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Joint bank accounts in Singapore

Interested in opening a joint savings account? Find out if it’s the right choice for you and how to compare your options.

Keeping track of bills, rent or loan payments each month can feel like a chore. Asking your partner for their contribution to expenses each month can also put a strain on your relationship. You might wonder if there’s a better way to deal with it. Thankfully there is.

Joint savings accounts are definitely worth considering for partners that want to take the stress out of money matters and easily control their monthly expenses with joint responsibility.

Compare joint savings accounts in Singapore

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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 bank account?

A joint bank 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 savings account is typically used between partners, it can also be used with a housemate, friend or a family member for different reasons. Remember that whoever you share the account with will have full access to it, so make sure it’s someone you trust completely.

What are the benefits of a joint bank account over a standard savings account?

The main benefit of having a joint account is the convenience of managing shared expenses.

For instance, 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 bank 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 possible ways of utilising a joint savings account.

Scenario 1

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 bank account every month to cover their rent and utility payments. The money kept in their personal accounts is theirs to use as they please.

Scenario 2

Bruce and Selina have been married for 20 years and all of their income goes into their joint savings account. Every month they have direct debits and mortgage payments coming out of this joint account. They also use their joint bank 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 bank 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.

Joint-alternate accounts

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 of the other joint holder(s).

While this type of joint account offers a lot of leeways, 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 accounts

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 bank account?

Most partners find that having a joint savings 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 dollar and cent 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 joint bank 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 joint 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 bank 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’ll use your joint account and look for a fee structure that will complement this. Even though maintenance or fall-below fees may seem negligible, the bank may charge more for other transactions that could add up in the long run.
  • Interest rates. The interest rates offered by savings accounts are typically low, but it is still undoubtedly the most important feature to consider. Some bonus saver 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 your lifestyle and banking habits, 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 digital wallets such as 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 savings account that offers 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.

Alternatives to joint bank accounts from traditional banks

If you’re looking to manage shared expenses with someone without having to open a joint savings account from a traditional bank, there’s a handful of alternative digital banking options worth considering.

However, due to the Payment Services Act (PSA), fintech firms can only allow their users to hold up to a maximum of S$5,000 (or its foreign currency equivalent) in their accounts at any point in time. In addition, users can only transact up to S$30,000 (or its foreign currency equivalent) during a 12-month period.

This means that these neobanks would only be ideal for those who’re managing smaller day-to-day shared expenses, not larger transactions such as mortgage or insurance payments.

Take a look at two popular providers, as well as their features and fees here:

Tips to utilise a joint savings 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 bank 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 savings 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.

Other types of joint accounts

Joint accounts are not just limited to savings account for couples to manage their household expenses.

There are various types of accounts that can be opened jointly with a parent, sibling, child or business partner for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Kids savings accounts. Minors below 16 years of age in Singapore can only open a savings account jointly with a parent or legal guardian.
  • Central Depository Account (CDP). To trade stocks, bonds and other securities listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), you’ll need to open a CDP account – which provides integrated clearing, settlement and depository facilities for the local securities market.
  • Joint brokerage accounts. A joint brokerage account is designed to help both parties save and achieve their financial goals together, provides both with ownership of the assets in the account.
  • Corporate accounts. With a corporate account, two or more individuals can have equal access to deposit, withdraw, and perform other business transactions.

How do I open a joint bank account?

Most banks give you the option of opening a joint savings 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.

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