How to Open a Bank Account as a Teen
Last updated February 22, 2023
Having a bank account is important for your financial independence, the safety of your hard earned money, and building a secure future. Choosing a bank and opening an account can seem a bit intimidating, but by following these steps, you can open a bank account with ease!
*Note: Before making any big financial decisions, we strongly advise you to talk to a parent/guardian or a trusted adult. They can help you make informed choices about building credit and taking on debt that can ensure your financial stability and success in the future.
Types of Banks
There are three main types of banks that you might want to choose from when opening your first bank account:
- Commercial banks - These are the most common type of bank, and they offer a wide range of services such as checking and savings accounts, loans, and credit cards. Examples of commercial banks include Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
- Credit unions - These are non-profit organizations that are owned and controlled by their members. They offer many of the same services as commercial banks, but they usually have lower fees and better rates. Examples of credit unions include Navy Federal Credit Union and State Employees Credit Union.
- Online banks - These banks do not have physical branches, but they offer many of the same services as commercial banks. They may offer higher interest rates on savings accounts and lower fees. Examples of online banks include Ally Bank and Capital One 360.
Features, benefits and relationship to the community
Choosing a bank and the types of accounts you want to open is a big decision, so research is your best friend! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency, has a helpful activity for you to consider while you do your research. You’ll want to think about what kinds of features are most important to you before opening an account at any bank. Do you want a checking or savings account, ATMs close to your house, or a great online app? Are there fees associated with opening an account or a minimum balance you need to keep? These are all key questions to consider in your research.
You should also consider what kind of relationship any bank has with your community. Do you know other people who bank there? How has their experience been? You can also research different banks and credit unions in your area to find one that has a history of serving and supporting your community. Visit the bank in person to get a vibe check!
Prepare to apply
Once you have chosen the bank or credit union you want to bank with, you'll have to apply for an account, which will require some paperwork. Luckily, you'll need most of the same kinds of paperwork to get a job, as well! The kinds and amounts of paperwork can vary depending on the bank, so be sure to check in about what's needed with a bank employee to get the correct information. Most likely you will need:
- A form of ID (driver's license, passport, or state ID card)
- Your Social Security Number (SSN) or taxpayer identification number (TIN)
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill or lease agreement
- A school ID if you are under 18 years old
- An initial deposit to open the account
- A parent or guardian's signature and ID if you are under 18 years old
- A document that shows your address if you are under 18 years old
- Proof of income if the account requires a minimum balance
If you are under 18, there are ways that you might be able to get a bank account without a parental signature. For example, if you are 16 or 17 years old, have proof of identification, and can show a source of income (like a summer job!) some banks may offer you something called a “non-custodial” account. This means that you won’t need a guardian’s signature to open and control the account. Be sure to ask the bank if they offer this option if it is something you want to consider!
Once you’re approved, you’ll need to deposit some money into the account to open it. Be sure you make yourself familiar with all the features of the account once you set it up: research how to make deposits, how to withdraw money when needed, and how to check your account balance. It's also important to learn about the fees associated with your account and how to avoid them. Talking with a banking professional can go a long way!
Now that your money is safe and working for you, you’ll be set up for financial success now and into the future! Get Schooled is here for you if you have any job-related or financial questions. Just text #Jobs to 33-55-77 with your questions and our advisors will help you out! You can also check out all of our free resources on money management.