16 Year Old/checking Account

Updated on December 31, 2010
D.G. asks from Milwaukee, WI
18 answers

My son just got his first paycheck. We are going to the bank to open an account for him today. Need some advice on what to do for a 16 year old. Can he just open a savings acct and cash his checks yet or does he need to open a checking acct? I don't know if he should have a check card at his age and if I am responsible for any over drafts he may get. All suggestions welcome.

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So What Happened?

Does that mean that I am responsible for any over drafts he may create?

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree that the bank will have some suggestions, so I would ask them about options.

I had a joint account with my stepdaughter from 16 until she was through college. She had a debit card at 16. Later she also opened a credit card by herself. She was always very responsible with her money. Getting an overdraft charge was something she learned from.

One of the reasons I stayed on her account so long was that it was handy if she needed money for college or other things that her father and I were helping her with, I could make transfers directly into her account from mine.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We recently opened a second account for my 16 year old son, he has a college fund but he can't use it for direct deposits of his work check. We opened a checking account in his name and added my name to it. I can see the activity in his account when I do online banking. I have never clicked on his account to see what he spends and where, I just see the total when I log in. Your questions would be best answered by the bank as each bank may have their own rules. I would suggest a debit card, perhaps the bank can set it up where he can't overdraft so you don't have that worry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

At our bank, you can opt out of overdraft protection. Or, have overdraft protection linked to the savings instead of a credit card.

See if your bank will let him open an account without you on it. The best way to teach financial responsibility is to make one financially responsible.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I would say not to get a debit card. It doesn't feel "real" and so it's easier to fly through the money.

Getting a check account is a good idea--that can help him learn to balance and manage his money.

Ask the bank about financial responsibility if he overdraws, and/or if your name is also on the account.

When I was kid and was opening my first checking account, I had to have my parents sign, but rules might be different now or different with different banks.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I would personally give him a savings only account.. that way when he cashes his check, he can leave so much in savings, and keep cash as his 'spending' money. Otherwise, he might be tempted to spend it all. And you won't have to worry about overdrafts... give him a chance to learn how to manage his money before making it too accessible to him! lol.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

Open his account and add your name as additional member. When he gets older you can remove your name!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Call around and find out which banks have special accounts for minors. I know that TD Bank here in NY does, as do local credit unions. I think he should have a debit card - but he should not get overdraft protection - that would require someone over 18 to basically "co-sign" a loan. Let him take responsibility for it on his own. I'm sure the bank has online banking capabilities - and remember teens these days grew up on the internet - so it will be very natural for him to check his balance and see the natural consequences of how much money he's spent vs saved, etc. I would not get involved at all and let him stand or fall on his own. We learn by our mistakes and better he makes money / banking mistakes now before he has a mortgage, car payments, etc. He'll learn by them and if he's teachable he won't make the errors later in life when it really counts.



answers from Phoenix on

I have two teens. My 17 year old has a savings/checking account with a visa debit (since he was 14). This is because he would always use my account to buy things online and pay me back. He's super responsible. My 15 year old has only a savings account and she can cash or deposit her checks with this. They just needed a state ID card to open these accounts. I'm on with both of them and I help them keep track of everything and so far, I haven't had any problems. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

generally, until a person is 18 they cannot be held "liable" for financial transactions. So, he probably won't be able to open an account without a parent account attached to it and yes, that means you are liable for any overdrafts and/or fees he incurs.

It depends on how responsible he is - but I would go ahead and get him a debit card - they are way easier. Just set him up a system for balancing his account and teach him the way to NOT overdraft his account. You should be very involved with his financial practices until he is 18 anyway.

Good luck!


answers from Madison on

It does really depend on how responsible he is and what experience he's had in managing money thus far. I agree that debit cards might be the way to go if you are worried about the overdraft fees, however, I think it's important to teach him about how to manage money, and the best way to do that is with cash. I would suggest you open a savings account first, and have him deposit at least half of every paycheck, as a long-term savings plan, for a car, college or any other big expense. What he does with the rest is up to him, but you can suggest that he use the "envelope" system. Have him identify his expenses, then assign an envelope to each expense, or item he may wish to purchase. This will help him see the "big picture" and teach him to budget, putting a little cash inside each envelope each paycheck. If successful, after a year, you can help him open a checking account and teach him how to manage that. He can also utilize computer programs, as simple as Excel, to manage his budget. The idea should be to give him some control over his money, but ultimately teaching him to be responsible with it. You don't want to see him get into trouble the minute he moves out on his own. Good luck!


answers from Chicago on

I had a checking acct joint with my mom, but she had to get the money out of the acct, I could deposit but had a limit that could be released to me. I think I could get 50 a week from the bank but I had to go into the bank to do so. It can be just a savings acct not a checking acct I think but banking has changed so much since then.



answers from Green Bay on

I am thinking of this as well, as I have a 16 year old. I will be interested to see the response. One things we did do now that he is driving is we give him a $20 gas card. We fill up the car and mark where it is filled and he's expected to fill it back up with the card. This is only for longer trips to friends of 30 mins. or so. Seems to work. Course it's not enough so he supplements with his own money.
good luck,



answers from Omaha on

Unless things have changed drastically savings only and no cards till he's 18.

You could co-sign but then you are opening up yourself to a world of hurt in possible overdraft fee's and such. Anything you co-sign for is your responsibility. Heck anything that happens till s/he are of age is anyways. So think clearly.


answers from Minneapolis on

If you are on his account, you would be responsible for any overdrafts. Talk to more than one financial institution (personally prefer credit unions) because if their debit card program is live (meaning transactions clear immediately from the account) it would be more difficult to overdraw from debit transactions. If he didn't keep track of his checks, the account could be overdrawn that way. He may not even need checks, just the debit card. Also, with mobile banking he could get his balance just by sending a text so he would know how much money he has. Any decent account rep at your financial institution would be willing to sit down with him and explain how important it is to balance your account and how bad credit would affect him. Good luck!



answers from Anchorage on

Talk to the bank, they can answer all your questions. I had a checking account at 15 and never had a problem. I did not have to declare an overdraft account, just pay fees if I was over drawn, which I never was.


answers from Minneapolis on

I agree that the bank will have some suggestions, so I would ask them about options.

I had a joint account with my stepdaughter from 16 until she was through college. She had a debit card at 16. Later she also opened a credit card by herself. She was always very responsible with her money. Getting an overdraft charge was something she learned from.

One of the reasons I stayed on her account so long was that it was handy if she needed money for college or other things that her father and I were helping her with, I could make transfers directly into her account from mine.


answers from Oklahoma City on

how mature is he and find out if you're responsible for over drafts...i got one at 16 , but my mom "baby sat" me with it at first to make sure i was keeping it up good so i didn't over draft it...no check card was allowed per my mom. for 1 year i had to keep copies of everything for her to go back and double check my calculations if i didn't i lost all rights to it and she DID remove my check book from my wallet and called the bank and put a password on it so i COULDN'T access it until she removed it...........smart woman


answers from Dallas on

I had my first checking account at 13. I think it teaches responsibility.

My daughter is 16 and she has a savings account. She prefers to put it all in the savings account. You are limited on withdrawals but she does not have an issue with that right now.

It depends on how resopnsible your child is. Our daughter does keep limited cash on hand. She has a credit card with a low limit to use. She always tells me when she has used it and/or asks before she uses it. She is responsible and does not take advantage of it. I prefer her carrying this card vs cash, especially at school.

Of course, you have to be very open with communication to let them know the meaning of credit card......IT IS PAID IN FULL EACH MONTH. Our daughter has had no debt drilled in her head since birth.

Her savings account is linked to our personal and business accounts and we have no fees.

As far as overdraft's, I would think you would be responsible since he is a minor...talk to your banker about that.


answers from Rapid City on

You are responsible for any overdrafts if you are on the account. If you are worried that he isn't responisble enough for a checking, you can set up a savings account with a small bank credit card which you make sure there is a very small limit. I have one for online purchases with a limit of $300. He has to pay it off each month and he has to keep at least that amount in his savings account at any given time. He can probably make more then one payment a month, so if he pays it off each pay check he should not have any problems using it like a checking account card. It won't cost him anything as long as he does pay it off each month and he makes interest in his savings account. He also can't spend over what he has in the account with a small limit... and he builds his credit while he is at it.

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