About 23% of high school students hold part-time jobs while in school, according to the 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many others make ends meet with work-from-home side hustles, by doing chores around the house, or by collecting allowance from their parents.
However they make their money, high school students need somewhere to put it. But, legally speaking, they can’t open an “adult” bank account of their own until they turn 18.
That’s where high school banking comes in. The best bank accounts for high school students are either parent-owned accounts that the kid is authorized to use or custodial accounts that become sole property of the kid when they turn 18. They’re designed to teach high schoolers how to manage their money without totally ceding parental control.
The Best Bank Accounts for High School Students
These bank accounts are designed for high school students — and, in some cases, younger kids as well. Some convert to “adult” accounts or otherwise remain usable after age 18, while others are strictly for youngsters.
Each does one thing really well, whether it’s automating the savings process, paying rewards on eligible purchases, or simplifying household budgeting. Our best overall pick offers the best value for the greatest number of users, in our view.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Bank Accounts for High School Students
We use several important factors to assess high school bank accounts. We look for accounts that balance parental controls and financial empowerment for kids while providing lots of useful and potentially valuable features and benefits.
High school bank accounts can be parent-owned or custodial.
A parent-owned structure gives the parent or guardian more control over the kid’s activities, up to and including restricting access to the account entirely. A custodial account is jointly owned and managed, and may give the child sole ownership after they turn 18.
If you’re not sure your kid is ready to make important financial decisions on their own, a parent-owned account might be the better fit initially. However, we don’t take a position on which is better.
Most of these accounts have some built-in parental controls that give parents veto power over — or at least the ability to monitor — kids’ spending and saving. All else being equal, we’re fans of accounts with flexible, sophisticated parental controls that allow parents to increase and reduce freedom of use.
Truly fee-free bank accounts are rare. But high school bank accounts tend to have fewer fees than more generous “adult” accounts, and those fees may be easier to waive as well. All else being equal, we look for accounts with low or no maintenance fees and reasonable fees for activities like ATM withdrawals and overdrafts.
High school bank accounts and debit cards aren’t particularly well-known for generous cash-back rewards. But if you know where to look, you can find them. We’re always on the lookout for accounts and cards that offer decent rates of return on everyday purchases.
Interest Rates (Yield)
High school bank accounts aren’t well-known for high yields either. However, some kid-friendly debit cards make a point of paying interest on eligible savings balances. If you’re in the market for a family prepaid debit card anyway, give their interest-bearing features (or lack thereof) a close look.
The best high school bank accounts and debit cards make it easy to automate savings, budgeting, and even investing. We’re big fans of accounts that let you round up and save the change on eligible debit card purchases, set and fund long-term savings goals, and set up recurring savings plans that draw from your paycheck, allowance, and other inflows.
We’re also big fans of accounts with sophisticated budgeting capabilities. Family debit cards like FamZoo and Greenlight really stand out on this point, but digital banking apps like Chime and Copper aren’t slouches either. All else being equal, we prefer high school bank accounts with budgeting tools powerful enough that you won’t need a separate budgeting app.
Value-Added Features and Capabilities
The more versatile and feature-rich the high school bank account, the better. The best accounts on our list come with potentially valuable extras like built-in chore lists, allowance splits, identity theft protection, and even entry-level investing platforms.
These extra features may increase the cost of the account — via a monthly maintenance fee that can’t be waived — but that’s worthwhile if you can get your money’s worth out of them.
Become a High School Banking Expert: Your Questions Answered
You have questions about bank accounts for high school students. We have answers.
Can Parents Control High School Bank Accounts?
High school bank accounts and debit cards can either be parent-owned or custodial — jointly owned. In both cases, the parent owner can monitor account activity and manage the kid user’s permissions.
Some high school bank accounts have better parental controls than others. Kid-friendly debit cards like FamZoo and Greenlight tend to be better on this point. If you’re a parent concerned about giving your kid too much financial freedom, that’s where to start.
What Happens to Your High School Bank Account When You Graduate?
It depends on how the account is structured. Some high school bank accounts become “adult” or college student accounts with no action required on the account holder’s part. And a few of the accounts on this list don’t even distinguish between “high school” and “adult” status.
That said, it’s possible that you’ll need to change accounts as you get older. You may want to do this anyway as your financial needs become more complicated and you qualify for more generous bank accounts.
How Much Does a High School Bank Account Cost?
Many of the accounts on this list waive monthly maintenance fees with a qualifying child or student on the account. These fees may reappear — or may be more difficult to waive — if you keep the account after graduating.
Accounts built around financial education or household budgeting are more likely to have unavoidable fees. These tend to be modest — $3 to $10 per month — and support rich feature suites. But they’re worth noting if cost is really important to you.
Can You Invest in Stocks Through a High School Bank Account?
Not often, but it’s possible to find custodial investment accounts for high school students. Our top pick on this point is Greenlight, whose Greenlight + Invest plan includes a parent-owned taxable brokerage account where kids can make fractional stock share trades with as little as $1.
How to Choose the Best High School Bank Account
First, determine what you want to get out of your bank account and what you plan to use it for. Your account can have more than one purpose, of course, but it’s important to know in advance.
Common reasons to open a bank account in high school include:
- Managing income from a part-time job
- Organizing and working toward savings goals
- Getting practice with basic money management concepts
- Participating in household budgeting and paying for your portion of shared household expenses
- Earning interest and rewards on your balances and everyday purchases
Then consider how your goals for the account match up with the products on this list. The best high school bank account for earning rewards on spending is not necessarily the best choice for advanced budgeting, for example.
These are strong financial products, and you’d be well-served by any of them. But you should still take the time to make the right call for your needs.