5 Tips to Help Your Teen Open a Checking Account

Helping your child open and use a checking account gets them ready for real-world success.

Kallee Feuz May 3, 2021

You wouldn't hand your child a set of car keys and send them out into the world alone without any driving experience. Yet many young adults head off to college or a full-time job without any experience managing personal finances.

About 40%, or fewer than half of teens ages 13-17 have a debit card, according to a study by credit reporting agency TransUnion®.

Helping your child open and use a checking account gets them ready for real-world success. Checking accounts for teens provide a place to practice spending in a controlled environment. And as a joint account owner (youths under 18 are required to have one), you’ll be in the passenger seat to help them avoid overspending and develop important skills.

Here are 5 tips from Zions Bank’s vice president of Student Banking Kelly West to help make the most of checking accounts for your teenagers.

Kelly West of Zions Bank
Kelly West

Checking Account for Teens Tip #1: Time it right

The magic age for opening a checking account is when your child is ready to use it. That may coincide with starting a part-time job or getting a driver’s license. Checking accounts for students are also best opened when the child is responsible enough to keep track of a debit card and not likely to lose it.

Checking Account for Teens Tip #2: Get back to basics

Using a checking account is second nature to someone who’s been doing it for years. For your child, however, these concepts will likely be brand new. Explain how paying with a debit card is the same as using cash. Show them how funds are deducted from their account each time they use the card.

When your child is ready to make their first purchase, accompany them to the store or walk them through the process online. Afterward, check the account balance together. Be sure to emphasize the importance of knowing where their card is at all times.

Checking Account for Teens Tip #3: Monitor activity

As a cosigner on the account, you’ll have access to your child’s transaction history. Keep tabs on how your child is spending by regularly monitoring transactions. Teach your teen to check the account often to look out for unauthorized charges and know current balance.

Another great tool is Mobile Card Fraud Alerts[cite::8825::cite] so your bank can alert you if it detects something suspicious on your card. At Zions Bank, fraud alerts can be sent via a text message sent to your mobile phone asking if the transaction is fraudulent.

Checking Account for Teens Tip #4: Compare products

The best checking accounts for students are those that offer useful features without the unnecessary fees.

“Look for an account that is easy to access, doesn’t charge monthly fees, and has no minimum balance requirements,” says Kelly West, Zions Bank’s vice president of Student Banking. Other factors to consider are mobile and online banking features that allow your busy teen to manage finances, make transfers and deposit checks remotely.

Checking Account for Teens Tip #5: Emphasize the importance of savings

Teach your teen that a checking account is for short-term needs like buying gas or clothes. Any leftover money should go into a savings account, which can help them reach long-term goals like buying a car or paying for college. That money earns interest so it can grow over time. With a Zions Bank Young Savers account[cite::7001::cite] it just takes a $5 deposit to open an account. You can also set up an automatic transfer from checking account to help build savings.

A Zions Bank student banking account can help prepare your teen for financial success. Student banking accounts include digital banking features that make it easy to keep track of how much money they’re spending, and better yet, saving.

Kallee Feuz is a Public Relations officer with Zions Bank.

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