“My piggy bank is not big enough.” That’s likely to evoke tears of joy from parents of financially-diligent children. When it’s time to step into the real world of banking, these money-savvy kids may encounter some banks that make saving even more motivating, educational and rewarding.
A typical dull bank may slap a “Kids” or “Youth” label on a regular savings account as a way to market to young savers. Luckily, many children are excited to just deposit money with the lady behind the tall counter and wall of glass — a taste of what it’s like to be an adult.
However, there are banks that make more of an effort to foster the next-generation of tightfisted savers.
Here are five of them that shine:
Known for great customer service, low cost and competitive interest rates, ING Direct offers children’s savings account with similar traits. After signing up, kid savers receive a savings booklet, makeshift coin bank and their own online-login credentials. In the savings booklet, kids can record their deposit history while parents get a pack of stickers that are awarded for certain savings milestones.
It also doesn’t hurt that the savings rate is rather high (0.80% APY as of April 11, 2012) compared with most other savings accounts.
To the children of TD Bank customers, the Penny Arcade machine is a recognizable landmark. Child customers can drop their coins into the Penny Arcade to have them counted and then deposited into their savings accounts. The interactive machine even gives a prize from time to time.
It has been touted as a great hands-on experience for young savers.
While the Penny Arcade is the main attraction, TD Bank also has the Wow! Zone, a site that offers financial education and interactive games, and a Summer Reading Program, which rewards kid savers with a $10 deposit when they read 10 books during the time off from school.
PNC employs Sesame Street characters in its “‘S’ is for Savings” account for young savers. The familiar faces of Elmo, Cookie Monster and the rest of the Sesame Street crew make regular appearances in the online account interface and financial learning center.
The ‘S’ is for Savings account borrows a very useful concept from PNC’s Virtual Wallet account. Kid savers have the choice of dividing their savings across three virtual jars marked for “saving,” “sharing” and “spending”. Within each jar, kids can further allocate a portion of the savings for a specific goal. (Note: the PNC program is not affiliated with Share, Save, Spend — the financial program, which urges families to divide their funds into categories as a way to teach values to children and fight hyperconsumerism.)
Such a tool reinforces the practice of budgeting.
Indeed there will be kids who could care less about the frills of their savings account. The money is what counts — also because money is the only thing that will buy the latest video game or Barbie doll.
Airbanking, the online banking division of MainStreet Bank, offers its Junior Airsavings account that pays 4.00% APY on balances up to $1,000 (0.50% APY on balances greater than $1,000). Because younger generations have time to take advantage of compounding, a higher interest rate will accelerate the growth of their savings.
Honorable Mention: FamZoo
FamZoo is not a bank, but it allows parents to create their own bank — the Bank of Mom and Dad. The company offers a subscription service ($6.99 per month after a free two-month trial) that lets users create a virtual banking platform for the entire family.
Kids can give $10 to their parents and the parents simply raise the children’s virtual balances in FamZoo. When the kids want to spend, the parents pay for the purchases and then deduct the amounts from their virtual accounts.
FamZoo also offers tools to create family checklists, budgets, savings goals, allowance & interest disbursements and more. It’s a step up from a piggy bank, but not yet a real bank account.