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How old do you have to be to have a debit card in the UK?

Whether you’re a pre-teen or teen and you’re wondering about getting a debit card for yourself or you’re a parent who’d like to get a debit card for your child, this blog post answers all your questions regarding this important step and decision in life. 

How to choose the best bank account for your child

If you’d like to get a debit card for your child, it will be accompanied by a checking account.

There are certain features you should look out for when selecting the best account in your circumstances:

Spending limits: Debit cards can come with daily withdrawal and spending limits, which will help teens budget and teach them new and important skills in terms of managing their money. 

Fees: There are several banks and building societies which offer debit cards and checking accounts for kids and teens. Some charge ATM fees, while others don’t. In addition, you might, in some cases, be able to get ATM fee rebates. Furthermore, find an account that doesn’t have a monthly fee. 

Simple monitoring and transfers: Choose an account that enables you to make transfers to your child’s account simply, as well as one which enables you to monitor it. In some cases, you’ll be able to set up transaction alerts in order for you to be aware when purchases have been made and for what amount. 

Mobile wallet compatibility: The rising popularity of mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are another factor for consideration. Mobile wallets are a safe and secure way of making payments. Ensuing your child’s account is compatible with a mobile wallet, you can rest assured that they’ll be able to use a user-friendly mobile app.

Interest rates and direct deposits: If your child has a part-time job, they can set up a direct deposit into their checking account and earn interest on their payments. Be sure to compare the different interest rates and see whether the interest is capped or not. 

Rewards: Make sure to check for incentives such as a percentage cashback with certain retailers. 

Customer service: Customer service is critical for children as much as it is for adults. Make sure that there’s effective customer service which can help your child in the event of a lost card or if they need help in managing their account.

How to apply for and get a children’s/teen’s debit card – The requirements

In the UK, a child can get a debit card with an accompanying checking account at the age of 11.

There are several different account types for children and teens up to age 17 and you should consider the above-mentioned factors when making your decision.

Now that we’ve discussed the age limits, there are other aspects you should be aware of when opening an account for your child.

For example, your child will either need to go in-branch to apply for an account (some banks will require the child to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to help them fill out the forms) or apply online.

In addition, certain documentation will be required such as an ID, proof of address, a provisional driving license or other form of identification. 

What are the benefits of children and teens having a debit card?

Important life lessons: One of the greatest benefits of your child having their own checking account and debit card is that they’ll learn how banking works. They’ll be able to set goals, budget and practice money management.

No overdraft facility: Since children and teens are not permitted, by law, to obtain credit cards and make use of overdraft facilities, they’ll be able to spend within their means and not go overboard. This will teach them important budgeting lessons.

No monthly fees: In most cases, teen and children’s checking accounts don’t incur monthly fees like an adult account does.   

Set daily limits: You’ll be able to set daily limits – from ATM withdrawals to daily spending and card swiping. 

Earn interest: The money that remains in your child’s account will also earn interest. This is a valuable lesson for them in terms of the world of money and how it works and is earned. 

Free (or affordable) to get and use: Most children’s checking accounts are free to use. Some banks or building societies might charge a fee as low as 1 GBP to open the account. Others are free. 

And prepaid cards?

If your child is eight-years-old or older, you can also consider preparing them for the world of finance and money using a prepaid card. (Meanwhile, Rooster and GoHenry requires your child to be at least six years old). This is a great alternative to carrying cash around and is targeted at younger children.

As a parent or guardian, you can load the card for free and your child will be able to withdraw or pay contactlessly, depending on the funds you’ve set aside for them.

Most major retailers accept such prepaid cards, which are usually provided by Visa or Mastercard.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that prepaid cards don’t come with a checking account, account number or sort code, and there’s no option of setting up a credit or overdraft facility on it.

However, you should be aware that there may be fees involved, such as ATM withdrawal fees, account management fees or other types of fees. 

What’s the case with credit cards?

A child under the age of 18 in the UK is unable to open and have a credit card account or an overdraft facility because this goes against contract laws.

Should you open a savings account?

A savings account can be opened for children aged seven and older. Unlike current accounts, they offer higher interest rates, but they don’t allow for spending with a debit card or setting up direct debits.

They also offer fewer features than current accounts. These types of accounts are great if you’re saving for your child’s future. They enable you to control the account until your child reaches a certain age. 

What’s the case with credit cards?

A child under the age of 18 in the UK is unable to open and have a credit card account or an overdraft facility because this goes against contract laws.

Should you open a savings account?

A savings account can be opened for children aged seven and older. Unlike current accounts, they offer higher interest rates, but they don’t allow for spending with a debit card or setting up direct debits. They also offer fewer features than current accounts. These types of accounts are great if you’re saving for your child’s future. They enable you to control the account until your child reaches a certain age. 

What about Apple Pay?

The age limit for using Apple Pay for children in the UK is 13 years.

What happens to a child’s account when they turn 18?

Your child’s bank account, once they turn 18, will usually be upgraded to a standard adult current account.

In closing…

As a parent, teaching your children about finances from a young age is not only a great educational tool, but also enables you to exercise elements of control over your children’s spending.

In this blog post, we discussed the age limits at which a child can get a debit card and a checking account, as well as other questions related to children’s spending.

Now that you’re better informed, you can make the best choice for your child in choosing to let them use either a prepaid or debit card, as well as the associated mobile wallets that accompany some of them.

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