Choosing a Checking Account for a Teenager

When is the right time and what options are available

A teen smiles at his first job after opening a checking account to deposit his earnings

Giving your child some financial independence is just one of many parenting decisions you’ll make. With digital payments on the rise and carrying cash a thing of the past, teenagers with checking accounts are becoming more and more common.

The right time to open a checking account for a teenager

Determining the “right time” to open a checking account depends on your teenager. Some things to consider:

  • Have they asked you about opening a checking account?
  • Are they responsible in other aspects of their life (homework, chores, extracurricular activities)?
  • Do they have a good understanding of money, especially earning and spending?
  • Do they have a job and need a secure place to deposit their paychecks?

At UW Credit Union, our Launch Account is an individual account designed for kids ages 14-17. We also offer the Clear Account, a joint account you can open with your teenager.

What to look for in a checking account for a teenager

When you’re shopping for a checking account for your teenager, what you’re looking for shouldn’t be all that different than what you’d expect from your own checking account.

Some definite must-haves to include in an account for your teenager:

  • Easy-to-use features
  • Limits that encourage safe spending
  • Enhanced security
  • Debit card lock feature if their card goes missing
  • Access to online and mobile banking
  • No monthly fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • No minimum balance requirements

If you plan on adding money to your teen's account or they want to move money between their checking and savings accounts, make sure the account you chose offers the option to easily transfer money between accounts.

What you need to open a checking account for a teenager

Your teen can start their application online, then visit a branch to finalize the account and pick out a personalized debit card.

Here's what your teen will need when they visit a branch to finish opening their account:

  • Full name, date of birth and Social Security number or ITIN
  • Email address and phone number
  • Photo ID such as driver's license, passport or state ID
  • At least $5 to open a savings account if they're not a member yet

Looking to open a joint account with your teen? Open a Clear Account by visiting your local branch together. Guardians, you will need to bring proof of identity (driver's license, passport or state ID).

Another milestone to celebrate

Remember, even if your child is responsible enough to have an individual account, it’s good to check in with them occasionally to make sure they’re managing their finances smoothly. Remind them they can always come to you with any questions, or speak to a financial specialist at UW Credit Union.

The teenage years are filled with exciting milestones. Opening a checking account for your teenager is just one of many moments of independence to celebrate.


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