Best bank account for teens in the UK 2021

Find out about bank accounts for teenagers, how to choose the right one and how they differ from kids' prepaid cards.

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There are two types of spending accounts for teens: prepaid cards and children’s bank accounts. Both can be a good way of teaching kids about managing money. You might be wary about giving an under-18 a bank account with a debit card, but it’s not possible to go overdrawn with a children’s bank account. Our guide explores all the advantages of bank accounts for teenagers, explains how they differ from prepaid cards and helps you compare UK bank account options for under-18s.

Latest bank account and prepaid card reviews for teens

Your teenager might not be a child, but until they turn 18, they can only have a children’s bank account or prepaid card.

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

£1.99 (+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 £1.99 (+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
Network Mastercard
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

gohenry - with free custom card and one month free

£2.99

Monthly fee

£0

Card delivery fee

£0

Cash withdrawal fee

gohenry is designed for children aged 6 to 18, and is managed digitally through an app for a monthly fee. It consists of a parent and child account combination, which sees parents use their account to top up the child’s balance and set limits on their spending. The child can check the available balance in their account and spend the money they’ve been given using a prepaid Visa debit card. Its free to use the card to make purchases online and in-store, as well as to make ATM withdrawals in the UK. But you only get one free money load from the parent’s account to the child’s account each month – after that it’s 50p per top-up.
  • Full parental control thanks to instant notifications and spending limits
  • Spend abroad fee-free
  • One-month free trial
  • It can be used by children as young as six
  • Reward system for completed tasks
  • Children learn about personal finance in a controlled environment
  • Relatives can also send money to the children
  • You can manage up to four child accounts from the same parent account
  • Monthly fee
  • Only one free top-up to the child account a month
  • Safe, but not as safe and regulated as a bank
  • You cannot load cash onto the account
  • It doesn’t pay any interest
Monthly fee £2.99
Card delivery fee £0
Card transaction fee £0
Cash withdrawal fee £0
Loading fee 1 free/month, then 50p each
Replacement card fee Free, or £4.99 if changing the card design
Network VISA
How many child accounts 4
Fees abroad £0
Other fees £4.99 for a customisable card or Eco Card
Freeze/unfreeze card Yes

Starling Bank - Current Account - Age 16-17

£0

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0.05% AER

Interest (AER)

This is an app-based bank account for 16 and 17 year olds. It comes with a Mastercard debit card and the account can be opened and managed via the app only. The app is packed full of useful tools to help account holders make their money go further, including instant payment notifications, spending insights to help with budgeting, and a savings goals feature. It also allows users to lock and unlock their debit card if they misplace it. In addition, the account pays interest on in-credit balances, offers 24/7 customer support and allows users to make instant payments to friends. Applying for the account is quick and easy - all applicants will need is their passport for ID purposes.
  • Account is free to open and operate
  • Interest is paid on in-credit balances
  • App is packed with features to help young people better manage their money
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Account can only be operated via the app
  • Your teen will need to have a mobile phone
  • Only available to 16 and 17 year olds
Interest rate
0.05%
AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions £0
Overseas cash withdrawals £0

Barclays - BarclayPlus

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0.1% AER

Interest (AER)

Free personalised debit card.
This account from Barclays is for children aged between 11 and 15 years old. If a parent or guardian already banks with Barclays, the account can be opened in video banking. If not, the account must be opened in branch and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The account has no monthly fees and pays interest on credit balances up to a set amount. Account holders can choose between a cash card or Visa debit card and can design their own card with their favourite photo. The account can be managed by the Barclays app for children which allows account holders to move money, pay people and check their balance. Those aged 11 and 12 will need parental permission to use the app.
  • Banking app has been adapted for children
  • Account pays interest on credit balances
  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • Interest is only paid up to a set amount
  • To open the account via video banking, a parent or guardian must already bank with Barclays
  • No savings features
Interest rate
0.1%
AER
Minimum opening balance £1
Minimum operating balance £1
Switch service guarantee No
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

NatWest - Adapt Current Account

£0.01

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

1% AER

Interest (AER)

This youth current account is for those aged between 11 and 18 and comes with a contactless Visa debit card. There are no regular fees for the account and it also pays interest on credit balances. Those aged 11 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to open the account and the parent/guardian must also have their own current account with NatWest. Those aged 16 to 17 can open the account online themselves. Account holders can use the NatWest mobile banking app to manage their account and check their balance on the move. Those aged 16 or over can also use the Paym service to send cash to family and friends using their phone number.
  • Pays interest on credit balances
  • No fee for opening or maintaining the account
  • Over 16s have access to Paym
  • Interest only paid up to a set amount
  • Those aged 11 to 15 must have a parent or guardian with their own NatWest account to qualify
  • No specific app for children
Interest rate
1%
AER
Minimum opening balance £0.01
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee No
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 2.75%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.75%

About parental control and privacy

We’re referring to teens as those aged 11 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 under 11 years of age.

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.

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).

Using prepaid debit cards as an alternative

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. We have a dedicated guide on the best prepaid cards for children and teens.

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
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.

Fees

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.
Usage fees
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.

Compare prepaid cards and bank accounts for teens

Name Product Min age Monthly fee Savings goals Set chores Key benefits
OFFER
gohenry - with free custom card and one month free
6-18
£2.99
A free custom card (usually £4.99) and the first month free (£2.99 thereafter).
Finder Award
OFFER
RoosterMoney Card
6-18
£2.08 (1 month free trial)
Purchase the Rooster Card (£24.99/yr) in the app and you will get a £3 pocket money bonus after your free trial
nimbl
6-18
£1.99 (+1 month free trial)
Starling Kite
6-16
£2 (parent needs Starling account)
Revolut Junior
7-17
£0 (parent needs Revolut account)
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Ratings Interest (AER) Minimum eligibility age Maximum eligibility age Incentive Representative example Link
Santander
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
1%
13 Years
Under 18 Years
Eligible for Retailer Offers, customers must be over 16 and use online or mobile banking to qualify.
Current account switch service guarantee badge
Go to site More Info
Barclays
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
0.1%
11 Years
15 Years
Free personalised debit card.
More Info
Current Account - with Everyday Rewards Age 16-17
The Co-operative Bank
Not yet rated
0%
16 Years
17 Years
Eligible for Everyday Rewards: Earn 2p every time debit card used, up to maximum of £1.20 per month.
Current account switch service guarantee badge
More Info
Starling Bank
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
0.05%
16 Years
Under 18 Years
Current account switch service guarantee badge
More Info
Halifax
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
0.5%
11 Years
17 Years
Current account switch service guarantee badge
More Info
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Pros and cons of having a bank account for teens

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Bottom line

So long as the bank account comes with no overdraft or fees and a decent interest rate, you can’t go too far wrong. Sticking with a reputable bank is always advisable, as well as reading the small print. Parental controls won’t apply, so be sure to give your teen a stern talking to about spending and saving before they’re set up. Alternatively if you’d still like to keep tabs on their spending, a prepaid debit card will allow you to manage transactions and even block payments.

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