Opening a new bank account can be exciting. If it’s your first bank account, you finally have a place to deposit cash, receive funds from employers who pay online, and have your money secured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Some people create multiple bank accounts to group their expenses. You can have separate bank accounts for taxes, emergencies, vacations, investments, and other categories. While many people start with individual accounts, you can also open a joint account. These accounts turn banking into a team effort instead of a solo adventure.
How a joint bank account works
Joint bank accounts are entities that multiple people can access. Business partners, married couples, and other groups with deep ties may open joint accounts instead of having separate accounts. You can have a separate personal account and a joint account, but while you can only control an individual account, anyone on the joint bank account can deposit and withdraw funds from the account.
Benefits of a joint bank account
A joint bank account presents several advantages over separate accounts.
- Strengthen relationships: Money is a critical resource for people’s livelihoods, and creating a joint account requires a lot of trust. Couples can bond as they manage their finances together, knowing that they trust each other with something as important as money.
- Work toward goals together: A joint account can help people track their progress toward a goal and do so together. Individual accounts can make it more difficult to track progress on a joint goal, especially if each person pursuing the goal has multiple bank accounts designated for other purposes.
- Easier to cover expenses: Centralizing your bank accounts can help you cover rent payments and other expenses. You won’t have to worry about who will pay this month when your money is grouped together.
- Accountability: A joint account can build accountability if everyone on the joint account sets a monthly contribution goal. Because everyone can see expenses on the account, it can also make each person less susceptible to unnecessary purchases.
Possible cons of a joint bank account
A joint bank account can provide many advantages, but like any financial product, it is not perfect. Here are some ways a joint bank account can go downhill.
- The lines between joint and personal obligations get blurry: Does your partner have personal debt they have to cover? That partner can legally use funds you put into a joint account to cover those payments even if they don’t contribute a penny. Some couples are OK with this arrangement, but you should know that this is a possibility before creating a joint bank account with someone.
- Breakups can get nasty: Any breakup can get nasty, but a joint bank account with a lot of money in it can make things worse. One partner can spend every penny in the joint account as an act of revenge or stash it in a personal account. You shouldn’t have to worry about losing your fortunes. This scenario happens, and it explains why everyone involved with the joint account must build a deep level of mutual trust before pursuing this route.
- Feeling under the microscope: A joint bank account can help people achieve financial goals together, but not everyone wants to be under the microscope 24/7. You might want to spend $50 on something you found as a reward for good financial decisions. But that transaction can be seen by both parties. The lack of privacy can be unsettling for some joint bank account holders.
Who should set up a joint bank account
Are you considering a joint bank account? They provide several pros and cons, but these accounts make more sense for the following groups.
A joint account for long-term couples can create more transparency and help couples tackle challenges together. You can both contribute to everyday expenses and see each other’s progress. Without a joint bank account, couples may get into arguments about who is contributing more toward expenses.
A joint account with grandparents, children, and caretakers can be a great way to support elder family members. Some older people may get overwhelmed by technology and lack the necessary means to drive to the local bank. A joint account can allow other people to use an elderly person’s money to pay for medical bills, care, and other services.
Caretakers can go to the grocery store and buy food for the grandparent using a joint account. Trust is vital when you add a caregiver to a joint account. You can allocate some of your funds to the account, so you lose fewer funds if they get mismanaged. As with any joint bank account relationship, trust is critical. It’s been a common theme of this article, but it is worth repeating because of how much control you lose and the trust you need to create a joint bank account.
A joint bank account can help roommates cover rent and other expenses. It’s easier to use one account to pay for these costs than have everyone chip in with individual bank accounts. Having one roommate collect payments from other roommates in a personal bank account is riskier than creating a joint account.
Steps to open a joint bank account
If you are ready to open a joint checking account after hearing about the pros and cons, here’s what you need to do to get started.
- Browse your banking options
There are a lot of banks. Consumers can find traditional banks that have been around for centuries and relatively new financial technology (fintech) companies that offer banking solutions. All of this variety means more competition and lower fees. It’s possible to find a joint bank account with low fees and minimums. Some banks also have more features and better interest rates on savings accounts than others. View several options before committing to a bank.
- Gather your required documents
You and your partner will have to present several documents to create a joint bank account. Each bank has different requirements, but here are some of the documents you should have:
- Personal IDs such as driver’s licenses
- Name, address, and birth date
- Funds for an initial deposit
You and your partner will need to provide these documents. If you have these documents but your partner does not, you cannot create a joint bank account.
- Contact the bank
After assembling your documents, it’s time to reach out to the bank you have chosen. Most banks have applications you can use to file for a joint bank account, but you can also email or call a representative who will guide you through the process. Getting assistance from a representative can tip you off on the bank’s customer support and serve as the final test before committing to a particular bank.
Embarking on a Joint Banking Experience
Trust is the word to keep in your mind when considering a joint bank account. You can develop a deeper relationship with your partner by creating a joint bank account. An environment of mutual accountability and pursuing common financial goals can result in a happier life for both of you if you manage the joint bank account responsibly.
What are the rules for joint bank accounts?
The funds in a joint account can be borrowed by any member of the joint account at any time. This arrangement can have several benefits, but trust is vital.
Can a boyfriend and girlfriend open a joint bank account?
A boyfriend and girlfriend can open a joint bank account. Make sure you trust your partner and that your partner has reasons to trust you before opening a joint bank account together.
Who owns the money in a joint bank account?
Anyone listed as an owner of the joint bank account owns the money. Joint account holders can use the funds as desired.