Axos Bank hit the scene in 2000 as an online-only institution before digital banks were as ubiquitous as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Now, this financial services company has become one of the most well-known digital banks out there with a full suite of products ranging from investment to deposit accounts. Forbes went so far as to name Axos “One of America’s Best Banks” in 2020.
The Axos Bank First Checking account in particular has been getting a lot of buzz around the personal finance world as one of few kid-friendly deposit accounts that earn interest. Plus, this product ticks many boxes for parents who want to teach their kids money management skills. Let’s dig into the specifics so you can get a better idea of whether the Axos Bank Teen Checking account is a good fit for you.
Who’s It For
Target age: 13 – 17-year-olds (users up to 18 years old qualify in the state of Alabama).
Good candidate: Teens who want to earn interest.
This is a joint bank account shared by a parent or guardian and their child. Teen users are restricted in terms of what they can and can’t do with the account by Axos and by their parents. This product is ideal for teens who have a bit of money to save.
Features and Benefits
This bank account could be well-suited to both those new to money management and teens with a bit of experience managing their own finances.
As account co-owners of an Axos First Checking account, teens can earn money for themselves and experience relative spending freedom. When a teen turns 18 and is no longer eligible to have a First Checking account, they can switch their account over to one of four other free checking accounts with Axos. These include Rewards Checking, Essential Checking, CashBack Checking, and Golden Checking.
Note that a minimum deposit of $50 is required to open an account but there are no minimum monthly balance requirements.
💰 Earn: Teens can earn money through interest payments (although the current APY sits at just 0.10%). The more they save, the more they earn.
This is not a chores-and-allowance-based platform, so teens can not earn more cash by doing chores and checking them off for their parents to review. They will not receive recurring transfers into their account either as this is a joint account shared by parent and child.
Teens earning paychecks can link direct deposits to transfer money into their account. Cash deposits are permitted once an account has been opened and the initial deposit of $50 has been processed and can be made at participating ATMs across the country. Cash deposits can also be made at Green Dot retailers including Walgreens, Walmart, and 7-Eleven. This may cost up to $4.95 per deposit, a fee charged by retailers and not by Axos, and funds may be available as soon as 10 minutes after a transaction has been made.
Teens are NOT eligible to make referrals to earn money, but parents are.
💸 Spend: Every Axos First Checking account comes with a free debit card. Teens can use their debit cards to make ATM withdrawals and are eligible to have up to $12 in third-party domestic fees reimbursed each month. The maximum amount of cash they can withdraw per day is $100. There are approximately 91,000 ATMs in Axos’ network. Teens can use this ATM locator to find in-network machines and, if they use out-of-network machines, will receive reimbursements monthly.
This debit card can be used almost anywhere Visa is accepted, including internationally (some merchants are restricted for minor safety). Point-of-sale transactions are limited to $500 per day.
Teen users cannot write checks but they can deposit checks from their mobile device through the app. They may also transfer money to other people via peer-to-peer transfers through the app. There is no cost associated with doing this.
Overdrafting an account is not permitted and there are no non-sufficient funds fees. Axos will automatically decline any transactions that would cause an account to have a negative balance at no cost to the user. Users do not need to opt into overdraft protection.
💰 Save: This is, of course, an interest-earning checking account, but the current APY is nothing to write home about. As it stands now, all accounts regardless of their balance earn 0.10% APY. Normally, higher balance tiers are more rewarding than lower ones, but Axos isn’t as competitive as it has been in the past.
There is no minimum balance required to earn interest—even accounts with a 0% balance qualify.
The Axos First Checking account does not include such savings features as parent-paid bonuses, parent- or bank-paid balance matching, or the ability to create savings goals. All money is kept in one place and cannot be moved to buckets designated for different spending or saving purposes. Whatever money a user has in their account can be spent with their debit card and is eligible to accrue interest.
Parents can fund their main Axos account via ACH bank transfer, direct deposit transfer, or credit or debit card transaction. Cash deposits are not permitted when funding an account, but they can be made after an account is set up via ATMs and retailers in the Green Dot network.
To stay in the loop about when and where their kids are spending money, parents can enable account alerts to receive real-time push notifications, emails, or text messages whenever their child uses their card to make a purchase or transfers money from their account. Parents can also switch cards on and off as needed from their dashboard.
Transaction and withdrawal limits are automatically set by Axos Bank and cannot be toggled by a parent. Parents are also not permitted to restrict certain merchants or set additional spending limits.
Axos also offers a Bill Pay feature that parents can use to schedule payments from their main account. Many parents take this opportunity to hold their child responsible for expenses such as cell phone bills and new clothes.
Parents can earn money through referrals. For every friend they invite that qualifies to open an account of their own with Axos (and funds the account with at least $500 in direct deposit transfers), a user and their friend will each receive $20 into their account. Referrals can only be made to new users who have never had an Axos account before and friends must use a personal referral link for them to qualify for the bonus. There is no limit to how many referrals a user can make.
Cost and Fees
- $0 for monthly maintenance,
- $0 for overdraft,
- $0 for non-sufficient funds,
- $0 for low balance,
- $0 for incoming wire transfers,
- $0 for first debit card and replacements,
- $5 for paper account statement,
- $0 for domestic ATM withdrawals,
- 1% foreign currency conversion,
- $0 for transfers
This is about as close to a free account as they come. As long as you don’t request paper statements (digital statements are free of charge) and you don’t make international purchases, you can avoid fees entirely.
Benefits of Axos Over Competitors
One of the things that Axos has over its competitors is that it is truly a free account. Most other deposit accounts and debit cards we’ve reviewed have fees that sneak up on you for things like transfers and non-sufficient funds, but this isn’t a problem with this product. Axos even reimburses customers for up to $12 in out-of-network ATM fees each month.
And of course, many of Axos’ competitors do not pay interest. Even when offering just 0.10% APY, that is an automatic point for the First Checking account.
Axos also offers 24/7 customer service, which not many institutions do.
Axos does not offer many educational resources to its First Checking account holders. It would be great if the app featured a library of free posts, at the very least. With some accounts going so far as to incentivize financial literacy quizzes, it’s disappointing to see that Axos isn’t doing much to help young users learn.
This account could also have more savings features. Users should be able to designate money for saving, create goals, and see their progress, as many platforms would allow them to do. The lack of such features, especially when this product seems to position itself as saving-friendly by paying interest, is definitely a letdown.
This account also enforces low spending and transfer limits on all users and these limits can’t be adjusted by parents. Users are only permitted to withdraw $100 cash per day, one of the lower daily withdrawal limits we’ve come across. Cash access could be a lot better.
Consumers who feel positively about their experience banking with Axos claim that the app and platform are intuitive and that customer service representatives are pleasant and knowledgeable.
Long wait times are a common theme in complaints from Axos customers. This applies to both waiting for customer service to respond to an inquiry or resolve a dispute and waiting for transfers and deposits to process. Some users have even had to wait several weeks just for account registration to finish pending.
App ratings are pretty solid. The Axos Bank app has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars in the App Store and 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google Play. Though this app is used by all Axos customers and not specifically designed for use by kids and teens, it is easy to navigate.
Call the Personal Banking line for help with your First Checking account at (844) 999-2967. Customer service is available 24/7 to take your calls. You can also send a secure message through the app.
Is It Safe
All deposit accounts through Axos Bank, including the checking account for teens, are federally insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor through member FDIC Axos Financial.
Axos customers have the option to enable biometric authentication including facial recognition, fingerprints, and voiceprints. Accounts are monitored regularly for potential fraud and user data is protected with SSL encryption and anti-virus software.
Several merchant codes are restricted automatically by Axos for safety reasons and these include 5813; 5921; 7273; 7297; 7995; 9223. Places with these codes include retailers that sell liquor and tobacco, nightclubs, and gambling establishments.
How to Sign Up
When you sign up for an Axos First Checking account, you will be asked whether you want to also open a First Savings account. This product currently offers an APY of 0.25% and has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees, but users must be at least 18 years old to be eligible to open. If you don’t want to add this, you can move onto the next step where you will be prompted to provide your personal information and verify your identity. You can add your teen as a joint account owner after you have completed registration.
If your child already has a checking account or you want to dissolve one of your accounts and transfer the money into this one, Axos actually offers a “No-Hassle Switch Kit” to help make transitioning a bit smoother. You can use their forms to catalog transfers that need to be initiated, redirect automatic deposits, and provide dates for when you would like everything to take place.
The Axos First Checking account is a great free checking account for teens, but it’s not perfect. That it is interest-bearing is a definite plus. While it would be great for this rate to be quite a bit higher, it’s still good for helping your child learn about interest and motivate them to save. This account is best for teens who don’t need a lot of help learning to manage their own money as educational resources are limited.
Look elsewhere if you want a platform that will allow you to more closely manage your child’s spending and/or more robust savings capabilities.