant Credit Union
Overall bank rating:
Capital One 360
Overall bank rating:
Monthly feeNoneNone

Interest Rate

0.65% 0.25%
Branch and ATM coverage80,000 ATMs; Fewer than 10 branches39,000 ATMs; about 30 cafés and limited services at over 600 branches
Minimum opening depositNoneNone
Overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee $25 NSF feeTransactions that overdraw account will be declined.

 

Wells Fargo and Golden 1 Credit Union

Wells Fargo and Golden 1 Credit Union

Features

Wells Fargo
Overall bank rating:
Golden 1 Credit Union
Overall bank rating:
Monthly fee$3; avoid by opting out of paper statementsNone

Interest Rate

NoneNone
Branch and ATM coverage13,000 ATMs; 5,800 branchesOver 30,000 ATMs; over 70 branches in California and select services at 5,000 Co-op shared branches nationwide
Minimum opening deposit$25None
Overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee $15$29.50

 

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; Fewer than 10 branches39,000 ATMs; about 30 cafés and limited services at over 600 branches13,000 ATMs; 5,800 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 feeTransactions that overdraw account will be declined. $15$29.50

Alliant Credit Union Free Teen Checking

Best interest rate

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Alliant Credit Union

at Alliant Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Pays interest? Yes. Interest checking is rare for a free account, but Alliant’s free teen checking account, available to kids ages 13 to 17, pays a competitive 0.65% annual percentage yield.

Requirements to earn interest: To get this rate, you have to enroll in free electronic statements and receive at least one electronic deposit a month of any size; it can include a transfer from a non-Alliant bank or credit union.

ATMs: Alliant has over 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide.

Perks:  This account has a debit card for teens, no monthly fee or minimum deposit, mobile banking — including check deposit— and online bill pay.

How to open an account: The account must be held jointly with a parent or guardian who is an Alliant member.  Membership is easy, however; a one-time donation of $10 to a specific charity makes you eligible to apply if you don’t otherwise meet the broad requirements. Once one person gains membership, immediate family members are eligible to join.

What a teen should be wary of: Alliant charges a $25 nonsufficient-funds fee.

Capital One 360 Money Account

Best online-only option

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Pays interest? Yes. Capital One 360’s Money account comes with a 0.25%  APY.

Requirements to earn interest: None. The account earns interest on all balances.

ATMs: The bank has over 39,000 free ATMs as part of the Capital One and Allpoint ATM networks.

Perks: The Money account offers a teen debit card and mobile app with the ability to deposit checks. There are no monthly fees or minimum deposits, and teens can sign up for account text alerts and emails.

The online-only bank makes it easy for parents and their teenagers to track spending habits and create automated savings plans, a plus to help kids learn about smart money management.

How to open an account: Each account must have an adult co-owner. Once a teen turns 18, he or she can roll over the balance into a regular Capital One 360 checking account.

Capital One 360 is an online-only bank, so you won’t be able to visit a traditional branch. But opening an account online should only take a few minutes.

The bank also offers a Kids Savings Account with a decent APY of 1.00% APY.

What a teen should be wary of: Teen checking accounts don’t come with Bill Pay.

Wells Fargo Teen Checking Account

Best brick-and-mortar option

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Wells Fargo

at Wells Fargo,

Member, FDIC

Pays Interest? No

Requirements to earn interest: N/A

ATMs: 13,000 nationwide

Perks: The teen checking account has online tools to pay bills, send money and check balances, as well as mobile alerts. Parents can control spending and withdrawals.

How to open an account: The Wells Fargo Teen Checking Account is available for ages 13 to 17 (in Alabama, ages 13 to 18). It must be opened with an adult co-owner, and it requires a $25 minimum deposit.

What a teen should be wary of: The account’s overdraft fee is $15. That’s well below the $35 on other Wells Fargo checking accounts, and there’s a limit of not more than two per day, but teens will still want to watch their balances.

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

Golden 1 Credit Union

Best variety of accounts

NerdWallet has rated this bank:

Golden 1 Credit Union

at Golden 1 Credit Union,

Federally insured by the NCUA

Pays Interest? No.

Requirements to earn interest: N/A

Options: A parent or legal guardian who is a Golden 1 member needs to sign as a joint owner until the child reaches age 18. Golden 1 CU has three checking accounts for minors:

  • New Generation Checking has low ATM withdrawal limits that are based on age, so 13- to 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 over 30,000 Golden 1 and Co-op ATMs nationwide. After five years, this account converts automatically to a Golden 1 free checking account.

ATMs: 30,000 Golden 1 and Co-op ATMs nationwide.

Perks: Offers a teen debit card, online and mobile banking, online bill pay and a free first box of checks. Checking accounts have no monthly fees or minimum deposits.

How to open an account:  Must have a parent or legal guardian who is a member sign as a joint owner until the child reaches age 18. You can be eligible to become a member by joining the non-profit Financial Fitness Association, or if you live or work in California or belong to a sponsoring organization.

What a teen should be wary of: Golden 1 Credit union charges a $29.50 fee for each overdraft or insufficient funds transaction.

» 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 be a joint owner. 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 teenagers, it’s worth browsing other good checking account options that have those benefits.

» For standard checking options, see NerdWallet’s Best Checking accounts of 2018. Some may allow a joint account with a family member.


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, TIAA Bank, 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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