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Banking transactions with minors: Parents usually have to agree

"My money, my account, my card". Many banks use these or similar advertising slogans to attract young customers - sometimes including T-shirts, discount cards for fast food chains, etc. Young people who are in training are often offered a free current account. But savings contracts or capital-building investments should also be brought to young customers at an early stage. However, contracts with minors are not automatically effective.

Even seven-year-olds are allowed to conclude certain contracts

Children under the age of seven cannot enter into effective contracts at all. This is to protect them from disadvantages that they may suffer due to a lack of experience or understanding. Anyone between seven and 17 years of age already has limited legal capacity and can, among other things, enter into a contract if:

  • the parents and, if applicable, the guardianship court have consented to the conclusion of the contract or
  • the legal transaction falls under the "pocket money paragraph" or
  • the contract only brings legal advantages for the minor, or
  • he is in an employment relationship approved by the parents and the legal transaction relates to it.

Accepting gifts is not a problem

If children or young people are given something, they can accept the gift alone. Even if the parents are against it or don't know anything about the gift. Because such a donation agreement usually only brings legal advantages - and the minor does not need to be protected from that. For example, if eight-year-old Paul is given five euros starting credit for a savings account from his parents' bank, he can accept and keep the money alone - without asking his parents.

Parents almost always have to agree

However, the offspring is not allowed to open the savings account independently with the gift of money from the bank. Setting up a current account is also not possible for him single-handedly because of the legal disadvantages. He would undertake to pay any account fees or could be sued by the bank with claims for damages or interest. Minors therefore need the consent of their parents in order to effectively open an account. This also applies to other bank contracts such as transfers, cash withdrawals or the application for a payment card. If the minor wants to take out a loan, the special features listed below apply.
If the signature of the legal guardian is not available when the contract is concluded, the contract is initially "pending ineffective". That means: only when the parents approve the contract does it take effect. Both parents do not have to sign for this. It is sufficient if one authorizes the other to "Yes". If, on the other hand, even one parent refuses to give their consent, the contract will not be concluded. For example, if the young bank customer has ordered shares against his father's express will, he does not need to pay them. If the purchase price has already been debited from the account, the bank must reimburse it. In return, the minor is obliged to return the securities.

General parental consent does not include everything

So that parents do not have to approve every single legal transaction of their underage children, they can give general consent in advance within certain limits. However, this does not automatically apply to subsequent contracts. For example, if the junior is allowed to open a current account, he may not simply withdraw money from it. Likewise, the minor is not allowed to overdraw his or her account on his own, simply because the parents agreed to the application for a bank card. Rather, he has to get the blessing of his parents and the guardianship court. In the youth account contracts of many banks, however, the consent clauses are too general and therefore often ineffective.

Pocket money paragraph

A special general approval is the so-called pocket money paragraph. If the minor pays for the desired thing in cash with his pocket money or with notes that he has received especially for the purpose of concluding the contract, the purchase is also possible without the express "O.K." of parents effective. However, this only applies to everyday contracts for which pocket money is usually available.
Most banking transactions are not included, even if they are free. For example, credit transactions by minors are not effective even if the first installments of pocket money have already been paid.
Only the establishment of a savings account and withdrawals from the savings account within the reasonable limits are covered by the general consent of the parents. So if a 14-year-old has received 100 euros from his parents for free and opens a savings account with the bank, the savings contract is valid without further ado. The young person can also withdraw the money alone at any time. However, if someone who wants to save has accumulated several thousand euros and wants to withdraw the full amount, he again needs the permission of his parents.

Working youth

The law provides a special feature for working young people. If the minor is already in an employment relationship (not just in vocational training) and the parents have approved the job, he can conclude all related legal transactions on his own. He is not only allowed to open a salary account without the consent of his parents, but can also withdraw the full wage or salary in cash. However, he still needs the permission of his or her legal guardian for transfers or other banking transactions.

Borrowing only with court approval

A loan agreement entails repayment obligations and interest charges and, due to these disadvantages, cannot be effectively concluded by minors on their own. However, the legislature does not allow the consent of the parents to suffice either. Whether it is about the overdraft of the current account or a loan for the moped bought at the same time (financed purchase): Every loan application from a minor must also be approved by the guardianship court before the bank pays out the money. Otherwise, the contract will never become effective, not even with full payment in installments.
This also applies if the minor is granted the credit when withdrawing from the ATM. Without the consent of the guardianship court, he is therefore obliged to repay the borrowed money - albeit interest-free. If the young person has already used the amount for a vacation or other extraordinary things, he does not have to pay back the loan as an exception. The parents are also off the hook, because they do not have to answer for their children's debts. It is only different if you have previously expressly declared to the bank that you are assuming liability.

Adults of age can approve their contracts themselves

Upon reaching the age of majority, a previously concluded and not yet effective contract will not automatically take effect. The 18-year-old can, however, approve such a banking transaction retrospectively. However, he should think twice about this, as he is then fully liable for it. Approval can also be tacit, e.g. by continuing to receive account statements or acknowledging financial statements. If the adult does not approve the conclusion of his own contract, the contract must be reversed.

Limitation of liability possible

As long as the young person is not yet of legal age, he is liable for all debts arising from a contract approved by his parents. For his own protection, however, he can - as soon as he is 18 years old - limit his liability in some cases: to the assets available when he comes of age. This enables him to come of age financially unencumbered.
An example: The 17-year-old Max takes out a loan of 10,000 euros with the consent of his parents and the guardianship court. If he is broke at the beginning of the age of 18 and can no longer pay off the last thousand, he does not need to repay it. However, he must then give the bank an account of his financial situation, for example by submitting a list of assets.
If, on the other hand, the approval of the parents or the guardianship court was not available, a limitation of liability is not possible. Those who have come of age then only have the option of subsequently approving the contract themselves or declaring it to be definitely ineffective. In the first case, the indebted Max has to take responsibility for his debts, but could agree with the bank to put the last installment on hold for the time being. If he refuses his approval, he has to repay the loan immediately.


For most banking transactions, minors require the consent of their legal representative. If you want to take out a loan, you even need the approval of the guardianship court. Ask your consumer advice center or a lawyer about the often complicated questions about minority law.