How to get a bank account for under 18s

If you are over 11, a bank account could help you look after your own money, give you a debit card and let you shop online. Here is how bank accounts work and where to get one.


What are children's bank accounts?

They are the same as adults' current accounts, but they can be taken out by children aged under 18 and usually come with some restrictions on how you can use them.

If you are under 18, you can have your wages paid into your own account, buy things in shops, use cash machines or shop online.

If you are a parent, a bank account help your child learn how to look after their money. They cannot get into debt on them because the come without overdrafts.

How old do you have to be to open a bank account?

You have to be at least 11 years old to open your own bank account, and some accounts have a higher minimum age like 16.

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. Your bank usually upgrades you to an adult bank account at this point.

Can your parents use your account?

Most banks only let you run the account yourself, although your parents or guardian can help you pay money into your account.

How can you use them?

Each bank account offers different features, but you can usually:

  • Receive payments into the account from your employer or from other people by bank transfer, cash or cheque.

  • Withdraw cash from a cashpoint using the debit card or cash card your bank gives you.

  • Pay on a debit card in a shop, by phone or when shopping online. Banks have to ask for your parents' permission to give you a card if you are under 16.

  • Use internet and mobile banking to check your balance, move money between your accounts or send money to someone else. Here is how this works.

  • Pay bills by direct debit or standing order. These come out of your account regularly, e.g. to pay a monthly phone bill. Here is how they work.

However, if you are under 18 you cannot use your bank account to borrow money because you will not get an overdraft on it.

How to manage your new account

Keeping your account safe and using the above features is simple if you know how they work. Here is:

How to get a children's bank account

Choose an account that has all the features you need like a debit card, internet banking or a nearby branch you can visit to withdraw or pay in money.

Check the age limits and the minimum and maximum balance you can have in each account too.

If several accounts offer what you need, check what else it offers like:

  • Interest, which your bank pays to you as a percentage of your account's balance

  • Rewards like cashback when you spend

  • Other freebies like driving lesson discounts

You can then choose the one that gives you the best rewards.

How to apply

You can usually apply online through the bank's website, but you may need to go into a branch to provide identification documents.

If you are under 16, some banks only let you open an account if a parent or guardian is with you.

What documents you need

You usually need to provide two identification documents when you open a new account:

  • Name ID usually has to be a passport, birth certificate (or a driving licence if you are over 17)

  • Address ID includes utility bills or bank statements and can be in a parent or guardian's name if you live with them

How much do they cost?

Most children's bank accounts come without monthly fees or overdrafts, but check the terms and conditions for any charges.

Any interest you earn on the account should be paid to you tax free. You only need to pay any tax if:

  • Your annual income is above £12,500 in the 2020-2021 tax year

  • You earn more than £100 interest on money given to you by your parents

Here is how tax works on children's accounts.

Should you open a savings account instead?

You can open your own savings account if you are over seven years old. They usually offer less features than current accounts but pay more interest.

They can be useful if you are saving up for the future, but they do not let you spend with a debit card or set up direct debits. You can compare children's savings accounts here.

If you are a parent and want to save money for your child's future, a children's savings account could be more suitable.

They are different to current accounts because they let you control the account until your child reaches a certain age and often pay more interest. However, if you want your child to be able to withdraw cash or make card payments, you need a current account instead.

New bank accounts are launched all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for your circumstances.