The Alliant Credit Union Free Teen Checking account is designed for teens between the ages of 13 and 17. Both the parent and teen get a debit card upon opening. It earns up to 0.25% APY by opting in for e-statements and setting up direct deposit. The APY doesn't seem high at first glance, but it's one of the highest APYs we've seen among teen checking accounts. There are also no monthly fees or minimum deposit requirements. You can use the card at any of Alliant's 80,000 ATMs for free, some of which accept cash deposits. There are also out-of-network ATM reimbursements of up to $20 per month. But parental controls are limited compared to other accounts for kids, and as a credit union, there are membership requirements.
Best for: Parents seeking a free, interest-bearing checking account for their teenagers.
- No monthly fees
- Up to 0.25% APY
- Accepts cash deposits
- Parents can't adjust spending limits
- Requires credit union membership
Who is Alliant Teen Checking best for?
Designed for teens between the ages of 13 and 17, parents can sign their child up for an Alliant Teen Checking account without worrying about monthly fees. The account is a great first account to introduce kids to banking. It requires joint ownership, so a parent must become an Alliant member.
With its 0.25% APY, it can encourage teens to start saving. Qualifying for the APY requires opting for e-statements and direct deposit, so Alliant Teen Checking may be best suited for working teens or parents willing to deposit funds every month. And like many other teen checking accounts, it features spending limits to avoid splurging.
Alliant membership required to open
As a credit union, Alliant requires a membership to qualify for the teen checking account and a parent must be a joint owner. To become a member, you must meet one of these requirements:
- Be a current or retired employee of a US business or organization that partners with Alliant
- Be a domestic partner or immediate family member of a current Alliant member
- Live or work in one of the communities near Alliant’s Corporate Headquarters in Chicago, IL
- Become a member of Foster Care to Success, an organization that assists teens aging out of the foster care system. To join, you must make a one-time $5 membership fee, but Alliant offers to pay the fee on your behalf.
What we like about Alliant Teen Checking
The account is interest-bearing, has no monthly fees and features a large ATM network for deposits and withdrawals.
Alliant is NCUA-insured up to $250,000 and comes with a free box of checks and two contactless Visa debit cards — one for the parent and one for the teen.
To earn the 0.25% APY, qualifying is simple. Just opt in for e-statements and have at least one electronic direct deposit into the teen checking account once per month.
The APY is lower than some of the best savings accounts and the best interest-bearing checking accounts, but it’s one of the highest APYs we’ve seen for accounts aimed at teens — many kid and teen accounts don’t offer interest.
Modern checking perks
Use Alliant’s mobile app for a variety of functions. Parents can send one-off or recurring transfers to their teen’s account. Simply log in to the mobile app, navigate to the Transfer Money section and follow the prompts to make a transfer from an external account or your own Alliant account.
In the app, parents and teens can also report lost or stolen cards, request new debit cards, pay bills, locate ATMs, perform mobile check deposits and track monthly ATM out-of-network reimbursements, which Alliant covers for up to $20 per month.
The Alliant Teen Checking account automatically converts to a regular Alliant checking account when they turn 18. The converted account has no monthly service fees, and if they were earning interest on the teen account, they’ll continue earning the same APY on the new, matured account.
Where Alliant Teen Checking falls short
Although the Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking account has plenty of attractive perks, it has a few downsides. Alliant charges a $10 closure fee if you close your teen’s account within 90 days of opening, $1 paper statement fee and $10 for inactivity fees.
Alliant also has limited branch access. Unless you live near one of its two branches in Illinois, you’re limited to phone and email support. However, many of the best teen checking accounts are online banks or fintechs — many of which have no brick-and-mortar locations.
Also, while you must become a member to open the account for your teen, Alliant makes it easy by offering to cover a one-time $5 fee to join Foster Care to Success.
Limited parental controls and lacking education features
Compared to many other accounts for kids, Alliant has few parental controls. Parents have full access to the account and can set up transaction alerts, but they can’t adjust the daily spending limits, which are: $500 in cash ATM withdrawals, $500 in debit card PIN-based purchases and $5,000 in debit card signature-based purchases.
Also, while it’s common for teen accounts offered by traditional financial institutions to lack extra educational features, there are digital accounts in the market that offer educational games, mock loans, chore tracking and more.
For example, the free banking app Step offers teens the ability to build a credit history by borrowing from their parents without interest. Once the teen turns 18, the credit history can be sent to the major credit bureaus. Step also features 5% in savings rewards, an optional investing platform and a Money 101 course to teach kids about budgeting, loans and investing.
Alliant’s fees and access
|Overdraft or nonsufficient funds
- Domestic: $0 in Alliant’s network
- International: 1% withdrawal fee
|Debit card fees
- Cash withdrawals: $0 in Alliant’s network
- Foreign transactions: 1%
- Card replacement: $0
- Domestic: $0
- International: N/A
- Domestic: $25
- International: $50
- Paper statements: $1
- Account closure: $10 if closed within 90 days of opening
- Stop payment: $0
- Foreign check deposit: $35
Compare Alliant to other teen checking accounts
Narrow down other teen checking accounts by fees, opening deposits and APYs. For easier comparison, tick the Compare box on up to four accounts to see them side by side.
Alliant Credit Union is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and carries an A+ rating — the highest possible rating. There are no current or past alerts for the credit union and around 130 customer complaints in the last three years. It’s been in business for over 80 years, so that number of complaints is very low compared to other top banks and credit unions.
Customer reviews on its BBB profile are poor, but that’s common with financial institutions. Many of the reviews and complaints are unique situations, but a handful of customers cite issues resolving fraudulent charges or wire transfers.
Unfortunately, there are no reviews about its teen checking account. Many discuss Alliant’s loans, traditional accounts and CDs.
Alliant doesn’t have a Trustpilot profile, but on Reddit, many users praise its competitive interest rates, fast transfer speeds and high APYs on its savings accounts.
Kids’ debit card ratings
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
We analyze top debit cards for kids and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. We rate kids’ checking accounts by these factors: Monthly fee, features, ATM access, customer support options, and availability. We also consider APY as a factor only for those that earn interest. We rate prepaid debit cards for kids by these factors: monthly fees, features, customer support options and account availability.
Read the full methodology of how we rate Kids’ debit card accounts.