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Joint Checking Accounts: Right For You?

If you haven’t considered opening a joint account to manage shared finances, it might be a good option for you under certain circumstances. Joint bank accounts aren’t just for married couples. There are many situations where it might work to each party’s advantage to merge rather than maintain separate accounts.

Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about opening an account with someone else.

Who Can Open A Joint Checking Account Together?

Just because opening a joint bank account is a big commitment, it doesn’t mean you are limited to starting one with a significant other. There are many different kinds of relationships where shared rather than individual accounts are preferable.

The important thing is that the relationship between each account holder is a trusting one, with open and functioning communication lines.

Elderly parents and adult children

Help aging parents with paying bills on time and managing their finances, especially when it comes to online banking, with which many seniors are not very comfortable or familiar.

Moreover, if the account is set up properly with a view to the long term, children can avoid drawn-out legal processes in the event of the parent’s death with instant access to the funds.

Parent and child

Teach your children about responsible spending habits and monitor their purchases when you open a checking account with them. Parents can quickly transfer money if funds are running low.

Business partners

If you’re willing to have some tough conversations, there can be benefits to sharing a checking account with your business partner. Those include:

  • Track transactions more easily
  • Conveniently categorize expenses
  • Shared understanding of cash reserves and cash flow
  • Simplified accounting
  • Business debit cards and credit cards can be issued from one account to which you both have access

Business partners must open business checking accounts since you should never mix business and personal finances. It complicates your tax situation and you could lose any business protections you enjoy.

Couples

When you live with someone that you trust and with whom you’re in a committed relationship, joint checking can be a good idea. It can make sense to pay shared expenses like groceries, utility bills, and rent from a common fund.

This shared account doesn’t mean you can’t have your own personal checking. In fact, you might want to hang onto it. Having a separate account can come in handy for a variety of reasons. For one thing, you can pay for gifts, surprises, and dates without worrying about spoilers!

When Is It A Bad Idea To Set Up A Joint Checking Account?

Any time money and personalities are involved, there’s risk: to the money, to the relationship, or both.

For one thing, there is the fact that neither partner can control the other’s access, meaning one person can deplete the funds. While this is a concern in nearly every situation, it can be a problem if you’re a parent who established joint checking with your child to teach them financial responsibility. They may get too used to relying on mom or dad to refill the account.

Additionally, if one account holder overdraws the account, both partners are on the hook for the fees. Creditors can also take funds from the joint account if one partner has unpaid debt issues.

Finally, the shared access to the account transaction history can be a problem if there are privacy and trust issues in the relationship.

Alternatives To Joint Accounts

If the idea of sharing an account makes sense to you, but you’re not sure about equal access, you may want to consider specialty accounts.

Teen checking accounts would be an example of a specialty account. These accounts come with limitations that prevent the kinds of problems that could arise from traditional joint checking.

Other examples include student and second chance checking accounts. Student checking accounts work similarly to teen checking accounts, with features like more lenient policies when students overdraft their accounts, and signup bonuses for new account holders.

Some financial institutions offer second chance checking. These accounts are designed especially for high-risk bank customers who have poor banking or credit histories. They present an opportunity for account holders to improve their credit and their banking history. While they typically come with limitations, banks and credit unions often offer terms and conditions that allow account holders to switch to traditional checking accounts.

Opening A Joint Checking Account

There can be benefits to sharing a checking account with someone in your family, or with whom you live or work. However, as we’ve seen, there can also be downsides.

If you’re considering this option, you’ll need to choose a joint account when you’re applying. You’ll need to present the bank or credit union with the personal information of each account holder. That means Social Security numbers, as well as addresses and birth dates.

Click below to get more details on the process:

What You'll Need to Open a Checking Account

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