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Opening Your First Account

April 28, 2023

A Key Step On Your Financial Journey

Opening an account at a credit union is the first step toward owning your personal finances. Best of all, it’s super easy.

Teenager counting dollars sitting at desk.

Why Open an Account?

As a teen, up until now you’ve probably kept all of your money in your wallet or a bank of some sort in your room. While that may work when you’re first starting out, you’ll quickly realize that these aren’t exactly the safest places to store your hard-earned cash. Keeping your money at a credit union is easy, safe and you can view your account totals online.

Another benefit of opening an account is that your money can grow with dividends. Basically, a financial institution pays you a percentage of your total balance just for keeping money in your account. While earnings from dividends won’t replace regular income, it means that your money is growing little by little without you having to do anything.

Finally, depending on your age and the type of account you open (such as a checking account), you may be eligible for a debit card. When buying items with the card, the amount will automatically be withdrawn from your checking account. In other words, you won’t have to worry about carrying cash. You’ll simply need to know how much is available in your account. At First Source, you can open a checking account and get a debit card when you are 13 years old as long as you have a joint owner on the account who is over 18.

Types of Accounts

Credit unions offer several accounts specifically made to fit various goals and purposes. Some of the most common account types include:

  • Checking Account: With this account, you can spend money directly with a debit card or check. You can also withdraw cash at a branch or an ATM. If you prefer to make person-to-person electronic payments, you can do that with your checking account and Zelle mobile app.

  • Savings Account: This account is all about saving. Savings accounts offer compounding dividends which means the money you deposit and the dividends you earn each month grow together. You earn dividends on dividends. And while you can’t spend money from this account with a debit card, you can transfer funds to another account or visit a branch or ATM to withdraw cash.

  • Money Market Account: This type of savings account yields a higher dividend rate but also could require a higher balance to accrue that dividends. Your money is available for withdrawal but cannot be accessed via debit card or checks.

  • Term Share Certificate: A Term Share Certificate is a long-term savings option that offers higher dividend rates than a regular savings account. In exchange for those higher rates, you agree to leave the money in the credit union for a specific amount of time. If you need to access it sooner, you generally pay a penalty fee. If the funds are not needed for a while, this is a great way to earn the most dividends on your money.

The kind of account you start with will depend on your goals and what your credit union offers. If you’re under the age of 18, your options may vary slightly. Some of the most common options for minors include joint or custodial accounts. These are accounts that you open with a parent or guardian.

Direct Deposit

If you have a job, another considerable benefit of opening an account is the option for direct deposit, if your employer offers it. This means rather than getting a physical paycheck, money will automatically be deposited into your checking or savings account. This option gives you quicker and easier access to the money you earn. When you start a new job, you’ll likely have the option to set it up, or if you’re already working, you can talk to your employer about changing to direct deposit.

What You Need to Open an Account

Opening an account at a credit union is easy. You’ll generally need to make an initial deposit, accompanied by a parent or guardian if you’re under 18, and an ID (such as a driver’s license, driving permit, social security card, or birth certificate). If you live, work, worship, or attend school in Oneida or Herkimer County, you can become a Member at First Source. You only need $5 for your first deposit. 

Live Smarter

You can make an appointment by calling 315-735-8571 or schedule one online. Our friendly Financial Service Representatives are ready to help you become a Member today.

Celebrate Youth Month

April is National Credit Union Youth Month, and we honor our youngest Members each year by focusing on financial education and offering fun contests with rewards. Visit our Youth Membership page for more information about our youth accounts and the fun benefits that are offered to our youngest Members.

Bring This Session to a Live Setting

If you would like to schedule our Community Educator for a seminar or workshop for any Financial Friday educational topic, please email your request to

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