A kids’ bank account comes with special features that help young people save money and learn how to use a bank account. Read our guide to opening a child’s bank account below to learn more about how savings accounts for kids work and compare options to find the best fit for your child.
Why open a kid’s bank account?
If you want to set your child up for financial success, you need to start with the basics: a kid’s bank account. By opening a bank account for kids, you can teach your child about the importance of saving money and spending wisely.
The younger you start to talk and teach children about money management, the greater their chances for future financial success. According to a University of Michigan study, research shows that when a parent with low or moderate income opened up a kid’s bank account, the child was three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate from college – even if the child’s savings account held less than $500. Additional studies show a direct correlation between higher education and greater financial stability and success. To start, all a parent needs to do is open a kid’s bank account.
The good news is that opening a child’s bank account in Canada is relatively easy and straightforward. To find the right bank account for your kids, consider the following tips.
How to choose a kids bank account
Unlike a regular bank account, a kid’s bank account won’t come with many bells and whistles. However, most accounts do offer a few key tools that help make it easier for you to talk about money to your child and teach money management skills.
To find the right bank account for your child, consider the following:
What is the process for opening a child’s bank account at the financial institution?
What type of bank account is your child opening?
What is the monthly fee? And is a minimum monthly balance required?
Will your child get their own debit card?
Finding answers to these four questions will help you narrow down your choices. To see our top children’s accounts check out our best kid’s bank account guide.
To help with your research process, we compiled a list of all bank accounts available to children in Canada in 2024, including money management apps and digital bank accounts for kids. Remember, unless otherwise stated, all kids’ bank accounts in Canada are available to anyone 18 years of age or younger.
Fortunately, most kids’ bank accounts in Canada typically come with no monthly fees and reduced or no transaction costs. To find the right bank account for your child, consider what each account offers, including exclusive discounts, types of transactions, along with perks or discounts on every-day spending.
How to open a child’s bank account
Opening a bank account in your child’s name is relatively easy, but it will require your help. In most cases, you will need to book an appointment with a branch representative. During this in-person meeting, you and your child will be asked for key documents. While the exact documentation required will vary from bank to bank, consider bringing the following documentation:
Documentation needed to open a kid’s bank account
Child’s photo ID (like a passport)
Your photo ID
Social Insurance Numbers (yours and your child’s)
Your child’s birth certificate
Proof of address
Minimum age to open a bank account
When determining the type of account to open for your child, you may run into minimum age requirements for opening a bank account. In most cases, a child under the age of 12 will require a parent to be present to open a bank account. For most financial institutions in Canada, children between the ages of 12 and 15 can open their own bank account, without the help of a parent, as long as they can provide official identification, such as a passport. In virtually all cases, when a teen reaches the age of 18 (or 19 in some provinces), they are considered an adult and can open an account without parental permission.
Opening a kid’s bank account online
For some parents, opening a kid’s bank account online is easier than scheduling an in-person visit to a local bank branch. You will still be required to provide documentation to open a kid’s bank account, but the process can be completed online without an in-branch visit.
To help, we’ve narrowed down the list to banks and financial institutions that offer digital account set-up, making it easier to open an online bank account for your child:
Different types of children’s bank accounts in Canada
While the range of banking products available to children is quite limited compared to the options available to adults, there are still options to consider. Here is a list of the different types of bank accounts as well as money tools and various saving and investment options available to children.
Children’s savings accounts
A children’s savings account in Canada most closely resembles a traditional savings account. Most come with no monthly fees, but the number and type of monthly transactions may be limited.
Day-to-day children’s account
This account most closely resembles a chequing account. It comes with a larger number of free monthly transactions, access to online banking and a debit card. Unlike the adult versions, the child’s bank account does not come with cheques.
Debit card for kids
In Canada, you must be 18 or older to get access to a debit card unless you open a kid’s bank account and your parent authorizes the use of a debit card. By opening up a kid’s bank account with a debit card, a parent can start to teach their child about digital transactions and the cost of borrowed money. It also means the parent assumes responsibility for the use of the debit card and the attached account. For more information, go to the Finder guide on kid’s debit cards.
Money apps and cash cards for kids
For parents keen to show and teach their kids about digital transactions, a cash card (and money account) may be a good alternative to a traditional bank account. Cash cards are offered by digital-only financial institutions and provide account holders with a debit card and account that works in a similar fashion to a day-to-day bank account. The key advantage to cash cards for kids is that these services often provide more visually stimulating details about spending and saving and often come with higher interest rates. For more information, go to the Finder guide on prepaid cards and money apps for kids.
Guaranteed investment certificates (GICs)
Did you know you (or others) can gift your child a GIC as long as a parent is listed as the account custodian? This is good news for parents who want to teach their children about the power of saving and compound interest since GICs typically earn at a higher interest rate than other child savings accounts. Your child will not be able to access the GIC money until they turn 18 and any earned income before that age will need to be reported as investment income on your tax return. Read our guide to find out more about GICs in Canada.
Registered education savings plans (RESPs)
An RESP is a registered savings account that allows parents and caregivers to save after-tax dollars in a tax-sheltered account. A big incentive for using an RESP is that a portion of annual contributions is matched through government grants and bursaries, up to specified limits. For more, go to the Finder guide on RESPs.
How are kids’ bank accounts different from regular bank accounts?
There are several key differences between a standard chequing or savings account used by adults or teens and a kid’s bank account. While requirements and conditions may differ from bank to bank, the primary differences include the following:
Age restrictions: To open a children’s bank account in Canada, the child must be under a certain age, typically the age of majority, but the age restriction can be as low as 12 or 16 years of age.
Adult involvement: Most financial institutions that offer kids’ bank accounts still require an adult to be on file. This enables the bank to offer cost-effective banking solutions for your growing children while keeping the responsibility for maintaining the account with an adult.
Interest rate: While bank accounts with a high-interest rate can help your child’s money grow, most bank accounts for children do not compete based on interest rates. The reason is that most kids’ bank accounts come without bells and whistles and with low- or no monthly fees. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around. Quite often the most competitive interest-rate bank accounts for kids can be found through digital-only banks or money institutions that focus on services, rather than brick-and-mortar branches.
Account fees: Most kids’ bank accounts offer low- or no-monthly fees, but it never hurts to check, just in case.
Transaction costs: While children won’t make use of many banking services – such as bank drafts, overdraft protection or multi-rebate offers – you may want to teach them how to use their debit card, e-transfer money, pay bills and set up automatic payments. To minimize fees – and to protect your child’s bank balance from fee erosion – be sure to read the fine print on the number and type of transactions included and the cost for any extras.
Debit card: Virtually every bank account will come with a debit card, including a kid’s bank account; however, if using a debit card is a critical part of teaching your child money management, be sure to confirm that your child will get a debit card and the rules and costs associated with that card.
Account balance requirements: Your child’s bank account should not require a minimum balance. If it does, be sure to understand why and what happens if you don’t keep the minimum balance in the account.
Account changes as your child grows: One key difference between adult and kid bank accounts is what happens to a child’s bank account as they grow up. In most cases, the financial institution will automatically convert your child’s account to an adult account once they reach the age of majority (usually age 18 or 19). As part of your young adult’s education, be sure to help them research this new account and whether the perks offered and the fees charged make sense for their financial plans. To find out more, check out Finder’s guide on the best bank accounts for teens.
How are kids’ bank accounts different from a bank account for a baby?
There is no difference between a kid’s bank account and a bank account opened for a baby. In fact, for parents excited about teaching their kids the value of saving, it’s possible to open a bank account for your baby once the child is born and you have the child’s unique Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Can I open a bank account for my child?
Yes. A parent can open a bank account for their child. A kid’s bank account works pretty much the same as an adult’s bank account, but either a parent will need to be listed as a joint account owner, or the parent will need to act as a guarantor for a kid’s bank account. With both types of bank accounts, your child can make deposits and withdrawals, learn how saving money and e-transfers work and earn interest on money kept in the bank account.
RESP: Parents, grandparents, relatives and friends can contribute money at any time into an RESP – up to a lifetime total of $50,000 per child. While there are no immediate tax benefits for the contributor, the money can grow tax-free in the RESP. Once a child is ready to pay for post-secondary schooling, the money in the RESP is withdrawn and taxed by the student. Since students typically have little to no income, significantly less tax is paid on any interest or earnings that accrued in the account, plus the money invested is returned to the contributor’s family, tax-free. For more info, read our tax guidelines for opening a kids’ bank account guide.
Joint bank accounts: Quite often, a parent will open a bank account and add their child’s name to the account – effectively making it a joint account. These accounts are not considered a child’s bank account and all interest and earnings must be reported on the parent’s annual tax return. The benefits of a joint account are that you have complete visibility and control over your child’s saving and spending decisions.
Can I open a bank account for my baby before my child is born?
No. To open a bank account for a baby, you must provide both a birth certificate and the child’s Social Insurance Number (SIN) – two documents that are obtained once a child is born.
Just like a kid’s bank account, a bank account opened for a baby will require additional documentation from the parent, along with an agreement to assume responsibility for keeping the account in good standing.
Should you have multiple bank accounts for kids?
Kids typically don’t require multiple bank accounts, unless there’s a strategy for the extra accounts. For instance, some parents require kids to keep a saving account that is not linked to a debit card and another ‘spending’ account that is linked to the child’s debit card. This helps a child learn to transfer money from accounts, the power of saving and the importance of monitoring your account balance.
Another reason to open multiple bank accounts for kids is to help a child learn money concepts that are not, yet, familiar. For instance, opening a joint chequing account with your child can be an excellent way for them to learn how to make deposits and withdrawals as well as gain an understanding of how to budget properly.
Opening a joint bank account with your child
Contrary to popular belief, joint bank accounts are not just for couples. Joint accounts are also a great tool for families. Siblings can use joint accounts when they share the costs and responsibilities of certain assets or activities. A joint account between a parent and a child is a great way for a child to piggyback on the money management tasks completed by a parent.
In Canada, almost all major banks and credit unions will offer an option for a joint account between a parent and a child. Some fintech and digital banks, such as Tangerine, also offer this option. When choosing which account to use, remember that the child will have access to the account and all the features, but as the parent, you are responsible for maintaining the account.
Saving vs. Investing: The difference explained
As kids start to develop their financial literacy skills, they’ll need to learn the difference between saving and investing.
Saving is putting aside money in order to reach your goals. Investing requires taking this money and putting it into something with value, with the expectation that the value will grow over time.
One way to illustrate this difference is to help your child open up a high-interest savings account or RRSP. (Unfortunately, your child must turn 18 before opening a tax-free savings account.)
To learn more about saving and investing for minors, see NEW FINDER POST.[/fin_hide]
How to close a kid’s bank account: What you need to know
You may find the current kid’s bank account no longer suits your child’s needs. Sometimes, you may need to switch to a student or adult bank account. In other situations, you may want to close the kid’s bank account. Thankfully, the process to close an account isn’t complicated.
Before booking an appointment with a bank representative first, be sure to:
Transfer all money out of the account (preferably, into a new account);
Stop all automatic payments and deposits.
Once these steps are completed, get in touch with our financial institution. You can either call for an in-person appointment or go online using their secure chat system. Some banks and credit unions will require you (and maybe your child) to fill out an account closure request form or submit a written request to close the account. Others will take a verbal request and check to make sure there are no outstanding payments or funds in the account.
Kids’ bank account FAQs
Most banks will let them roll their account balance over into an independent adult account, but it can vary from institution to institution. Check with your bank to learn more.
It depends. Most joint accounts will let you add and withdraw money, but custodial accounts won't. In order to withdraw from a custodial account, you may need to prove that you're using it to pay for something on behalf of the child, such as college tuition.
Banks usually have account options for children, but it depends on the banking provider. Most banks require chequing account owners to be at least the age of majority in the province or territory in which they live, so children cannot open accounts by themselves. Children are not legally allowed to enter into binding contracts, so an adult must be present with ID to open an account.
You'll need to list both your name and the child's name on the account, but some accounts will let you sign full ownership of the account over when the child is legally an adult — 18 or 19 in most provinces and territories. You can open an account online or at a bank branch, and you'll need to provide personal information for yourself and the baby. This can include social insurance numbers (SIN), an address and phone number and a photo ID or birth certificate. Your email address and proof of residency may also be required.
Romana King is the Canada Group Editor at Finder and a personal finance expert. As an award-winning personal finance writer and real estate expert, she has spent almost two decades helping Canadians make smarter money management decisions. Her first book, House Poor No More: 9 Steps That Grow the Value of Your Home and Net Worth, launched in November 2021, continues to be an Amazon bestseller and won the Excellence in Financial Journalism Book Award in 2022.
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