Bank accounts and prepaid debit cards can be a good way of teaching kids about managing their money. As the world heads away from using cash, many businesses are opting to take only contactless card payments. You might think of it as dangerous to give an under-18 year-old a bank account or debit card, given the opportunities for overdrafts and lending but there are specific accounts and cards designed for this that have their safeguards and advantages.
We’re referring to teens as those aged 13 to 17. Once they turn 18 they’re eligible for an adult bank account. The different types of account offer different amounts of control to parents and the teens in question, so it’s worth thinking about your child’s age and discussing with them how much control you should have over their account. Learn more about bank accounts for children
There are two types of spending accounts for teens: prepaid cards and children’s bank accounts.
Prepaid debit cards
These cards are like a mix of a gift card and a regular debit card. A prepaid card can be topped up and used like a debit card, but once the balance reaches £0, it can’t go any further. Any transactions attempted at that point will be declined, so the child can’t end up in debt.
Best prepaid cards for teens
These cards all let you manage your child’s transactions, and block payments at blacklisted sites and stores.
For parental controls: gohenry
gohenry is the most expensive of the prepaid cards, and it’s available to kids from the age of 6 to 18, but it might be more suited to younger teens. It has good controls, notifications and safeguards in place, including an automatic limit on payments to your child’s chosen gaming platform. Kids can earn extra from doing chores you set via the app.
For educational tools: Rooster Card
An easy and fun way to pay your kids pocket money and teach them good money habits
- gohenry is a debit card and app with unique parental controls for young people aged 6 to 18.
- gohenry costs just 32.99 per child per month, and you can cancel at any time.
- Join 100,000s of families and get started for free.
- No obligation. No upfront payment.
Rooster Card costs £24.99 a year for the card and app. It lets you limit stores visited, ban blacklisted stores and has a dynamic CVV, which gives more fraud protection for online sales. It also offers a wealth of educational resources for kids to learn about money. You can set chores for your child via the app, too.
What features are on offer for prepaid cards?
- See the transactions. You can see where your children are spending their money.
- Set limits and allowances. You can set up a monthly allowance, freeze the card and set spending limits for your child. With some, you can control where they spend, and bar cashpoint withdrawals.
- No direct debits. Your kids can’t set up a direct debit.
- Text message alerts. Most providers pop you a text message or notification when your child spends.
- Age-restricted vendors. Your teen won’t be able to use the card to gamble, go to the pub or pay to see adult sites.
Annual or monthly fees
Most children’s prepaid cards have annual or monthly fees. There’s often a promotional period that’s free or heavily discounted.
Some charge fees to top up, withdraw money or use the card beyond certain limits, especially when used abroad.
Is a prepaid card right for my teen?
These cards are more suited to a younger teen than an older one. As your child starts to work part-time and earn their own money, you both might find it overkill that you get a notification about every transaction, and your child might want a bit of privacy. The best way to decide is to just chat to them and agree on what will work for you both.
Children’s bank accounts
Your teenager might not be a child, but until they turn 18, they can only have a children’s bank account. These accounts look like an adult account, but they usually have no charges and won’t have the facility for an overdraft. They offer more privacy for your child, especially the ones that can’t be opened until the child is 16-years-old.
Latest bank account reviews
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 13-18, 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).
|Card delivery fee
|Card transaction fee
|Cash withdrawal fee
|Replacement card fee
|How many child accounts
Features of a children’s bank account
- No fees in UK. These accounts are typically free to open and use in the UK.
- No overdraft. Your child isn’t going to get into debt.
- Recognised brands. Your teenager might want to choose a card with a recognisable brand their friends have.
- Real life learning. Giving your teen an account like this gives them a lesson in money management. They can see the benefits of saving and realise the value of money.
- Mobile banking app. Many accounts offer mobile banking so kids can see their transactions and balance.
Features these accounts don’t have
- Parental controls. You can’t control your child’s spending with these accounts. The accounts naturally come with restrictions on overdrafts and fees, but you can’t stop them from spending at specific sites or stores.
Children’s bank account fees
Most of these accounts don’t have fees except for spending or withdrawing cash abroad. They aim to get their customers in early to hopefully keep them for life.
Bank accounts for teens
We have provided a table of various bank accounts for teens where the data was taken from the provider’s websites on 2 January 2021.
|Provider Name||Name of account||Rate (AER variable)||Includes debit card||Min/max deposit||Min age max age|
|Bank of Scotland||Under 19s Account||0.50%||Yes||£1||11-17|
|Barclays||Children’s bank account – BarclayPlus||0.1% from £1, 0.6% from £1000||Yes||£1||11-15|
|Halifax||Expresscash account||0.5% between £1 and £2499||Yes||£1||11-17|
|HSBC||MyAccount current account||None||Yes||£1||11-17|
|Lloyds||Under 19s Account||0.5% from £1 to £2499||Yes||£1||11-17|
|Metro Bank||Cash account||Not stated||Yes||None||11 or over|
|Nationwide||FlexOne||0.1% up to £1000||Yes||None||11-17|
|Santander||1|2|3 Mini Current Account||1% up to 999, 2% to 1499, 3% for 1500 to 2000||Yes||None||Up to 18|
How to choose the best bank account for teens
- Talk to your teen. It seems obvious, but start by discussing the features you want and choose an account that has these features. If you choose to go with a prepaid card, consider choosing a date in the future to reassess and move them to a proper bank account.
- Think about fees. Prepaid cards usually have fees associated with them so work out how much it will cost for the use your child will get out of it.
- Interest. When it comes to children’s bank accounts, there’s not much between them except for the interest they offer. This isn’t going to make a huge difference to your child, but it can help them learn about how interest works.
Best bank accounts for teens
There’s not much between these accounts, except for the interest rates, so that’s what we’ve gone with to rank them.
Best interest rate: TSB
TSB’s Under 19s account has the best interest rate, at 2.5%, meaning that your teens will see some interest on what they put in it.
They receive a debit card with the account which means that they can spend money in shops and online.
For a digital bank: Starling Bank
Older teens can sign up for Starling from the age of 16, which gives them pretty much the same experience as with the adult account. You can get a nice interest rate of 0.05% and all the bells and whistles of the adult Starling account (except for the lending facilities).
Pros and cons of having a bank account for teens
- Freedom. Your teenager doesn’t need to pester you for pocket money and they can spend their money how they like.
- Education. Having a bank account as a teenager can provide a huge amount of education in money management.
- Privacy. At last, you can receive a birthday present from your child that’s a surprise! Your child might feel that they have more privacy, which can improve feelings of trust between you.
- Letting go. Your child will always be your baby, but you might have to overcome that feeling and let them go out into the world.
- Fees. Some prepaid cards have fees to use them.