How to get a bank account for under 18s

Whether you’re interested in opening a bank account for a child or baby, we’ll help you choose and open the right account for your little one.
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Opening a bank account for a child

If you’re opening a bank account for a child, you’ll soon discover that children’s bank accounts are the same as adults’ current accounts in many ways.

However, unlike adult bank accounts, children’s accounts can be opened by youngsters up to 18. They usually come with some restrictions on how they can be used.

Older children can usually have their wages paid into their own account, buy things in shops, use cash machines or shop online.

If you’re a parent opening a bank account for a child who’s a bit younger, you may want them to learn to look after their money. By opening a bank account for a child, you can:

  • encourage them to save their birthday and Christmas money

  • teach them to check their balance

  • get them a debit card so they can spend their money in shops or online.

The good thing is that a child can’t get into debt with a children’s bank account because they don’t come with overdrafts.

But opening a bank account for a child can be a good way for them to access their money whenever and wherever they are. It means they don’t have to carry cash around in their pocket.

Open a bank account for a baby

If you want to open a bank account for a baby, it’s slightly different to opening a bank account for an older child. 

It’s never too early to open account for a little one, but of course a baby won’t have any involvement in the account at all. So, when you open a bank account for a baby:

  • the parent will be the account holder on behalf of the child

  • the child’s the legal owner of the money.

Parent who are thinking of setting up a bank account for baby usually go for this type of account to save for their baby’s future.

To set up a bank account for child, how old does the child have to be?

A parent can open an account for a baby from birth.

But a child has to be at least 11 years old to open their own bank account. Some children’s accounts have a higher minimum age, like 16. Usually, a parent will need to be present to set up a bank account for a child, unless that child is 16 or over.

Some banks offer one account for children and another for teenagers, for example:

  • An account for children aged 11 to 15

  • An account with more features for teenagers aged 16 to 19.

Some children's accounts expire once you reach a certain age, usually 18 or 19. Your bank usually upgrades you to an adult bank account at this point.

If you want to set up a bank account for a child, you may have to go into a branch to do so. You’ll need to take ID for your child. If you’ve decided to set up a bank account for a child at the same branch you bank with, you may be able to arrange this over the phone.

How to open a bank account for a child

If you’re wondering how to open a bank account for a child or how to open a bank account for a baby, there’s no need to worry as it’s simple to do. Here’s some helpful information.

Choosing an account 

When opening a bank account for a child, choose one that has all the features your child will need. This could include:

  • a debit card

  • internet banking

  • a nearby branch.

You’ll also need to check the age limits and the minimum and maximum balance your child can have in the account too.

If several accounts offer what you need, check what else each one offers. This could include:

  • Interest (what your bank pays to you as a percentage of your account's balance)

  • Rewards when you spend, such as cashback

  • Other freebies, like driving lesson discounts.

You can then choose the one that gives the best and most suitable rewards.

How to apply

If you’re opening a bank account for a child, you can usually apply online through the bank's website. However, you may need to go into a branch to provide the required ID documents.

For under 16s, some banks only let a child open an account if a parent or guardian’s present.

What documents you need

To set up a bank account for a child, you usually need to provide two identification documents. These tend to be:

  • Name ID – This usually has to be a passport or birth certificate (or a driving licence if the child’s over 17)

  • Address ID – This includes utility bills or bank statements. If the child lives with the adult opening the account, these documents can be in a parent or guardian's name.

Can I withdraw money from my child's bank account?

If you’re opening a bank account for a child, parents can’t withdraw money from that account. The child’s the legal owner of the money in the account.

However, parents can pay money in to help their child save up.

Can grandparents open bank accounts for grandchildren?

Yes, bank accounts for grandchildren are available. 

A grandparent, parent or grandparent can open a bank account for a child as long as they can provide the right documentation.

Grandparents can gift up to £3,000 in total, inheritance tax free, per tax year. If they don’t gift all of that, it can be carried over for one year.

They can also gift £250 per year to any one person. But they can’t gift this on top of the £3,000 annual allowance if it’s all for the same person.

What features do you get with a bank account for a child?

Every bank account offers different features. When you’re opening a bank account for a child, you can usually find one that lets them:

  • Receive payments into the account from an employer or other people by bank transfer, cash or cheque

  • Withdraw cash from a cashpoint using a debit card or cash card 

  • Pay on a debit card in a shop, by phone or when shopping online (parents have to give permission for a debit card for children under 16)

  • Use internet and mobile banking to check the balance, move money between accounts or send money to someone else. Here’s how mobile banking works

  • Pay bills by direct debit or standing order. These come out of your account regularly, e.g. to pay a monthly phone bill. Here’s how they work.

Some accounts even come with fun features such as the chance for children to design their own bank card. Others offer modern technological features such as the chance to pay for things using Apple Pay.

Children’s accounts don’t come with overdrafts, though.

How much does it cost to set up a bank account for a child?

Most children's bank accounts are free. That means there won’t be monthly fees or costly overdrafts, but check the terms and conditions of the account you’re looking at.

Any interest earned on the account is tax free. Tax will only be charged 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.

Here’s how tax works on children's accounts.

How to manage a children’s account

Managing a children’s bank account is simple if you and your child know how they work. 

This information may help:

Should you open a savings account instead?

A child can open their own savings account if they’re over seven years old. A children’s savings account usually comes with fewer features than a current account, but they do tend to pay more interest.

A children’s savings account can be useful for saving up for the future, but you can’t spend with a debit card or set up direct debits with a savings account. You can compare children's savings accounts here.

If you’re a parent and want to save money for your child's future, a children's savings account could be more suitable than a current account.

Savings accounts are different to current accounts. Savings accounts let parents control the account until their child reaches a certain age. Plus, they often pay more interest. However, if you want your child to be able to withdraw cash or make card payments, you’ll need to get them a current account instead.

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.