Opening a bank account for a child

Use your child's age as guidance to find a bank account that helps teach money management lessons.

Parent and child playing together.

Making sound financial decisions as an adult starts with the lessons learned as a child. Want to help kids learn how to manage money in the "real" world? Start by matching their developmental phase — from toddler to young adulthood — with the appropriate bank account based on age, needs and goals.

What do you need to open a bank account for a child?

In order to open a joint account with your child, according to U.S. Bank, you’ll need the following items:

  1. Your child's name birthdate and Social Security number
  2. Your picture identification, such as a driver’s license or passport
  3. Your Social Security number
  4. Personal information such as address, phone number, email address
  5. An initial deposit (cash, checks) as required by the bank

Ages 0 to 3: Savings account for a baby

Getting a child’s bank account going early can be a great idea as it helps you commit to teaching your child about finances throughout their lives. It can also be a great way to keep the money they make secure and separated from your accounts. For instance, you could start with depositing money received from their baby shower and birthdays into an account set up for them.

Ages 3 to 5: Building the basics

Even before starting school, children may be able to learn the basics of money. However, kids this age require visual cues to make ideas tangible. Coins and bills accumulating in a piggy bank, along with explanations of the value of each, are a good start. Once a piggy bank reaches a certain "full" level, help your child deposit the total in a simple savings account (and maybe let them indulge in a special treat, too).

Ages 5 to 8: Setting priorities

Delineating between wants and needs is something most early elementary-age children can do. Some parents also use the "spend-save-donate" rule as a way to divide money: spend one-third, save one-third, donate one-third. A simple savings account is a useful tool to stash allowance and gifts. Look for a no-fee, no-minimum-balance option as well as rewards for regular deposits in minors' accounts. This may prove to be a motivating factor for your child to skip a toy and save instead.

Ages 9 to 12: Expanding the foundation

Late elementary-age children may start to earn money here and there from chores, and they can also grasp the basics of budgeting, saving for a goal and earning interest. One way to help them learn is to have them set a purchasing goal that is months away (a kids savings account may help). An online calculator can help show how long it will take to accumulate this total and offers a great way to discuss the basics of compound interest.

Ages 13 to 15: Connecting money and responsibility

As children age, a savings account remains a steadfast element of their growing financial picture. That type of account can be especially useful if children start to earn money regularly or have a purchase goal that is years away — say, a car when they are old enough to drive.

In addition, some children in this age bracket may be ready for limited — but immediate — access to money: a checking account with a prepaid or reloadable debit card (and minimal or no fees and a low minimum balance). You regularly transfer money such as an allowance to the card, and your child uses it like a regular debit or credit card. They're limited to what's on the card, so there are never overdraft fees or overspending.

Ages 16 to 18: Establishing independence

Children in this age bracket can start to shift money management to a two-tier approach: a savings account and a student checking account. Helpful boundaries for the latter may include spending and withdrawal limits set by parents or caregivers. In addition, this may be a good time to help your child create more formal budget categories for everything from coffee drinks to gas for a car. Implement a regular time where you sit down with them to review budgets and see what they actually spent; then help them make adjustments as necessary.

Ages 18+: Maximizing accountability

As your child gains independence it’s important that they establish good habits of monitoring expenses. One last point of discussion: Any post-18-year-old may be inundated with credit card offers. Discuss the importance of building a good credit score and avoiding easy credit (and rapidly accumulating debt) while they're young.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Neither State Farm nor its agents provide tax or legal advice.

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