What you need to know about opening a joint bank account | finder.com
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Opening a joint account

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Joint accounts are best for people who are working towards a similar financial goal together.

A joint account can be either a transaction or savings account that is held in two or more names.

These types of accounts are generally used by family members, couples or business partners who trust each other. This is because anyone who’s on the account can use the money in any way they see fit.

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How do savings accounts for couples work?

Joint accounts can be long term or temporary. An example of a long-term account would be a couple opening an account that they share to save for a house or home improvements. A temporary account would be an arrangement to help two people to achieve a short-term financial goal like a vacation.

What are the types of joint bank accounts?

You can either set up the bank accounts where both people need to sign to withdraw or only one signature is necessary.

Both parties required to sign

If you would like peace of mind, this is a good option to ensure you know what is happening with the money at all times. This type of joint account requires both account holders to sign for the approval of a transaction for it to be performed. This is popular with business accounts.

However, you have to decide whether the added level of security is worth it and necessary. If you trust your partner implicitly, this may not be the best option as it can make the account difficult to access and less convenient. If you’re away and your partner needs money urgently, a withdrawal or payment can’t be made without your signature.

Either parties able to sign

For a joint account where either party can sign, anyone named on the account can perform a transaction on their own, without the knowledge or approval of the other person. But the level of security is lower, because anyone on the account can spend money without you knowing. But if you trust one another, it is certainly much easier for day-to-day living.

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Who are joint bank accounts suitable for?

A joint bank account requires trust. If you’re thinking of opening an account with a roommate or someone you’re dating, think about the future and if you have similar goals. But also consider the past — do they have a history of bad financial choices?

Case study: Steve and Melissa

Steve and Melissa have been together five years and have decided to open a joint bank account. They have both changed their details with payroll so they can get their paychecks direct deposited into the account. Steve travels a lot for work, so he’s often away. The plan is that Melissa will handle any bill payments when Steve can’t be there.

They decide to open an ING DIRECT Orange Everyday Account online. Steve and Melissa both make small purchases like coffee or drinks at the bar. Neither minds the other spending as long as all the bills are paid and that they’re still saving their agreed amount each month.

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Should I open a joint bank account with my partner?

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 financial goals together. First, you won’t have to pay the fees twice. Second, drawing up a budget and sticking to it might be easier when you both pool your money together. Also, if one of you has to be away for an extended time frame, the other person can take care of all the financial aspects.

The key to a successful joint bank accounts is trust. It’s important that both account holders establish clear ground rules and that the lines of communication are not only open but used often. If you have even the smallest doubt about your partner, then don’t open a joint bank account and give them full access to your money. You could create a joint account where you deposit a limited amount of funds, while keeping your primary salary account separate and in your name only.

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How do I compare joint accounts?

As with any bank account, you’ll want to find a bank that offers joint accounts with as few fees as possible. In fact, 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.

The majority of banks will let you fill out your application online, saving you time and the work of coordinating a face-to-face meeting with bank.

Name Product Interest rate (APY) Fee Minimum deposit to open
1.90%
$0
$0
Enjoy no monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account.
2.20%
$0
$100
A super-high interest rate if you're in the habit of saving at least $100 per month or have $25K in the bank.
2.20%
$0
$1
Get one of the highest interest rates available without high balance requirements or fees.
1.00%
$2.99 per month
(can be waived)
$0
Digit analyzes your spending and automatically saves an appropriate amount every day so you don't have to think about it.
2.25%
$0
$0
My Savings Direct offers flexibility, freedom and security in personal banking.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product APY ATMs Fee
2.02% on balances of $2,000+
0.01% on balances of $0 to $1,999
40,000 AllPoint ATMs in Simple’s network
$0
Banking and budgeting in one simple app.
2.00% on balances of $10,000+ or deposit $1+ each calendar month into any Aspiration cash management or investment account
Free to use anywhere worldwide
$0
A spend and save combo account with no monthly service fees, free access to every ATM in the world, unlimited cash back rewards and deposits insured by the FDIC. The Aspiration Spend & Save Account is a cash management account offering of Aspiration Financial, LLC, an SEC-registered broker-dealer. Aspiration is not a chartered bank.
1.00% on balances of $100,000+
0.75% on balances of $50,000 to $99,999.99
0.20% on balances of $0 to $49,999.99
39,000+ Capital One and Allpoint ATMs nationwide
$0
A fee-free online checking account you can use anytime, anywhere.
0.01% on balances of $1,000+
Free at 60,000 ATMs nationwide (USAA, Allpoint, MoneyPass, PNC)
$0
An online checking account means no driving around town, no waiting in line and no bankers' hours.
0.01%
More than 2,400 ATMs in over 700 Citibank branches
$25/month
(can be waived)
Full-feature relationship checking from one of the top brands in the nation

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product 1-year APY 18-month APY 2-year APY 3-year APY 5-year APY
2.4%
2.4%
2.45%
2.45%
2.45%
2.4%
2.4%
2.45%
2.45%
2.5%
2.35%
2.45% on CDs of $25,000+

2.4% on CDs of $5,000 to $24,999

2.3% on CDs of $0 to $4,999
2.45% on CDs of $25,000+

2.4% on CDs of $5,000 to $24,999

2.3% on CDs of $0 to $4,999
2.5%
2.3%
1.9%
1.8%
1.65%
1.6%
2.2%
2.4%
1.4%
1.3%
1.7%

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What are the pros and cons to opening a joint bank account?

Pros

  • Save together. Good for couples that have joint financial goals and share spending and saving habits.
  • Less fees. Save on fees with only one bank account.
  • Full transparency. Since you’re both on the account, you’re always able to see how the other is spending and where.
  • Easier to pay and schedule bills. With all the money in one place, it’s a lot easier for couples to manage personal finances and bills.

Cons

  • Complete access 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 break up, both of you have access to the account. You may hope you could 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.
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Joint bank accounts can also lead to trouble…what can go wrong?

If you value your independence and financial privacy, you may chose to manage your own money rather than a joint account.

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. Furthermore, some couples are hesitant to open a joint bank account because things can get complicated if they separate — it’s important to agree on a strategy for this prior to opening a joint account.

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 prayers. Things you could hear include: “don’t you trust me?”, “it means you don’t love me” or “what do you think I’m going to do? Run off with your money?” These are all a form of emotional blackmail, and there could be a reason they are so eager to share finances.

The other person’s financial status should be clear prior to opening an account together — you don’t want to take on someone else’s debt. This is especially true about joint bank accounts that offer credit. Your partner could rack up a huge amount of debt they can’t pay back and then you both are stuck with a poor credit history. Furthermore, you are just as responsible in the eyes of the law for paying back the loan as the person who actually spent the money.

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What to ask yourselves before opening a joint bank account

Do you pool your expenses together?
Do you both use the same budget and consider your costs as shared expenses rather than individual expenses? If all you have is shared expenses, then it is logical to have a joint bank account.

Do you both spend money the same way?
Are you both financially responsible? Will one strive to save while the other empties the account? If this is the case, you’re better off either keeping things separate or opening a joint account where both of you have to sign for each transaction.

Are you comfortable with the idea of opening a joint bank account?
You might save a few dollars on fees, but if you aren’t really all that happy about the idea, then don’t do it.

Is the trust there?
Believing your partner will be financially responsible at all times, even if things get tough, is essential. If the trust isn’t there, you are better off keeping things separate.

Are the lines of communication open?
Is talking about money issues uncomfortable? If you have communication problems surrounding money and you feel you need to hold back your opinion, then you’re better off avoiding a joint account.

Are the financial goals the same?
Confirm that you’re working toward the same financial goals. 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.

What is the goal of opening a joint bank account?
Figure out exactly why you should open an account and see if there are other ways to get there. If you want to save money on fees, for example, consider whether the few dollars are really worth the worry. You could simply shop around to find an account with lower fees instead.

Decided to open a joint account? Here are some tips for couples.

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 important issues in advance:

  • How will spending be managed?
  • How will bills be managed? How much and who’s responsible?
  • Are there financial issues that need to be dealt with prior to opening a joint account?
  • What to do about financial obligations from the past, like child support, loans or other legal fees?
  • If one party earns a higher salary, will they be allowed to spend more?

Then, you’ll have to 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.

Work out a budget

To make life easier, put together a monthly budget. Write down all your expenditures for a week, which allows 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 not to be too strict and make sure to give yourselves some ‘play’ money. Also, check in regularly to make sure that you’re on track with your budget, and address anything that needs changing or that isn’t working.

Maintain steady savings

No matter how hard we strive to avoid problems, it’s best that you make a plan for emergencies. This could be anything from unemployment or illness to an accident or car issues. It’s essential to have some money set aside. A savings account could be useful in such situations as well as ensuring that you have available credit.

Remember your financial goals

By establishing your joint financial goals, you’ll find it a lot easier to save when you’re both working towards the same objective. Check in periodically to be 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 the sake of convenience, remember that there are other options that 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 you’re working together to achieve certain financial goals.

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Common questions about joint accounts

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30 Responses

  1. 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?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoJuly 9, 2019Staff

      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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Default Gravatar
    DaebiJanuary 30, 2019

    Can a debit card be issued for a JOINT ACCOUNT to both of the persons holding the account?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezJanuary 31, 2019Staff

      Hello Daebi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you’re referring to having each of them hold a physical card, yes, if it’s a joint account, each account holder can have a debit card.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  6. Default Gravatar
    JassyJanuary 9, 2019

    If A and B open a join account , can We set the case as shown :
    A can withdraw any time without B acknowledgment but the B must need the A to be present , isn’t possible?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoJanuary 10, 2019Staff

      Hi Jassy,

      Thanks for getting in touch! The rules and restrictions of joint accounts will depend on where you’re opening it. Check with your bank how you can set the rules. Essentially, all parties are allowed to make changes and be notified of account activities. Hope this clarifies!

      Best,
      Nikki

  7. Default Gravatar
    bonnieJanuary 7, 2019

    A halfway house is telling my son he has to open a new joint account with thier name on it …. is this leagal

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoJanuary 8, 2019Staff

      Hi Bonnie,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Our pages don’t have any information on halfway houses. You can read our page about scams on this page. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.

      Best,
      Nikki

  8. Default Gravatar
    KenNovember 27, 2018

    In a joint savings or checking account, I assume that the bank requires the social security numbers of both parties. So, how does the bank decide which party should be responsible for taxes on income earned in the account? Which party receives the Form 1099 and whose security social number will be one it?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoNovember 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for getting in touch! Since this is a joint account, both account holders will be asked for their tax identification number, therefore, both parties will be subject to taxes for income earned in the account. Both you will receive a Form 1099 and both social security numbers will be recorded as well. I hope this helps and let me know if you have questions.

      Cheers,
      Nikki

  9. Default Gravatar
    AnonymousNovember 5, 2018

    If you open a joint account, will the other person also receive a card in the mail?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezNovember 5, 2018Staff

      Hello,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, usually the bank can provide you two cards. The first one is free on which you get after account opening. The second one which you are asking is called ADD ON card. For that, you just need to fill a form. Please note that the second card is chargeable. After one year of completion of account, both the cards are annually chargeable. Best to verify with your bank.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  10. Default Gravatar
    khensaniOctober 13, 2018

    Which South African bank can one open a joint account?

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloOctober 13, 2018

      Hi Khensani,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Unfortunately, the banks featured on our website only caters to residents from the US, Australia, UK, Canada and New Zealand. We have no comparison of banks in South Africa yet. You will have to check with your local banks in SA on which banks can help you open a joint account. Sorry about that.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

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