Are there bank accounts for children and teens?
Many banks and building societies will let children open current accounts from the age of 11, although some are restricted to those aged 16 or over.
Children’s bank accounts don’t have overdraft facilities, so this can be a safe way to learn the basics of financial management before moving on to an adult account.
In the past, banks offered children incentives such as piggy banks and free school bags. Today, the most common perk is credit interest, although many children's savings accounts can beat these rates.
Once children turn 18 they can access a much wider range of current accounts - you can find the best here.
Here are the best accounts for children and teenagers, ranked by provider customer score:
Must be operated via the Starling mobile banking app. Overdrafts and gambling blocked until they turn 18. Costs £2mth. This is only open to children of parents or guardians who are already with Starling (parents with a joint Starling account will both get notifications of transactions). The app offers monthly spending insights and visual saving tools plus a temporary freeze button in case the card goes missing. Parents can control whether or not the card can be used at ATMs but regardless, there is a maximum daily withdrawal limit of £100. Starling doesn't charge fees to use the card outside of the UK
Must be operated via the Starling mobile banking app. Overdrafts and gambling blocked until they turn 18.
|Current||88%||16+||0.05% up to £85,000||Mobile app||Debit|
Must be operated via the Monzo mobile banking app. Overdrafts and gambling blocked until they turn 18.
|Metro Bank |
Direct debits not available on this account. Cash card cannot be used abroad.
If you're 14 to 15 years old you can apply online or in branch with a parent or guardian. From age 16, you can apply or online or in branch without an adult. FlexOne can be held up to the age of 23.
0.1% up to £1,000
Branch (age 11-13), online (14+)
Previously paid 1.5% on any balance. No interest will be paid over this.
|70%||11-17||0.5% up to £2,500|| |
11-12: Branch only
13-17: Online then Branch for ID checks
Branch, online, phone
|Lloyds Bank |
Previously paid 1.5% up to £2,500.
|Under 19s||69%||11-18||0.5% up to £2,500|| |
(over 13s can start application online)
|The Co-operative Bank||Current||68%||16+||None||Branch/Online||Debit|
Personalise your card with a photo. Cash card cannot be used abroad. At age 11 or 12, the child must have permission from a parent or guardian to access Mobile Banking.
Linked MySavings account from aged 7 years pays 2.75% AER on balances up to £3,000 and 0.5% on balances over this.
|Bank of Scotland |
A parent/guardian must be present when account is opened
|Under 19s||64%||11-17||0.5% up to £2,500|| |
11-12: Branch only
13-17: Online then Branch for ID checks
For children under 13, the account must be opened in trust and managed by an adult (trustee). At age 11, the trustee can choose whether to hand the account over to the child or continue to manage the account. From age 13, young people must open and manage the account alone.
|123 Mini||63%||11-17|| |
£1 - £999.99: 1% AER
£1,000 - £1,499.99 - 2% AER
£1,500 - £2,000 - 3% AER
|Branch, online, phone||Cash/debit|
A parent/guardian must be present when account is opened or additional services applied for from age 11-15. AA Driving School discounts available at 17.
|Under 19s||63%||11-18||2.5% up to £2,500 (0.1% over this)||Branch||Debit|
|RBS||Revolve||61%||11-18||0.55%||Branch, online, phone, post||Debit|
Data correct at November 2020
Which? Customer Score: Our rating for customer satisfaction, based on feedback from real customers. The score is made up of a customer's overall satisfaction with the brand, and how likely they are to recommend that brand to a friend. We surveyed 4,501 members of the general public in September 2020. Our full table includes scores and star ratings for all banks. Customer Scores are based on feedback for adult current accounts held with that provider.
How do I open a bank account for my child?
Many banks will let 16-year-olds apply independently but for children under 16, a parent or guardian will usually have to open the account in-branch.
You will need to provide a birth certificate or passport, plus a recent household bill or bank statement to prove that you live at the same address.
In some cases, the application can be started online, although you or your child will still need to pop into a branch with proof of ID and address.
How do I manage a children's bank account?
There's no overdraft facility available but otherwise the features are very similar to an adult account.
Your child can set up direct debits and standing orders - useful if you want them to start paying off their phone bill - or make one-off bank transfers.
Banks will ask for parental permission before giving under 16s a debit card, as these can be used in shops, online or at cash machines.
You may prefer to ask for a cash card instead, as these can only be used to withdraw cash and won't be accepted as payment online, over the phone, or in shops.
- Find our more: staying safe with online banking
Can my child get into debt?
Overdrafts aren't available on accounts for under 16s, so payments will usually be declined if there isn’t enough money in the account.
If a payment does go through, and the account balance falls below zero, the bank shouldn't apply any fees or interest.
However, using the card abroad will incur fees so make sure your child knows this if they travel outside of the UK.
Remember that your child can use their bank card to withdraw as much as £500 per day from an ATM (some cash cards have a much lower daily limit e.g. the BarclayPlus cash card limits daily withdrawals to £50).
Most of the big banks offer free text alerts and mobile banking apps to help keep track of money going in and out.
- Find out more: how to deal with debt
Are prepaid cards for under 18s safe?
There are many prepaid cards on the market targeted at children as young as six - such as Nimbl, Osper, RoosterMoney and Go Henry.
A parent or adult must open the account and they can usually set spending limits or restrict how the card is used.
All prepaid cards must be loaded up with cash first and are typically linked to a smartphone app that both the child and the parent can download.
Non-suitable retailers are automatically blacklisted (such as adult stores, gambling sites and off-licences) but parents may also be able to restrict features such as ATM withdrawals or online transactions. Most providers also offer text alerts or app notifications to keep track of spending.
Unlike children's bank accounts, prepaid accounts can't be used to set up direct debits, but the cards can be used in shops, online and for cash withdrawals.
Watch out for annual or monthly service fees and charges to use the card at ATMs or abroad.
Avoid keeping a high balance on a prepaid card
While banks such as Starling and Nationwide are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme which protects deposits up to £85,000 if a firm goes under, prepaid cards aren't covered by the scheme.
However, all of the prepaid cards listed here are backed by e-money firms which must adhere to e-money regulations. This means your money can't be lent out and must be held in a segregated account so that it is protected against claims made by creditors.
Your money should be protected by the bank holding your cash, however, if the bank or building society holding that segregated account fails, your cash won't be protected.
More on children's prepaid cards
Pocket money app RoosterMoney - launched in 2016 - offers a Visa prepaid card aimed at kids age six and above, costing £24.99 per year (free one month trial).
As the account has a sort code and account number, family and friends can pay in money via bank transfer. Parents can split money into 'pots' for spending, saving, giving, and goals for special purchases. This ensures kids can only spend as the parents see fit.
The Rooster card has a dynamic CVV number which changes after every purchase to reduce fraud. The card can also be temporarily frozen via the app if it goes missing.
Using the card abroad is fee-free up to £50 per month but beyond this, a fee of 3% per transaction applies.
Additional cards for other children cost £19.99 per year.
gohenry is also marketing its prepaid Visa card for kids as young as six, costing £2.99 per month (first month free).
Parents can set spending rules as well as tasks to complete to earn extra pocket money.
As with apps such as Starling Kite and RoosterMoney, parents can instantly freeze/unfreeze cards if they are mislaid.
Spending on the gohenry card abroad is fee-free.
Nimbl’s prepaid Mastercard costs £2.49 per month (first month free) or £28 per year and is aimed at children from six upwards.
The app offers a micro-savings feature that lets children automatically transfer a set amount of money – 50p, £1 etc – each time the card is used.
Cash withdrawals are free at ATMs in the UK but this is an expensive card to use abroad (Nimbl charges £1.50 per cash withdrawal and 2.95% on foreign currency transactions.
Osper is geared towards children aged eight and upwards, costing £2.50 per month (first month free).
Parents can set up a regular allowance and apply locks and limits.
Osper lets parents load money automatically onto an Osper card each week or month for free (any amount between £5 - £100 which can be turned off at any time) but 'instant loads' cost 50p.
As with Nimbl, don't use this card outside of the UK - Osper charges 3% for foreign purchases and £2 for cash withdrawals.
Do children pay income tax?
Like adults, children are entitled to income tax allowances, including the personal savings allowance.
During the 2020-21 tax year, children are eligible for the £12,500 personal allowance, the £5,000 starting rate for savings and the £1,000 personal savings allowance. This means children will only pay tax if they earned more than £18,500 a year.
One sticking point is money gifted by parents - if this money generates more than £100 interest a year, before tax, it would be taxed as if it were the adult's, not the child's.
The £100 rule only applies to parents, step-parents and guardians, not other family members, such as grandparents, or friends.
Read more about taxes in the full guide to children and income tax.