Getting your child their first bank account is a great opportunity to introduce them to money concepts like earning, saving and responsible spending.
When’s the right time?
There’s no golden rule here. It can be when your child starts primary school, first gets pocket money or when you think it’s time they started to learn the value of money. Or it could even be when your child is first born so you can start saving on their behalf.
Explaining what a bank account is
When you set up your child's first bank account, involve them in the experience (if they're old enough).
Make sure your child understands that the bank is keeping their money safe until they’re ready to use it. Demonstrate this by showing them how to check their account balance – encourage them to do this regularly.
Depending on your child’s level of understanding, you may also want to introduce the concept of the bank paying interest, explaining the more they save, the more interest they will earn.
Paying money into your child’s account as pocket money or as a reward for completing jobs is a great step towards saving. Encourage your child to check their account once you’ve transferred money across, then ask them how much their balance or savings have grown.
Having a reason to save is really motivating for children. Encourage your child to set a savings goal e.g. something they might like to buy, and together work out how much your child will need to save each week in order to have enough to buy it. Take a look at our Youthsaver account. It's a savings account for under 18s that offers bonus interest for regular savings.
How to set up your child’s bank account
Children aged 13 years or under:
Generally, children aged 13 years or under will need a parent or guardian to help them set up their account online or at a branch. Typically you’ll have some control of it, in the form of joint ownership, too.
Children aged 14 years or older:
Some banks, ours included, allow children aged 14 years or older to open a bank account themselves.
Have the following info handy:
- Home (residential) address
- Your child’s birth certificate
- Your ID e.g. Driver’s licence.
You can open a Youthsaver account and a Smart Access Account for Youth online, at the same time. If you’ve already got a Youthsaver account, you can open a Smart Access Account for Youth at your nearest branch (remember to take your ID and your child’s birth certificate with you).
Encouraging financial independence
At the beginning of your child’s financial journey you’ll probably be heavily involved. Over time though, it’s important to give your child the tools and guidance so they can manage their money themselves. The more responsibility your child has over their account, the better prepared they’ll be for the future.