MoneyLife

Joint Bank Account Unmarried: Is It A Good Idea?

By Laura Smith
joint bank account unmarried

A joint bank account is a type of bank account that can be opened by two or more people. This type of account allows all parties to deposit and withdraw money, as well as make transactions online. 

Joint accounts are usually set up for families, couples, and business partners. Like individual accounts, the funds in a joint account can be transferred, withdrawn, or spent without needing permission.

Many people wonder whether they should open a joint bank account unmarried and living together. Of course, the answer depends on your specific situation as there might be more disadvantages than advantages depending on your circumstances. 

Is a joint bank account a good idea?

Twenty-two million Americans, who are either dating or in a committed relationship, opt-out of joint bank accounts. However, there are several advantages to having a joint bank account unmarried. 

The first and most obvious advantage is the ease of access. When you have a joint account, your partner can withdraw from it or transfer money to it whenever he or she needs to without getting permission from you. 

Secondly, if there’s an emergency and one person suddenly needs all the money in the account, they can do so because the other account holder has the authority to pull money as needed. Finally, a joint bank account can help keep track of household expenses, and it can be used as a tool for budgeting.

However, there are also several disadvantages to having a joint bank account unmarried. The primary reason is that if one partner stops contributing to the account or takes the money you didn’t want them to spend, there’s nothing you can do about it. 

So, if you’re going to have a joint bank account, make sure that both of you contribute equally to avoid future arguments or financial problems.

When to get a joint bank account?

You can open a joint bank account at almost any financial institution. Some banks even allow you to open a joint account online, so it’s quick and easy to do. 

But before you open a joint bank account with your partner, make sure you have the right reasons for it, such as having children together or qualifying for common law marriage.

Understand joint ownership and liability

Once you open a joint bank account unmarried couple, the bank considers that money in the account legally belongs to both account holders, whether it’s one dollar or $20,000. This means that both parties are fully responsible for all transactions made with the shared bank account.

Any withdrawals, transfers, loans, or debt incurred by either owner of the joint account become the responsibility of both owners. This is known as joint ownership, and it’s helpful to know when you have a joint account because it can affect your liability if something goes wrong.

6 considerations for an unmarried couple before getting a joint bank account

Can unmarried couples get a joint bank account? Of course, they can! However, it’s still important to consider the following details before getting a joint bank account unmarried.

1. Read and understand the bank agreement

It’s crucial to read and understand the bank agreement before you open a joint account. The agreement should outline any fees or conditions related to the accounts, whether pertaining to overdrafts or transactions. Know what your accounts permit you to do, so there are no surprises later because you don’t have this information beforehand.

2. Be open about finances and communicate openly

If you and your partner plan on having a joint bank account, both of you should be open to talking about finances. Try not to keep any secrets from each other, because if one or both partners does, then problems can arise later on when the truth comes to light.

3. Discuss concerns and both of your money management techniques

You and your partner should discuss joint accounts concerns, such as if either of you is worried about one partner’s spending habits. If you’re running into budgeting issues, it can be helpful to sit down and evaluate both financial situations and make a plan for how savings and expenses will be handled in the future before opening a joint account.

4. No secrets policy

If you have a joint bank account, make sure you both agree to the same policy when it comes to having secrets about money or hidden accounts. Agreeing on this can help you avoid disputes down the road.

5. No legal system to separate finances 

When you have a joint bank account as an unmarried couple, it’s more challenging to separate finances in case of separation or if one of you is no longer legally allowed to be on the account. While there is a legal system in place for married couples when they separate, there’s typically not the same for unmarried couples.

6. Death of an account holder

If one joint account holder passes away, the other is usually given full assets from the account if it’s set up as “Joint with Rights of Survivorship.” However, this is not always the case for every account. 

What if you disagree about money?

There will be times when you disagree and feel as if you should be able to do as you wish with your money. If that is the case, consider placing a certain amount of money in a single account for yourself. Using an application like RoarMoney makes this process even more accessible, allowing you to transfer money in a few taps.

Create a contract before combining finances

Before you decide to open up a joint bank account with your significant other, you both must understand what is expected of the relationship. Creating a contract can help outline these steps and includes how much money should be available in the joint bank account at any given time.

Pros of a joint bank account

  • Great way to simplify finances
  • Convenience
  • Saves money on fees 
  • Makes it easier to share funds as a couple

Cons of a joint bank account

  • Taking on your partner’s debt 
  • Lack of individual control 
  • No privacy or total autonomy 
  • Can be messy if you break up

Authorized users vs joint accounts

Authorized users are usually considered to be sub-accounts of your primary account, while joint accounts are where two people have access to the same money. This distinction is important because it can help determine what will happen if one of you passes away or how payments will be made if one person defaults on the loan. Plus, as an account holder, you can remove authorized users at any point without having to go through a long process.

Should you open a joint account if you’re not married? 

Opening a joint bank account is a challenging decision to make as a couple. If you and your partner want to save money but you don’t want to go through the hassle of opening a joint bank account, consider alternate resources like a RoarMoney bank account.

Our RoarMoney account is $1/month and comes with a plethora of financial tools such as 0% APR cash advances, Safety Net feature, auto-investing, and credit building loans up to $1000.

Additionally, you can send money or receive payments, share bills, and monitor your joint expenses, all within the same app. It’s easy to set up and use, making it the easiest way to manage your money with your partner!

FAQs

Should couples have a joint bank account?

It depends on the couple and their ultimate goals with the joint bank account. There are many factors to consider before opening up a joint account with your partner. It can help simplify finances, but it can also lead to costly mistakes if not set up correctly.

Who owns the money in a joint bank account?

Joint bank accounts are shared by both parties, but it can be a challenge to prove who contributed what amount. You may have to go through a process to verify your ownership of the money should anything happen, so be prepared for this scenario.

Can unmarried couples get a joint bank account?

Yes. However, it’s important to note what will happen if you separate or one of you passes away. You may be able to access the money in an account with rights of survivorship, but not always. Make sure your partner understands what is expected before setting up a joint bank account.

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