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Guide to joint bank accounts

Joint accounts are best for people working toward a financial goal together.

Joint bank accounts look just like regular checking and savings accounts, but there’s one caveat — multiple people have equal access to the money in the account. Joint bank accounts work best if you’re looking to pool resources and streamline shared bills. But it can also present some challenges. Here’s a cheat sheet on joint accounts, what they are and how they work.

What is a joint bank 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 it however they see fit. Although 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.

How does a joint bank account work?

Joint accounts generally allow up to two account holders, but some providers allow for more. Each owner gets their own debit card and can make deposits and withdrawals from the account. And since either account holder can spend the funds, a joint bank account requires trust.

There are two main types of joint bank accounts:

Rights of survivorship accounts

This type of joint bank account is the most common type of joint account and is typically used by couples and close family members. If one account owner dies, 100% of the funds go to the surviving account owners, and the funds don’t pass through probate.

Some banks allow you to add restrictions to your joint account, such as requiring dual signatures for withdrawals. Popular with business accounts, your bank will require both account owners to sign for the approval of a transaction for it to be performed.

While dual signatures gives you more control over what happens with your money, it can make the account difficult to access and less convenient. For example, if you’re away and your partner urgently needs money, a withdrawal or payment can’t be made without your signature.

Convenience accounts

This type of joint bank account allows the primary owner to give someone else the authority to use the funds for your benefit. It’s most commonly used by the elderly or incapacitated individuals who need someone to act on their behalf. But there aren’t any rights to survivorship, so the money is divvied up according to the estate plan once the account owner dies.

Although about half the states have adopted convenience accounts under the Uniform Multiple-Party Accounts Act, many financial institutions haven’t yet created accounts with a clear distinction from joint accounts with rights of survivorships.

Should I open a joint bank account with my child?

Opening a joint bank account with your child is a great way to monitor their account activity and help them develop basic money management skills. If you want your child to have access to their money now, you can open up a regular joint checking or savings account at any bank or credit union.

Keep in mind that you should never add your child as an account holder to your primary bank account. Instead, this joint account should be a separate account that your child can contribute to and practice healthy money habits under your supervision.

If you want to save money for your child to use later on — say when they turn 18 or are in college — look into a custodial account. These are often referred to as UGMA or UTMA accounts. The parent controls the account while the child is a minor, but it becomes the child’s account once they turn 18. At that point, they can use the funds however they wish.

4 benefits of a joint bank account

Joint accounts can make managing shared finances more convenient. Here are four advantages of having an account co-owner:

  1. Save together. Good for couples that have joint financial goals and share spending and saving habits.
  2. Fewer fees. Save on potential fees with only one bank account.
  3. Full transparency. Since you’re both on the account, you can always see both you and your partner’s spending habits and financial contributions.
  4. Easier money management. With all the money in one place, it’s much easier for families to manage personal finances, including budgeting and paying bills.

4 drawbacks of a joint bank account

Although a joint bank account can help simplify your financial picture, combined finances also come with several disadvantages:

  1. Complete access to all funds. If you opt for a joint bank account where both of you can withdraw money freely, both owners have the legal right to spend the funds, whether or not they contributed any. So if one person is committed to saving and the other can’t keep their spending under control, there are bound to be issues.
  2. Shared debts. Depending on where you live, state law may permit creditors to take some or all the money from your joint bank account to satisfy your co-owner’s debt.
  3. Splitting up. If there’s a breakup, you may hope you can split the funds amicably. But in the case of a dispute, involving the courts can be a long and arduous process.
  4. Lack of privacy. Complete transparency is a double-edged sword where you may lose some of your financial independence and privacy.

Joint bank accounts after divorce

If you close out your joint account or withdraw a large sum of money 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 isn’t always the case. If one person has bank statements proving they entered the marriage with more money, they could leave with more than half of the funds.

How to open a joint bank account

Opening a joint bank account with someone else is similar to opening a regular checking or savings account on your own.

  1. Shop around. Compare bank accounts until you find one that suits your needs and supports joint accounts.
  2. Apply. Sign up for an 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. Submit your personal information and proper documentation of the identity of all named owners on the account.
  4. Fund the account. Make your initial deposit.

Requirements

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

  • Full name
  • US residential address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification number
  • Government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport

Compare joint checking and savings accounts

This table has tabs for joint savings, checking and CD accounts. Once you decide what type of account you’re after, sort the table by APYs, fees, minimum deposits and more. Pro-tip — view multiple accounts side-by-side by ticking the Compare box next to your favorites.

1 - 10 of 10
Name Product Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open Interest compounding Offer
UFB Elite Savings
Finder Rating: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
UFB Elite Savings
2.85%
$0
$0
Daily
Earn a 2.85% APY with no minimum deposit or balance amount with this no-monthly-fee savings account.
CIT Bank Savings Builder High Yield Savings Account
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
CIT Bank Savings Builder High Yield Savings Account
Up to 1.00%
$0
$100
Daily
No account opening or maintenance fees. Daily compounding interest. Earn one of the nation's top rates
Digit
Finder Rating: 3.4 / 5: ★★★★★
Digit
0.10%
$5 per month
(can be waived)
$0
Annually
Digit analyzes your spending and automatically saves an appropriate amount every day so you don't have to think about it.
Discover Online Savings Account
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Discover Online Savings Account
2.10%
$0
$0
Daily
Take advantage of a high-interest online savings account with no fees, no minimums and more.
Discover Money Market
Finder Rating: 3.9 / 5: ★★★★★
Discover Money Market
Up to 2.05%
$0
$2,500
Daily
This money market account offers a competitive APY.
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Up to 5.00%
$0 per month or $7.99 per month for Aspiration Plus ($5.99 per month if you pay annually)
$10
Monthly
Deposits are fossil fuel-free. A spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC.
Barclays Online Savings
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Barclays Online Savings
2.25%
$0
$0
Daily
Barclays Online Savings account offers key features that can help you save, including a high-interest rate, no monthly fees, and no minimum deposit.
CIT Bank Money Market
Finder Rating: 3.9 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
CIT Bank Money Market
1.55%
$0
$100
Daily
Open a Money Market account using the promo code AMZN22. Fund your account with at least $15,000 within 15 days keep the balance for 60 days.
A savings account with a higher-than-average rate and minimal fees.
Axos Bank Business Savings
Finder Rating: 3.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Axos Bank Business Savings
0.20%
$5 per month
(can be waived)
$1,000
Daily
A business savings account with a low minimum deposit.
Axos Bank Business Money Market
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Axos Bank Business Money Market
0.20%
$10 per month
(can be waived)
$1,000
Daily
This money market savings account comes with the added benefit of check writing privileges.
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Compare up to 4 providers

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product APY Minimum deposit to open ATMs Out-of-network ATM fee Offer
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Aspiration Spend & Save Account
5.00% on balances of $0 to $10,000
3.00% on balances of $0 to $10,000
$10
55,000+ free Allpoint ATMs worldwide
$0
Deposits are fossil fuel-free and insured by the FDIC. Enjoy a spend and save combo account with unlimited cash back rewards.
Axos Bank Essential Checking
Finder Rating: 5 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank Essential Checking
N/A
$0
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
No fees. Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
HSBC Premier Checking
Finder Rating: 2.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
HSBC Premier Checking
0.01% on balances of $5+
$0
Free to use at all ATMs in the US
$0
Get a $500 welcome bonus when you open your account with qualifying activities. Must open HSBC Premier checking account through offer page by February 15, 2023, and set up qualifying direct deposits into the new account totalling at least $10,000 per month for three consecutive months. Conditions apply. Deposit products are offered in the US by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC.

HSBC Premier Checking offers free global transfers and 24/7 customer support.
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5: ★★★★★
Axos Bank Rewards Checking
1.25% on balances of $0 to $50,000
$50
ATM fees reimbursed at any ATM nationwide
$0
Earn up to 1.25% APY while enjoying a suite of digital tools for smarter money management.
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Compare up to 4 providers

1 - 1 of 1
Name Product 6-month APY 1-year APY 5-year APY Minimum deposit to open
CIT Bank Term CDs
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5: ★★★★★
CIT Bank Term CDs
0.30%
0.30%
0.50%
$1,000
Choose from a range of terms with no maintenance fees and $1,000 minimum to open.
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Compare up to 4 providers

3 tips for a successful joint account ownership

1. Communication is key

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and open a joint bank account with your partner, make sure you talk about these critical issues in advance:

  • Do you pool your income and expenses together?
  • How will you collectively manage your spending?
  • How will you manage your bills? How much and who’s responsible?
  • Are there any pre-existing financial obligations, like child support, loans or other legal fees that need to be dealt with before opening a joint account?
  • If one party earns a higher salary, will they be allowed to spend more?

Then, decide which accounts will be set up as joint accounts and which will remain separate. For example, some couples choose to pool their savings in a joint account while their everyday accounts remain separate. Other couples opt to separate ownership of property, such as their homes, especially when it was purchased before the relationship began.

2. Work out a budget

To make life easier, create a monthly budget and establish clear ground rules. Write down all your weekly expenditures, allowing you to see where the money is going and if there are areas you can cut back to save some money. Then, decide on a budget.

The key is to avoid being too strict and give yourselves some “play” money. Also, check in regularly to ensure you’re on track with your budget and address anything that needs changing or isn’t working. And be sure to discuss large or unnecessary purchases with your partner before pulling the trigger.

If you and your partner 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.

3. Remember your financial goals

By establishing your joint financial goals, you’ll find saving easier when you both work toward the same objective. This includes short-term goals such as an overseas trip and long-term goals like buying a house. If you’re not on the same page, a joint account will be less likely to work. Check in periodically to make sure you’re both on the right track.

Bottom line

Joint bank accounts can be a good idea, but only if you and your partner have the same financial goals and spending habits. If you’re simply opening the account for convenience, remember that other options can provide the same level of convenience without the risk. However, if the trust is there, compare savings accounts to find the right fit that helps you both achieve your financial goals.

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32 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AJMarch 11, 2020

    Can I direct deposit my checks to a joint checking account?

    • Default Gravatar
      AshMarch 13, 2020

      Hi AJ,

      Thank you for contacting Finder.

      Yes, you may deposit a personal check named to a single individual to a joint account. Kindly take note that once deposited to the joint account, both of the account holders will have equal rights to the total amount on the account.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Ash

  2. Default Gravatar
    SudeysiJuly 9, 2019

    I am going to add another person to my account what happens that day, what information is given to them, what documentation do they have to sign does it take a long time to do?

    • Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoJuly 9, 2019

      Hi Sudeysi,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder!

      If you plan to add another person to your account, the information shared with the person is any and all details of your account unless otherwise it can be requested with your bank to share limited information. Bank process and documentation will depend on the bank you choose.

      Hope this helps! For any further questions, feel free to reach out to us again, we’re here to help.

      Cheers,
      Nikki

  3. Default Gravatar
    LauraMay 23, 2019

    Hi, I have a joint account with my partner. If he was to get a loan through our bank account would the bank need to ask my permission first or can he get loans without my consent?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      BellaMay 24, 2019Staff

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Since it is a joint account, both parties have access towards the funds unless there is a policy advised that the account could only be accessed with both parties consent. You may need to contact your bank to check if this policy is activated with your joint account.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  4. Default Gravatar
    DianeMay 6, 2019

    For joint accounts is there only one password.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMay 6, 2019Staff

      Hi Diane,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Since the joint account has only one online account then it has only one password. If you haven’t opened a joint account and considering to open one, please have your queries listed and ask them all to your chosen bank.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  5. Default Gravatar
    MichaelMarch 7, 2019

    Can I open a new joint account with a person living another state?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMarch 9, 2019Staff

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      That might be possible as most banks would open joint accounts for unrelated individuals, who may be living from different states. As per this page you’re looking at, so long that both of you and your partner met the eligibility requirements, know the rules, consequences, anything on having a joint account then it is fine if you don’t live under one roof. Please note that the key to a successful joint bank accounts is trust.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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