checking

5 tips for opening a teen checking account

Monitor the process

Viewing teen accounts online is the easiest way for parents to monitor usage, says Breeling. She advises scrutinizing teen accounts weekly or monthly, depending on the child. At Wells Fargo, parents have full access to their teen's bank account. They have their own logins and can view their children's accounts, including transaction history. Alerts vary, such as for balances or withdrawals. "You do want to give kids a little leeway," says Breeling.

Wayne trained her kids in checking account basics with a set of exercises using ledgers. She gave them a list of fictional expenses to start deducting. "In the teen years, you need to be more of a mentor than a parent," she says. "Give them room to fail." The teens also reviewed their finances online.

Set limits

Accountability and setting limits work well with teens. And many accounts let you keep ratcheting up limits as teens prove their responsibility. For example, Union Bank in San Francisco lets parents set parameters for their Teen Access accounts. "Getting checks is up to the parent," says Pierre Habis, a retail branch banking executive at Union Bank. "So the parent can allocate checks to the child."

Union Bank also sets limits on debit cards. Habis advocates starting with $40 cash withdrawals. Move up the amount as the child becomes more responsible. Wayne also sets limits on her teens' ATM withdrawals. "We need to remind them that money doesn't come by accident," she says. "It's there for a purpose."

Pace your teen

Start your child out with a savings account first. "They get used to saving money," says Habis. "The next milestone is having access to a checking account. It's about setting habits, and then continuing to grow."

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