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A 5-Step Guide to Easily Open Your Child’s First Bank Account

Lendstart Updated: February 22, 2024 • 6 min read
mom and son putting money in to piggy bank

Key Points:

  • Keeping children informed about money management early in life is essential in today's fast-paced financial world.

  • As children grow, financial literacy is a key life skill that prepares them for the real world, enabling them to make informed financial decisions.

  • Here's how to open a bank account for your child and tips on how to educate them at an early stage about money management.

Keeping children informed about money management early in life is essential in today's fast-paced financial world. As children grow, financial literacy is a key life skill that prepares them for the real world, enabling them to make informed financial decisions. When you open a bank account for your child, you teach him or her the basics of saving and spending, instilling responsibility and planning for the future.

Financial literacy is a key life skill that prepares them for the real world.

1. Choose the right account

Research and select a bank that offers accounts tailored to children, focusing on features like low fees, high-interest rates, and educational tools. Decide whether a savings, checking, or custodial account best suits your child's needs.

Types of Accounts

  • Checking Accounts: Kids' checking accounts are a practical educational tool that teaches teens about money management, personal finance, and debit card usage. These accounts come with a debit card, check-writing capabilities, and online banking options that allow kids to monitor their balance, set up direct deposits, and execute payments. They provide lessons in budget management, account balance tracking, and banking transactions, making them a great way to introduce teenagers to the financial world.
  • Savings Accounts: A savings account for kids emphasizes the importance of saving money for future goals and purchases by instilling the habit of saving. The minimum balance requirements for these accounts are typically low or nonexistent, and the interest rates may be higher to encourage regular saving. The educational aspect of savings accounts lies in teaching children about the benefits of interest accumulation, the significance of saving for future needs, and the process of setting and achieving financial goals, making them a foundational tool for early financial education.
  • Prepaid Debit Cards: Prepaid debit cards teach kids spending and budgeting. Parents can set spending limits, track expenses, and offer parental controls. These cards foster financial independence within a controlled framework, making them a practical choice for financial education.
  • Custodial Accounts (UGMA/UTMA): Custodial accounts hold assets for children until they reach adulthood. Parents manage the account until then, and the funds can be used for the child's benefit. Custodial accounts teach children about investing, savings, and financial planning, laying the groundwork for financial literacy.
  • Education Savings Accounts (ESAs): ESAs like Coverdell ESAs and 529 plans are designed for education expenses and offer tax advantages. Contributions are not tax-deductible, but earnings grow, and withdrawals are tax-free for qualified expenses. They encourage planning for future costs and financial preparedness, making them an invaluable tool for families prioritizing education funding.
  • Trust Funds: Trust funds are legal arrangements where a trustee manages assets to benefit beneficiaries until a specified age. It includes money, property, and investments and teaches wealth management, estate planning, and financial responsibilities.

Each type of account offers unique opportunities for financial education and growth. Choosing the right account depends on the child's financial goals, whether it's learning about daily financial transactions, saving for the future, or managing significant financial assets.

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2. Consider Fees and Transfer Capabilities

When selecting an account for your child, it's important to consider the associated cost. Some accounts offer additional features such as investment options and chore tracking, but they may come with a monthly subscription fee ranging from $3 to $10. This expense can add up, particularly if you manage accounts for multiple children.

However, there's a silver lining: free checking accounts are available for children under 17 at many traditional banks and credit unions.

In addition to monthly fees, be mindful of potential additional charges, including:

  • Account closure fees
  • Card replacement fees
  • Cash deposit fees
  • Overdraft or insufficient funds fees
  • Out-of-network ATM fees

Equally important is the flexibility to transfer money into your child’s account. If your child doesn’t earn an income, you'll need a straightforward and cost-effective method to fund their account for its use. Investigate convenient options such as Zelle, ACH transfers, or cash deposits to ensure you can easily support your child’s financial independence.

3. Submit an Application for the Account

The application process for a children's bank account varies by financial institution. While some banks may not offer the convenience of online applications due to the requirement for an adult to be present during the setup of a minor's account, necessitating a visit to a branch with your child, others allow for online applications, which can typically be completed in under 10 minutes provided you have all necessary documents at hand.

For most children's bank accounts, you'll need to provide:

  • The child's full name, date of birth, and Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Your own SSN and a valid government-issued identification, like a driver's license or passport
  • Contact details including residential address, phone number, and email address
  • The child's student ID, if opening a student bank account

4. Setting Up and Funding the Account

During the last step of setting up the account, you'll often be required to make an initial deposit, which can vary from $25 to $100, depending on the account's requirements.

After the account has been established and the initial deposit made, you can activate any debit or ATM cards linked to the account. These cards are typically sent through mail and should arrive within seven to ten days following the approval of your application.

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5. Implementing App Usage and Digital Cards

Several banking services for kids now provide digital cards that can be immediately added to mobile wallets, enabling services like Apple Pay for those over 13, or Google Pay for users aged 16 and up.

A dedicated mobile app is often provided for online accounts, especially those designed for kids. These apps not only offer basic banking functions but also include a variety of additional features. Children can use the app to view their account balance, engage with educational games, or keep track of chores. At the same time, parents have the ability to oversee spending, transfer money, or impose spending limits, ensuring a comprehensive and interactive banking experience for both parties.

Teaching Your Child to Use Their Account 

Educating your child on using their bank account effectively is crucial in fostering financial literacy and independence. Here are some strategies to ensure they get the most out of their banking experience:

Making Deposits and Checking Balances

Start by showing your child how to make deposits into their account. This can be done through physical bank visits, ATMs, or mobile deposits if their account supports it. Explain the importance of keeping track of deposit receipts or confirmation numbers. Next, teach them how to check their account balance online, through a mobile app, or at ATMs. This habit encourages them to be mindful of their spending and savings.

Understanding Interest

Introduce the concept of interest — how it works and why it’s beneficial to save. Use simple examples to show how money in their account grows thanks to interest, reinforcing the value of patience and long-term saving.

Setting Savings Goals

Work with your child to set clear, achievable savings goals. Whether saving for a new toy, a video game, or a gift for a family member, having a tangible objective makes the process more engaging. Monitor progress together, celebrating milestones to keep them motivated.

Parental Guidance

Your involvement doesn’t end with setting up the account. Regularly discuss their account status, review transactions, and assess progress toward savings goals. Use these discussions as opportunities to impart valuable financial lessons, such as budgeting, prioritizing needs over wants, and planning for the future.

By actively participating in your child’s financial education, you help them understand the mechanics of banking and lay the groundwork for responsible money management skills that will serve them well into adulthood.


Opening a bank account for your child is a pivotal step in their financial education, offering practical lessons in saving, budgeting, and responsible spending. It’s an opportunity to teach them about money management and instill financial discipline and foresight values. As parents, actively participating in this journey by choosing the right account, monitoring activity together, and discussing financial goals and strategies, can set the foundation for a lifetime of financial savvy and independence.



Can I open a bank account for my child online?

Yes, many banks allow you to open a bank account for your child online, provided you have all the necessary documentation ready, such as your child’s Social Security Number and birth certificate, as well as your identification. However, some banks may require a visit to a branch, especially for setting up accounts for younger children.

What is the minimum age to open a kids’ bank account?

The minimum age to open a kids’ bank account varies by bank and account type. Some savings accounts can be opened at any age, while checking accounts typically require the child to be a teenager. Always check with your bank for their specific age requirements.

Are there any fees associated with kids’ bank accounts?

Fees can vary widely depending on the bank and the type of account. While many kids’ bank accounts have low or no monthly maintenance fees, there could be other charges, such as for ATM use outside the bank’s network or for account inactivity. It’s important to review the fee schedule before opening an account.

How can I monitor my child’s bank account activity?

Most banks offer online banking and mobile apps that allow both you and your child to monitor the account activity. These tools can help track spending, view balances, and set up alerts for low balances or large transactions.

Can my child have both a savings and checking account?

Yes, your child can have both a savings and checking account. Having both types of accounts can be a great way to teach them about saving for the future while also managing daily expenses.

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