How old do you have to be to get a bank account and what do you need to open one? Can a minor have an account and what are the potential benefits and pitfalls of owning one?
If you have questions – BusyKid has the answers!
We’ll answer how old do you have to be to get a bank account, what to look for in a service provider, and what to consider. Let’s get into it.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Bank Account?
Before we get into account types and spend cards, let’s answer the question on everyone’s minds first – how old do you have to be to get a bank account?
Most banks worldwide require someone at least 18 years of age to open an account. Anyone younger is considered to be a minor and needs a legal guardian to be a joint account holder.
So if you, as a parent or legal guardian, want to open a bank account for a minor, you must be a signer.
Can a Minor Open a Bank Account?
No federal law in the US prevents minors from opening savings accounts. That said, there are almost no banks that would allow minors to do this on their own, without a parent or legal guardian.
The reason behind not being able to open a bank account as a minor is pretty straightforward. A banking relationship is governed by state contract laws and minors don’t have the legal authority to enter into a contract on their own.
Keep in mind that laws and regulations will vary not only from one state to the next but also within different banks. With that in mind, there are a few commonalities between most banks.
The adult account holder must be a U.S. citizen who is 18 years or older and holds a government-issued ID. The adult doesn’t have to be a parent or legal guardian, but can also be a family member or even a close friend of the family.
When opening a bank account for a minor, the adult will have several different types of accounts to choose from.
The assets in a custodial account belong to the minor, but an adult has to oversee them until the minor turns 18 or 21. With this type of account, a minor won’t be able to withdraw funds on their own and they won’t receive an ATM card. Typically, a custodial account changes to an individual one when the child reaches the age of maturity.
A joint account will list both the name of the child and the adult as co-owners and they will have equal rights to it. Many adults opt to open joint accounts with their kids as they tend to present an excellent learning opportunity.
With joint accounts, kids and teens can get first-hand, real-life experiences with money and start adopting crucial financial lessons early on. But they will be doing so with adult guidance and oversight.
While your child will have access to your joint account and be able to withdraw from it, many banks and financial institutions will give you the ability to monitor and control it to some extent. For example, you could set up spending limits or get instant notifications of transfers.
An education account is an account that kids could greatly benefit from but has little control over. It can be used to pay for all educational expenses, from kindergarten through college.
With an education account, all withdrawals are tax-free, as long as they’re being used for eligible expenses. It is an investment or savings account with no limits on contribution or income, but one that adults can only control.
Benefits of Opening an Account for a Minor
Now that you know how old do you have to be to get a bank account, let’s discuss why opening one is a good idea in the first place.
Hands-On Experience with Money
With a bank account, kids can get valuable exposure to real-world lessons in personal finance. While you should always explain the basics of finance, investing, and saving to your kids, nothing can replace first-hand experience.
Depending on the bank account, kids can experience the true value of money and what it means to save for the future. They can also practice spending with limited resources, as well as budgeting.
Start Building Assets Early
Certain types of bank accounts for kids and teens are specifically designed to help save up for their future. By opening an account for them or with them at a young age, you can get an early start on future expenses. What’s more, it can provide a safety net in case of emergencies.
What You Need to Open an Account
The documents or information you need to open an account for a minor might vary from one bank to the next. That said, there tends to be some overlap between different institutions and what they might need from you. This includes:
- Social Security card/Social Security number
- Government-issued ID
- Birth certificate
- Proof of address
- Minimal initial deposit
What to Consider When Opening a Bank Account
The first thing to consider when it comes to opening an account is deciding what type of account you want and need. You should also consider the accessibility of the bank, its fees, and customer support.
However, above all else, always make sure that the bank or financial institution has the parental controls that are right for you. Shop around for different features before settling on what works for you.
Why Choose BusyKid
If you want to start working on your children’s financial future before they turn 18, download BusyKid!
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