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How a joint account works in Canada for 2024

Opening a joint account is best for people who are working towards similar financial goals together. Here's how to get started with a joint chequing or joint savings account.

A joint bank account is generally used by family members, couples or business partners who trust each other. This is because anyone on the joint account has access to it. A joint account can be a chequing or savings account. It can be through a traditional bank, a credit union, a fintech or an online or digital bank — as long as two or more people are on the account.

Learn more about how to open a joint account online, the pros and cons of opening a joint bank account in Canada with two people, and joint accounts for multiple people, in our guide below.

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What is a joint account?

A joint account is any type of bank account that’s held in two or more names. Everyone named on the account has equal access to the money and can use the funds however they see fit. Although in Canada these accounts can be opened by any two people regardless of relationship, they’re generally used by family members, couples or business partners who trust each other.

Two types of joint accounts in Canada

There are two main types of joint bank accounts in Canada:

Two options for access to funds with a joint account

There are two methods of setting up a joint bank account in Canada that can impact accessibility to funds.

How to choose the best joint account in Canada

As with any bank account, you’ll want to find a bank that offers joint accounts with as few fees as possible. It’s preferable to find one that won’t charge you transaction fees, will give you easy access to your funds and will offer a reasonably good interest rate on the funds you have in your account.

Considering the following factors will help you narrow down your options for the best joint account in Canada for your specific needs:

  • Account maintenance fees. Look for an account with low or no monthly account fees. You can compare the best no-fee chequing accounts here to learn more.
  • Transaction limits and fees. With several people accessing the account, there may be many more transactions than with a single account. Make sure you’re not charged any unnecessary transaction fees.
  • ATM fees. Look for an account that offers fee-free ATM withdrawals, so you’re not hit with a fee each time one of the account holders withdraws some cash.
  • Easy online access. Make sure the account is easily accessible for everyone on the account, for example, with an easy-to-use mobile banking app.
  • Number of linked debit cards. If more than two people are requesting a linked debit card, make sure you’re not charged extra fees for the additional debit cards.

Is it best to have separate or joint savings accounts?

Joint savings accounts are a great way to reach your financial goals together. Consider a long-term account if you’re a couple trying to save up to buy a house together or for home improvements, for example. Alternatively, consider opening a joint account for a set amount of time if you want to achieve short-term financial goals, like saving for a vacation.

Compare joint bank accounts in Canada

While some accounts are specifically branded as joint bank accounts in Canada, many regular chequing and savings accounts allow you to add one or more people as additional account holders. Some banks require you to add a joint account holder at the time of application, while others will allow you to add (and remove) account holders at any point in time.

The following bank accounts allow you to add multiple account holders.

Name Product Monthly Account Fee Free Transactions e-Transfer Fee Bonus Offer Offer
BMO Performance Chequing Account
BMO Performance Chequing Account
$16.95 (can be waived)
Earn $600
Get up to a $600 cash bonus. Valid until July 2, 2024. Plus, earn a 5.50% promo interest rate when you open a Performance Chequing and a Savings Amplifier Account.
Simplii No Fee Chequing Account
Simplii No Fee Chequing Account
Earn $400
Earn $400 when you become a new client and set up a direct deposit of at least $100 for 3 months. Offer ends October 31, 2024.
Scotiabank Preferred Package
Scotiabank Preferred Package
$16.95 (can be waived)
Earn $400
Earn a welcome bonus of up to $400. Valid until July 31, 2024. Plus, earn up to 6.05% interest for 3 months on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account.
RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account
RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account
$16.95 (can be waived)
Get Apple Watch Series 9
Get the new Apple Watch Series 9 when you switch to RBC & open an RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account. Valid until June 3, 2024.
Coast Capital Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More Account
Coast Capital Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More Account
Get $150
Get $150 when you become a new member and open a Free Chequing, Free Debit and More Account. Valid until June 30, 2024.
1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Promo Rate Regular Interest Rate Transaction Fee 1 Year Return Offer
EQ Bank Joint Account
EQ Bank Joint Account
4.00% for 12 months
EQ Bank Personal Account
EQ Bank Personal Account
4.00% for 12 months
KOHO Earn Interest
KOHO Earn Interest

While joint accounts can be very useful, most Canadians don’t have these useful banking products at the top of their list. Based on survey results from the Finder: Consumer Sentiment Survey Q1, only 1.86% of respondents planned to open a joint bank account, between January and March 2023. This dropped to 0.72% of Canadians who plan to open a joint bank account between April to June 2023.

What banks offer joint accounts in Canada?

It’s safe to say that all Canadian banks offer joint accounts. Big banks like RBC, Scotiabank, CIBC, BMO, TD and National Bank all offer joint chequing and savings accounts. You can also get joint accounts from digital banks in Canada, like Tangerine, EQ Bank and Simplii Financial.

You also typically have the option to switch your current single account to a joint account. To make that switch, you and the person you want to add to your account will have to visit your local bank branch with valid pieces of ID.

Pros of opening joint bank accounts in Canada

  • Save together. Good for couples that have joint financial goals and share spending and saving habits.
  • Fewer fees. Opening a joint bank account in Canada can help you save money instead of paying multiple monthly fees.
  • Full transparency. Since you’re both on the account, you can always see how and where the other is spending.
  • Easier to pay and schedule bills. With all the money in one place, it’s much easier for couples to manage personal finances and bills.
  • Easier to coordinate. If you share a lot of expenses with a number of people, it can be easier if you all have access to one bank account to manage them.
  • Accessible in an emergency. With more than two joint holders, the funds in the account are accessible even if some of the account holders are unavailable.

Cons of opening joint accounts

  • Complete access to all money. If you opt for a joint bank account where both of you can withdraw money freely, be sure to discuss large or unnecessary purchases.
  • Splitting up. If there’s a breakup, both of you can access the account. You may hope you can amicably split the funds, but in the case of a dispute, court can be a long and arduous process.
  • Complete transparency. This is a double-edged sword; while you have complete transparency, you may lose some of your financial privacy.
  • Less control. Other account holders can withdraw money without your consent.
  • Difficult to manage. With multiple individuals making deposits and withdrawals into the joint account, it can be difficult to keep track of the account balance.

Joint account promotions available now

Here is a sampling of bank promotions available now in Canada for joint accounts:

  • KOHO Earn Interest: Earn up to 5.00% interest with a high interest savings account. Pick a KOHO plan and opt-in to Earn Interest.
  • EQ Bank Joint Account: Earn a bonus interest rate of 4.00% (the Base Rate plus an additional 1.5%) for a maximum period of 12 consecutive months when you add and maintain qualifying recurring direct deposits of at least $500 per month
  • EQ Bank Personal Account: Earn up to 4.00% interest. Get 2.50% interest on your savings, plus 1.50% bonus interest when you direct deposit your pay.
  • Simplii No Fee Chequing Account: Earn $400 when you become a new client and set up a direct deposit of at least $100 for 3 months. Offer ends October 31, 2024.
  • BMO Performance Chequing Account: Get up to a $600 cash bonus. Earn $350 when you open a new BMO Performance Chequing Account and $200 when you open a Savings Amplifier Account. Plus, earn an additional $50 when you add a second member and make it a BMO Family Bundle. Valid until July 2, 2024. Plus, earn a 5.50% promo interest rate when you open a Performance Chequing and a Savings Amplifier Account.
  • Coast Capital Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More Account: Get $150 when you become a new member and open a Free Chequing, Free Debit and More Account. Valid until June 30, 2024.
  • RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account: Get the new Apple Watch Series 9 when you switch to RBC & open an RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account. Valid until June 3, 2024.

Who should consider joint accounts?

A joint bank account requires trust. If you’re thinking of opening a joint account in Canada – let’s say with a roommate or someone you’re dating – think about the future and if you have similar goals. But also consider the past. Figure out if this person has a history of bad financial choices.

Joint bank accounts for partners

If you’re in a long-term relationship and you trust your significant other, a joint bank account can be an excellent tool to help you manage your money effectively and achieve shared financial goals.

You won’t have to pay bank fees twice, and it can be convenient if one of you has to be away for an extended time, the other person can take care of all the financial responsibilities.

The key to a successful joint bank account is trust. It’s important that both account holders establish clear ground rules and have open lines of communication. Drawing up a budget and sticking to it might be easier when you pool your money together.

If you have even the smallest doubt about your partner, don’t give them full access to your money with a joint bank account. Instead, consider keeping your primary salary account separate, but use a joint account for a limited amount of shared funds.

Joint bank accounts for married couples

Marriage represents the merging of two lives, often combining finances to make paying bills easier and saving up for financial goals. But just because you tie the knot doesn’t mean you have to open a joint bank account.

If you and your spouse aren’t on the same page financially, you may be better off keeping your accounts separate and opening one shared account where you deposit money for bills and other routine payments.

If you decide to open a joint bank account with your spouse, make sure you and your spouse communicate frequently. Minimize any potential disagreements by discussing your saving and spending expectations beforehand.

Joint bank accounts with a child

Opening a joint bank account with your child can be a great way to monitor their account activity and help them develop basic money management skills. However, not all banks or fintech companies allow a minor to be added as a joint account holder. Read our guide to opening kids bank accounts in Canada to learn more.

Be sure to ask what the rules are around opening a joint bank account in Canada with a minor and consider opting for a money app or bank that offers parents and children this type of joint account option.

Joint bank accounts with a Power of Attorney

It can often be convenient to open a joint account with someone who is playing the role of a primary caretaker. For example, older parents may open a joint account with an adult child, or whoever is acting as Power of Attorney, to help them pay bills and manage their money as they age.

The bank will typically require both the Power of Attorney and primary account holder to be present and provide all required ID documentation when signing up for the account.

The amount of authority the bank gives the Power of Attorney will extend only as far as the original Power of Attorney agreement allows – which often means access to all general banking tasks, but could mean access to only select, limited tasks.

Setting up a joint account with your Power of Attorney can be a wise step in your estate planning and getting yourself financially prepared for whatever the future holds. Just make sure to have detailed conversations with your primary caretaker on a regular basis to ensure you’re both on the same page about who will manage which financial tasks.

How to open a joint bank account in 5 easy steps

It’s the same process to open a joint bank account in Canada as it is to open a chequing account or savings account on your own. The main difference is that both account holders must go through the process, usually at the same time.

  1. Shop around for bank accounts until you find one that suits your needs and allows multiple account holders.
  2. Apply for the account online, by phone or in person at a local branch. Be sure to check the box that states you’re opening a joint account.
  3. Verify your identity and the identity of anyone else on the account.
  4. Fund the account by making your initial deposit.
  5. Start using your account by setting up direct deposits, scheduling automatic savings transfers, paying bills and more.

The majority of banks in Canada will let you signup online, saving you time and the work of coordinating a face-to-face meeting with the bank. To compare online options, check out our full guide to online bank accounts in Canada.

Requirements to opening a joint account

Everyone listed on the account should have the following information on hand before you start the signup process:

  • Full name
  • Canadian residential address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Government-issued photo ID

Can you open a 3-way joint bank account in Canada

Yes, you can open any eligible joint account with three or more people by following the same steps as you would to open a standard joint account. Each account holder will need to provide personal information and ID, typically from a passport, driver’s license or provincial/territorial ID card.

Some common reasons for using a 3-person joint account include:

  • Business situations, where partners, treasurers, bookkeepers and other employees must be able to move money in and out of the account
  • Youth accounts, where both parents are listed as account holders with the child to ensure that if one parent is absent, the account is still accessible
  • Roommates who pay for shared living expenses and rent
  • Family members who want shared access to an emergency fund
  • Friends who want to pay for an event or vacation

Complications with joint accounts

Here are a few questions you might have about common complications you could come across with a joint account.

What happens to a joint bank account when one person dies in Canada?

Most joint accounts opened between a married couple have automatic right of survivorship for the remaining spouse after the other dies. That means that the surviving spouse can continue to use the account and account funds as normal after their partner’s death, without having to transfer ownership or worry about the account funds going into probate or being frozen until the estate is settled.

If you want someone other than your spouse – like an adult child, Executer of the Will or Power of Attorney – to have unhindered access to a joint account after you die, it’s a good idea to contact the bank to set up a right of survivorship on the account for that person. That is true even if that person was a joint holder on the account before the other dies. That’s because courts in Canada don’t automatically assume right of survivorship for anyone other than a spouse after someone dies.

What happens to a joint account after a divorce?

If you close your joint account or withdraw a large sum during a divorce, a judge could require you to return the funds. That’s why most lawyers recommend not doing anything drastic with joint accounts until the divorce is final and a plan has been made.

Joint accounts are a mess to separate after divorce. Each spouse is typically entitled to 50% of the account balance, but this doesn’t always work out. If one person has bank statements proving they entered the marriage with more money, they could leave with more than half of the funds.

Are joint account holders responsible for each other’s debts?

In Canada, any debt linked to a joint account is the responsibility of both account holders. In most cases, either account holder is free to attach a debt to the account without the other knowing – and then you’re both stuck with repayment and poor credit if you have trouble paying back the dent.

Some important implications for joint account debts include the following:

  • If one account holder misses debt repayments or defaults altogether, then both account holders’ credit scores will go down.
  • Both account holders are responsible for overdrawn funds, regardless of who went into the overdraft.
  • If one account holder goes bankrupt or has outstanding debt linked to the account, creditors could claim funds from the account to pay back the debt.

Should I open a joint account with my partner?

It’s critical that partners and couples are completely open about their spending habits. If one person is committed to saving, and the other can’t keep their spending under control, there are bound to be issues.

Some couples are hesitant to open a joint account because things can get complicated if they separate – but it’s important to agree on a strategy before opening a joint bank account in Canada.

You need to be careful if someone is trying to push you into opening a joint bank account. Someone who might have money problems could see you as the answer to their problems and try to use emotionally persuasive language to convince you to grant them access to your funds.

Bottom line

Joint accounts can be a good idea, but only if you and the other account holder have the same financial goals and spending habits. If you’re simply opening the account for the sake of convenience, remember that other options can provide the same level of convenience without the risk. However, if the trust is there, a joint bank account can make life easier, especially when working together to achieve certain financial goals.

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Frequently asked questions about joint accounts

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