Having a savings account as a teenager can help young people get into the habits of saving money and setting financial goals. Even if an account is opened with a very small amount, your teen’s money can grow quickly as they add funds over time and earn compound interest. What’s more, those who work can build up their balance by transferring a portion of each paycheck from checking to savings.

Best features to look for in savings accounts for teenagers

The best savings accounts for teenagers offer some common features:

  • High APY: The annual percentage yield (APY) of an account is its rate of return, factoring in the effect of compound interest. The higher the APY, the more interest you’ll earn on your money.
  • No minimum balance to open the account: Many teens aren’t starting out with much, which makes it important to find an account that can be opened with either no minimum or a very small amount.
  • No minimum balance to maintain the account: It’s often best to go with an account that doesn’t require you to stay above a certain balance.
  • No monthly service fees: It’s better to learn banking without having to worry about maintenance fees depleting your savings. Some savings accounts that normally charge fees will waive them for those who are under the age of 18, or who link a checking account from the same bank.

Best savings accounts for teenagers

Various savings accounts are designed to help young people earn a competitive yield on their money, while avoiding maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements.

Best for the highest APY on all balances

  • Capital One Kids Savings Account
  • $0 minimum opening deposit
  • 0.3 percent APY

Capital One is an online bank, but it also has a brick-and-mortar presence. Its Kids Savings Account, which is available to children until they turn 18 years old, offers the same yield on all balances. You don’t need to make a deposit to open the account, and you won’t be charged a monthly service fee.

What to watch for: This is a joint account that needs to be opened with an adult. When the child turns 18, this account is converted automatically into a 360 Savings account and is subject to that account’s terms and conditions.

Best for the highest APY on a limited balance

  • BECU Early Saver Youth Savings Account
  • $0 minimum opening deposit
  • 6.17 percent APY on the first $500 (0.5 percent APY on balances of $500.01 or more)

Boeing Employees’ Credit Union (BECU) has more than 50 locations in Washington and two in South Carolina. BECU doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit for the Early Saver Youth Account. The account is available to teenagers until they turn 18 years old.

What to watch for: The higher APY is only available on balances up to $500. Balances above that amount will earn the lower APY. You can’t apply for this account online.

You’ll need to meet certain criteria to be eligible to open an account at BECU. Those who live, work, worship or go to school in Washington state can qualify for membership. Also eligible are residents of select counties in Oregon and Idaho, as well as those who belong to partner associations.

Best for older teenagers

  • Bethpage Student Savings Account
  • $5 minimum opening deposit
  • 5 percent APY on the first $1,000 (1.39 percent APY on balances of $1,000.01 or greater)

Bethpage Federal Credit Union was founded in 1941 for people working at Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp. Now, it’s open to anyone who opens a savings account, with a minimum of $5.

The credit union’s Student Savings pays a competitive APY on the first $1,000, while the portion of your balance above that amount earns a lower APY. The account is available to those who are age 20 and younger, and those who are older than 18 can open the account without a parent or guardian as a joint owner.

Bethpage also offers a Student Savings Custodial account that’s available when either the custodian or the minor is a resident of New York. Governed by the New York Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (NYUTMA), the account is controlled by a custodian (such as a parent or grandparent), who is responsible for distributing the funds to the minor when he or she reaches the age of majority.

What to watch for: You’ll need to open a $5 savings account to become a member of Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Also, the high APY only applies on the first $1,000 that you have in your Bethpage Student Savings.

Minors usually need an adult to open an account

Teens under age 18 will probably need a parent or guardian to open a savings account, and this adult will be designated as a joint account holder.

Children’s accounts are converted to standard accounts

When a bank offers special accounts geared toward children or students, it typically will automatically convert those accounts to its standard savings account once the child reaches a predetermined age — which is often 18 or 21. When such a conversion happens, it’s a good time to determine if the new account is the best place for one’s money, by considering factors such as APY and any maintenance fees.

Bottom line

The best savings accounts for young people can feature a competitive APY, require no minimum balance and charge no maintenance fees. The right savings account, combined with a checking account and the use of a debit card, can help teens and young adults develop healthy money habits and save for future goals that may include college and homeownership.