Top children's savings accounts
Teach your kids to save at up to 3% interest
While interest rates for adults are only now recovering from their lows during the pandemic, children can still earn up to 3% on their savings. But many kids have cash in accounts that pay next to nothing in interest, depriving them not only of the cash that generates, but also of the lesson that you can make your money work for you. We've top pick accounts for kids below...
Should you save in a junior ISA instead?
Junior ISAs let you save up to £9,000 a year and pay up to 2.5% on the whole amount. However, the cash can't be withdrawn until the child turns 18.
Jump to the junior ISAs guide
Tips on teaching kids to save and other need-to-knows
The simple money lesson for younger children is obvious – put your cash in the bank and it'll grow. But as they get older there's another lesson to be learned – a bank's job is to make money from you, our job is to try to keep our cash.
So here are some top tips for helping kids learn and understand about saving and everything else you need to know about kids' savings.
Here's a handy explanation you can use with your kids: "Put your cash in a piggybank and it sits there. But put it in a real bank and you're actually lending them your money – so they need to pay you for it.
"The amount you're paid is called interest. The higher the interest and the longer you keep your savings with them, the more they pay you. If the interest is 10%, that means they pay you 10p a year for every £1 you save with them."
Look through the best buys together, explaining accounts' pros and cons (if you're unsure, see Interest rates for beginners) and make the decision together. Better still, go to your local bank or building society, get your child to ask for an account there and compare its deal with the best here.
Plus, don't let them be swayed by cute toy freebies – explain that many banks try to tempt you in, but often they're the ones that don't pay good interest. So pick an account for interest, then discuss opening other accounts, paying in just the minimum amount required to grab the freebies.
If you go for an easy-access or variable-rate deal, put your child in charge of checking the interest every month to see if it's still paying a decent rate. Move it if not.
It's an interesting discussion to have with children. There's a balance here: a piggybank is kept at home where you can see it, but it can be stolen (don't say that if it'll scare them). Yet money in the bank is safe and earns interest, though there's a slight risk the bank may collapse.
If it does, provided it's a UK-regulated account (all those listed below are) the money is protected up to £85,000 per person by the Government, which is as safe as we can hope for. See our Safe savings guide for more.
4. And agree with them how much of their pocket money they'll save (and how much is available to spend)
One easy trick is to defer an element of pocket money to show the extra reward from saving. For example, if their pocket money is £3, give them half for spending and half for saving. Then tell them for every pound they save, you'll give them an extra one at the end of the year as a reward (if you can afford it, of course).
For more tips, see Martin's blog: Give pocket money as pay.
5. Children's savings can be taxed, but most kids (and adults) don't earn enough interest for this to happen
However, most children don't have jobs or earned income. And for the 2022/23 tax year, if they've no income they can earn up to £18,570 in savings interest without paying tax on it. (That's the £12,570 personal allowance + £5,000 starting savings allowance + the £1,000 personal savings allowance.)
Even if your child does have income to pay tax on, the personal savings allowance means basic-rate taxpayers can earn £1,000 of savings interest tax-free.
Yet there is one fly in the ointment...
If money is given by a parent or step-parent (not grandparents or others) and the interest earned on it is over £100/year from non-ISA savings, the whole thing is taxed like it's the parent's cash.
The £100 allowance is on a 'per parent' basis, rather than a 'per child' basis. The aim is to stop parents using their kids' tax-free allowance for an extra allowance.
The parents' personal savings allowances are also taken into account.
Once the child earns more than £100 per parent, the whole lot is taxed at the parent's income tax rate. But even then, if the parent is within their personal savings allowance and the child's savings don't take them over, it'd still be tax-free.
However, if the child goes over the £100 limit and the parent is over the personal savings allowance, their savings would be taxable. In this case, saving into a junior ISA would be a tax benefit, as then it's tax-free.
Whether you should get a junior ISA depends on two things – if your kids pay tax now (almost all don't), and if you want to lock the cash away, or retain more control over it.
If your kids don't pay income tax (child prodigies watch out!) then they'll be able to earn £18,570 in savings interest before having to pay tax on it, meaning that a tax-free junior ISA isn't really necessary.
But if they'll have high levels of savings once they turn 18, a junior ISA could be a good plan, as these convert to full cash ISAs when the child turns 18, meaning they remain permanently tax-free.
Junior ISAs lock cash away until the child turns 18 – at which point it's their money. With the accounts in this guide, most allow access at any time, giving you more control.
"Using your children tax-efficiently" sounds slightly callous. But if you are better off, so are your kids. Saving money in a child's name means you often save at a higher rate of interest. It's perfectly possible to have one account for your child to put their pocket money into, and another for any larger amounts.
But the personal savings allowance (PSA) has made this less of an issue. This is because, as we've said above, it allows basic-rate taxpayers to earn £1,000 in interest each year without paying tax on it (£500 for higher-rate payers, nothing for additional-raters). Though it's still worth considering if you're close to maxing out your PSA.
... but make sure you know the tax implications
If it's their own money, children can earn the same £18,570 a year in interest as adults before it gets taxed. However, don't assume you can dunk fortunes in your kid's name.
As we've explained, if a child generates more than £100 in interest over the course of a year, from money specifically given by each parent (or step-parent) (so £200 for a couple with a child), this income falls under that parent's PSA. And if they've used their allowance up, it'll be taxed at their rate.
One way around this is with a junior ISA, where you can save £9,000 in your child's name, which is free of tax regardless – read our full Junior ISA guide.
Also, these rules only apply to parents, not grandparents, aunties, uncles or friends. They may all give your children as much as they like and, providing it's a genuine gift, it counts as the child's money without a £100 limit.
The only other tax implications of making cash gifts is the possible spectre of inheritance tax if the donor dies within seven years of making it.
A warning for bright sparks thinking: "If I gave my brother's kids £20,000 and he gave mine the same...?" Good thought, but no cigar. If HM Revenue & Customs spots you, you're in trouble.
... and understand whose money it is
It's worth remembering if the money's in your child's name, it's your child's money. Yet if you're worried that by putting £1,000 in their name they'll splash out on 100 mobile apps, a Nintendo Switch and enough sweets to give a junior school a sugar rush, don't be. Many accounts will allow the adult to stay in control of the cash until the child turns 16. When they do, the cash is technically theirs to do with what they wish.
Most banks require a child to be at least seven before they can open an account for themselves, though they do all differ, so it's worth checking the specifics. Under-sevens require a parent, guardian or grandparent to set up an account and act as signatory.
This method can also be selected for older children. If it is, then usually until the child is 16 the signatory can still manage and withdraw the cash without the child's approval. Many accounts have terms and conditions stating withdrawn money must be used "for the benefit of the child", but of course, this covers a wide variety of definitions.
Rather watch than read? Martin Lewis explains children's savings accounts
The clip below lasts four minutes and 19 seconds and has been taken from The Martin Lewis Money Show, broadcast on Thursday 17 December 2020, courtesy of ITV Studios Ltd, all rights reserved. You can turn on subtitles by selecting the closed captions icon at the bottom right of the video.
Just bear in mind that the savings rates mentioned are subject to change – check the tables below for the most up-to-date rates.
Top children's easy-access accounts
Kids' easy-access accounts – what we'd go for
Easy-access accounts are best for saving bigger sums – though the best rates here are mainly on kids' current accounts.
HSBC currently pays the top 3% rate on up to £3,000, though if you've more to save, Virgin Money pays 2.02% with no upper limit. Yet – like most children's accounts – these need to be opened in branch (though HSBC's can be opened online if a parent has a current account).
If you don't bank with either of the above and don't want to open an account in branch, Bath Building Society's 2.35% account can be opened online by anyone (max £5,000).
3% on £10 to £3,000
|7-17: Apply in branch or can open online if parent/guardian has an HSBC current account.|
1% if you've £1 to £999.99
2% if you've £1,000 to £1,499.99
3% if you've £1,500 to £2,000
0% above £2,000
0-12: Apply in branch, parent or guardian must hold Santander current account.
13-17: Must apply online.
2.5% on £1 to £2,500
0.1% above £2,500
11-15: Apply in branch, parent or guardian must be present.
16-18: Apply in branch.
2.35% on £1 to £5,000
0% above £5,000
Withdrawals can be made online, in branch or by post. (1)
|No||0-17: Apply online or in branch. A parent or guardian must be present if the child is under seven.|
2.02% on £1+
You must give 30 days notice to make withdrawals, which must be made in branch
|No||0-16: Apply in branch.|
1.51% on £1 to £10,000
0.01% above £10,000
|No||0-17: Apply in branch, or can open the account via Barclays Video Banking if parent/ guardian already banks with Barclays.|
1% on £1 to £5,000
|No||0-15: Apply online or in branch. Up to two accounts per child permitted.|
Top kids' regular savings accounts
These accounts let you save up to £100 a month, usually for a fixed term of a year – so are good for small sums. They often pay high rates of interest, but tend to have withdrawal restrictions. For a more detailed explanation of how the interest works and the pros and cons, read our full adults' Regular savings guide. Or take a look at the top payers below.
Kids' regular savers – what we'd go for
These accounts let you save smaller amounts every month. There are a few top picks – and which is best for you depends on your priorities.
Saffron Building Society pays 3.02% fixed for a year and allows unlimited withdrawals, though the account must be opened by post or in branch. Principality Building Society pays 2.5% fixed for three years, and lets you save the most each month of these accounts, but can also only be opened by post or in branch. If you prefer an online account, Halifax pays 2.5% fixed for a year, though doesn't allow withdrawals.
Children's Savings Calculator
This calculator can do a number of things, including telling you how long it will take to save a certain amount – useful to help them understand the time it takes to reach a savings goal.
For calculating the interest on children's savings, we've assumed your child won't pay any tax.
Clever ways to calculate your finances