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Last updated
January 12th, 2024

A bank account for teenagers is not just a financial tool — it can also educate and shape their views on money before they are faced with adulthood. Here, we explore the features of this type of current account, how it compares to a prepaid card and how to make sure your teens' money stays protected.

What is a bank account for teenagers?

Bank accounts for teenagers are current accounts specifically designed for 11 to 17-year-olds

Unlike children's bank accounts, which usually require an adult to open the account for the child, most banks allow teenagers to open their own accounts if they're at least 16 years old.  

Once you’re 18, you can switch to a standard bank account designed for adults. A teen bank account is a helpful stepping stone between a child's account and a teenager bank account because it offers a bit more freedom and helps to build confidence for managing an adult current account.

The main difference between standard accounts and teen accounts is that even the best teenager bank accounts don't offer overdrafts because you have to be at least 18 years old to be eligible to take out any form of credit. 

A teen bank account is a helpful stepping stone if you feel ready to move on from a child's account.”

Why would a teenager need a bank account?

Opening a bank account introduces teenagers to the practical aspects of money management. It provides them with a platform to learn about income, expenses, and budgeting. And by making regular deposits, withdrawals, and tracking their account balance, they develop essential financial skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

By experiencing first hand how their financial decisions impact their account balance, teenagers can make mistakes in a controlled environment. These learning opportunities can be invaluable as they prepare to handle more significant financial responsibilities, such as paying for university life or managing their own household.

How to find the best bank account for teens

Finding the best bank account for teens involves considering several factors. Here are five steps you can take to help you find the right bank account for a teenager:

Research local banks and building societies

Start by researching banks and building societies in your local area. Look for institutions that offer special accounts for teenagers. Local banks and building societies often have more community-focused and customer-friendly options.

Compare bank accounts

Different banks offer different types of accounts for teenagers. Compare the features of these accounts, including the minimum balance requirements, fees, and interest rates. Look for accounts that are specifically designed for teens, as they often have lower fees and may also offer educational resources.

Consider accessibility

Accessibility is crucial for a teen's bank account. Look for features like online and mobile banking, as well as the availability of ATMs in your area. Ensure that the bank has a user-friendly app or website that allows both parents and teens to manage the account easily.

Review parental controls

For parents, it's essential to have some level of control and oversight of a teen account. Check if the bank offers parental controls or joint account options. These features can allow parents to monitor transactions, set spending limits, and guide their teenager's financial decisions.

How to open a bank account for teenagers

Application processes vary slightly between banks but will broadly have the same steps and document requirements.

Teenagers who are 16 or older can open most accounts themselves. You can open some accounts yourself from the age of 13. You’ll need to:

  • Apply online, providing proof of ID, such as a UK passport, and usually proof of address, such as a letter from your school or a bank statement from an existing account. You might be asked to provide evidence of your address for the last three years

  • If your identity can’t be verified online, go into a branch with your identity and proof of address documents

  • If you don’t have your own documents that can prove your identity, you may need to apply with a parent or guardian using theirs

Some accounts let you apply in a branch if you prefer. In some cases, you’ll still need to apply with a parent or guardian if you’re 16 or over.

If you’re under 16, you’ll usually need to apply with a parent or guardian in a branch or start the application online and then go to a branch with them. They may need to show their own proof of identity and address documents. With some banks, your parent or guardian will need to have a current account with them for you to apply for an account.

What features can you get with a bank account for teenagers?

Teenage bank accounts designed for 11 to 17-year-olds have many of the same features you see in bank accounts for over-18s, although some may only become available once you reach a certain age. 

The things you can do with most teen accounts include:

  • Deposit money into the account, including wages, money from other people sent by bank transfer, cheques, and cash

  • Pay by debit card in person, online or by phone, or make contactless payments using your mobile phone in person

  • Withdraw money at a cash machine using your debit card or a cash card

  • Set up automatic payments like direct debits and standing orders to cover bills

  • Manage your account online through your bank's website, mobile app, or telephone banking

  • Check your statements online or set up a payment to a person or company

  • Earn interest on your balance

  • Pay by Apple Pay or Google Pay – if you have the right kind of device

  • Receive text alerts or smartphone notifications about your account

  • Pay someone near you without their bank details

  • Transfer the change from a rounded-up payment into a savings account

  • Open a specific savings account that offers relatively high interest

  • Freeze and unfreeze your card through the app if you misplace it

However, the features on offer vary between accounts, so it's important to ensure the account you choose has the features you need.

What protections do bank accounts for teenagers offer?

Bank accounts designed for teenagers offer various protections and features to allow young individuals manage their finances while protecting their financial wellbeing. Common protective features associated with teen bank accounts include:

Parental oversight: Many teen accounts require parental or guardian consent and involvement. Parents or guardians typically have access to view the account, set spending limits, and provide guidance to ensure responsible money management.

Age-appropriate access: Teen accounts are tailored to the age of the account holder, ensuring that the features and access provided are appropriate for their stage of financial development.

No overdrafts: Teen accounts do not allow overdrafts, which means the account holder can’t spend more money than is available in the account. This prevents the accumulation of debt and interest charges.

"Parents can make a big difference in their children's financial future by actively engaging with their children to teach them responsible financial habits and foster a healthy relationship with money.”

Financial education: Some teen accounts include financial education resources to help young account holders learn about budgeting, saving, and responsible money management.

Fraud protection: Teen accounts come with standard fraud protection measures, such as the ability to dispute unauthorised transactions.

Parental notifications: Parents or guardians may receive notifications or alerts about account activity to stay informed and ensure responsible spending.

Parental control: Parents or guardians may have the ability to block or approve specific types of transactions, such as online purchases or ATM withdrawals, to manage their child's spending.

No or reduced fees: Many teen accounts have lower fees than standard current accounts to make banking more affordable for young users.

Specific protections and features of teen accounts may vary among different banks and financial institutions. 

Parents and teens should therefore compare the offerings of the different teen accounts available carefully to ensure they choose one that aligns with their financial needs and educational goals.

What to look out for with a teenage bank account

Minimum balance requirements

Some bank accounts may require a minimum balance to avoid fees. Ensure that the minimum balance requirement is reasonable and achievable for the teenage account holder.

Fees

Be aware of any charges associated with the account, which could include monthly fees, overseas withdrawal fees, and fees for unpaid transactions (because the account balance is below £0). Look for accounts with minimal or no fees, especially for teenagers with limited funds.

Accessibility

Consider the availability of ATMs and branches. A bank with a widespread ATM network can be more convenient for cash withdrawals.

Security

Ensure that the bank offers strong security measures to protect your or your teenager's account information and funds.

Parental involvement

Stay involved in your teenager's financial journey. Monitor their account regularly, especially if it's a joint account, and use this as an opportunity to teach them about responsible money management.

Customer service

Consider the quality of customer service. You'll want a bank that can assist you or your teenager promptly and efficiently, especially if they have questions or encounter issues.

What to look out for with a teenage bank account

Minimum balance requirements

Some bank accounts may require a minimum balance to avoid fees. Ensure that the minimum balance requirement is reasonable and achievable for the teenage account holder.

Fees

Be aware of any charges associated with the account, which could include monthly fees, overseas withdrawal fees, and fees for unpaid transactions (because the account balance is below £0). Look for accounts with minimal or no fees, especially for teenagers with limited funds.

Accessibility

Consider the availability of ATMs and branches. A bank with a widespread ATM network can be more convenient for cash withdrawals.

Security

Ensure that the bank offers strong security measures to protect your or your teenager's account information and funds.

Parental involvement

Stay involved in your teenager's financial journey. Monitor their account regularly, especially if it's a joint account, and use this as an opportunity to teach them about responsible money management.

Customer service

Consider the quality of customer service. You'll want a bank that can assist you or your teenager promptly and efficiently, especially if they have questions or encounter issues.

Bank accounts for teenagers vs prepaid cards

Bank accounts

Bank accounts offer teenagers access to a broader range of financial services and tools than they would get with a prepaid card. With a bank account, they also gain exposure to more advanced financial concepts, such as paying bills and saving up for a big-ticket item. 

However, bank accounts often have more fees and minimum balance requirements than prepaid cards, which can be challenging for teenagers who may not have a stable income.

Prepaid cards

Prepaid cards can be a simpler and more convenient choice for teenagers. Also known as prepaid debit cards, they work like regular debit cards but are not linked to a traditional bank account – meaning they need to be loaded with cash, typically direct deposits, or online transfers. 

These cards offer a degree of financial responsibility. However, teenagers can only spend the amount loaded onto the card, making it a useful tool for budgeting and controlling spending.

If you're considering a bank account for your teenager, it's important to have an open discussion with them about their financial goals and how they wish to use the account. You'll then be able to make an informed decision.

FAQs

Can a teenager get an overdraft?

No, you can only get an overdraft if you’re over 18, and teen accounts for under-19s don’t offer them when you turn 18 either. You can, however, switch to an adult or student bank account when you’re 18 if you need an overdraft. 

How many current accounts can I have?

You can open more than one current account, either with different banks or the same one. But if you’re opening more than one with the same bank there may be certain criteria or restrictions limiting how many accounts you can have.

Can I get interest on my current account?

Yes, many teenager bank accounts pay in-credit interest on your account balance. Here’s how interest works.

Can I get a debit card with my account?

Yes, most accounts come with a contactless debit card. If you prefer, you may also be able to choose a card that can only be used for ATM withdrawals.

Can younger children get an account?

Yes, most banks offer current accounts to children from the age of 11, although some set a minimum age of 16. 

Alternatively, you could open a children’s savings account that offers a safe place to put money intended for a big purchase. You’ll earn interest, and by putting money into a savings account, you’re less likely to spend more than you intend.

More on opening a new bank account

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About the author

Salman Haqqi
Salman Haqqi spent over a decade as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Now as a personal finance expert, he helps people make informed financial decisions.

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