Review of ING Direct's MONEY - Checking Account for Teenagers
In October ING Direct launched a new checking called MONEY. It's designed to be a checking account "learner's permit" for teens. It's similar to the Kids Savings Account that ING Direct launched last year. Here are MONEY's main features:
- Joint checking account between an adult and a child
- Child can have a debit card for purchases and ATM usage
- Only the adult can transfer money via linked accounts
- No checks
- No bill pay
As you would expect, the account has no minimum balance or monthly service fees. Like the Electric Orange account, it pays interest, but the interest rate is low (0.25% as of 11/20/2011).
I reviewed the Kids Savings Account last year. Just like that account, MONEY only gives the adult access to the ACH transfer features. It's designed to give the parent the main control over the account.
The main difference with the Kids Savings Account is that MONEY allows the child to have a debit card. This can be used for purchases and accessing ATMs.
According to ING Direct's MONEY press release, the new debit card marks ING Direct's first implementation of MasterCard PayPass which allows you to simply tap your card on a PayPass terminal in order to pay for a purchase. You don't have the swipe your card. This may be a little more convenient, but it has some worried about new security risks.
Another new feature mentioned in the press release is real-time text message updates. Both account holders have the ability to opt-in to receive text message alerts for things like debit card transaction confirmations and low balance alerts.
For parents who want to help their kids get used to handling a checking account, this MONEY account makes sense. In fact, I think it's a better option than the Kids Savings Account. If your kid is too young for the debit card, you can just hold on to that until the child gets older. Since the Kids Savings Account's interest rate is so low (0.90% as of 11/20/2011), you won't lose much interest with the MONEY account. For example, if your child has a $500 balance for 5 years, the total interest that would be earned with the savings account is only $22.50. The total earned with the MONEY account is $6.25.
Other Bank Account Options for Kids
If you want your kid to appreciate earning interest, you may want a kids savings account that pays a high interest rate for small balances. Several credit unions offer these types of accounts. There is one new internet bank that also offers this. It's Airbanking, and its Junior airsavings account pays 4.00% APY on balances up to $1,000 (as of 11/20/2011). Please refer to my Airbanking savings account review for more details.
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