A few weeks ago, I got a promotional ad from Fidelity touting a “youth account” and promising $150 in bonuses should I decide to open it. Fifty dollars for my teen and a hundred dollars for me. As I read more about the account, my money nerd instinct kicked in. It sounded perfect for my middle son, Nathan, now 15 and heading into his sophomore year of high school.
- No account fees or minimums?
- Saving and investing options?
- Parental oversight and financial education?
- It allows for saving and making investments?
- Free debit card for my teenager?
- Available for teenagers age 13-17?
- Fifty dollars for him and a hundred for me?
Sounds perfect. Almost too good to be true. Where do we sign up?
Not so fast. We started this process about two weeks ago. I’ve had to call Fidelity a number of times with questions and confusion – especially around their user interface. So today I’m going to share my experience, some tips on how you can avoid getting caught in the same issues (my hassle is your benefit!), and whether the account is worth the bonus.
Important notes – this is not sponsored and Fidelity has no affiliate programs, so my only benefit in writing about this is to save you hassle and money. So please like, comment, subscribe, etc. Also I think you may only get the extra $100 bonus if you’re a current Fidelity customer, because all the promotional material says your teen gets a fifty dollar bonus. And please pass this along to parents of teenagers who might be interested in this account and the free money that comes with it!
Nathan’s Money So Far
Nathan is of the age now where he’s very much looking forward to having a part time job, where he’s paid more than his allowance. In fact this summer he’s been “working” as a CIT (counselor in training) at our local YMCA camp to prepare to get a job as a counselor next summer. Currently his only source of income is $12 per week in allowance automatically deposited into a Capitol One 360 account and birthday/Christmas money.
All non-savings accounts in Nathan’s name, and an I bond (inflation indexed savings bond) purchased by his great-grandparents when he was a baby, are currently reserved for college. Most of those savings are in two 529 plans – one with Vanguard and one CHET 529 for the state of Connecticut. The CHET 529 is actually with Fidelity, so he’s technically already a customer.
His current account earns 1.7% interest as of this writing (August 23rd 2022) and there’s no ATM card or debit cardt. So whenever he wants to spend money on something, we or his older brother (who has a job and a debit card) buy it for him. Then we transfer the money from his account to the account of the person who purchased the item.
When I first told Nathan about this account and the opportunity to get $50 for free he was… less than excited. Sadly my money nerd tendencies did not yet pass down to him. After some motherly cajoling and reminder that fifty dollars was a months worth of allowance for him, he finally agreed to sign up.
Hooray! Convincing a teenager to do something has to be the hardest part of this process. Right?
Struggling To Open The Fidelity Teen Account
The ad makes the process sound easy. Open the account, have your teen download and log into the app, and BOOM here’s your bonus!
Not so fast.
So on the morning of August 11th I went to open his account. I thought it should be relatively easy. After all, I already have an account with Fidelity. He already has an account with Fidelity. Should be a few minutes of requesting the account, putting in his information, linking my account to his, and then it should be set.
Opening the account is where I run into the first problem. I can’t just provide his information or say he’s an existing customer. I need to prove that he is who I say he is. And that means providing not just his name, date of birth and social security number. But also two forms of ID.
- His social security card OR the first page of my 1040 showing he’s my dependent AND
- Document with his name – drivers license, passport, birth certificate or student ID
Unfortunately for me I don’t keep most of those documents in the house. I do have the 1040 here saved on my computer. He doesn’t have a drivers license (he’s only 15) or a student ID (his school doesn’t issue them). Important documents like these we keep in a safe deposit box down at the bank.
Luckily for me, I had already taken a half day off work to go to a doctor appointment with my mom. So I was able to head down to the bank and take photos of his social security card and passport. After the appointment I went home, uploaded those two documents, and finished the account opening process. Then it says I should “text the link” to download the app to my teen.
But the page the “Text Link” button brings me to doesn’t actually have any text options.
I work around it by going to the App Store and texting the link from there. Honestly I think they intended that button to bring you to this other page, which I found elsewhere when looking around their Youth Account product information.
I get a message that says I should hear back in 1-3 business days. Seems long, but OK! I guess they have to review my documents.
Finally The Fidelity Teen Account Is Open! Or Is It?
When I wake up in the morning I have an email from Fidelity at 12:30 AM saying I have missing information for the new account I’m opening. I just did it yesterday and provided what they asked for. What could be missing?
So after I get some coffee, I log into the Fidelity website and check my messages. The email says that the missing information will be in a message, so logically that’s where I go. Right?
So I poke around the website, going to the youth account page, since I know that’s where the issue has to be. The “Status Tracker” now says I must provide his social security card and birth certificate. Apparently the social security card and passport weren’t enough?
And of course I also keep the birth certificate in the safe deposit box. I hadn’t photographed it because I was using his passport. I call Fidelity at 5:19 AM (they really are open 24/7!) and ask what’s going on. The nice gentleman on the other end of the phone says it’s “based off review team”, something about the Patriot Act, and he theorizes it’s probably because we have different last names.
It’s 2022 Fidelity. People have different last names than their children sometimes. If that’s a problem and you’ll need a birth certificate in that scenario, please say so up front.
So my husband goes to the bank before heading into work, grabs a photo of Nathan’s birth certificate, and sends it to me. I upload the social security card (again) and the birth certificate. It says I should expect to hear back in 3-5 days. Then at 5:30 in the evening I get another email that I have a new message!
I log on and there is of course no message.
So I call again. The nice person on the phone – all the Fidelity reps were very nice and polite in this whole thing, by the way – says they don’t see a message either so they don’t know why I got the email. I explain what’s going on and they offer to call the review department to expedite the process. That would be nice! But of course that department is closed now.
Waiting, Waiting, Waiting…
I log in again on Thursday August 18th and the document review isn’t a “to do” anymore. Hooray! Although it would have been nice to get an email…
So I try again to text the link to my teenager and go through my texting workaround I talked about earlier. When he gets home from his CIT work and I’m done with my workday, we sit together to figure out how to register in the app. Because of course, there’s no option to register on the app.
I call, for the third time, and talk to another nice person. They say we need to click on “forgot username and password” to register. Not really an intuitive app design there.
We do this with the nice gentleman still on the phone in case we run into trouble. And it’s a good thing, too, because after providing his details (name, date of birth, last 4 of social) the app wants to text him a link. I know this is for MFA, or multi-factor authentication, which basically is using multiple methods to make sure you are who you say you are.
Problem is the number they want to text is my home phone. Which is an Ooma. And can’t get text messages. Somehow that’s the number that defaulted into the account.
I go to my main account and it’s listed as my primary number, and also says it’s a mobile number. I fix that while the Fidelity rep goes through a bunch of hoops to change the number to my teen’s cell phone number. He talks to my teen, hangs up and calls back (because we’re talking on the home phone), verifies Nathan, gets permission to talk to me about the account, and fixes the number.
But it will be 72 hours before the number can be texted to allow him to register. It’s a security feature. Sigh.
Finally Registering For The App
He starts getting text messages on his cell from Fidelity right away, so we know the change worked. Then on Saturday he gets a text encouraging him to register for the app. We think that perhaps the change went through, so give it a try. He gets a message on the screen that there’s “no phone number on file”.
So I call again just to see what’s going on. They obviously have his phone number – they’ve been texting him! In fact they just texted him to download the app!
The rep says it’s that same 72 hour problem and that we should be able to register Sunday evening. We’re busy then, but get to it on Monday after work.
Finally, success! We can register him for the app. Linked his Capital One account to his new youth account and transferred $200. First thing he asked when he logged in was “where’s my fifty dollars?”
Per the information on the Fidelity site we should see that in 10 calendar days. If you’re curious how this goes, I’ll keep you all posted on that process through my social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Insta, TikTok, Pinterest, and if you have questions drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Can You Learn? And Was It Worth The Hassle?
Four phone calls, two trips to the bank, several failed app registrations – was it worth the $50 bonus? Sure! Everyone on the phone calls was nice, the bank trips were a bit annoying but that’s what I get for not keeping the documents in the house. And the phone number thing is a fluke that won’t apply to most people. It also alerted me to the fact that they had my home phone as a mobile number.
To avoid running into these issues:
- Make sure you have the documents with you before you try to open the account. The Fidelity promotional site mentions you’ll need the documents, but only if you scroll waaaaay down on the page. I didn’t scroll, I just read about it and clicked the option to open the account. Don’t be me.
- If you have a different last name than your child, try doing the social security card and birth certificate up front. I can’t guarantee that was my issue, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.
- Emails are inconsistent. You get emails you have messages and then there’s no message, or you get no emails when important things are complete. Best to check the site frequently and call with questions. The people are very nice!
- Be aware of the confusing user interface. Yes the “text link” option isn’t working properly, but you can work around that by texting the link from the App or Play Store. Or just have your teen go to the store directly. Yes there’s no option to “register” on the app but you can use the “forgot username and password” option to register.
- Watch the phone number. I know most people won’t have the whole “home phone” problem. In our case, cell service in our house is spotty. So we keep the Ooma for $6 a month. But if you do have a home phone that isn’t a cell and can’t get texts, make sure it’s not on your Fidelity account as a primary mobile number.
All in all, I’m pretty excited about this account option. No fees, no minimums, debit card, and app. Now to use the account to teach him more about investing and smart spending!
P.S. When I asked if he was now going partake of all the “educational content” Fidelity offers, he said “I have you as a mother. If I ever want to know about investing, I’ll ask you and you’ll sit me down for a two day, four hour long lesson about how to invest”. Ah, our children know us well. Then I told him all about index funds, thus proving me right.
Let Me Know…
What do you think of this account option? Are you going to open one for your teen? Or are you going to pass this along to a parent of teens? Here’s the link again for more about the account in case you need it. Let me know in the comments. And share with parents of teens please! They could all use an extra fifty bucks.