Alliant Credit Union is a name you’ve heard before. A lot of our readers are Alliant customers and we’ve had the opportunity to review several products from this institution in the past. Today, we’re reviewing an account just for teens.
The Alliant Teen Checking Account With Debit Card is an interest-bearing joint checking account for families with teens. It is a free account geared toward young adults that lets users deposit their own money, make payments and transfers, and earn interest on whatever they don’t spend. You’ll have a better idea of whether or not this is the right account for your teen after reading this article.
[Related: See how the Alliant Teen Checking Account and debit card compare to the best debit cards for kids and teens in 2021!]
Who’s It For
Target age: Teens between the ages of 13 and 17
Good candidate: Teens who want to save money and will use their accounts regularly
Because this account earns interest, it makes the most sense for teens who want to start putting away money and growing their wealth. A teen shares ownership of this account with a parent or guardian but the teen is the primary account owner and the parent is the joint owner. There are certain permissions granted to either the joint or primary owner and certain permissions granted to both people on the account.
When a user turns 18, this checking account automatically converts to a standard Alliant Checking account. Both joint owners will remain on the account but the teen may remove their parent as an owner. Spending limits and rates will increase accordingly and a new debit card will be issued.
Features and Benefits
There are no minimum balance or opening deposit requirements for this account. Although a teen is the primary account owner, their parent has more control.
A teen needs to be a member of Alliant in order to qualify for a checking account and debit card. They will automatically qualify for membership if their parent or guardian, or another immediate family member, is a member. Teens and parents must sign up for this account together.
💰 Earn: Teens who are employed can deposit paychecks through the mobile app or set up direct deposit transfers into their accounts.
This platform does not give teens the option to directly request money to be transferred from their parents and teens are not able to refer friends to earn cash. Teens may receive an allowance from their parent(s) in the form of a recurring payment, but that is one of the only ways to earn more money.
💸 Spend: Every Alliant Teen Checking Account includes a contactless Visa debit card that can be used almost anywhere Visa is accepted. This debit card can also be used to withdraw funds at more than 80,000 in-network ATMs. If a teen uses an out-of-network ATM and incurs fees doing so, they are eligible for up to $20 in rebates per month.
ATM withdrawals are limited to $100 cash per day and POS transactions are limited to $300 per day.
Teens can write checks using their accounts, but their parent(s) must be the one to order and reorder the checks.
Teens are not permitted to make ACH transfers, but there are many ways they can transfer money to friends. This account and debit card are compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay and can also be linked with digital P2P payment apps including Cash App, Venmo, and PayPal.
This platform does not have budgeting features such as the option to create buckets for different types of spending, but teens can analyze their spending habits using the monthly spending summary. They also cannot set aside money to be saved or set savings goals and track their progress.
💰 Save: The Alliant Teen Checking account pays an interest rate of 0.25% APY on all balances.
To qualify for this interest rate, a teen must make at least one electronic deposit per month and opt into digital eStatements and out of paper statements. Direct deposits, ACH transfers from external banks, mobile check deposits, and ATM deposits all qualify a user to receive interest. Interest payments are made on the last day of every month.
Before a parent can see all of their teen’s account information, the teen must grant them access to their account. They can do this by logging into the app and selecting “Account Details” from the sidebar. From there, they should click “Manage Joint Owners,” “Manage Online Access,” and choose their checking account. This will grant their parent(s) the ability to view activity on this account from their banking portal.
Once a parent has been given permission to view their teen’s activity, they can monitor their spending by opting into transaction alerts. They can also view their teen’s monthly transaction summary to see how much money their teen has spent and where.
If a parent has a different checking or savings account with Alliant, they can link this account to fund their teen’s checking account. Alternatively, they can link external bank accounts and transfer money from this. They have the option to initiate one-time transfers or schedule recurring transfers from their funding account to their joint account. For recurring transfers, they can specify (and change at any time) frequencies, amounts, and dates.
Parents can also fund the account via ACH transfer from an external bank, direct deposit, check deposit, or credit or debit card transaction. Only the joint owner, the parent or guardian, may initiate standard outgoing ACH transfers.
As an adult joint account owner, the parent serves as the primary account contact and has account and management permissions that the teen does not. For example, the joint account owner is responsible for managing Overdraft Protection, meaning that they will need to decide whether to activate this feature. Though this feature is free for all account holders, it needs to be initiated to go into effect.
When Overdraft Protection is enabled, funds are automatically withdrawn from a linked savings account to cover transactions for which the checking account balance is not sufficient. When not enabled, overdrafting is not authorized and transactions are declined.
Likewise, only a parent can order checks for their teen’s account. The first box of checks is free when an account is opened. Both joint account owners and primary account owners (teens) can dispute transactions, but the joint account owner needs to sign off on any documentation and will be the main line of communication as Alliant works to resolve the dispute.
How Much Does the Alliant Teen Checking Account Cost
- $0 monthly maintenance fee,
- $0 low balance fee,
- $0 for ACH transfers,
- $1 per paper statement,
- $10 inactivity fee,
- $10 dormant account fee,
- $0 for replacement debit card,
- $0 for the first order of checks,
- $25 non-sufficient funds fee,
- $25 outgoing domestic wire transfer
Users are encouraged to opt out of receiving paper statements and into digital statements, which are also required to earn interest (along with monthly transactions). And as long as you’re making at least one transaction into or out of this account per month, you can also avoid the inactivity and dormant account fees.
As of August 2021, teens will not be required to pay non-sufficient funds fees when they overdraw their accounts. If an account is overdrawn to pay for a transaction and this results in a negative balance, a user may see a $25 fee charged to their account, but it will be automatically refunded in a day or two.
Benefits of Alliant VS Competitors
We recommend this product to families who want a free account, which can be achieved by making regular deposits or transfers and receiving electronic statements. Alliant doesn’t charge for much at all.
Another benefit of this product over others is transfer flexibility and cash access. Teen users can send money easily to their friends via most mobile payment apps and make cash withdrawals at thousands of in-network ATMs. Alliant even reimburses ATM fees.
But although teens can access and send their money no problem, other account features are rather limited. There are no budgeting or savings features built into the platform, and users can’t separate their money into saving and spending categories. To really get the most out of their first checking account, teens will need to work together with their parents to review their spending and create budgeting and saving strategies or even open a separate savings account. We’re sure most families would prefer doing all of this from one account.
Teen users may also find this account’s spending and withdrawal limits to be pretty restrictive because Alliant sets pretty low daily maximums on these activities. Customers can only withdraw up to $100 in cash per day, which could leave teens in a pinch when they probably got a checking account for spending freedom in the first place.
On the parents’ side, controls are also fairly limited. Parents cannot prevent their teens from making purchases at certain merchants by creating restrictions, changing overall spending limits, or setting caps for different spend categories. They also can’t reinforce good habits such as saving with incentives such as account bonuses, balance matching, etc.
Reviews from Alliant customers are mixed. Many users have had negative experiences with customer service representatives who did not know how to help solve problems or came across as unprofessional. Communicating issues to users also seems to be a fairly common problem for this institution, with numerous users saying that they’ve had their accounts locked, transfers canceled, etc. without warning.
On the flip side, just as many users and long-time Alliant members report positive experiences overall with the credit union and customer service interactions they’ve had.
The Alliant mobile app has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Google Play and 4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store. The app has been called glitchy, but the vast majority of users are satisfied. The app interface is pretty standard for a banking app and is sleek and easy to use.
You can call Alliant’s customer service line at 800-328-1935. Or, you can send a secure email by logging into your account or ping Alliant on Twitter with non-urgent inquiries.
Some customers choose to do certain parts of their banking over the phone. If you choose to do this, just be aware that Phone Banking can incur fees that online or mobile banking would not (for example, an ACH transfer initiated online is free but costs $10 to initiate over the phone).
Is It Safe
All Alliant Teen Checking accounts are insured up to $250,000 by the NCUA. Alliant also provides 24/7 fraud protection to all members, free of charge. Still, users are required to alert the credit union immediately when they notice suspicious activity to avoid paying for transactions they did not authorize.
How to Sign Up
To get started opening an Alliant Teen Checking account, you must first be a member of the credit union. You may be eligible if you are employed by a business that partners with Alliant, are married or related to another Alliant member, or work in a community surrounding Chicago such as Franklin Park, Elmhurst, or Prospect Heights.
If the above criteria doesn’t fit your circumstance, you can also join Alliant Credit Union by becoming a member of Foster Care to Success (FC2S). FC2S serves thousands of foster teens across the United States, focusing on those who are aging out of the foster care system. FC2S awards grants and scholarships for higher education and provides care packages, mentoring and internships. (Alliant will pay a $5 membership fee to FC2S on the member’s behalf.)
Once you’ve joined Alliant Credit Union, your teen will also need to become a member — either before you begin opening an account or when you start the application process.
You can then open an account on their behalf.
The Alliant Teen Checking account could be more collaborative and lacks some of the features you might be looking for, but it’s a fair option overall. If you’re looking for the most comprehensive platform with no shortage of educational resources and controls, keep looking. But if you want an account that will allow your teen to earn interest on the money they put away and give them the freedom to ditch cash, this might be the checking account and debit card for you.