Comparing Bank Accounts For Children

Our son recently turned 10 years old and reached the age at which we said he could have a bank account.

He had already been doing the Barefoot Investor’s Three Jar System for a few years, and had a solid understanding of the difference between spending, saving and giving.

Moving On

He had also moved beyond the need for tangible money you can see and hold (when beginning to learn about money).

Then, at the start of 2020, due to COVID concerns about physically handling money (as our son has a heart condition and little was understood about the virus at the time) we had already moved on from money that you can hold to a paper ‘bank book’ version of the three jar system.

The paper version was set up using a simple system of three pieces of paper: spend, save, give. Each week, the kids had to do their own record keeping by writing the date, the amount ‘deposited’ and a running balance. Any time they wanted to spend money, it was by using our ‘tap and go’ keycard and then an adjustment of their running balance.

We even paid them compound interest at the end of each month. I must say it was amusing to watch my youngest child when she was six years old calculate 5% compound interest on each of her three accounts.

A Real Bank Account

Now our son was 10 years old, we felt he was ready to manage having his own bank accounts and keycard. This brought up so many other decisions!

Would he need permission to spend money? Should we set a spend limit on his account? Should we block online payments?

In the end we gave him full freedom with his accounts, figuring it was better to make mistakes at 10 years old with pocket money, rather than at 20 years old with wages needed for living expenses.

After he had his bank accounts set up, his pocket money transferred in and received his keycard, one of the first things he said was ‘it’s like money is not even real‘.

I can tell you, I was really glad we had already done all that prior preparation of using tangible money in jam jars, then paper ‘bank accounts’ before moving onto money as an abstract concept!

But Which Bank Account?

We knew what features we wanted for our son’s bank accounts: a keycard, online access, the ability to have multiple accounts, and an allowable age as young as 10 years old.

But which bank account? This started the search for the most appropriate bank for our son.

In the table below, you can see what our research uncovered about children’s bank accounts.

BankAge requirementsKeycardOther Features
ANZ14+ yearsVisa debit cardUsual ANZ account service fee of $5 p/m waived if under 25 yrs
Under 18s can apply for an ANZ transaction fees waiver
Can choose the card colour
CBA9+ yrsDebit Mastercard$0 monthly account service fees
Parental controls
Commbank Youth App
Great Southern Bank10 – 17 yrs10 – 13 yrs: rediCARD
14 yrs+: Visa debit card
$0 monthly account service fees
Free ATMs nationwide
14+ yrs can use with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay
ING14 – 17 yrsVisa debit card$0 monthly account service fees
Free ATMs worldwide
No online or overseas transaction fees
Can use with Apple Pay and Google Pay
NABUnder 16 yrs Unknown, very little
information provided
Need to visit a branch or phone to set up
Spriggy6 – 17 yrsPrepaid Visa debit card$30 annual fee per child
Personalised keycard (Disney, Star Wars, Super Heroes, card colours)
Parent, and child friendly App
Create and track jobs to earn money via the App
Merchant restrictions (e.g. alcohol, cigarettes, bars)
Can use with Apple Pay and Google Pay
Westpac12 – 13 yrs
(14 – 17 yrs extra options)
Westpac HandycardMonthly account service fees waived if under 21 yrs
Parental controls

Conclusion

We researched a variety of banks including the big four (ANZ, CBA, NAB & Westpac), a completely online bank (ING), a rebranded bank (CUA/Great Southern Bank), and a pocket money App (Spriggy).

After looking into banking options for our 10 year old we were left with three to choose from based on age alone: CBA, Great Southern Bank and Spriggy.

Despite all the included technology in Spriggy, I was not interested in paying $30 every year for each child. The remaining contenders left were CBA and Great Southern Bank.

In the end we decided on CBA as we already have an account with them linked to CommSec Pocket. We use their micro-investing App to buy birthday and Christmas shares for the grandchildren. (Yep, we have young kids and also grandchildren who are all around the same age.) Once the funds in CommSec pocket reach $1,000 per grandchild, we will put that money into investment bonds for the favourable taxation implications.

We have not regretted setting up the CBA Smart Access for Youth account. It was easy to set up online, and it is easy for my 10 year to navigate. His first login consisted of repeatedly transferring $10 between accounts – because he could!

Now he needs to look after his wallet and keep his keycard safe, but that is a whole other story.

If you had to choose a bank account for a child, which one would you choose and why? Please scroll on down and leave a response in the comments box.

Disclaimer: I am not a personal finance advisor. Do your own research and contact a professional as needed.

4 thoughts on “Comparing Bank Accounts For Children

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *