Is Your Teen Ready for a Checking Account?
Some parents may not consider allowing their young teen to get a checking account at all, but there are valid reasons why it can be good for them to have one.
A checking account can give them a chance to responsibly shine with money and teach them how to:
- use debit cards
- monitor and plan ahead for automatic payments
- use an ATM card
- write checks (should they ever need to do that)
They can learn while they are still under your direct supervision (as opposed to when they go off to college and aren’t!)
Consider the following factors when deciding when your teen should get a checking account.
1. Is your teen legally old enough for a checking account?
At least in the U.S., a teen can’t have “signing privileges” on an account until they are at least 13. This means that 13 is the absolute minimum age at which a checking account could even be considered. And until they are 18, it’s you — the adult — that is ultimately responsible for their use of the account. Check with your bank for any requirements they may have.
2. What’s their level of maturity & responsibility?
How responsible are they in general?
Consider whether or not they are responsible for their physical belongings.
For example, do they lose stuff? Do they expect others to replace the things they’ve lost? Do they get their homework done on time? Do they take care of their household responsibilities without prompting fairly often?
If they are mature enough to handle these basic areas of responsibility, chances are they can begin to handle financial responsibility.
3. Has your teen started learning about money?
Do they understand what a checking account IS, and what having one (and an ATM or debit card) means? It’s not uncommon for teens – and even adults – to confuse a debt card with a credit card, for example, since they look pretty much the same. See if they can explain the difference to you.
Has your child taken classes or spent time with you learning about handling money? Do they have a job or other source of income? Do they understand what happens if they use their debit card or make a withdrawal and they don’t have enough money in the account?
It may seem obvious to you, but someone who hasn’t had an account might not understand that the bank will let them spend more than they have — they’ll just be charged extra for it.
If the answers are yes…
If the answers to all of those questions are yes, they are probably able to handle a checking account.
If you decide to allow your teen to have a checking account, you may want to start by monitoring the statements and receipts together. You’ll likely need to be a signer on their account as well.
Have them go together with you to sign up, and even lead the process. (You may also want to see if there are any special new bank account promotions they might qualify for.)
Remember, it can be GREAT to get practice at an early age handling money. That’s how we learn, and it’s better to make small mistakes early on than large ones later.