There are many benefits to opening a bank account for a child, but it’s important to compare your options carefully, as we explain.
Children’s bank accounts have many similarities to standard current accounts but are designed for account holders below 16-18. They usually come with some restrictions on how children can use them – they don’t have overdraft facilities, for instance.
Older children with jobs can have their wages paid into this type of account, which often includes debit or cash cards that allow them to use cash machines and make purchases in-store or online.
What are the benefits of opening a bank account for a child?
Opening a bank account for a child can help them learn to look after their money. By opening a bank account for a child, you can:
Encourage them to save their birthday and Christmas money
Teach them to check their balance
Let them have a debit card so that they can spend their money in shops or online
Luckily, a child can’t get into debt with a children’s bank account because they don’t include overdrafts.
Opening a bank account for a child gives them a way to access their money whenever and wherever they are, meaning they don’t have to carry cash.
If you want to open a bank account for a baby, it’s slightly different to opening a bank account for an older child.
For a start, you may find your options are more limited. A child needs to be at least 11 years old before many banks will let them open a bank account. However, some banks allow parents to open an account on behalf of their baby.
Of course, the baby won’t have any involvement in the account. So, when you open a bank account for a baby:
The parent will be the account holder on behalf of the child
The child will be the legal owner of the money
In most cases, a child has to be at least 11 years old to open their own bank account. Some children’s accounts have a higher minimum age, like 16. Usually, a parent will need to be present to set up a bank account for a child unless that child is 16 or over.
Some banks offer one account for children and another for teenagers, for example:
An account for children aged 11 to 15
An account with more features for teenagers aged 16 to 19.
Some children's accounts expire once you reach a certain age, usually 18 or 19. The bank usually upgrades the account to a standard adult bank account at that point.
If you’re wondering how to open a bank account for a child or how to open a bank account for a baby, there’s no need to worry as it’s simple to do. Here’s some helpful information.
When opening a bank account for a child, choose one with all the features your child will need, including:
A debit card
A nearby branch
You’ll also need to check the age limits and the minimum and maximum balance your child can have in the account.
If several accounts offer what you need, check what else each one provides, such as:
Interest (what your bank pays to you as a percentage of your account's balance)
Rewards, such as cashback, when you spend
Other freebies, like driving lesson discounts
You can then choose the one that gives the most suitable bonuses.
If you’re opening a bank account for a child, you can usually apply online through the bank's website. However, you may need to go into a branch to provide the required ID documents, including ID for your child.
Some banks only let children under 16 open an account if a parent or guardian is present, so you will need to go into a branch with them.
If you’ve decided to set up a bank account for a child at the same branch you bank with, you may be able to arrange this over the phone.
To set up a bank account for a child, you usually need to provide two identification documents. These tend to be:
Name ID – This usually has to be a passport or birth certificate (or a driving licence if the child is over 17)
Address ID – This includes utility bills or bank statements. If the child lives with the adult opening the account, these documents can be in a parent or guardian's name.
Parents can’t usually withdraw money from their child’s account because the child is the legal owner of the money.
However, parents can pay money into the account to help their child save.
Yes, bank accounts for grandchildren are available.
Both parents and grandparents can open bank accounts for a child as long as they can provide the right documentation.
Grandparents can gift up to £3,000 in total per tax year without it potentially being subject to inheritance tax. If they don’t gift all of that amount, it can be carried over for one year.
They can also gift £250 per year to any one person. But they can’t gift this on top of the £3,000 annual allowance if it’s all for the same person.
Every bank account offers different features. When you’re opening a bank account for a child, you can usually find one that lets them:
Receive payments into the account by bank transfer, cash or cheque from other people, such as a relative or their employer
Withdraw cash from a cashpoint using a debit card or cash card
Pay on a debit card in a shop, by phone or when shopping online (parents have to give permission for a debit card for children under 16)
Use internet and mobile banking to check the balance, move money between accounts or send money to someone else. Here’s how mobile banking works
Pay bills by direct debit or standing order. These would come out of their account regularly - for example, to pay a monthly phone bill. Here’s how they work.
Some accounts even come with fun features such as the chance for children to design their own bank card. Others offer modern technological features such as the ability to pay for things using Apple Pay.
Children’s accounts don’t come with overdrafts.
Most children's bank accounts are free. That means there won’t be monthly fees or costly overdrafts, but check the terms and conditions of the account you’re looking at.
Any interest earned on the account is usually tax-free. Tax will only be charged if:
The child’s annual income is above £12,570 (2021-2022 tax year)
The child earns more than £100 interest on money given to them by their parents.
Managing a children’s bank account is simple if you and your child know how they work.
This information may help:
You can open savings accounts for children or babies on their behalf, or a child can open their own savings account if they’re over seven years old. A children’s savings account usually comes with fewer features than a current account, but they do tend to pay more interest.
A children’s savings account can be useful for saving up for the future, but you can’t spend with a debit card or set up direct debits with a savings account. You can compare children's savings accounts here.
If you’re a parent and want to save money for your child's future, a children's savings account could be more suitable than a current account. Savings accounts let parents control the account until their child reaches a certain age.
However, if you want your child to be able to withdraw cash or make card payments, you’ll need to get them a current account instead.