Banking. It may seem as relevant to you as health insurance, jury duty or saving for retirement (although it’s never too early to start!). Not something you have to worry about in this stage of life, right? Wrong. Not only does financial literacy set you up for future success (munny, hunny), it’s your ticket to financial independence.
Get started now and you’ll be way ahead of the curve when you hit your 20s. Plus, admit it. You’re a little old to be chucking your side-hustle earnings into that shoebox under the bed.
We’ll cover the fundamentals of banking, like how banks work, the differences between checking and savings accounts, how to write a check, and what a debit card is, to name a few. Armed with all this knowledge, you’ll have the smarts and confidence you need to embark on your financial journey.
First things first, you’ll need a refresher on what a bank is, because we’ll be talking about it a lot in this guide.
What is a bank?
A bank is a financial institution that stores and lends money. Banking refers to the activities the bank conducts, like opening and managing people’s accounts, supplying checks, issuing debit and credit cards, or distributing personal or business loans. Banks can also perform other services such as wiring money, advising clients on investments, and exchanging currencies.
It’s probably no surprise that banks don’t hold your money out of the goodness of their hearts, erm, vaults, though that would be nice. They are for-profit businesses owned by investors and shareholders.
How do banks work?
One of the main ways a bank turns a profit is to lend out money in the form of loans or credit cards. Banks charge higher interest rates on these products than the interest they pay on their clients’ bank accounts. In other words, they will take money from a bunch of their clients’ savings accounts, use it to issue loans to borrowers with hefty interest rates, and then pay small amounts of interest back to the clients in exchange for leaving their money in the bank.
Copper is a little unique, in that we’re a mobile banking service partnering with a traditional bank. Copper helps you open a bank account, easily exchange money with your parents, and start saving your earnings. We make our money differently than a lot of other banks, too. We charge fees to vendors who run our debit cards. We don't charge our users any monthly fees, overdraft fees, or maintenance fees, unlike most banks. A pretty good deal, if we say so ourselves.
Get the Copper Banking app and debit card now
Copper is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by Evolve Bank & Trust; Members FDIC.
What types of banks are there?
Banks can be sorted based on many different criteria. You can categorize them by the technical services they provide (retail vs. investment banks) or by their size and scope (national banks vs. regional banks). But the broadest division in banking lies between the forms of traditional and online banking.
Copper doesn’t generally play favorites, but when we started out, we couldn’t deny online banking for teens was a vastly superior choice, for all the reasons listed above, especially ease of access and lower costs. We’re partial to the online banking model and hope you will be, too.
Can teenagers have bank accounts?
Absolutely! You don’t have to be old to take control of your money. Other banks need you to be at least 18 years old to open an account, but at Copper we help you open a bank account at any age. All you need is a parent or guardian to sign up with you - did someone say duet?
How do you open a bank account?
In the olden days, a.k.a. 10 years ago, people had to hop on their bikes, or drive their cars to a bank and fill out all the required forms, you guessed it, IRL.
With Copper, opening a bank account is as easy as downloading our app, filling out some personal info, getting your parents to do the same, and hitting ‘Submit’. In a matter of minutes, voila! You’ve got a bank account.
What’s the difference between a checking and savings account?
Checking accounts hold money that you intend to spend, and are usually connected to a debit card and/or a checkbook (paper checks). Savings accounts are for saving money so they won’t come with a checkbook, but may be connected to an ATM card so you can withdraw funds at the ATM. It all boils down to whether you wanna stash your dough or spend it.
Which account works best for you? Download Copper and you won't have to choose. We offer both checking and savings accounts, so you can track your spending and save your money, all in one place.
How do I write a check?
Now that you have your bank accounts up and running, you can deposit money and checks into it. A check is a written slip that gives your bank permission to remove a set amount of money from your account and give it to someone else. People often use checks to make large payments, since there are usually limits on how much they can send electronically.
The Cliffnotes version of filling out a check is to input the date, the name of the person or company you’re paying, the amount you’re paying in numeric and written form, a summary of what you’re paying for, and your signature.
Below are the fields you’ll see on a check and examples of what to fill in beside them.
What’s the difference between a credit card and debit card?
On the surface, a debit card and credit card look the same. They’re both thin plastic rectangles with numbers and words etched onto them. As similar as they are, not understanding the difference between debit and credit cards can land you in a heap of financial trouble!
When you sign up for Copper you are issued a debit card. You, or your parents, can add money to your account balance that you are then able to spend. Copper doesn't have overdraft or hidden fees like some debit and credit cards have. And, perhaps most importantly, you won't be charged interest.
And, That’s a Wrap…
Banking may seem old and stuffy, like your dad’s music taste, but we hope by now you get how relevant it is at any stage (and age) in the game. Get in now and you’ll be that much closer to financial success, not to mention independence. Prove to your parents, and yourself, that you can handle your money like a boss. So, instead of scrolling through your TikTok feed for the next three minutes, download our app, answer a few questions, and open a bank account with Copper. It’s that simple.
Here’s to making the most of your money.