Keeping track of bills, rent or loan payments each month can feel like a chore. It can also put a strain on your relationship asking your partner for their contribution to the expenses, and you might wonder if there’s a better way to deal with it. Thankfully there is.
Joint current accounts are worth considering for partners that want to take the stress out of money matters and easily control their monthly expenses with joint responsibility.
Disclaimer: Interest rates are applicable for deposits between S$1,000 and S$49,999. Interest rate and initial deposit are shown in Singapore dollars.
Please check with the provider for deposits and rates in other amounts and currencies.
What is a joint account?
A joint account is essentially a savings account that is shared and operated by two persons. Each partner has a debit card and access to internet banking, with the ability to make payments and transfers from the account. Direct debits, standing orders and loan payments can 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, as they’ll have access to the money that you put into the account.
What are the benefits of a joint account over a standard account?
The main benefit of having a joint account is the convenience in managing household expenses.
Both partners can lodge a certain amount each month into the account that will cover all expenses such as rent or home loan 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 who money each month.
With direct debits set up and each partner having a debit card to access the account for both in-store or online purchases, there is less time and effort involved in controlling your finances.
Here are some other benefits to look forward to:
Promotes communication. When you set up a joint bank account, you’d have to discuss a whole spectrum of financial matters with your partner. While this means that both of you will have to be honest and transparent, an open line of communication for such important issues can help to solidify the foundations of your relationship.
Achieve saving goals. Having a joint savings account can help you both contribute towards shared plans and cultivate mutual financial responsibility. Whether you’re saving for a vacation, retirement or even for your children’s education.
How do you use a joint account?
There are different ways that you can operate a joint 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 to utilise a joint account.
James and Felicia 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 they each transfer $1,000 into the joint account every month to cover their rent and utility payments. The money kept in their personal accounts is theirs to use as they please.
Bruce and Selina have been married for 20 years and all of their income goes into their joint account. Every month they have direct debits and mortgage payments coming out of this account They also use their joint 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.
What are the different types of joint accounts?
Opening a joint account means having both you and your partner’s names as the account holder. You can choose to have the joint account operate either on a joint-alternate or joint-all basis.
In a joint-alternate account, any one of the account holders can perform banking transactions (such as withdrawing cash, writing cheques or closing the account) on that account individually. This means that one account holder can execute any banking transactions without the knowledge or acknowledgement from the other joint holder(s).
While this type of joint account offers a lot of leeway, understand that you can be held liable for any borrowing on a joint-alternate account even if you weren’t aware of the transaction.
Joint-all account requires all holders of the account to provide and acknowledge the instruction for the banking transaction before it can be executed. This means that whenever an account holder wishes to perform banking transactions on the account, be it withdrawing money or issuing cheques, the other account holder(s) must also authorise the transaction.
Joint and several liability accounts
If there is a “joint and several liability” clause in the terms and conditions, the bank has the option of suing both you and your joint account holder, or choose to sue either one of you only.
What are the drawbacks of having a joint account?
Most partners find that having a joint 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 before making the commitment. Here are some risks to bear in mind:
Spending habits and financial activities exposed. Your partner will be able to track every cent and dollar you spend, which may lead to disagreements.
Unlikely for spendings by both parties to be equal. It’s highly possible for one account holder to spend more than the other. Things may get ugly if these expenses were not discussed beforehand.
May affect your credit history. Both parties are responsible for any fees, charges or debts that arise from the account — this means that your individual credit ratings could be affected based on your partners’ financial activity.
Risk losing your money. Unless you opened a joint-all account, one party can withdraw all the funds anytime without the knowledge of the other.
Since both people have access to each other’s money, establishing trust and rules about what the account can be used for is essential. 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.
How do you compare joint accounts in Singapore?
Since a joint account is actually a savings account that is shared and operated by two persons, make sure to compare your options and the various features of the savings accounts available in Singapore. Here are some key features you should take into consideration:
Fees. Maintenance and transaction fees vary across banks, so it’s important to consider how you will use your account and look for a fee structure that will compliment this. Even though a maintenance or fall-below fee may seem low, the bank may charge more for other transactions that will add up over time.
Interest rates. The interest rates offered by savings accounts are typically low, but it is still undoubtedly the most important feature to consider. Some accounts such as the DBS Multiplier account or OCBC 360 account even offer a higher interest rate when you spend in multiple categories or above a certain threshold.
Perks. Depending on how you use your account and your lifestyle, you may benefit from perks associated with your joint account such as exclusive promotions at partner merchants 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 account with Google Pay, Apple Pay or Fitbit Pay.
Loan interest rates. If you are thinking about taking out a home loan 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 accounts in Singapore?
There are many banks in Singapore that provide joint accounts. Here are a few listed below and the features they offer.
The POSB Savings Account and POSB Current Account can both be applied for as joint accounts. Here are some benefits you will enjoy:
No minimum balance required for the current account. Your account will be automatically topped up from your linked POSB Savings Account.
0% foreign currency transaction fees for over 150 currencies
You can change money 24/7 in the in-app money change for 10 currencies
Sign up in three minutes
Revolut offers a ‘Group Vault’ feature so that individual Revolut users can contribute towards a common shared fund. This will require one user to create a new Vault, which will then grant them the role of administrator.
However, there are a few limitations to this feature:
Only the administrator can add or remove contributors
Only the administrator will be able to make fund withdrawals and/or close the shared Vault.
Tips to utilise a joint account successfully
When two parties share financial responsibilities, it’s inevitable to face differences and occasional conflicts. To ensure proper financial management and keep your relationship intact, try to keep the following in mind when operating a joint account:
Lay out your expectations clearly. Ensure clear communications regarding finances with your partner. Each person should understand how much they’re expected to contribute and spending from the joint account ought to be transparent.
Be open to compromise. How much should each person contribute? Will you be splitting household expenditure equally? What should both parties do during unexpected events (e.g. hospitalisation, chronic illness or unemployment)? These are some of the questions to consider. If circumstances changes, make sure to adjust your shared responsibilities accordingly.
Align your lifestyles, values and goals. Having a drastically different lifestyle and spending habits can lead to conflicts, which may eventually break any prior agreements. Avoid these unhappy situations by having open discussions regarding long-term financial goals and make an effort to keep them on track. Most importantly, always live within your means and don’t spend more than what you can afford.
How do I open a joint current account?
Most banks give you the option of opening a joint current account either online, mobile app, by phone or by visiting a branch, although there are one or two that will only do it in person. First, you need to make sure you are eligible and have the correct documentation.
To open an account in person, visit your closest branch along with the original copies of the required documentation:
Identification (NRIC or passport)
Proof of employment (For foreign applicants)
Proof of address (e.g. utility bill or any statement from a government body)
To open an account online, you will need to fill in an application form either on the bank’s website or through a mobile app. For most banks in Singapore, you’ll also be able to fill up your online application form via MyInfo using your SingPass ID and password.
Each bank may have different requirements, so make sure to check with your chosen bank about their eligibility criteria, specific account opening process and required documentation before applying.
Zyane Tan is an associate editor at Finder. An experienced copywriter and content creator, Zyane enjoys writing on a wide array of subjects. When she’s not busy typing away, she’s reading and musing over a pint.
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