What you need to know about opening a joint bank account | finder.com
couple smiling watching some papers

Opening a joint account

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

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.

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 safe 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.

Back to top

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 mind the others spending as long as all the bills are paid, and that they’re still saving their agreed amount each month.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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 Fee Minimum deposit to open Minimum balance to earn interest APY
$0
$0
$1
2%
Enjoy no monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account.
$0
$1,000
$0.01
2.16%
With no maintenance fees, it's easy to grow your savings. Put your money to work with an online account from CIBC Bank USA.
$0
$10,000
$0
2.15%
Enjoy the rewards of earning more. Smarter saving made simple
$0
$0
$0
2.05%
Earn 20x the national savings account average with no fees or minimums.
$0
$0
$0
2%
The most common services and transactions are free with Ally Bank.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product APY ATMs Fee
0.01%
65,000 preferred ATMs nationwide (Allpoint, MoneyPass, PNC)
$0
An online checking account means no driving around town, no waiting in line and no bankers' hours.
Surcharge-free Umpqua ATMs in all of the network's 5 states, plus up to $10 per month in ATM fee rebates
$0
Simple and straightforward, a checking account for anyone looking for no-frills banking.
Surcharge-free Umpqua ATMs in all of the network's 5 states, plus 4 non-Umpqua ATM fee rebates per month
$5/month
(can be waived)
A checking account that's tied to your savings and comes with lots of fee rebates.
Surcharge-free Umpqua ATMs in all of the network's 5 states, plus up to $25 per month in ATM-owner fee rebates
$20/month
(can be waived)
Easy banking for complicated lives.

Compare up to 4 providers

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

Pros

  • Save together. Good for couples that have a 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.
Back to top

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.

Back to top
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, make sure to check in regularly that you’re on track with your budget, and address anything that you need change or 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.

Common questions about joint accounts



Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a producer for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

16 Responses

  1. 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?

    • finder 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

  2. Default Gravatar
    AnonymousNovember 5, 2018

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

    • finder Customer Care
      JhezelynNovember 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

  3. 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

  4. Default Gravatar
    SirenOctober 6, 2018

    How a non operative joint account of two person can be made operative in absence of one live member away from place of bank

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaOctober 8, 2018Staff

      Hi Siren,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      You would need to abide by the terms and conditions that you agreed upon with the bank. If it really needs two persons to make the joint account work, then you need to follow the requirements of account. However, in some instances, when there’s really a valid reason for one member to be absent, some terms and conditions place a clause where another person can act in behalf of the absent person.

      You may check about this clause with your bank or other options available for you. Get in touch with them and ask about your situation. They should be able to give you a personalized advice.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  5. Default Gravatar
    FelisterSeptember 21, 2018

    I have one of my friend but not my boyfriend..I want to open an joint account together with him..so I can do that??

    • finder Customer Care
      CharisseSeptember 21, 2018Staff

      Hi Felister,

      Thanks for reaching out to finder.

      Though joint accounts are generally used by family members, couples and business partners, you can definitely open one with a friend or with any person you choose to. What’s important is you know and trust that person as there is a certain amount of risk involved in having equal authority in terms of using the money in your account.

      Before you decide to open a joint account with any person, weigh the pros and cons of this action or seek expert advise so you can be guided accordingly.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  6. Default Gravatar
    surajSeptember 18, 2018

    I disabled person from both legs I am not able to walk and I want to change my SBI Joint saving bank account partner. Please. help me advice me

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaSeptember 24, 2018Staff

      Hi Suraj,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      If you need to change your SBI joint saving bank account, you would need to directly get in touch with them. The easiest way to do this is to visit an SBI account near you. However, if you are not able to do this, you can simply go online. Visit the State Bank of India homepage.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  7. Default Gravatar
    AnnJuly 27, 2018

    My partner disconnected our joint account without knowing ,can I we open another joint account immediately and will it still show history of the last like 4 years we had

    • finder Customer Care
      nikkiangcoAugust 6, 2018Staff

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your message and for contacting finder.

      Yes, you can definitely open a new joint account immediately, however, your credit history will be different and separate from the other joint account you’ve had for the last 4 years. You may ask your bank about this as well as rules on joint accounts varies from bank to bank.

      Hope this helps!

      Regards,
      Nikki

  8. Default Gravatar
    OmarMarch 28, 2018

    In a Joint Account with Either or Survivor option, if a Principal Account Holder dies and dispute arises among the legal heirs of the deceased, whst are the exceptions or grounds in which Survivorship mandate can end or can be challenged by other legal heirs.

    • finder Customer Care
      JoshuaMarch 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Omar,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      There are a lot of potential problems that may arise when one owner of the account passes away. Generally, the remaining balance in a joint account will pass to the surviving account holder on death by right of survivorship. However, this may change if the deceased account holder has a prepared Will and that Will specifically affects the future of the account.

      Please note that we are not legal experts. Thus, it will be helpful if you seek professional advice to get a more personalized answer.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

Go to site