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Teen Checking Account

It’s never too early to learn about ways to protect and keep track of your money.

That’s why opening your first checking account is a smart step toward building a solid financial future.

Having a checking account means having access to some great features:

- Money in a financial institution is safe. You don’t have to worry about something happening to large amounts of cash that has been stuffed in a drawer, your locker at school, or your purse or billfold when you go places. It’s even insured by the FDIC. And having to use a debit card or check can make you think twice before buying things you might not need.

- With a checking account, you can go online 24/7 to keep track of your money. You can even monitor your account with an app on your smart phone.

- Checking account debit cards and checks can be used at most businesses and restaurants. But while they are safer than carrying large amounts of cash, you still need to protect them from theft and know that if something happens to them you’ll need to call your bank immediately to report the problem.

- With a debit card you’ll have access to ATM’s for those times you need to withdraw cash … or make a deposit.

- Having a relationship with a financial institution can help you avoid charges for things like getting a paycheck cashed. Places like check-cashing businesses will charge you a fee for this type of service.

Having an account can help you on your way to your financial future:

- Opening and maintaining an account helps build a relationship with your financial institution.

- It also starts a financial history, which can help when the time comes that you might need to apply for your first car loan or rent your first place.

- And what you learn about managing your money today teaches financial responsibility for tomorrow.

So what do you need to do next?

- Check things out. Start by asking your parents or friends about where they bank … and why.

- Once you get some feedback, get on the web or the phone to get more answers. Check financial institutions for what they have to offer when it comes to checking accounts for teens. Find out if there are any fees or required minimum balances so you know about that from the start.

- When you find a financial institution that you feel meets your needs, call a representative to find out what you need to bring with you when you apply to open your checking account. And if you’re under 18, don’t be surprised if they tell you that you’ll need to have an adult with you.

- While you are there, you might even want to learn more about things such as automatic paycheck deposits if you have a job where you get paid regularly.

Once you open your account and get your debit card, you need to be a smart consumer. And – just like people who have been at this for years - there’s the possibility that someone out there could try to trick you into giving them information about your account and try to get your money.

Here are some things you should know:

- Watch your account balance closely. Get online and check it often. You don’t want to spend more than you have in the bank, because overdrafts can result in costly fees.

- Your bank will never call, email or text you asking for personal information like your account number, personal identification number or account user name.

- Don’t fall for email tricks where someone tells you that you need to click on a link or call a number NOW because there is something wrong with your account. Never click on links in unsolicited email or text messages.

- If you’re unsure about safe communication, always call your bank’s official customer service number or type in its official web address.

- Don’t write your debit card PIN or any other account information down and leave it in a place where it could be easily seen or stolen.

- And if you need to sign on to a public computer to check your account for any reason, always be sure to log out of your account before leaving that computer.

But don’t let what might happen scare you. Having your money in the bank is far safer than letting it lay around.

Whatever your goals are, opening a checking account now can help you get there.