Opening a joint bank account can be an exciting step in a relationship or new business. Joint bank accounts are a convenient way for two or more people to pool money together for a common purpose. If you’re married or engaged, setting up a joint bank account for household expenses can make it easier to manage regular payments. But be cautious about who you open a joint bank account with, as the wrong person (for business or personal reasons) can lead to debt and hassle.
The most common reason to open a joint bank account is for couples who are living together, engaged, or married. If a joint bank account makes sense for you, read on for the steps to get a joint bank account open this week.
Documents you’ll need to open a joint bank account
The first step is information gathering. After that, it should be fairly simple to open a joint bank account. Here’s what you need to open a joint bank account:
A form of government-issued ID is required for both people. A passport, driver’s license, or state identification card can be acceptable options. Banks use government-issued IDs to verify legal names and identities. In some cases, they may perform background checks.
In addition to ID, you’ll need to provide personal information, including your birth date, address of residence, phone number, email, and Social Security number (SSN). At least one person opening a joint bank account will need a Social Security number or tax identification number. Some banks require both account holders to have an SSN. If you prefer to get mail at an address other than your residence, you’ll also need to provide a mailing address.
Proof of address
You also need proof of address to open a joint bank account, generally for both people. Bank policies differ, but generally acceptable documents for proof of address include utility bills, a mortgage statement, a lease agreement, or other bank statements. You can also print a billing statement from your online bank or credit card account as long as it states your address.
Many banks require an initial deposit to open a joint bank account. This can be as little as $25 or as much as $500 to $1,000 or more, depending on the type of account and bank policies. Joint checking accounts usually require a lower initial deposit than savings accounts, but this can vary by bank. Ask your bank what you need to deposit to open a joint bank account.
Some banks may require additional documents like proof of employment or proof of income. You may also need a birth certificate, proof of visa, or right of residence if one of the joint account holders is not a U.S. citizen. Additional document requirements vary by bank. If the first bank asks for many additional documents, you can look for other local banks to find one with simpler requirements to open a joint bank account.
How to open a joint bank account
After you’ve prepared the documents, it’s time to go to the bank. Most banks will require you to make an appointment or appear in person to open a joint bank account.
Choose a bank
Banks have different policies and may also have special offers at different times. When choosing a bank, look for accounts with low fees, low minimums, and low or no overdraft fees. In addition, consider fees for debit cards linked to the account and the ATM network their cards are linked to. The ideal bank account will have a wide ATM network with many options where you live and work. Likewise, it will include at least two debit cards for a low fee or free.
For most people, banks with a high minimum deposit and high monthly fees are not the best choice. Some banks also offer debit card rewards like cash back, much like credit cards or other signup bonuses. You can usually find the bank’s current offers, fees, and ATM network online to choose the best option in your area.
Choose a bank account type
Of course, you can open many types of joint bank accounts. There are joint checking accounts, joint savings accounts, and joint certificates of deposit (CDs). Deciding on the type of bank account requires some clear communication about goals. If the goal is long-term savings with better interest, a CD will make the most sense. If the goal is savings with regular smaller deposits toward a goal like a vacation or a downpayment on a home, a regular savings account will usually work the best.
If the joint bank account is for regular monthly expenses like utilities, mortgage or lease payments, and car payments, a checking account offers the greatest flexibility. Depending on your goals, it may make sense to open more than one joint bank account for different goals.
Review the terms and conditions
Be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions and ask any questions. Good questions to ask include:
- What is the minimum account balance required?
- Are debit cards or checks free with the account?
- What is the monthly fee to keep the account open?
- What are the fees for overdrafts?
- Are there fees to close the account in the future?
- Is there any purchase protection or account protection?
- Is the bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)?
- Would you choose this account for your financial goals?
Gather your documents
You’ll want to arrive prepared with all the required documents. To open a joint bank account, you’ll need:
- Government-issued ID
- Social Security number or taxpayer identification number (TIN)
- Proof of address
- Proof of visa or residence permit (for non-U.S. citizens)
- Proof of income or employment (depending on bank policies)
- Birth certificate (depending on bank policies)
You’ll also need to provide an email address, phone number, and mailing address in case it’s different from your residential address.
Complete the application process
Most banks will ask you to fill out an application and sign it in person. Then they’ll verify all the information provided before opening the joint bank account. Opening a joint bank account may be nearly instant, and you could have the account open in under half an hour. Some banks even let you complete the application process online.
Banks may mail additional opening documents to you, including a debit card and pin code. Additional documents typically arrive within seven to 10 business days.
Activate the account
You may need to log in online or perform some other action to activate the account. You’ll also need to activate your new debit cards according to the bank’s instructions. Account activation usually happens as soon as the account is approved and you’ve taken all required activation steps.
Monitor the account
Be sure to monitor the account for all debits and deposits to ensure there isn’t any activity you don’t recognize. Call your bank right away to report any unauthorized transactions.
How to stay on top of a joint bank account
Perhaps the most difficult step in opening a joint bank account is managing it together. Staying on top of a joint bank account takes effective communication about goals and expectations. Effectively managing your joint account involves clear communication, budgeting, setting spending boundaries, and deciding on shared deposits.
For example, if the joint bank account is a checking account for general household expenses, you’ll want to agree on how much each joint account holder will deposit each month and by what date. In addition, you’ll need to agree on a monthly budget for variable expenses like food and entertainment, if the joint bank account will be used for these types of expenses. You can also agree on total spending boundaries so that you never overdraft the account or lose sight of your financial goals and overspend.
Final thoughts on what you need to open a joint bank account
Usually, after gathering documents you’ll need about half an hour or less at the bank. Some banks may let you fill out an online application. As long as your partner has similar financial goals and expectations, opening a joint bank account can simplify account management and clarify spending.
What are the requirements for a joint account?
Requirements for a joint bank account vary by business, but generally, the requirements are the same as a regular checking account. You’ll need an ID, proof of address, an SSN or TIN, proof of residence or visa for non-U.S. citizens, and a minimum deposit.
Can you open a joint bank account without being married?
Yes, you can open a joint bank account without being married. It can be a convenient option for couples living together or business co-owners.
Is it hard to open a joint account?
No, it is not difficult to open a joint bank account. You’ll need to prepare documentation including a valid ID, proof of address, and your SSN, but then opening a joint bank account should only take a few minutes.