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Opening your first real bank account

Turning 16 is a milestone – no one can call you a kid anymore. You’re officially part of the youth – bursting with potential and getting ready to enter adulthood. So, as you go into this exciting new phase of your life, how do you plan to conquer the world?

This positive attitude is the best way to tackle life, but you’ll learn very quickly that growing up also comes with grown-up responsibilities. One of those is learning to take charge of your own finances. You might have had a children’s bank account while growing up, but now it’s time to get your first youth bank account.


What to look for in your first bank account

The first important financial lesson to remember forever: you should always know the cost. Unexpected account or service charges that you didn’t plan for can blow your budget. So, know which of your bank accounts and transactions have fees and other costs. Know what those costs are and compare different options to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Easy access to your money and account info is important, too. What’s the use of an account if you can’t pay at any till point or make digital payments, transfers, or balance enquiries? When you’re looking for an entry-level bank account, a cheque card is a minimum requirement, along with online and mobile app banking.

The Unlocked.Me account is the ideal starting place if you’re looking for a simple account that offers basic banking services. Available exclusively to those aged 16 to 25, this account has no monthly maintenance fee and most transactions – like paying by card at the till point – are also free. The great thing about this account is that the services and benefits grow with you as you progress from scholar to young professional.


Get the features and benefits you need

A second important financial lesson is that your financial needs change as you become older.

You might not need or want a credit card while you’re still studying, but that piece of plastic comes in very handy once your working career starts. It makes sense to reassess your banking needs as your life needs change, so that useful services or special benefits can be added to your accounts as your banking needs evolve.


Employed graduates get additional features like a gold cheque card for online and overseas purchases


And it makes sense for your bank to offer you services that evolve with your life stages. The Unlocked.Me Account offers the usual lifestyle and fashion discounts available on accounts tailored to students and young professionals, but also gives qualifying clients the option of an entry-level credit card. This helps you start building a credit record, which you can keep strong by making prompt payments and managing your credit card sensibly.

Employed graduates get additional features like a gold cheque card for online and overseas purchases, as well as saving and investment options.


What you need to open your first bank account

Opening your first account can seem overwhelming, with lots of questions and documents and stamps and fingerprints and processes all happening at once.

Not to worry. If you have all the right documents, you can open your account in less than an hour at a branch, or even faster when doing it digitally. Once your account has been opened, it will take 3 to 5 working days to deliver your personalised card.

Here are the key documents that you’ll need for the processes known as FICA (Financial Intelligence Centre Act) and Know Your Client (KYC).

Both these processes aim to root our fraud and corruption, and you’ll have to re-FICA yourself several times throughout your life. Here’s a bonus tip: keep recent copies of these documents (digitally or in a file) so that you always have them on hand whenever you’re asked for these identifying documents. These documents include your valid South African identity card or document or your passport, if you’re a foreign national.

Before you open your first account, visit Unlocked.Me to find out about a bank account that can evolve with you as you grow.