Best bank accounts for kids UK 2021

Looking for a new home for your child's pocket money? Here's what you need to know about the best bank accounts for children.

With cash becoming somewhat old-fashioned, the idea of providing kids with their own debit cards isn’t as weird as it would have sounded 20 years ago.

There are two types of spending accounts for children: prepaid cards and children’s current accounts. With a child’s current account, you can set up a standing order instead of withdrawing from an ATM to give your kids their pocket money and you can show them how banking works in real life. They’ll appreciate the trust you place in them and love the feeling of adulthood and independence that having a bank account conveys.

If you’re considering this step, this guide is for you. We’ve gathered some useful information on how bank accounts for kids work, who they’re suitable for and how to compare them (you’re welcome!). If you are looking to open a savings account for your child then you can learn more about savings accounts for children here.

Latest bank accounts and prepaid cards for kids

123 Mini Current Account

£0

Monthly fee

£0

Card delivery fee

£0

Cash withdrawal fee

This is a children’s current account that is available at high street bank Santander. For children aged 12 and under, the 123 Mini is just a basic deposit-holding account, which must be opened in a branch by an adult (trustee) and then be managed by that trustee. But for kids aged 13-17, they can apply online to open the account themselves. They’ll get a Santander contactless debit card or a cash card (the latter can be used for ATM withdrawals only). These teenagers can also use Santander’s online and mobile banking services to manage their account. So apart from deciding what money to put in for their kids to spend, there’s not as much in the way of parental controls with this account.
  • Account is free to open and operate (no monthly fee).
  • Interest is paid on the account balance.
  • The bank has a large branch network.
  • Contactless debit card available for children aged 13 and over.
  • Children aged 13 and over can apply for the account themselves online.
  • Children aged 13 and over can manage the account through online and mobile banking.
  • For children aged 12 and under, the account must be opened in branch by an adult (who must also have a Santander current account).
  • No card available for children aged 12 and under.
  • No specific app (just the regular mobile banking one) to monitor transactions or help children learn how to budget.
  • For children aged 13 and over, there are few parental controls on the account (outside of not putting money in it).
Monthly fee Free
Card delivery fee Free
Card transaction fee Free
Cash withdrawal fee Free
Loading fee Free
Network Mastercard

nimbl

£2.49 (20% discount when using the Finder link + 1 month free trial)

Monthly fee

£0

Card delivery fee

£0

Cash withdrawal fee

This financial tool aims to help parents show their children aged 6 to 18, how to save, budget and be organised with their money. It’s an app that’s linked to a prepaid card, which also involves a parental account linked to a child’s account. Children as young as six can use the kid’s account, as well as the associated prepaid debit Mastercard. A parent can see what their child is spending by receiving real-time notifications of card transactions through the app, and like with many similar digital providers, they are able to block certain merchants altogether. There’s a monthly fee with nimbl, but card purchases, top-ups and ATM withdrawals are all free.
  • Full control on how children spend their money thanks to spending control settings and instant notifications.
  • Children as young as six years old can use it.
  • It helps you to educate your children to manage their finances.
  • You can turn off online payments or cash withdrawals.
  • Safe and secure. The card can be blocked online.
  • You can handle more than one Child Account from the same Parent Account.
  • You get a free one-month trial.
  • Monthly fee.
  • No savings goals or setting chores.
  • You cannot top up the account using cash.
  • Fees for spending or withdrawing cash abroad.
Monthly fee £2.49 (20% discount when using the Finder link + 1 month free trial)
Card delivery fee £0
Card transaction fee £0
Cash withdrawal fee £0
Loading fee £0
Replacement card fee £5 per card
How many child accounts 4
Fees abroad ATM, £1.50 per withdrawal. Purchases, 2.95% of transaction value
Other fees £0
Freeze/unfreeze card Yes

Starling Kite

£2 (parent needs Starling account)

Monthly fee

£0

Card delivery fee

£0

Cash withdrawal fee

Starling Kite is a debit card designed for kids aged 6 to 16, helping to teach them good financial habits from an early age. You can only order it if you are a parent (or guardian) and already have a current or joint account with digital challenger bank Starling. A Kite card costs £2 per month, although it’s free for children to spend on it or make ATM withdrawals with it. It’s also free to top up the prepaid card from the parent’s Starling mobile banking app. Kite comes with parental controls, such as spending notifications, card freezing and merchant blocks, which are also managed through the app.
  • Monthly cost similar to other kids’ cards on the market.
  • No fees for topping up the card’s prepaid account.
  • Robust parental controls.
  • Easy for parents to manage from their existing mobile banking app.
  • Parents already need to be a Starling account holder to order and use Kite.
Monthly fee £2 (parent needs Starling account)
Card delivery fee £0
Card transaction fee £0
Cash withdrawal fee £0
Loading fee £0
Replacement card fee £5
Network Mastercard
How many child accounts 6
Fees abroad £0
Other fees £0
Freeze/unfreeze card Yes

How do bank accounts for kids work?

Children’s bank accounts basically work like adults’ bank accounts: they come with a debit card and can be used to make payments and withdraw cash. They can be a useful alternative to cash for pocket money and help you teach your kids how to budget.

Standard children’s current accounts can be opened for kids from 11 to 18 years old. Some banks also offer separate “teen” bank accounts, that can be opened by 16-18-year-olds.

What’s the difference between children’s and adults’ bank accounts?

Your child’s account won’t be especially different from your own, but there may be some extra restrictions to look out for, such as:

  • Withdrawal limits. Some accounts only allow relatively low daily withdrawals, or may require a parent’s signature to authorise transfers over certain amounts.
  • No overdraft. You’ll like this: bank accounts for kids don’t offer overdrafts, so there’s no way your child can go into debt.
  • Age limits. Aside from the age limit to open the account, there may be specific ones to use certain account features, such as the app or Apple Pay.
  • Benefits and interest. Many current accounts for children come with tailored benefits, such as debit cards with personalised design or discounts. Some will also pay interest on the account balance, giving a little boost to your child’s money.

Like most adults’ current accounts, current accounts for kids usually have no monthly fee and allow fee-free card payments and ATM withdrawals. However, there’s usually a foreign currency transaction fee for using the card abroad.

How about prepaid cards for kids?

Prepaid cards are the main alternative to children’s current accounts. While also offering an account and a (prepaid) debit card to hold money and make payments, there are some substantial differences:

  • Prepaid cards are digital-only. They’re usually provided by fintech companies, not by traditional banks, and you can do everything online (which can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you prefer to bank).
  • They usually come for a monthly fee. Unlike current accounts, which are usually free.
  • Expect a slick app with great features. Your kids will love it and will probably learn how to use it better than you.
  • They offer much more control. With prepaid cards, parents are able to see how and when kids spend their money and can sometimes set personalised limits.
  • Kids as young as six can get one. If you want to start their money education from a really early age.

All in all, the deal with prepaid cards is that you have way more options and control, in return for a monthly fee. For this reason, they’re probably more suitable for young kids than for teenagers, whom you can (usually) trust with more independence.

The main prepaid cards for kids are gohenry, nimbl and Osper. Click on the one you’re interested in to read our dedicated review and learn more about what it offers, how it works and how much it costs, or you can learn more about the best debit cards for kids.

Kid debit cards

How to find the best bank account for your child

Comparing bank accounts is always tricky, and the features you may want to look at when choosing an account for your child aren’t necessarily the same you’d value for your own account. To help you out, here’s our children’s current account comparison checklist:

  • Current account, prepaid card or savings account? That’s the first thing to figure out. The choice will depend on your child’s age, on what you’re planning to do with the account and on how much control you want to retain. You can learn what you need to know about children’s savings accounts on this page.
  • Interest rate. It’s a nice incentive to teach your kids why it’s important to save money, so it’s a good idea to look for an account that offers it. Most savings accounts’ rates will beat the rates offered by current accounts, but on the other hand, a current account gives your child more freedom and immediate access to the money.
  • App. Realistically, by the time your child becomes an adult, most banking operations will be done online. A slick, secure and well-functioning mobile app is an essential feature of any bank account these days.
  • Eligibility and limits. Make sure your child is old enough to qualify for the account and that you’re aware of any other limitations.
  • Costs and fees. Don’t forget to read the small print and make sure you know if, when and how much your child will be charged.
  • Related products. Some children’s current accounts automatically come with a savings account. It’s worth checking it out to see if it makes for a good deal.

Bank accounts for children

Name Product Interest (AER) Minimum eligibility age Maximum eligibility age Daily cash machine limit Representative example Link
Santander
1%
13 Years
Under 18 Years
£300
Current account switch service guarantee badge
Go to site More Info
Barclays
0.1%
11 Years
15 Years
£300
More Info
Current Account - with Everyday Rewards Age 16-17
The Co-operative Bank
0%
16 Years
17 Years
£250
Current account switch service guarantee badge
More Info
Current Account - Age 16-17
Starling Bank
0.05%
16 Years
Under 18 Years
£300
Current account switch service guarantee badge
More Info
Halifax
0.5%
11 Years
17 Years
£500
Current account switch service guarantee badge
More Info
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Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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