How to Choose the Right Bank Account As a Teenager

As a teenager there are several factors to consider when choosing a bank. Saving money is an important skill to learn early in life; it provides you with a sense of purpose, an ability to interact with the commercial side of life and an opportunity to develop self-discipline about saving and spending money. Choosing the right bank when you are a teenager should be about complementing your needs and meeting your needs with the least amount of hassle, red tape and loss of funds through fees.


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    Consider the purpose for your account. The purpose for an account will impact on the type of account you are looking for, and it will also influence your decision whether to use a bank for short-term savings or for longer term investments. Consider such questions as:
    • Do you have a summer/after school job that you need a bank account for?
    • Do you want a checking account or a savings account?
    • Do you want to save your money or just keep it safe until you spend it?
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    Do your homework. Check out the banks in your area, and research which ones offer better packages for an account. One bank might give you a checking account complete with a check book; yet another might give you a special credit line. The important things to look for include:
    • What are your spending and saving needs? Does the bank match these?
    • Are the options offered by the bank likely to encourage saving or discourage it?
    • What are the bank's fees? These can sometimes be an awful surprise - know in advance and match the fees to your likely use of the bank. Most banks will start charging the more you use the bank - ATM fees, check fees, teller fees etc.
    • Does the bank offer a youth or student package that is relevant to you? Often such packages come with better fee deals and sometimes good interest.
    • What are the interest rates?
    • Is there a possibility of a combined account structure? For example, one such structure could be some savings, some spending but both contributing to interest building.
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    Make comparisons. You have done the homework. Now do the comparing and ask such things as:
    • Which bank has the best fees for what you are seeking?
    • Which bank has the package that you are seeking?
    • Which bank has special deals for young people? Compare them.
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    Think about location. Location is very important. Some banks are very localized and it may be difficult to find branches or shared branch locations elsewhere in your country or even overseas. If you are about to graduate from high-school, you may be studying somewhere else than your local region, so keep this in mind when choosing a bank. Consider choosing a bank with many locations, so that when you go to college, you won't have to get a new account, or leave your bank account behind. For those who are traveling, ensure that you get an account that will allow you to withdraw money overseas - ask for an ATM card that carries the "Cirrus" or "Plus" symbols on it - both are indicators that you can use automatic teller machines in many parts of the world.
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    Find a credit union. Credit unions are financial institutions that compete with banks, except that they are non profit. Credit unions don't have stockholders to pay, and therefore often give better interest rates with lower fees.
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    Go for the free account. A good bank will let you open an account for free and won't have any fees on it. You may even be able to get an account that gives you a debit or ATM card for free.
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    Ask your parents. Have a parent help you look at and compare different banks, as well as helping you to select the most suitable one. As a teenager, unless you are 18, you may not be able to open an account without a parent's name or permission, depending on your country's rules. Whatever the rules, it is always a wise solution to seek your parent's cooperation - many a parent will be more than happy to help add savings to your account when you demonstrate the initiative and self-responsibility to open a bank account.


  • Choose a debit card over a credit card. That is, the type of card that draws on cash that you actually have. If it doesn't work, it is a sign you've run out of cash and you need to balance and reconsider your spending options.
  • Remember that if you join a credit union (the same as a bank except nonprofit) you become a "member". This makes you an owner of the credit union - if you open an account at a bank this doesn't mean you own the bank.
  • Create goal charts for savings. Some banks will help you by providing something. If not, it is great to draw up a barometer with savings goal points that you color in when you reach each savings milestone, doing so until you reach the top goal. This works brilliantly for encouraging savings for travel, studies abroad, a car etc., as you can see the barometer going up and up, urging you to save even more.


  • Don't choose a bank just because it is giving away free iPods, gift vouchers or other such incentives. Make sure that the deal being offered by the bank suits your needs; otherwise, you may end up paying for those "freebies" in fees, which is not worth it.
  • Don't choose a bank because of an exciting credit card offer. Credit cards don't give you free money - only money that is yours "for now" and that the company will expect back from you at a later time, usually with hefty interest. Unless you have a specific purpose for a credit card, and the money to pay back the bill, it's foolish to pay for things with a credit card. Stick with debit cards and cash.

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Categories: Banking