In a world of debit cards and contactless payments, cash is being used far less and so it is proving more and more difficult to involve your children and get them interested in money. In this article, we look at the best bank accounts for children and teens, as well as the best pocket money accounts, also known as pre-paid cards.
What is the difference between a children's bank account and a children's savings account?
Children's savings accounts can be opened from birth to 17 years old and can offer generous interest rates - often higher than the interest rates available to adults - however, there may be limitations in terms of the amount of money that can attract interest. Check out our regularly updated 'best-buy' tables that list the best children's savings accounts available right now.
In this article we focus on children's bank accounts, accounts designed for children aged between 11-18 years old. Much like standard bank accounts, they allow bank transfers, direct debits and standing orders, however, they do not charge any fees or provide credit facilities such as overdrafts or loans. As there is no credit facility on offer, a credit check is not required and your child will never be able to get into debt.
Who can get a children’s bank account and how does it work?
Children have to open their bank account themselves (with an adult present for identification purposes) although with some accounts, over 16s can open an account independently. A children's bank account comes with an optional debit or cash card. The debit card allows the withdrawal of cash and spending online whereas the cash card is for cash withdrawals only.
Children's bank accounts are regulated accounts so the funds are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000. If the card is lost or stolen you should contact the bank immediately to minimise the risk of fraudulent activity.
You may be wondering how you can manage your child's money if you give them free rein over their own bank account? Unfortunately, there is no way of keeping tabs on their spending however, you can manage their spending by only depositing small amounts into the account at any one time. An alternative to a children's bank account is a pre-paid debit card via a pocket money app. These accounts usually allow you to track your children's spending and some allow you to easily pay pocket money and set tasks and chores for your children to complete. More information can be found here.
What happens to a children's bank account when a child reaches 18?
Once a child reaches the age of 18 most children's bank accounts automatically transfer to a standard bank account, although some may close, so it may be worth checking with the bank provider.
How do you open a children’s bank account?
To open a children's bank account you will need to provide two forms of ID that confirm that you both live at the same address. This will need to be either a passport or birth certificate and a recent household bill or bank statement.
Best children’s bank accounts in the UK
In the comparison table below we have summarised the best children's bank accounts on the market right now. There isn't much difference between children's bank accounts so you may want your child to bank with the same provider as you do. It is worth noting, however, that some banks offer a higher interest rate on balances than others.
A comparison table of the best children's bank accounts in the UK
|Eligibility||Interest earned||Card type||Charges||Extra|
|Barclays Children's Account||11-15||None on current account but can earn 1.51% for balances of £1-£10,000 in savings account||Cash/Debit||Free||
|Halifax Express Cash account||11-17||0.50% between £1 - £999.99||Debit||Free||
|HSBC||11-17||None on current account but can earn 2.50% up to £3,000 and 0.75% over £3,000 on savings||Debit||Free||
|Lloyds Under 19 account||11-17||0.50% from £1 to £999.99.||Debit/Cashpoint card||Free||
|Nationwide Flexone account||11-17||0.25% up to £1,000||Cash/Debit||Free||
|NatWest 'Adapt' account||11-17||1%||Debit||Free||
|Santander||11-18*||1% up to £999.99
2% from £1,000 - £1,499.99
3% from £1,500 - £2000
|Debit or cash card (cash card not available for accounts in trust)||Free||
|Starling Kite account||6-16||0.05%||Debit||£2 a month||
|TSB under 19||11-18||2.5% up to £2,500 (0.1% over this)||Debit||Free||
*Children under 13's account must be opened in trust but trust status can be removed for children over 11
Pros and cons of a children's bank account
Pros of a children's bank account
- Free to open and use
- Children can gain a better understanding of money
- Gives children a sense of freedom
- FSCS protection
Cons of a children's bank account
- Unable to control what your child is spending (excluding Starling Kite)
Best teen bank accounts
A teen bank account may be a more suitable option for a 16-17-year-old as the accounts tend to offer more features than a children's account. Some of the teen accounts mentioned in the table below are app-based bank accounts and so give teens full independence over their money whilst not compromising safety. This means that some purchases will be restricted as they are reserved for those over 18.
A comparison table of the best teen bank accounts in the UK
|Eligibility||Is it a Bank?||Fee-free travelling||Charges||Overdraft||Extra|
|Barclays Young Person's account||16-17||Free to open (Non-sterling transaction fees)||
|Monzo||16-17||Free to open||
|Starling Bank teen account*||16-17||Free to open||
Pros and cons of a teen bank account
Pros of a teen bank account
- Allows teens to have more independence over their money
- More features than a children's bank account
- Teaches budgeting due to the additional money management features
Cons of a teen bank account
- Less control over your child's spending
Alternatives to a children's bank accounts
An alternative to a children's bank account is a prepaid card, sometimes referred to as a 'pocket money' bank account. A prepaid card has to be opened by a parent/guardian and allows you to load cash onto the card. Similar to a bank account, your child can spend and withdraw money but you have more control over the money spent.
A prepaid card generally comes with an app that can be seen by both the parent and the child. The parent/guardian has the ability to restrict spending by setting spending limits or blocking the card.
Prepaid cards do however come with some drawbacks. Unlike children's bank accounts, most come with a monthly or annual fee and there may be charges for withdrawing money from an ATM. We go into more detail in our article 'The best pocket money apps'.
Are prepaid cards safe?
If the card was lost or stolen it can be shut down via the app to prevent anyone from using it fraudulently. However, money held on a prepaid card is held as e-money and is therefore not protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
A comparison table of the best prepaid cards in the UK
|Eligibility||Cost||Loading fee||ATM fees||Fees abroad||Extras|
|GoHenry*||6-18||£2.99/month (30 days free)||50p (1 free load a month)||Free||
|Nimbl||6-18||£2.49/month £28/year (1 month free)||Free||Free||
|Osper||8-18||£2.50/month (1 month free)||50p instant loads||Free||
|NatWest Rooster Money*||6-18||£19.99/year or £1.99/month (1 month free)||10 free a month, max 3 a day (50p thereafter)||Free||
Pros and cons of a prepaid card
Pros of a prepaid card
- Children as young as 6 can learn how to manage their money
- More control over your children's money
- More child friendly
- Easy way to pay pocket money
Cons of a prepaid card
- A monthly or annual fee
- May charge to withdraw cash
- May have fees for spending abroad
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