Bank accounts for 11-year-olds

We explain how bank accounts for 11-year-olds work and weigh up their pros and cons.

Opening a bank account for your 11-year-old can help them gain a better understanding of how money works and equip them with the tools they will need in later life. Many providers offer bank accounts for children, some of which come with a choice of a cash card or a debit card.

This guide takes a closer look at what’s available.

Can an 11-year-old open a bank account?

Yes, children aged 11 years old can open a bank account, but they will usually need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

High street bank accounts will typically need to be opened over the phone or in branch. Proof of ID, such as a passport or full UK birth certificate, must be provided for the child, while proof of address, such as a utility bill, must be provided for the parent/guardian.

Some digital-only providers also offer children’s accounts which will usually need to be set up by the parent. Accounts can be opened online or via the provider’s app.

What types of accounts are available?

Those aged 11 and over can typically choose from a current account, a savings account or a prepaid card.

Current accounts

Current accounts for 11-year-olds work in a similar way to adult current accounts, but you may be given a choice of a cash card or a debit card. Cash cards can only be used to make withdrawals at ATMs, while debit cards can also be used to make purchases online and in-store.

In addition, the account can be used to make bank transfers and set up direct debits and standing orders. Some accounts also pay interest on balances, but there will be no overdraft facility available.

Savings accounts

Savings accounts are designed to help your child develop good savings habits and interest will be paid on the balance. Some accounts can be held in trust for the child, while other accounts can be held in the child’s name.

Prepaid cards

With a prepaid card, funds must be added to the card in advance. The card can then be used for spending and cash withdrawals. Once the money on the card runs out, the cardholder can no longer make any purchases until the card is topped up with further funds. Prepaid cards are usually managed via a mobile app and can be linked to a parent’s account.

What’s the difference between children’s prepaid cards and children’s bank accounts?

A key difference between them is parental control. Children’s bank accounts are held in the child’s name which means they have overall control of the account. Although parents can make payments into the account, they won’t be able to restrict how the money is spent.

With a prepaid card, on the other hand, the account will be linked to a mobile app, allowing parents to see what their child is spending where. Many prepaid cards allow parents to set spending limits, restrict where the card can be used (such as online) and block and unblock the card if required. However, unlike most children’s bank accounts, there will usually be a monthly fee for prepaid cards.

Prepaid cards tend to be a better choice for younger children, but as they get older they might prefer the independence that comes with a bank account.

Are bank accounts for 11-year-olds safe?

There’s no overdraft facility on children’s bank accounts, so you won’t need to worry about your child getting into debt. However, parental control is lacking which means it can be difficult to monitor what your child is spending where or stop them from shopping at certain stores or websites.

In terms of protection for your money, all UK-regulated current accounts and savings accounts are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), including accounts held in a child’s name. This protects up to £85,000 per person per institution in the event the bank goes bust.

FSCS protection does not apply to e-money institutions, which includes prepaid cards. However, e-money institutions must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They are also required to keep customer funds in a segregated account that is protected by safeguarding requirements under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011.

Pros and cons of bank accounts for an 11-year-old

Pros

  • No monthly fee
  • No overdraft available, so your child cannot get into debt
  • Can encourage good money management skills
  • Interest sometimes paid on account balances

Cons

  • Lack of parental control with standard bank accounts
  • Prepaid cards usually charge monthly fees
  • Fees typically apply to card transactions abroad

Bottom line

Opening a bank account for your 11-year-old is a great way to increase their understanding about money and teach them how to budget and save. Plus, with no overdraft facility, there’s no worry that they’ll get into debt.

However, the downside of traditional children’s bank accounts is that there is no parental control, meaning it can be difficult to keep an eye on how your child is using their account. If this worries you, you might be better off with a prepaid debit card instead, so that you can monitor transactions and put spending restrictions in place.

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