What are children's bank accounts?
Opening a child bank account is a win-win situation that helps your kids to learn important financial lessons while managing their money. They can discover how to budget, save, and track their spending with their own account. From a parental point of view, child bank accounts are current accounts that work the same way as adult accounts but come with restrictions, such as no overdraft facility for those under 18, so your child can't fall into debt.
What are the alternatives to kids' bank accounts?
The main alternative to a kids' bank account is a prepaid debit card like GoHenry. With a prepaid kids' debit card, your child gets all the benefits of a bank account but with an extra helping hand from you. It's a safer way for your kids to learn about managing money as you can set spending limits, but your child will still have the independence of having their own debit card. Prepaid accounts are excellent for younger kids who need more guidance with their spending habits but are also suitable for teens as they enable them to have more control over their budgeting, saving and spending.
What age can a child have a bank account?
A bank account can be opened for a child from 11 years old. However, some banks have a higher minimum age — such as 16. Children under 16 cannot set up an account independently; a parent or guardian must be with them. By comparison, it’s easy for a parent to apply online for a GoHenry card for a child between 6 and 18 years.
What age should I give my kid a bank account?
If you're unsure whether your child is ready for their own account, financial experts at Cambridge University have found that core behaviours and habits are formed in children by age seven. Meaning that most children have grasped how to recognise the value of money and to count it by the time they reach Year 3 in school.
A Danish case study highlighted this further, showing the results of financial education being a compulsory part of the Danish national curriculum since 2015. 71% of Danish adults are now considered financially literate, and 80% of those aged 15 and over have savings.
That said, only you as a parent know when your child is ready for more independence around managing their own money. If they are starting to ask more money questions, want to spend money online or go out alone with friends more often, then it may be time for their own debit card.
Some questions to consider include the following:
- How responsible is your child?
- Do they understand the value of money?
- Would they use a debit card responsibly?
- Are they able to save money?
As UK bank accounts for kids can’t be opened until the age of 11, it pays to help younger kids get started on their financial education by using a prepaid card. A card like GoHenry helps teach them good money habits to prepare them for the time when they have their own income and an adult current account. Plus, there are many great ways to teach them about money from an early age and help build their financial education with our in-app Money Missions.
Which types of kids' bank accounts are usually available online?
Some children's bank accounts offer online access for the child and the parent. This allows parents to monitor their child's spending, set budgets, or track progress towards savings goals.
- Current accounts: These accounts can offer the same features and benefits as an adult account but with lower limits.
- Savings accounts: These accounts offer interest on deposits and are a practical way to teach your child about the importance of saving. With some accounts, you can set up regular savings plans to help your child develop good saving habits.
- Prepaid debit cards: Technically, these aren't bank accounts. But, they can be an excellent option for children from the age of six to use and save money and offer more features than traditional bank accounts.
What are the benefits of a children's bank account?
There are many benefits to your child having their own bank account with the most important one being developing good financial habits for life.
Other benefits include:
- Being able to make purchases online or in shops
- Having a place to manage their money
- Participating in the digital economy
- Making and receive payments
- Being able to withdraw cash
- The ability to set up direct debits or standing orders
- Having salary paid in when they have a part-time job
- Setting up automatic savings from their pocket money will help them to see their savings grow over time and how to save for future goals.
- Having a set amount of weekly money will help them to start learning about budgeting in a real-world experience.
Are there any disadvantages to children's bank accounts?
There are drawbacks to children's bank accounts. For starters, as a parent, you won't be able to set spending limits or see what your child has purchased or withdrawn and can only access their account online with their passwords.
Alternatively, a GoHenry kid's prepaid debit card gives your child all the benefits of a debit card but allows you to keep an eye on their spending habits and set limits via the parent app. We also have a strict merchant block, so kids aren't spending in places selling age-restricted items.
Consider which features come with each bank account
When opening a bank account, it's wise to research the available options, as children's accounts differ in features.
- Ability to download an app or access online banking
- Trustpilot reviews to give you a parent's eye into how the account works
- Are there any fees?
- Will your child get a debit card or a cash card (ATM use only)?
- Interest rates
- What happens once your child reaches 18?
- An option to block and unblock the card
- Parental controls: Does an account offer parental controls that allow you to view and manage your child's account from your own app? With GoHenry, parents have a separate app to manage parental controls.
- Financial education: Do kids get access to financial education programs to help them learn about money and how to manage it? At GoHenry, we have the in-app Money Missions to help with this.
How to open a bank account for a child
How to open a kids' bank account varies from bank to bank, but the great majority of banks require you to set up the account in a branch with your child present (though a few let you do this through a banking video app).
Can I open a bank account for my child?
Yes, any parent can open a kids' bank account with specific documentation. Grandparents and adults with parental authority over a child can also open a bank account for a child. However, they must also provide documentation to prove the child's identity and residency. While the child is the legal owner of the money in their bank account, the adult who opens the bank account is responsible for managing the money, including withdrawals, on behalf of the child.
What do I need to open a bank account for my child?
Both online and in-person, you will need to provide a child's birth certificate or passport, plus a recent household bill (in the parent's name) to prove your address.
Can I open a bank account for a child online?
Generally, you can't open a bank account for your child online, as banks need to do additional ID checks. However, with GoHenry, you can open an account as early as six years; we only need a few details to do a background check. You can apply online today.
How much does it cost to set up a bank account for a child?
Most children's bank accounts are free (though always check when applying). Any interest earned on the account is also usually tax-free. Tax will only be charged to the parent by HMRC if:
- The child's annual income is above £12,570 (2021-2022 tax year)
- The child earns more than £100 interest on money given to them by their parents.
Can both parents manage their child's bank account?
Child bank accounts don't offer parental controls. On the other hand, GoHenry allows both parents to manage a child's account and set parental controls, which means both parents can easily track and manage a child's money and spending habits.
What's the difference between GoHenry and a bank account?
GoHenry isn't a bank, but we offer the same functionality you would expect with a traditional high-street bank account. Some of the key differences between GoHenry and a bank account are what we offer:
- An app with a separate parent and child view
- Instant notifications about their child's spending
- The ability to set spending limits at ATMs, online and in-store
- An option to create paid tasks to teach kids about earning
- The ability can freeze (and unfreeze) the card
- Options to restrict where a child uses their GoHenry card
- Automatic weekly payments or one-off payments
- Prepaid debit card for children aged six and above
- Automatic saving goals
- An option for friends and family to send money to your child's account using Giftlinks
- The in-app Money Missions, designed to accelerate financial literacy, helps kids develop their money skills through a series of interactive games and quizzes
How can I open a GoHenry account for my child?
It’s easy to apply for a GoHenry prepaid debit card. You don't need to provide any payment details, and your children will receive their cards within the next five to seven days. Once the prepaid debit cards have arrived, you can activate your parent account and the cards by going online or by using the app and making a minimum £5 deposit. GoHenry includes an app for both parents and kids, complete with smart tools to help kids to earn, save, give and learn with Money Missions our bitesize interactive lessons.