If your child is ready for a bank account of their own, but you’re not sure you trust them with a full-fledged checking account that’s easy to misuse, the PNC Bank S Is for Savings Account is a useful stepping stone.
S Is for Savings is a custodial savings account with strict parental controls. Its standout feature is a virtual jar system that separates funds for saving, spending, and sharing with others. These jars, plus super-fun educational features, make S Is for Savings one of the best savings accounts for kids right now.
What Is the PNC Bank S Is for Savings Account?
PNC Bank’s S Is for Savings Account is a kid-friendly savings account for children of all ages.
It’s a custodial account, so the parent has full ownership until the child reaches legal adulthood, which is 18 in most states. However, the child can use the online portal or mobile app to transfer funds with parental approval and move funds between the account’s three virtual jars as often as they wish.
Unlike most savings accounts, S Is for Savings offers an optional ATM card at no additional charge. If the child has the card PIN, they can use it to withdraw funds up to the $500 daily withdrawal limit.
What Sets S Is for Savings Apart?
S Is for Savings stands out in several ways, not all of them positive.
- No age restrictions. S Is for Savings is open to kids of all ages. There’s no minimum age to open an account, so you can open one while your kid is still in diapers, and keep it open as long as you wish.
- Three “jars” for saving, sharing, and spending. S Is for Savings is subdivided into three distinct “jars” for saving, sharing, and spending. Using a visual interface in the online banking portal or app, your kid can move money between the jars as often as they wish.
- Fun educational resources. S Is for Savings boasts fun, age-appropriate educational resources. Younger children learn about money from Sesame Street characters, which might take parents down memory lane too.
- Low yield on balances. S Is for Savings yields just 0.01% APY on balances above $1. That’s only $0.01 per year for every $100 in the account.
S Is for Savings has a few uncommon features for a kid-friendly savings account. Take a few minutes to understand its quirks before you apply.
Age Requirements, Ownership, & Account Opening Process
S Is for Savings has no minimum or maximum age restrictions. You can open an account for a child of any age, and you don’t need to close or change the account when they turn 18.
S Is for Savings is a custodial account, not a joint account. That means the parent or guardian has full ownership of and control over the account until the child user reaches 18. At that point, ownership and control transfer to the child.
You can open an S Is for Savings Account online, in a PNC Bank branch, or by phone. Online or phone are the best options if you don’t live close to a PNC Bank branch. The phone hotline is open weekends during regular business hours (Eastern Time) and on weekday evenings, which may be more convenient for 9-to-5’ers and busy parents than weekday business hours.
Account Yield (Interest)
S Is for Savings yields 0.01% APY on balances above $1. That’s not the best option for families looking to maximize their interest.
Account Fees & Minimums
S Is for Savings has no minimum balance to open online. There’s a $25 minimum deposit if you open in a branch or by phone, but because online opening is the easiest option for most families, that shouldn’t be a problem. Once open, there’s no minimum balance requirement.
S Is for Savings has a $5 monthly fee, but it’s automatically waived when the child on the account is under 18. Once the child turns 18, you can avoid the fee in any month when one of the following occurs:
- The account has an average daily balance of $300 or more
- The account receives at least one automatic savings transfer of $25 or more from a linked PNC checking account
S Is for Savings is a single account with three virtual jars: one for spending money, one for longer-term savings, and one for sharing (which includes gifts and charitable contributions).
These jars help kids think about the difference between savings, walking-around money, and money they’re earmarking for others. Kids can transfer cash between jars as often as they’d like using a colorful interface in the online account or mobile app. Unallocated cash sits on a table with three jars on it — just drag it to the jar of your choice.
Linked Accounts & Automatic Savings Transfers
You don’t need an existing PNC account to open an S Is for Savings Account for your kid. However, you can only set up automatic savings transfers from a linked PNC checking account, so it makes sense to open one for yourself while you’re at it.
Optional ATM Card
You can order an ATM card connected to your S Is for Savings Account. Use it to make fee-free withdrawals at PNC Bank ATMs, but know that surcharges may apply at non-PNC machines. And if you order a card, keep the PIN secret from your kid unless you really trust them — if they have it, they can withdraw up to $500 in cash without parental approval.
The PNC Bank mobile app can handle all the primary functions of the online banking interface, including:
- Checking balances
- Transferring funds from linked accounts
- Transferring funds between jars
- Completing educational modules
It’s user-friendly and even fun for kids to use. But you still have to supervise your younger child while using it.
S Is for Savings has more age-appropriate educational resources than most kid-friendly savings accounts.
For younger kids, the PNC Learning Center features bite-size money lessons and tips featuring familiar Sesame Street characters. It also boasts a bunch of interactive personal finance activities that parents and kids can complete together to reinforce basic saving, spending, and sharing concepts.
For older kids — high school and college-age — PNC’s Student Center has more advanced webinars, calculators, articles, and mini-lessons. These cover personal finance topics from budgeting and student loans to investing and long-range financial planning.
Parental Monitoring & Controls
S Is for Savings has strict parental controls. Parents must approve all external transactions on the account, which are limited to inbound and outbound electronic transfers unless you have the optional ATM card. If you order an ATM card, the child can use it to withdraw funds if they have the PIN.
Balances in your S Is for Savings Account have FDIC insurance up to the statutory maximum per account. That’s currently $250,000 but may change in the future. And it should be plenty for most kids beginning their savings journeys.
S Is for Savings is an interactive, education-oriented bank account that’s ideal for teaching kids the basics of spending and saving.
- No monthly fee for kids under 18. PNC Bank waives this account’s $5 monthly fee for kids under 18. You can still get the fee waived after the child user turns 18, but it’s more difficult.
- No minimum deposit or balance requirement. This account has no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirements. That makes it a good option for younger kids without any cash of their own and parents who can’t or don’t want to seed their kids’ first bank account with too much money.
- No age restrictions to open. You can open an S Is for Savings Account for a child of any age. That, along with the custodial ownership structure, makes it ideal for younger children.
- Full parental ownership and strict controls. S Is for Savings is fully parent-owned until the child reaches 18. It has strict parental controls as well, so there’s little risk of misuse unless you order an optional ATM card and give your kid the PIN.
- Jars offer checking-like capabilities without the risk. S Is for Savings’ jar feature allows kids to separate funds meant for saving from those meant for spending. It’s a low-risk way to get kids to manage small amounts of walking-around money without handing them a debit card.
- Robust educational resources. S Is for Savings has more robust educational resources than the typical kid-friendly savings account. It enlists Sesame Street characters to teach younger kids the basics of money management in bite-size, visually engaging lessons. For older kids, the PNC Student Center has free calculators, webinars, and how-to modules covering more advanced topics.
- Comes with an optional ATM card. S Is for Savings’ optional ATM card affords more flexibility than the typical cardless savings account. It allows you to withdraw small amounts of cash to dole out to younger kids as allowance or chore payments or to entrust your older child with withdrawals they initiate themselves.
S Is for Savings isn’t perfect. It falls flat in a couple of areas, one of which is arguably the most important function of a savings account.
- Very low yield on balances. One of the primary reasons a lot of people have savings accounts is to make money in the form of interest. But S Is for Savings disappoints in that area. The yield is a paltry 0.01% APY, compared with 0.30% APY for the Capital One 360 Kids Savings Account and 3.10% for the Alliant Credit Union Kids Savings Account.
- $5 monthly fee may apply after 18. The easiest way to waive S Is for Savings’ $5 monthly fee is to have a minor on the account. When the child user turns 18, getting the fee waived becomes more difficult (though not outrageously so). Most kid-friendly checking and savings accounts never charge monthly fees, so that’s a notable downside.
- Optional ATM card may add risk. You don’t have to order an ATM card with this account, but if you do, don’t give your kid the PIN unless you really trust them. Otherwise, if they get their hands on the card, they can withdraw up to $500 per day at any ATM.
How S Is for Savings Stacks Up
PNC Bank’s S Is for Savings isn’t the only kid-friendly savings account on the market. Capital One’s 360 Kids Savings Account has similar parental controls, minimum balance requirements, and age restrictions — plus a slightly higher yield on balances.
|PNC S Is for Savings
|360 Kids Savings
|$0 until age 18, then $5 per month without a waiver
|Must approve all transfers; kids can use ATM card if they have the PIN
|Must approve all transfers
If you’re eager to teach your kid money management basics but unsure where to start, PNC Bank’s S Is for Savings Account can help. Its robust educational features — anchored by its interactive three-jar system and money lessons featuring Sesame Street characters — exceed similar savings accounts and provide a strong foundation for real-world financial education.
But S Is for Savings has some downsides. Its yield is negligible, it has a $5 monthly fee that’s harder to avoid after age 18, and the optional ATM card introduces some risk. But if your top priority is practical financial education, those are easy enough to look past.