At what age should my child have a bank account? When is the right time to set them up with their own debit card?
Children mature differently, so there is not a specific time to start introducing them to different money ideas. But when the time is right, WECU can help. For ideas on activities and conversation starters around money, check out our other articles on children financial education at wecu.com/learn/plan.
Savings Account – Birth to 10
One for You (for Them)
The first thing you will want to set up for your child will be mostly used by you. Children are expensive, whether it is diapers, little league fees, or college tuition. You want to start setting aside money as soon as possible and you will need someplace that is specifically for that purpose. Depending on your goals, you might want to use a specialized account, like an Education Savings Account or a 529 Plan, as well as a regular savings account.
One for Them
It is also important that your child has access to a savings account that is for them to use. The idea is to build the habit of savings into your child’s life early. When they get Christmas money from Gran or dog walking money from the neighbor, you want to get them used to putting a certain amount of that money into savings. The money in this account will be for their own use for whatever they want to save for.
You should start this idea off young, maybe with a piggy bank or Save/Spend/Share jars. As your child starts getting older and saving a bit more, help them open a First Step Savings account so they can become familiar with how a bank account works and can keep their money safe.
Checking Account – 13 to 15
When your child starts becoming more responsible and independent, it is a good time to set them up with their own checking account and a debit card. This will give them a little more freedom but still allow you to keep an eye on how much they are spending and what they are spending it on. Plus, it comes with the bonus of you not having to scrounge for cash while running out the door because your kid forgot until just now that it is Pizza Friday.
WECU’s First Step Checking is specifically designed for 13–19-year-olds and comes with access to financial education courses to help introduce teens to money concepts like budgeting and setting goals. First Step Checking accounts are set up with a variety of protections, like no checks or overdrafts, to help protect teens as they learn how to manage their own accounts.
Credit Card – 16 to 20
After your child has gotten a handle on having their own checking account, it might be time to introduce them to the world of credit. Credit cards can be a great tool for establishing credit and building an amazing credit score. But it is also easy for people to overspend and build up debt if they don’t understand how to properly manage credit. WECU’s First Step Visa program has a required educational seminar that must be attended before students are able to apply for their own $250 Visa card and start building their credit.