Keeping track of bills and rent or mortgage payments each month can feel like a chore. It can also put a strain on your relationship asking your partner for their contribution towards bills. It might leave you wondering if there’s a better way to deal with your household finances. Thankfully there is. Joint current accounts are a solution worth considering for partners that want to take the stress out of money matters and be easily able to control their monthly expenses with joint responsibility.
What is a joint current account?
A joint current account is a bank account that is shared and operated by two people, usually partners that live together. Each partner has a debit card and access to internet banking, with the ability to make everyday transactions such as payments and transfers from the account. Direct debits, standing orders and loan payments can also be set up to come out of the account for various expenses shared by the partners.
While a joint current account is typically used between partners, it can also be used with a housemate, friend or a family member for different reasons. Whoever you share the account with should be someone that you can trust completely. After all, they’ll have access to the money that they put into the account as well as any money that you put into the account.
What are the benefits of a joint current account over a standard account?
The benefit of having a joint current account is that it is an easier way to manage household expenses. Both partners can lodge a certain amount each month into the account that will cover all monthly expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, grocery shopping and even entertainment costs. It takes the hassle out of each partner having the responsibility of paying bills themselves and then working out who owes what each month. With direct debits set up and each partner having a card to access the account for in-store or online purchases, there is less time and effort involved in controlling your finances.
There are different ways that you can operate a joint current account with your partner, and how you choose to do so will depend on how you both want to manage your money. Take a look at the following scenarios for two ways on how a joint account can be used.
Scenario 1: Bob and Jill
Bob and Jill have been living together for one year but are not married. Both partners have their salary or wages paid into their own personal account, and then each month they transfer €800 into the joint current account to cover their rent and utility payments that they share equally. The money kept in their personal accounts is theirs to use as they please.
Scenario 2: Mary and John
Mary and John have been married for 20 years and all of their income goes into their joint current account. Every month they have direct debits and mortgage payments coming out of this account and they transfer a portion into their joint savings account. Both Mary and John use their joint current account for grocery shopping, entertainment and personal expenditure, as they have built a level of trust and agreement on how they spend their money together. Neither partner feels the need to hold an individual account with a separate pot of money.
What are the drawbacks of having a joint current account?
Most partners find that having a joint current account is beneficial, however, it’s important that you work together with your partner to find the best way to manage your finances and expenses.
Because both people have access to each other’s money, establishing trust and rules about what the account can be used for is important. You may find that some banks ask you to set a limit on what can be spent from the account or that both parties will need to give consent for applying an overdraft facility. Both joint account holders are responsible for any fees, charges or debts that arise from the account, and your individual credit ratings could be affected based on your partners’ financial activity.
Even though having a joint current account can make life much easier, it is also a responsibility that must be carefully discussed before making the commitment.
How do you compare joint current accounts in Ireland?
With many options available for joint current accounts in Ireland, you can compare your options by considering the following:
Fees. Maintenance and transaction fees vary across banks, so it’s important to consider how you plan on using your account and looking for a fee structure that will complement this. Even though a maintenance fee may seem low, the bank may charge more for other transactions that will add up over time. It may be worth choosing an account with a higher maintenance fee but no transaction fees. Some joint current accounts waive fees if you lodge a certain amount each month or are able to keep a minimum balance at all times. While this is harder to do as an individual, with two people it is much easier.
Perks. Depending on your lifestyle and how you use your account, you may benefit from perks associated with your current account such as deals and discounts for partner businesses or cashback on purchases and bill payments.
Overdraft facility. An overdraft facility can be worthwhile having in case of unexpected bills or expenses in between paydays. Extra fees are usually charged for this, so make sure you and your partner are clear on the terms in which the overdraft can be used as you are both responsible for the debt.
Mobile payments. Some banks give you the option of linking your joint current account with Google Pay, Apple Pay or Fitbit Pay.
Loan interest rates. If you are thinking about taking out a mortgage to buy a home with your partner in the future, look for a joint current account that gives preferential interest rates to its existing customers. This could end up saving you money over the term of your loan compared to what another bank can offer.
Which banks offer joint current accounts in Ireland?
There are many banks in Ireland that provide joint current accounts. Take a look at a summary of the pros and cons of each.
Low maintenance fee of €18 per year
Google Pay and Apple Pay
High transaction fees
Only contactless payment transactions are free
Joint accounts cannot be opened online
Avoid transactional fees by: Keeping €2,500 in your account at all times.
Avoid fees by: Transaction fees can only be waived if you keep €3,000 in your account at all times.
How do I open a joint current account?
The process of opening a joint current account is very similar to opening a sole current account. However the obvious difference is that there will be two sets of personal details to complete and verify. Most banks give you the option of opening a joint current account either online, by phone or by visiting a branch, although there are one or two that will only do it in person. First, you and your partner(s) need to make sure you are eligible and have the correct documentation.
If you find that you can only apply for a joint account from your chosen bank in person, you’ll need to make an appointment either by submitting an appointment request form online. Double check whether all joint account holders need to be present or whether one person can apply with all the relevant documentation for all parties. Once you have your appointment time, gather your documentation and the documentation of your partner(s) to take with you. This will include:
Identification (passport or UK or IE driving licence)
Proof of address (utility bill or statement from a financial institution)
Online step-by-step guide
To apply for a joint account online, you and the other intended joint account holder(s) will typically need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Shop around and compare joint current accounts
Step 2: Complete a joint account application form either on the bank’s website or through a mobile app. You will need to include your details as well as the details of the other intended joint account holder(s).
Step 3: Upload your identification and proof of address documents. Usually with online applications, you will be asked to provide two forms of identification rather than one. Don’t worry if you don’t have two forms of ID though as one of the following is typically accepted:
A photo of both your passport and UK or IE driving licence + proof of address; or
A photo of your passport and a selfie of you holding your passport + proof of address; or
A photo of your driving licence and a selfie of you holding your driving licence + proof of address
Step 4: The bank will verify the documentation for all joint account holders and process your application.
Step 5: The bank confirms your joint current account application is successful.
Step 6: Once receiving confirmation and further details, your joint current account is open and ready to use.
Each bank may have slightly different requirements so this is just a guide. Make sure to check with your chosen bank about its own eligibility criteria, specific account opening process and the documentation it requires.
Joint current accounts can take the stress out of managing finances when a partner or flatmate is involved. But you’ll need to share a certain level of trust. This is because you’ll both have access to not just your own money but any money deposited by the other joint account holder. You’ll also both be responsible for any fees or charges incurred so it’s important you agree how the account should be used. The good news is there are a few joint account options to choose from in Ireland so shop around and compare the features that suit you and your partner’s needs best.
Monique Law is a writer for Finder. Since 2016 she has written across numerous topics including consumer goods, finance, travel, personal development, lifestyle and health. After many years of living abroad and travelling on a budget, she's become an expert on researching and finding the best deals. Monique enjoys British detective shows & spy dramas, planning her next travel adventure and watching world events unfold live on CNN.
International banking transactions can be made easy with the help of a multi currency account. If you find that you are consistently trying to manage currencies other than the Australian dollar, then consider banking your money in this type of account.
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