Why should you invest for a child?
Parents, grandparents and other family members are often keen to provide a sum of money to their children to give them a start in life when they reach a certain age. By saving or investing over a period of time, a family can build up a sizeable lump sum which can then be used by the child to pay for university fees, as a deposit for a property or to start their own business.
Often when saving for a child's future a cash account is opened with a bank or building society and money slowly grows over time. However, there is a range of other account options available that could result in a more substantial fund when it is eventually accessed.
What accounts should you invest in?
What account you use to build your child's fund will depend on the timescale before the fund needs to be accessed and the risk you are prepared to take in getting a better return on your investment. Typically investing for a child starts right from when they are born and, as most accounts are not touched until age 18 or later, it makes investing in stocks and shares a viable option to increase the growth of the fund.
Saving and investing account options
Many of the banks and building societies offer savings accounts specifically for children, providing a preferential interest rate for the first 12 months or paid on balances up to a certain limit. Accounts will have to be opened by somebody with parental responsibility if the child is below a certain age, which differs between providers. Opening this type of savings account is simple and the funds can be accessed at any time.
Best children's saving accounts
Below we list the current top 5 children's savings accounts in the UK:
|Halifax||Dudley Building Society||Barclays||Santander||HSBC|
|Account name||Kids' Monthly Saver||Junior Easy Saver||Children's Regular Saver - Issue 1||1|2|3 Mini Current Account||MySavings|
|AER||3.50% for 12 months||
3.50% for 12 months
|3.50% for 12 months||Max. 3.00% on total balance if balance is between £1,500 - £2,000 (1% on balances up to £999.99 and 2% on balances between £1000 and £1,499.99)||2.50% on 1st £3,000|
|Minimum age to open||0||0||0||0||7|
|Maximum age to open||15||15||15||17||17|
|Minimum opening balance||£10 monthly||£10||£5 monthly||No minimum||£10|
|How to manage the account||Branch, Online, Telephone||Branch, Post||Branch, Mobile Banking, Online, Telephone||Branch, Cash Card, Mobile Banking, Online, Telephone||Branch, Telephone|
|How to apply||Branch, Online||Branch, Post||Branch||Branch, Online||Branch|
|Financial Services Compensation Scheme||Shared Licence||Own Licence||Shared Licence||Shared Licence||Shared Licence|
Source: SavingsChampion.co.uk: Updated 15/12/20
Child Trust Funds
While Child Trust Funds (CTF) are no longer available, you can still contribute up to £9,000 a year into an existing CTF account. The money belongs to the child and they can only take it out when they have reached the age of 18 but can take control of the account when they’re 16. There is no tax to pay on any CTF income or any profit it makes.
Junior ISA (JISA)
A JISA is a long term tax-free savings account for children and contributions can be made up to an annual limit of £9,000 (Tax year 2021/22).
Parents or guardians with parental responsibility can open a JISA and manage the account but the money belongs to the child. Once open, anybody can contribute to a JISA which means it is perfect for family and friends to gift money over time. The child can take control of the account when they reach the age of 16, but cannot withdraw the money until they reach the age of 18.
There are 2 types of Junior ISA:
- Cash Junior ISA - this acts like an ordinary savings account but where all returns are totally tax-free
- Stocks and shares Junior ISA - your cash is invested in stocks and shares, funds, ETFs or bonds. All capital growth and any dividends received will be totally tax-free and you will not pay tax on any capital growth or dividends you receive. For more information on stocks and shares JISAs read our comprehensive article 'Best Junior stocks and shares ISA'
A Junior Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is a type of pension designed for a child. While on the face of it starting a pension for a child may appear a bit premature, the long investment period and access to a pension fund at 55 could make it a wise long-term investment choice.
Up until the age of 18 a Junior SIPP is managed by a parent or legal guardian, who will make the investment decisions. As a Junior SIPP is a long-term investment, more investment risk can be taken in an attempt to improve the investment growth.
Investment of up to £2,880 per year can be paid into a Junior SIPP, with tax relief of 20% added to any investment.
For information on SIPPs, read our article 'What is a SIPP?'
NS&I Premium Bonds for children
Buying Premium Bonds as gifts for children has long been popular with parents and other family members. Holders of Premium Bonds are entered into a monthly prize draw, giving them the opportunity to win between £25 to £1 million, tax free.
Unlike other savings accounts, Premium Bonds do not pay interest, which means their value will gradually decrease as inflation reduces spending power unless, of course, you win some prizes. Although Premium Bonds can be a good idea for small gifts of £25 or more, they are not viable long term if you are looking to build a worthwhile lump sum.
Anyone can buy Premium Bonds on behalf of a child, but must nominate a parent or guardian to look after the bonds until the child reaches the age of 16 and must also nominate to have any prize money reinvested in more Premium Bonds. It is worth noting that on the 24th November 2020, NS&I reduced the notional interest rate payable on premium bonds from 1.40% to 1.00%.
How investing options for children compare
|Max. investment||Potential growth||Capital at risk|
|Children's savings account||£100 per month in year 1||Higher interest rate in 1st year, then lower variable rate||No|
|Cash Junior ISA||£9,000 per tax year||Variable interest rate||No|
|Stock and shares Junior ISA||£9,000 per tax year||Higher growth potential||Stock market investment with potential risk to capital|
|Junior SIPP||£2,880 per year with 20% uplift from tax relief||Higher growth potential||Stock market investment with potential risk to capital|
|NS&I Premium bonds||No maximum||No growth but monthly prizes up to £1million||No|
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