The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account earns a spot on our list of the best bank accounts for kids for several reasons.
For starters, it’s virtually fee-free. It can earn a decent yield on all balances. It has a big network of fee-free ATMs and a generous reimbursement fund for out-of-network ATM transactions. It’s super-mobile-friendly. And it has customizable parental alerts and daily spending limits to keep teen users in check.
If that sounds like a good deal, there’s much more to know about the Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account.
What Is the Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account?
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account is an interest checking account designed for teens and their parents.
It’s a joint account, meaning an adult parent or guardian shares ownership with the teen. Kids as young as 13 can open an account with a parent’s permission. Once the teen account holder turns 18, the account automatically converts to an adult checking account. The teen can then remove the adult from the account or continue with joint ownership if they wish.
The parent and teen both have full account ownership and privileges on the account, but it has built-in spending limits to protect against teen overspending. The parent can also set up transaction alerts.
What Sets the Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account Apart?
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account stands out from other kid- and teen-friendly checking accounts in three ways:
- All balances earn interest with qualifying activities. All balances earn 0.25% APY in months when you complete two simple qualifying activities. The first is to opt into e-statements, and the second is to receive at least one electronic deposit. You only have to opt into e-statements once, so there’s really only one recurring requirement to earn interest unless you opt back out.
- Generous ATM network and reimbursement. Alliant Credit Union has more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs in its network. It also reimburses out-of-network ATM transactions up to $20 each month. So you should have little trouble avoiding ATM fees.
- Mobile-friendly banking features. Some credit unions are behind the times when it comes to mobile banking, but not Alliant. This account is compatible with popular mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, plus cash-transfer apps like the Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo. And the mobile app has virtually all the same money management and budgeting features as the web portal.
How to Become an Alliant Credit Union Member
If you’re not already an Alliant Credit Union member, you must become one before you can open an account. That requires you to meet one of the four qualifications:
- Work for an affiliated organization. Alliant Credit Union partners with more than 100 companies and organizations, including big ones like United Airlines. Current and retired employees are eligible to join.
- Be related to an existing member. If you’re related by law or blood to an existing Alliant member, you automatically qualify for membership.
- Live in an eligible community. Alliant serves about 30 communities in suburban Chicago, though not Chicago itself. A home address in any of these communities qualifies you for membership.
- Become a Foster Care 2 Success member. This is a loophole that opens Alliant Credit Union membership to basically anyone. You must fill out a separate form to become a Foster Care 2 Success member, but Alliant covers the one-time $5 joining fee.
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic fit for many, especially those who love the personalized touch of a credit union but need the technology many credit unions just can’t provide. And that’s not the only feature that makes the Alliant a good fit.
Account Minimums & Fees
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account has no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirement, and there’s no monthly maintenance fee. Somewhat unusually, there’s no stop-payment fee, either.
That doesn’t mean the account is 100% fee-free. See Alliant Credit Union’s full schedule of potential account fees to get a sense of what you could end up paying.
Account Yield (Interest on Balances)
This account can yield 0.25% APY on all balances.
To earn said yield, opt into e-statements (so you won’t receive paper statements anymore) and receive at least one electronic deposit each month.
If you don’t receive an electronic deposit in a particular month, you’ll earn no interest for the period.
Contactless Visa Debit Card
This account comes with a Visa debit card that works at contactless payment terminals and integrates with popular mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
ATM Access & Fees
Alliant Credit Union has more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs in its network. It also reimburses up to $20 in out-of-network ATM fees each month, which is unusually generous for a checking account with no monthly maintenance fee.
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account has three types of daily transaction limits to prevent teen overspending:
- $500 in debit card PIN transactions
- $500 in ATM cash withdrawals
- $5,000 in debit card signature-based transactions (using the credit option at the point of sale)
Inbound & Outbound Money Transfers
Alliant Credit Union allows both parents and teens to initiate inbound transfers from linked bank accounts, which is useful for scheduled allowance and one-off or recurring chore payments. Only parents can initiate outbound ACH transfers.
This account comes with one free book of paper checks for the hopefully rare occasions when there’s no other option.
Mobile Check Deposit
Alliant’s mobile app has an easy-to-use mobile check deposit feature. Snap a photo, fill out a couple of fields, and make your deposit — no stamped envelope or trip to the bank required.
Adult Account Upgrade at Age 18
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account automatically upgrades to an adult checking account when the teen account holder turns 18. But the adult account holder remains on the account until the teen removes them. That’s a handy feature for teens who need their parents to have full access to the account while they’re off at college.
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account comes with up to $250,000 in deposit insurance through the National Credit Union Administration, which is the credit union version of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Pros & Cons
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account isn’t the only teen checking account in town. Depending on where you live, it may not even be the only teen credit union account in town. So it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the account before you open one.
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account has a lot of perks for teen and adult users. First and foremost, it gives your kid an in at a credit union they can hopefully leverage their entire life. But even if you aren’t on the credit union band wagon, that’s not the only advantage.
- No monthly maintenance fees. This account has no monthly maintenance fee. By contrast, some kid-friendly debit cards and bank accounts charge maintenance fees that eat into kids’ balances, which is especially problematic if they don’t have a regular paycheck to replace it.
- Interest on all balances. Alliant pays interest on all balances in its teen accounts in any statement cycle during which you meet both required qualifying activities: opting into e-statements and receiving at least one electronic deposit. You only have to opt into e-statements once, so it’s really just a matter of getting that monthly deposit.
- No minimum balance. This account has no minimum balance, so you don’t have to worry about saving up (or getting seed money from your parents) before opening your first bank account.
- Big fee-free ATM network. Alliant Credit Union has more than 80,000 fee-free ATMs in its network. It also reimburses up to $20 in ATM withdrawal fees per month, enough to cover anywhere from five to 10 withdrawals.
- Easy parent-child transfers. Alliant enables rapid parent-child ACH transfers. That’s a big perk for teens still relying on a weekly or monthly allowance.
- Reasonable daily spending limits and customizable transaction alerts. Alliant Credit Union has reasonable daily spending limits: $500 for debit card PIN purchases, $500 for ATM withdrawals, and $5,000 for signature-based debit card purchases. It’s hard to imagine a teenager needing to exceed those limits while living at home. And for parents who worry about their kids’ spending patterns, Alliant’s customizable transaction alerts offer peace of mind.
- Free stop payments. Alliant Credit Union charges nothing for stop payment requests. Hopefully, you won’t have to take advantage very often, but it’s a reassuring feature for parents who don’t yet totally trust their teens.
- Mobile-friendly banking features. Pretty much anything you can do through Alliant’s web portal, you can do through its mobile app. That includes mobile check deposits and mobile wallet payments.
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account has more upsides than downsides, but consider these potential drawbacks before you open an account.
- Requires Alliant Credit Union membership to open. The adult account holder must be an Alliant Credit Union member to open a Teen Checking Account. It’s easy enough to join by first becoming a member of Foster Care 2 Success, but the requirement still adds some friction to the account-opening process. There are plenty of kid-friendly checking accounts without that second application requirement.
- No rewards on spending. Debit card purchases earn no rewards. That’s a drawback in comparison to other kid-friendly checking accounts and debit cards, like Current.
- Not open to kids under 13. Unlike most kid-friendly debit cards and some kid-friendly checking accounts, Alliant’s Teen Checking Account is open only to kids 13 and older. It’s not an ideal first money management tool. To teach younger kids financial basics, opt for GoHenry or Greenlight instead.
How the Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account Stacks Up
The Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account is not the only teen-friendly joint checking account that earns interest. See how it stacks up against another popular option, the Capital One MONEY Teen Checking Account.
|Alliant Credit Union Teen
|Capital One MONEY
It’s rare to find a checking account that pays any interest at all, let alone a rate higher than many big-bank savings accounts. It’s even rarer to find a kids’ checking account with a solid yield — the Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account is among the only ones.
That said, there’s more to life than checking yield, and Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking isn’t perfect. It has no rewards program, it isn’t open to kids under 13, and it does require Alliant membership to open — though that’s not a particularly heavy lift.
Bottom line: Don’t apply for an Alliant Credit Union Teen Checking Account before looking into similar alternatives. You might find that Alliant is truly the best choice — but you might not.