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There is a plethora of free checking accounts for the adults (i.e. 18+ years olds). Many FIs offer free checking for college students. I've done a search of free full-service checking accounts for high school students available at (preferably, national) brick-and-mortar FIs in my area. Some of my expectations/requirements to such accounts were:
  • Main requirement is that it must be available to 13-years olds, e.g., to high school students. (I exclude accounts available to college students.)
  • Completely free of monthly maintanence fees
  • Traditional checking (teller-assisted transactions in the local branch, paper statements, etc.)
  • Must come with a debit card!
  • Reasonably wide network of bank branches and ATMs (would really prefer national banks).
  • If it pays interest and refunds other banks' ATM fees -- all the better, but not necessary.


Here are some findings.

Checking accounts for minors WITHOUT an adult co-signor:


  • Fifth Third Student Checking Account is for 16+ years olds. (Better than 18+ years old, but not up to my requirement of 13 years old.)
  • Bank of America CampusEdge® Checking. <18 YO in branch only; reportedly is available for high school students; the lower age limit unknown.


Checking accounts for minors WITH an adult co-signor:


  • Chase High School Checking(SM). A free full-service checking account available to students between ages 13 and 17. This account is owned by the student jointly with a parent or guardian, provided that the parent or guardian maintains a separate qualifying linked checking account with Chase.
  • National City Bank (a part of PNC) doesn't market special checking accounts for students. However, their rep told me in an online chat that (A) any child "who can walk, talk and sign her name" having a passport or other government-issued ID can open an individual account, however there will be no debit card or check signing pribilege until 18; (B) any child with a passport or other government-issued ID can open an account with adult co-signor and, with co-signor permission, get a debit card, however again there will be no check signing pribilege until 18.


All the rest (18+ years):


  • Flagstar doesn't seem to offer checking accounts for college students, not even mentioning high-school students.
  • Charter One (a division of RBS Citizens, N.A.) offers a Student Checking; but when clicking the "apply online" link, there is a requirement that an applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
  • TCF's Totally Free Checking is for 18+ years of age only.
  • Comerica Access Checking is free for college students, but seems to be unavailable for those younger 18.


I wonder what are your thoughts on a checking account for a high schooler, and what FIs, in your experience, are high school customers-friendly.

[edited]

Member Summary
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Chase has a high school checking account for 13+ with a joint owner, no monthly fee if linked to your Chase checking. I... (more)

jason86423 (Aug. 09, 2009 @ 12:07p) |

I recall once I started earning some babysitting money, my mom took me up to the local credit union where I opened an ac... (more)

sharky1985 (Aug. 09, 2009 @ 12:16p) |

I noticed Chase started offering a Chase College Checking for 17-24 years old college students. They still offer the Hi... (more)

ymf (Oct. 03, 2009 @ 11:50a) |

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What is unusual is to find an account for minors that DOESNT require a joint adult accountholder. If you find one, please post.

Otherwise, MANY banks will allow a checking account to be opened by an adult, with a child as joint owner.

Just bc they dont advertise a special named product for it, doesnt mean they cant do it. Many do.

ymf said: Bank of America CampusEdge® Checking is for college, not high school students.

......

I wonder what are your thoughts on a checking account for a high schooler, and what FIs, in your experience, are high school customers-friendly.
Despite the name anmd marketing geared towards the college-age, the CampusEdge account is for any "student" (a minimum age may apply, but it's atleast 16 if not younger).

BofA will also open a standard MyAccess checking account for a 16 yr old, including a debit card, with no joint accountholder. But under 18 accounts must be done in branch, not online.

I suspect that, if your "search" was online (and limited to online applications), you'd have more luck visiting branches to find options for minors.

Glitch99 said:
BofA will also open a standard MyAccess checking account for a 16 yr old, including a debit card, with no joint accountholder.
good info.

I agree with Glitch - do not pay attention to how the accounts are advertised/marketed. if you have an adult cosigner, many banks will have an account you can use. Even if its not specifically advertised to work for high school age kids

PatelcoFCU free checking tied to Gr8 savings account (8% on up to 1K for members under 21). Funds moved from savings to checking easily. Free billpay. Also, new member 1yr cd 7%apy 1k max.

Or, Wachovia Free student checking. May need to have a custodial arrangement if under 17. (a friend of mine was able to open a student checking for her <16 yo, we already had a custodial checking for our <14 yo, which they converted to jt at age 17yo.)

Or, USAA (if eligible) Free student checking. Tied to free prepaid MC for immediate $ load from external account or USAA checking acct. No fees. No min. Free ATM anywhere for checking, not MC.

Or, INGdirect fee Orange Account. (we opened a jt savings account when our son was 14, and then requested his SS# be primary on the account, added a checking account later for bonus $.)

Why do so many banks have restrictions on giving out debit cards to people under 18? I remember when I was in high school a few years back my credit union refused to give me a debit card for my checking account, claiming that it was a Visa/Mastercard restriction not to give cards to people under 18. Sounds like a load of crap to me...

Actually, it sounds like a great idea. Someone just learning how to work with money doesn't need the level of abstraction that a debit card provides.

We have enough trouble with people who think that, as long as they have checks, they have money. Let's not start people off on something that doesn't disappear when you use it.

minors can void a contract at their choosing

So if the kid gets hit with OD fees bounced check fees etc all it takes is for him her to say sorry i dont agree and the bank eats it

Thats probably why they want adult accountholders in the account who sgree to be responsible for it

Key Bank Student Checking Account: 16+ years, but only an ATM card (no debit card) and must have an adult cosigner if <18 years.

When I helped my 16 yo daughter get a bank account at BofA, they would only give her an ATM card. Not a debit card. They explained to me that if they scan it as a "credit" that she was not legally able to enter into the agreement, so they wouldn't issue it to her. They can still use the ATM and get cash. It worked fine for her.

I have had a campus account with bofa since i was 16(2007) and have always had the debit card.

NationalCity bank opened checking account for my 14 yo daughter with no problems.

I'm not sure where you're getting that National City doesn't offer high-school or college accounts. They advertise college student accounts on our campus here, and they were the only bank that would give me a checking account with a CheckCard/debit back when I was 16 (and I looked around a lot at the time). With that, plus the fact that they generally haven't done any wrong by me, I still have a lot of loyalty to them. I don't know the minimum age though.

PSECU Checking - Age 12 and older

Pennsylvania State Employee's Credit Union offers individual checking to age 12+. I got my first checking account with them at age 13 when I started selling crafts at local arts festivals. I'm not sure what the membership requirements are, but I'm not a state employee and nobody in my family was.

Like gkl, I opened an free checking account at National City for my then 12-year old daughter, with her as primary and me as joint owner, with no problem. They had no problem giving her a debit card either. Just remember that you'll need to come up with some acceptable ID; in my case we used her student photo ID and passport.

As others have said, if you're willing to be a joint owner, accounts for kids are easy to get.

Incidentally, I disagree with sechs that a debit card is too abstract for a student. It all depends on the person involved. I think it's great that my daughter has a debit card and knows that she'll get socked with outrageous fees if she overdraws her account. She's developed a habit of checking her balance online before she goes anywhere that she might use the card, which I hope will translate into good spending habits when she ultimately gets a credit card.

I think managing a debit card is an important life-long skill that parents need to teach their kids. Like driving a car. Debit card, similarly to the driver license, is of course a privilege not a right. But how else you can teach a kid to be a responsible user of plastic.

I don't mind being a cosignor on on my child's account. And it does seem that many (yet not all) banks will be happy to open an account for a child if there is an adult co-signor, and many will issue a debit card to the child.

Many, many, many local credit unions do this as well. In fact, all of the ones local to my area offer them. Several of them are also in national ATM networks. Just another place to look...

The Discover Current program has a $5 monthly fee but it does allows both you and the kid to track their spending which is pretty nifty. Buying in with a credit card gets you reward points so doing it with a 2% card might let you break even or come out ahead.

It will be hard to find a checking account that pays interest without a catch like direct deposit. Watch out for linking to savings accounts - if the transfer limit on the savings account is exceeded then you will get hit with fees. Most offers I see for minors are for savings accounts since banks like it when parents make their kids park their money in these accounts.

ymf said: I think managing a debit card is an important life-long skill that parents need to teach their kids.No, teaching your children how to manage their finances is an important life-long skill. Like pens; you don't need to teach someone to "manage" a pen -- you need to teach them to write.

A monkey can use a debit card. It does not take special training to go from using checks to using a debit card.

Chase has a high school checking account for 13+ with a joint owner, no monthly fee if linked to your Chase checking. It has all the features of a standard checking. Online Bill Pay, check writing, debit card. I opened my son's account a few days afer he turned 13. His account shows up in my Chase online and as soon as he swipes his card, deposits, etc I get an email with the details. It is a good account so far. I believe if you search for it there is some kind of bonus that Chase is giving out.

I recall once I started earning some babysitting money, my mom took me up to the local credit union where I opened an account. I believe she was a cosigner for it but they sure made things easy and at the time I was really excited to earn 0.6% interest.

I noticed Chase started offering a Chase College Checking for 17-24 years old college students. They still offer the High School Checking for for 13-17 years old high school students with a parent co-signor.



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