Ask any parent and they'll tell you that one of their biggest frustrations with schools these days is that they don't teach kids much about real-world finances. Kids graduate high school without fully understanding how things like checking accounts, credit, and saving for the future work. While they may show some interest in the stock market and making investments, they usually don't fully understand how it works or what the point of all of it is, and how it can impact their lives today and years into the future. While you have to be at least 18 years old in the United States to open your own brokerage account and buy and sell stocks, many apps allow parents to open up custodial accounts and teach their kids and teens a thing or two about money. Here are five of the best.
While many kids' investing apps are specifically for adults with extra features for children and teens, Greenlight is geared specifically towards children and teaches all about investing and money management. It's highly rated, and you'll get a free month trial when you sign up. After that, there's a small monthly fee.
First, kids get a prepaid debit card that they can use to make purchases in stores, but the catch is that parents can control a list of stores where the child is allowed to shop. Parents also get a notification of how much their child spends, when, and where they spend it. As part of the Greenlight program, you can open a custodial brokerage account for your child so that they can buy stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), including fractional shares, with your approval. Greenlight offers several resources and educational materials that will help teach your kids even more about money and making good decisions. Other features include cash back, savings, and chores and allowance tracking.
Acorns is a popular investing app for adults, but with every Acorns Family account, you can take advantage of Acorns Early. This is a mini account that you can open for your child, although you do the actual investing. However, it's a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)/Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) account, so anything you earn can go toward your child in any manner you see fit, not toward their education. Then, when your child is an adult, you can transfer the account to them. In addition to the account, Acorns, which charges a small monthly fee for the Acorns Family account, offers a library full of resources and educational material, and you'll receive a free digital kids' book about investing when you set up your account.
Stockpile offers brokerage accounts and custodial accounts, and its kid-friendly custodial accounts have become quite popular with parents and teens. One of the coolest features is that parents can buy gift cards in amounts from $1 up to $500, and kids can load them and make choices about what companies in which they want to invest. Of course, you can also load money through your bank account. All your kids need is a minimum of $1 to invest, and there are no commission fees. Fractional shares of stocks are also available.
EarlyBird offers parents and their kids a UGMA account, so you can give money to your kids and work together to put it into investments. Anytime you make a gift, you can video yourself talking about why you did it, like if it's for a special occasion. However, rather than buying individual stocks and ETFs, you'll choose a fixed portfolio, as the app offers five. EarlyBird allows $200 worth of investments for free and, after that, you'll pay $1 per month per child. There's also a $2 processing fee with each gift.
Fidelity is one of the most well-known financial services companies in the world, and its Youth Accounts are quite popular with families who want to teach their kids about investments. It's free to sign up, and there are no trading fees or commissions, nor do you need a minimum balance. You even get a little bonus when you sign up. The account is aimed at kids ages 13 through 17 who want to get ahead on their financial futures. You'll gain access to features like Fidelity’s Dedicated Youth Learning Center, which can help your child learn all they need to know about making important financial decisions. Parents must have a Fidelity account before opening one for their kids.