I wish someone had told me about the power of investing at a young age. Sure, there were far fewer brokerage accounts for minors available then than there are now, but I still would’ve been a lot better off—for a number of reasons.
Money’s a pretty obvious one. The earlier you start investing, the more that the power of compounding works in your favor—even a little money, put to work in investments like stocks and bonds or even in an interest-bearing account, can become a giant pile of money given enough time.
But also, oh, what I could’ve learned! Young investors enjoy years of figuring out how the market works and refining their investing skills at an age when they don’t have to risk a lot of money to learn those lessons. I wish I knew at age 18 what I only started learning at age 28!
And guess what? Minors already know investing is important! According to Fidelity’s 2023 Teens and Money Study, 90% of teens see investing as a way to save for their future, and 75% of teens say investing is important to them.
The thing is, minors need some help to get started, as people under age 18 can’t legally open their own brokerage account. A parent or other trusted adult must help choose an account, open it, and (oftentimes) manage it until the child is old enough to take the reins themselves.
Today, I’m going to offer those parents some help by talking about the best brokerage accounts for minors. I’ll talk about the types of brokerage accounts that are appropriate for minors, then detail the pros and cons of some of the most popular account offerings you’ll find. And once I’m done with that, I’ll help answer a few frequently asked questions about opening a brokerage account for a minor.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Invest?
To invest in the stock market without any supervision or guidance, you need to be a legal adult, meaning at least 18 years old. However, minors can invest through a joint brokerage account with a parent or own assets in a custodial account set up by any adult. There is no minimum age to be the beneficiary of a custodial account.
How Can Kids Invest in the Stock Market with a Brokerage Account?
Joint Brokerage Account
Joint brokerage accounts are investment accounts with two or more people on the account’s title. At least one account owner has to be an adult, but a minor can be on the account as well.
Both parent and child jointly own all of the assets in the account and are responsible for investment decisions. These accounts boast a wide variety of investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and more.
Custodial Brokerage Account
Custodial accounts are financial accounts held in the name of a beneficiary (often a minor) by one or more custodians (often a minor’s parents).
The minor owns the account, but the custodian is legally responsible for the account and invests on behalf of the minor. That said, some custodians choose to involve the child in investment decisions to help them develop financial skills.
Assets in the account belong to the minor and any withdrawals must directly benefit the child. Once the beneficiary reaches the age of majority, which varies by state, they gain legal control of the account.
Previously, different states used different types of custodial brokerage accounts. Depending on your state, you could open a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) or a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account. Now, all 50 U.S. states offer UTMA accounts.
Brokerages for Minors—Our Top Picks
Open a Fidelity Youth™ Account for your teen, and Fidelity will drop $50 into their account. Get $100 for yourself when you open a new Fidelity account and fund with $50.¹
Core: $4.99/mo. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (Each account supports up to 5 children.)
$2.95/mo. for one child. $4.95/mo. for families with 2+ children.
Best Free Brokerage Accounts for Minors
First, I’ll look at a couple of rare free options that allow minors to invest:
1. Fidelity Youth™ Account (Best Debit Card With Teen Investing)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: No account fees, no account minimum, no trading commissions*
- Promotion: Teens get $501 on Fidelity® when they download the Fidelity Youth™ app and activate their Youth Account; parents get $100 when they fund a new account
Is your teen interested in jumpstarting their financial future? Do you want them to build smart money habits along the way?
Of course you do! Learning early about saving, spending and investing can pay off big when you start on the right foot. And one tool that can help your teen get that jump is the Fidelity Youth™ Account—an account owned by teens 13 to 17 that’s designed to help them start their money journey. They can start investing by buying most U.S. stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and Fidelity mutual funds for as little as $1!⁴
Your teen will also get a free debit card with no subscription fees, no account fees³, no minimum balances, and no domestic ATM fees.⁵ And they can use this free debit card for teens to manage their cash and spend it whenever they need.
And as for building smart money habits? You and your teen can access your account through the Fidelity Youth™ app, which has a dedicated Learn tab packed with materials developed specifically to help teens develop good financial habits. Not only will Fidelity’s interactive lessons, videos, articles, tools, and calculators accelerate their learning—but for every level they complete, reward dollars will be deposited into their account to use however they want.
We’ll note that Fidelity Youth™ Account isn’t a prepaid card nor a banking app, but it’s still strongly worth considering.
Controls parents want and need
A parent or guardian must have or open a brokerage account with Fidelity® to open a Fidelity Youth™ Account. For new Fidelity® customers, opening an account is easy, and there are no minimums and no account fees.
Parents and guardians have plenty of tools they can use to monitor their teen’s activity: They have online account access, can follow monthly statements and trade confirmations, and can view debit card transactions made in the account.
To make it even easier, you can set up alerts to notify you of trades, transactions, and cash management activity, keeping you firmly in the loop on actions your teen takes across the Fidelity Youth™ Account’s suite of products.
If your teen has an interest in learning about investing and taking their first steps toward building their financial journey, you should consider downloading the Fidelity Youth™ app and opening a Fidelity Youth™ Account. The account comes custom-built for their needs, which will help them become financially independent and start investing for their future.
Read more in our Fidelity Youth™ Account review.
2. Step (Invest and Build Your Teen’s Credit)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free (no monthly fees)
Step is a free financial app that helps teens manage their money, build their credit, and even invest toward their futures.
Through Step, a parent or legal guardian can open a stock account, crypto account, or both for their minor—and those accounts will transfer to the teen once they’ve turned 18.
Within the Step stock account, teens get access to more than 1,000 “popular” stocks and ETFs. It’s not the whole world of offerings one could get through a traditional brokerage account, but it’s more than enough for beginner investors. Step also offers fractional shares, so teens can invest for as little as $1, and trades are commission-free. Step will even make recommendations based on how well users feel they can handle the market’s ups and downs.
The crypto account, meanwhile, allows teens to start investing in digital currencies by purchasing and holding Bitcoin.
Minors get all of the above while also enjoying the benefits of the Step Visa Card. Step’s unique “hybrid” secured credit card functions just like a Visa credit card, but offers the safety features of a debit card … all while building your teen’s credit history. Parents, who sponsor the card, can opt to have Step report the past two years’ worth of information—transactions, payment history, and more—to the credit bureaus when their child turns 18, which can result in a massive boost to their credit scores right from the get-go.
Parents simply add money to this FDIC-insured account, and then their teens can use their card anywhere Visa is accepted. They can also withdraw money from more than 30,000 ATMs for free.
Other features include Savings Goals, where any money saved can generate 5% in annual interest (compounded and paid monthly) with a qualifying direct deposit*; Savings Roundup, where purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the overage is put toward a Savings Goal; and opt-in cash or Bitcoin rewards from companies including Hulu, Chick-Fil-A, CVS, and the New York Times.
The Step Card is protected by Visa’s Fraud Protection and Zero Liability guarantee. That means if your teen’s card gets lost or stolen, or misplaced and fraudulent charges crop up, you can dispute the charges within a certain time frame to avoid liability for paying.
Best Paid Brokerage Accounts for Minors
If you’re open to paying for a subscription, there are several excellent brokerage options for minors that include a wide range of other financial services.
3. Greenlight Max or Infinity (Best-Rated Debit Card for Teens)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Free 1-month trial. Max: $9.98/mo. Infinity: $14.98/mo. (All plans include cards for up to 5 children)
Greenlight is a premier kids’ financial app that teaches minors the ins and outs of saving, spending, and financial responsibility—and with a Greenlight Max or Greenlight Infinity plan, they can start to invest, too!
Greenlight’s investing app will help your kid learn the basics of investing, how stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) work, and more with real money, real stocks, and real-life lessons—all with your direct involvement and supervision.
With Greenlight Investing, your child can:
- Start investing with as little as $1
- Buy fractional shares of companies they admire (say, kid-friendly stocks)
- Spread out their risk with ETFs
- Avoid trading commissions
Parents can enjoy peace of mind knowing that Greenlight’s popular guardrails extend to its investing offering, too. Teens can only invest in U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs that have either a market capitalization over $1 billion or a three-month average daily dollar volume of more than $500,000. And parents must approve every trade directly in the app.
And, of course, you get everything else that comes along with Greenlight. At the Max level, that includes a prepaid debit card with strong parental controls, mobile payments, ATM access, instant money transfers, and even 1% cash-back rewards. They can also save and get a 2% annual Greenlight Savings Reward—which is boosted to 5% at the Infinity level.
Greenlight currently offers a free one-month trial so families can see whether it meets all of their needs. Read more in our Greenlight Card review, check out plan pricing below, or sign up for Greenlight Max or Infinity today.
Related: Best Greenlight Alternatives
4. Copper Card (Best Debit Card for Kid Independence)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: 30 days free. Copper: $4.95/mo. Copper + Invest: $7.95/mo.
Copper Banking was founded on the belief that kids and teens should have equal access to financial education and should be empowered to learn by doing. Now, the company is on a mission to help children gain real-world experience by giving them access to their money in a way that traditional banks can’t.
The Copper app and debit card teaches your child how to make smart financial decisions by creating a platform where parents and their kids can connect. With the Copper app, you get easy snapshots of your accounts. And with the Copper Debit Card, it’s easy to shop in-store or online, including with Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Plus, users get exclusive access to engaging advice curated by a team of financial literacy experts who provide tips on how to take control of their financial future.
When I reviewed the Copper banking product, I found the following features to be most important:
- Send/Request: Kids and parents can easily send and receive money all at the touch of a button.
- Spend: Spend using Apple or Google Pay, or using the Copper Debit Card.
- Withdraw: Access your money from more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs.
- Monitor: Get a snapshot of all your child’s spending in an easy-to-read dashboard.
- Save: Gain quick snapshots of your kid’s savings and helpful tips on how to save even more. Set up savings buckets and save for the things that you want.
- Learn: With the help of Copper’s team of financial literacy experts, gain bite-sized tips on how you can maximize your money and prepare yourself for your financial future.
The basic Copper account includes the above banking features. With Copper + Invest, your child also gets access to automatically curated smart portfolios built with their preferences in mind. (We like the guardrails they provide to get your child started with investing.) Your child is given a questionnaire that helps Copper determine a portfolio based on their age, income, net worth, investment objective(s) and investment horizon. Copper then recommends one of three ETF portfolios—Moderately Aggressive, Aggressive, and Extra Aggressive—made up of thousands of stocks. Parents can review the portfolio to ensure it matches with not just your child’s preferences, but your family’s. (Portfolios can be changed later on by accessing the Support chat.)
Much like many other apps I’ve reviewed on WealthUp, your child doesn’t need much money to begin their investing journey with Copper. They can begin investing for as little as $1, then add more contributions down the road. Copper will automatically rebalance the portfolio as needed to make sure it always keeps up with your child’s investment preferences.
Copper is available to kids 6 years and older.
Read more in our Copper Banking review.
5. EarlyBird (Custodial Accounts With Personal Touches)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: $2.95/mo. for one child, $4.95/mo. for families with 2+ children
- Promotion: Open an account and receive $15 to invest
EarlyBird is a mobile app that allows parents and guardians to set up a custodial account, where they can quickly start investing for their children. It also allows friends and family to easily gift money to a child in EarlyBird’s custodial accounts for children.
EarlyBird allows you to choose from five strategic ETF-only portfolios, with investing goals ranging from conservative to aggressive, based on your stated risk tolerance and overall investor profile. This removes the complexity of conducting your own research or selecting specific investments.
Do family and friends want to provide a gift, but think money is too impersonal? With EarlyBird, they can record a video to go along with their financial contribution, personalizing these moments which last a lifetime. And if you’d like to give but the recipient doesn’t have an EarlyBird account, you can text them a link from the app to the recipient’s phone number.
EarlyBird also has a “Moments” feature that allows parents to begin to save and share special milestones and memories alongside their investments. Parents can add a “Moment” to their child’s timeline at any time by uploading photos or videos with notes to capture magical moments as their child grows—no contributions necessary (but naturally encouraged). You can choose to automatically share Moments with anyone else who has invested in your child on EarlyBird, but each Moment also has its own unique link that you can share with people outside of the app.
When parents or guardians set up a new custodial account through EarlyBird, they must start with a $15-per-month recurring contribution minimum. However, you can change that recurring contribution amount higher or lower as your budget allows or necessitates.
Consider opening an EarlyBird account today and receive $15 to get you started after opening your account.
6. Acorns Early (Through Acorns Premium)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: Acorns Premium: $9/mo.
Acorns offers a custodial brokerage account for parents interested in opening an investment account for their child called Acorns Early, which is available by subscribing to Acorns Premium.
Acorns Early offers investment portfolios of various risk levels for kids, so you can feel confident in the account you’re opening up for your little one. And thanks to a library of financial literacy content, this micro-investing app can be a great way to teach minors how to invest money.
The best part about Acorns is that it doesn’t require any minimum deposit to get started and allows you to contribute money on a regular basis. With Acorns Smart Deposit, you can automatically invest part of your paycheck each pay period and allocate it to Acorns Early, Invest, and Later accounts.
Learn more in our Acorns review.
7. UNest (Custodial Accounts)
- Available: Sign up here
- Price: $4.99/mo.
UNest is a custodial account that allows parents to invest money for their kids to pay for many of life’s major milestones—college, a new car, a wedding, a vacation, or anything else a minor might want someday.
UNest offers the UNest Investment Account for Kids through its app, which makes it easy for families of all income levels and backgrounds to set up and manage savings and investment plans for their kids. UNest also has a gifting feature that allows friends and relatives to contribute to your kid’s account with just a few clicks. These personalized gifts can be automated, too, so they never miss a birthday or holiday!
The app offers up several investment options for account owners:
- A conservative option investing in fixed income and bond ETFs
- Three age-based options with varying degrees of risk reflected in the investment mix (conservative, moderate, aggressive); these transition from more aggressive investments to conservative as the child gets owner and gains access to the funds
- Three socially responsible age-based options also with varying degrees of risk (conservative, moderate, aggressive), likewise on the investment mix transition strategy from aggressive to conservative over time
- An aggressive option that invests 100% of the funds in Vanguard equity index ETFs
You can also invest in cryptocurrencies for a child through a separate UNest Crypto account.
Account holders can receive bonuses for their children’s UNest accounts via partner offers from companies such as Disney, AT&T, Uber, DoorDash, Levi’s, and more, through the UNest partner program.
Brokerage Accounts for Minors: FAQs
Can you open a brokerage account for a minor?
A parent can open a joint or custodial brokerage account for their child. In the case of custodial accounts, you don’t even need to be the parent to open one for an important child in your life.
Who owns the assets in a custodial account?
The beneficiary, which would be the minor, owns the assets in a custodial account. However, the custodian, in this case the parent, still manages the account until the minor reaches the age of majority. The age varies by state, but is usually 18 or 21.
Do custodial accounts have contribution limits?
There are no income or contribution limits for custodial accounts, meaning an account can hold as much money as you want. The exception is a custodial IRA. Since this is a type of retirement account, it’s still subject to IRA contribution limits. The 2023 limit is $6,500 or the amount the minor earned during the year, whichever is less.
Do custodial accounts affect financial aid eligibility?
Unfortunately, the money in a custodial account can have a notable impact on financial aid eligibility. Since the assets in these accounts belong to the minor, financial aid formulas consider 20% of the money available for higher education costs.
Those who want to use investment accounts specifically to save for a child’s college expenses should consider using a 529 plan. Since the assets in 529 plans (usually mutual funds) belong to the parents, it affects financial aid much less. Only 5.64% of parental assets count toward the expected family contribution.
What type of investments should you hold in a custodial account?
Custodial accounts can hold a wide variety of investments. It’s common for them to contain stock market investments, such as individual stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and bonds. These investment accounts can also hold real estate, life insurance policies, fine art, and more.
However, you can’t trade on margin with a custodial account or buy futures, derivatives, and other highly speculative investments.
Can you withdraw money from a custodial account?
Yes, parents can withdraw money from a child’s custodial account. However, the withdrawn funds must be used for something that directly benefits the minor. Parents cannot spend the money on themselves.
Are there any downsides to a custodial account?
A custodial investment account often has fees and account minimums. If you don’t plan to contribute much to the account, it may not be worth the associated fees.
How are earnings from custodial accounts taxed?
Custodial account earnings are subject to “kiddie tax” rules. Each year, there is a tax-free portion, a portion taxed at the child’s tax rate, and anything above the set amount is taxed at the parents’ rate.
For 2023, the breakdown for custodial account taxes is as follows:
- The first $0 to $1,250 of unearned income is tax-free
- The next $1,251 to $2,500 is taxed at the child’s rate
- Over $2,500 is taxed at the parents’ rate
- Kiddie Tax: What Is It, Who Must Pay, How Much + More
- 13 Best Money Apps for Teens [Invest, Spend, Budget + Pay]
Terms and Conditions for Fidelity Youth™ Account
The Fidelity Youth™ Account can only be opened by a parent/guardian. Account eligibility limited to teens aged 13-17.
* $0.00 commission applies to online U.S. equity trades and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in a Fidelity retail account only for Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC retail clients. Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee (from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). Other exclusions and conditions may apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for details. Employee equity compensation transactions and accounts managed by advisors or intermediaries through Fidelity Institutional® are subject to different commission schedules.
¹ Limited Time Offer. Terms Apply. Before opening a Fidelity Youth™ Account, you should carefully read the account agreement and ensure that you fully understand your responsibilities to monitor and supervise your teen’s activity in the account.
² The Fidelity Youth™ app is free to download. Fees associated with your account positions or transacting in your account apply.
³ Zero account minimums and zero account fees apply to retail brokerage accounts only. Expenses charged by investments (e.g., funds, managed accounts, and certain HSAs) and commissions, interest charges, or other expenses for transactions may still apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for further details.
⁴ Fractional share quantities can be entered out to 3 decimal places (.001) as long as the value of the order is at least $0.01. Dollar-based trades can be entered out to 2 decimal places (e.g. $250.00).
⁵ Your Youth Account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using the Fidelity® Debit Card at any ATM displaying the Visa®, Plus®, or Star® logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited. Please note, for foreign transactions, there may be a 1% fee included in the amount charged to your account. The Fidelity® Debit Card is issued by PNC Bank, N.A., and the debit card program is administered by BNY Mellon Investment Servicing Trust Company. These entities are not affiliated with each other, and Fidelity is not affiliated with PNC Bank or BNY Mellon. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association, and is used by PNC Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.
⁶ Venmo is a service of PayPal, Inc. Fidelity Investments and PayPal are independent entities and are not legally affiliated. Use a Venmo or PayPal account may be subject to their terms and conditions, including age requirements.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917