As kids prepare to head back to school, many parents may be discussing whether it’s time to open their child’s first checking account. As you begin to talk to your son or daughter about taking this step, and to look for the right place to open an account, here are a few tips to consider.
Determine the right age – All children mature at different rates. When they’re ready for something beyond a savings account, an ATM card can be a good starting point to ease into financial responsibility before they’re given access to checks or a debit card.
Look for the right bank – Look for accounts that require no minimum balance and offer free ATM transactions, so that if your student leaves for school out of state, they will not be charged for withdrawals. At Wilson Bank & Trust, accounts for older youth range from a Campus Prep middle school account to Campus Checking, which follows your student on their financial journey through high school and college.
Go to the bank together – This is a great way to show your student how banking works, and to introduce your student to your banker.
Explain how a checking account works – Whether they’ll use the knowledge regularly or not, it’s important to equip students with an understanding about keeping up with a check register and recording debit card transactions. You may also involve your banker to explain how the account works and things not to do, to avoid any unnecessary fees on the account.
Budgeting – Beyond opening an account, this is a perfect time to sit down with your student to look at how much they may be earning through a job, and teach them about budgeting for expenses they may have now or bills they’ll have later.
Mobile banking – Choose a bank that has a mobile app. This is a great way for a student to keep up with an account balance for themselves, and for most young people tracking finances on their phone will come more naturally than banking by any other means.
Scott Jasper serves as executive vice president of retail banking at Wilson Bank & Trust. Wilson Bank is a member of the FDIC.