Many banks attract children and young adults with particularly attractive terms. However, our test shows that not all accounts are as good as they should be. By Bernhard Bomke, Euro am Sonntag
M.ith more than 28,000 euros, every household in Germany is on average in the chalk: with banks, mail order companies, telephone providers, landlords or exiles who are entitled to regular maintenance payments. This is how the Federal Statistical Office calculated it for 2019. On the other hand, every household has an average of 55,400 euros in financial assets, i.e. almost twice as much.
Those who prefer to be liquid instead of paying off debts cannot start early enough to practice dealing with money. The banking association refers to the possibility of opening a savings account for newborns that grows with them. This means, for example: From the age of seven children are considered to have limited legal capacity. So you can then use the account yourself – within the scope of the options that your parents give you. One of the first concrete experiences children have with an account is typically paying in gifts of money.
Special current accounts for schoolchildren or for trainees and students are part of the standard program of many banks. “The institutes are already starting to attract young customers through the current account,” says Johannes Higle from the Schad Social Science Institute (SWI). They lure with accounts without fees, offer appreciable credit interest even in the age of low interest rates and speculate that young people will still remain customers if they can be used to earn money. “Investments, old-age insurance and insurance then help the banks to finance the subsidized current accounts.”
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Regional banks are test winners
Higle knows a lot more about checking accounts for people aged 0 to 30. The reason: He tested checking accounts from more than 40 banks for € uro on Sunday. This means that the SWI checked 42 accounts for costs and services in the schoolchildren and trainee / student categories. Regional banks from the ten largest cities in Germany as well as supraregional institutes with or without a branch network are included.
PSD Bank Berlin-Brandenburg performed best among the current accounts that are aimed at schoolchildren. With her PSD GiroStart she offers two percent interest on credit balances up to 2,500 euros, provided the account holder is not older than 25. Girocard and credit card are free of charge. Pupils can get a PIN of their choice for this. And they benefit from a network of more than 18,000 ATMs from which cash can be withdrawn free of charge.
The best provider of current accounts for trainees / students is the Berliner Volksbank. Your account named Blauorange is unconditionally free of charge until your 30th birthday. A free credit card with an insurance package is included. The card can also be used to withdraw money abroad free of charge – an argument for all those who like to travel around world history beyond the corona restrictions. The bank does not have to submit proof of training or studies. It offers an overdraft facility interest rate that is comparatively moderate at 6.97 percent. There is at least 1.25 percent interest on credit balances of up to EUR 1,250, up to the age of 30. And the customers of Berliner Volksbank, like those of PSD Bank Berlin-Brandenburg, can withdraw money free of charge from more than 18,000 ATMs nationwide.
Battle for the smartphone generation
A look at the offers from the banks that performed worst shows that the performance of the test winners cannot be taken for granted. When it comes to the offers for schoolchildren, Sparda-Bank Hessen stands out with the fact that the account management for the offer called SpardaGiroLeon is free, but otherwise there are no incentives – apart from welcome gifts such as a money box, coloring book or shoulder bag. The young account holders do not get any interest on deposits, there is no prepaid credit card and the number of ATMs that can be used to withdraw cash free of charge is comparatively small at around 3,000.
Among the current accounts for trainees and students, the Targobank StarterKonto did the worst. The overall rating of “sufficient” can be explained, among other things, as follows: the bank collects ten euros for a girocard for contactless payments. The additional prepaid credit card that can be booked also increases in price from the 18th birthday from 11.88 euros per year to 30 euros. The network of ATMs, which can be used free of charge, corresponds to the offer of Sparda-Bank Hessen with a good 3,000 locations. The institutes belong to the group of CashPool partners.
In general, checking accounts for underage children can only be opened by their parents. The children have power of attorney for the account until they reach the age of majority. The banking association makes it clear: “Parents cannot spend the savings on themselves, but only use them if they finance a stay abroad or a driver’s license for their child, for example.”
Account overdrafts or correct credit cards (without protection through the prepaid property) are not possible for student accounts. Many banks only allow online banking from the age of twelve if parents allow it.
During the test, SWI expert Higle came across many offers rated “very good”. “The incentive to offer young customers an attractive package is apparently high,” he says. “The companies rely on the convenience of young customers not to switch accounts later.”
When checking the banks, it became apparent that credit interest rates are the domain of regional providers. The Hamburger Volksbank leads the student accounts with three percent. Often, however, the interest is only available for a capped amount and up to a specified maximum age. For the accounts for trainees / students, the test winner Berliner Volksbank only pays 1.25 percent interest up to 1,250 euros in credit beyond the 18th birthday if the customer is a member of the cooperative.
Some providers, such as Frankfurter Sparkasse, make the free account management subject to conditions such as a regular consultation appointment. This should contribute to early customer loyalty. And one more special feature: digital payment options are a matter of course for most of the offers for trainees and students. “Apple Pay is standard now,” Higle notes. “Google Pay is also becoming more widespread.” The banks are clearly trying to “win over the smartphone generation”.
This is how it was scored:
When testing current accounts for schoolchildren as well as trainees and students, the Hamburg institute SWI checked the costs and services of the respective offers for € uro on Sunday.
Costs (weight 70 percent): Here the testers determined the fees for classic items such as account management, booking items, bank cards and (prepaid) credit cards. They also checked whether it was possible to deposit cash without any fees. With a view to the numerous stays abroad in non-Corona times, especially by older schoolchildren and students, it was also checked whether withdrawing cash abroad is free of charge.
Benefits (30 percent): The auditors checked whether there was credit interest on the current accounts and up to what deposit amount they were paid. Other aspects: Are Apple Pay and Google Pay offered? Is it generally possible to pay by mobile phone? How many ATMs can you get free cash?
Image source: Finances Publishing House, Finances Publishing House