How Old Do You Have to Be to Open a Bank Account?
There are rules and regulations that define when individuals are able to open bank accounts or obtain debit cards and credit cards without parental consent.
Contributing Writer at Tally
November 4, 2022
If you’re a teenager looking to open a bank account, you may find yourself wondering whether you can do so without your parents. Banks have rules and regulations in place that often dictate the age at which you’re allowed to open a bank account without parental consent.
In this article, we’ll answer the question, “How old do you have to be to open a bank account?” We’ll also look at other similar issues, including whether you can get a debit card without parents and whether your parents can see the purchases you make on your debit card. By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of the steps you can take to gain control of your personal finances.
How old do you have to be to open a bank account?
The answer to how old you have to be to open a bank account depends on your age and the type of account you’re looking to open.
Per law, minors are unable to open a bank account without parental consent. A minor is any person younger than 18 years old. So, if you are a teenager looking to open a checking account or savings account, you will need to wait until you are a legal adult.
However, a parent can open an account with you at any age. The two types of accounts that your parent can open in your name are custodial accounts and joint accounts.
What is a custodial account?
A custodial account is a type of investment account that transfers to a minor upon them reaching the “age of majority,” which is typically 18 years of age. Financial institutions usually offer two types of custodial accounts:
Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts
Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts
UTMA accounts can hold any type of asset, including real estate holdings. UGMA accounts are only eligible to hold cash, stocks and bonds.
Custodial accounts typically do not have contribution limits or withdrawal penalties. However, they also do not allow debit card access.
What is a joint account?
A joint account is a more standard bank account. It allows all account owners to conduct debit card transactions or withdraw cash from an ATM. If a parent creates a joint account in your name, you and the parent would be co-owners.
All joint account holders are responsible for activity on the account. For instance, this can include:
Supplying the minimum opening deposit
Maintaining the minimum balance requirements
Paying overdraft fees
Paying monthly maintenance fees
Can you open a bank account at 17 without a parent?
Generally speaking, no, you can’t open a bank account at 17 without a parent. There are some special situations, such as legal emancipation, that would perhaps make you eligible to do so.
However, a better avenue would be to have a conversation with your parent or legal guardian about your financial goals and why you want to open a bank account. It could be as simple as your employer needing you to have a direct deposit account for your paycheck.
Regardless, having the conversation with your parents and demonstrating that you will be responsible with your money could perhaps go a long way in encouraging them to open an account with you.
How does a teen set up a bank account?
A teen checking account or savings account will need to be set up with a parent. This is also the case with custodial accounts. To set up either of these, both the teenager and parent or legal guardian will need to provide the following documentation:
Social Security number
Proof of address, often found on a driver’s license or utility bill
Then, you can either visit your local bank branch or sign up online. Some banks do not have traditional locations and only offer online banking.
You and your parent may want to spend time determining what’s most important to you when selecting a bank. For instance, is it important that you have mobile banking? What account fees will you have to pay? Do you have to maintain a minimum account balance? Do you want an account with high interest rate yields, like a high-interest savings account?
No matter which bank you pick, be sure that it’s FDIC insured.
Can you get a debit card at 16 without parents?
No, it’s not possible to have a debit card at 16 without parents. A debit card is linked directly to a bank account. If you are 16, you will need to have a parent as a joint account holder. When you are 18, you can open your own bank account and, subsequently, your own debit card.
Can my parents see what I buy with my debit card?
Yes, if you have a joint account, your parents will be able to see what you purchase with your debit card. The transaction history will show up in real time on the account’s mobile app or monthly on each statement.
Can a minor have a credit card?
Yes, it’s possible for a minor to have a credit card if a parent or legal guardian adds you as an authorized user. There are pros and cons to this, however.
If you’re an authorized user, it will establish a credit file for you. Your credit score will be impacted directly based on how your parent handles this account.
If your parent pays the statement on time and in full, you may begin to build a good credit score so that it is healthy by the time you turn 18.
Your credit can be negatively affected, though, if you're an authorized user on the account of someone who is not financially responsible. For instance, if they don't make timely payments, use a large percentage of their available credit, or make other financial missteps, negative marks might appear on your credit report.
Can I manage my personal finances without a bank account?
Yes, even without a bank account, you can still take steps to manage your personal finances. In fact, one recent study found that 12% of Gen Z’ers are already saving for retirement. When it comes to managing your money properly, it’s never too early to get started.
One of the best ways to get started is by creating a budget. Evaluate your monthly income versus your money expenses. This will allow you to better understand cash flow and can encourage you to pay for purchases with cash, which is a pillar of money management.
By paying in cash, you won’t get into the habit of spending money that you don’t have. Budgeting and spending in cash will help you down the road if you start having to deal with lenders for things like student loans, auto loans, mortgages and credit cards.
It’s never too early to start managing your personal finances
When it comes to managing your personal finances, the fact that you want to open a bank account is a great start. It shows that you’re ready to be responsible with money. But how old do you have to be to open a bank account? Typically, you must be at least 18 years old to open an account on your own.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t open an account before that. A parent or legal guardian can open an account for you before that. Additionally, you may be able to open a debit card or credit card, as well, if you have parental consent. Talking with your parents will allow them to better understand why you want an account and to then determine the best bank account to meet your financial goals.
If your parents won’t open a bank account in your name, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice financial responsibility. Doing things like following a budget can help you better manage your money. You could also sign up for Tally’s† newsletter, which delivers the latest financial information, tips and tricks directly to your inbox.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.