Opening a joint bank account
Thinking of taking the plunge and opening a joint bank account together? We’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand everything you need to know about joint accounts and make the best decision for you.
What is a joint bank account?
Simply, joint accounts are regular bank accounts that can be accessed by more than one person.
They tend to be shared by married couples, but you don’t have to tie the knot to open a joint account. Unmarried couples, civil partners, and flatmates are just a few examples of people who set up accounts together.
Instead of separating who’s paying for what or moving money between accounts to pay for joint bills and expenses, opening a joint account could help to keep things simple.
All those named on the joint account have the option to transfer money in and out. Whether this is to pay the bills, withdraw cash or make card payments, it’s really up to you.
The benefits of a joint account
There are plenty of advantages to sharing a bank account – especially if you live together and share day-to-day living expenses. Here are just a few ways joint accounts can simplify your spending:
Everything is in one place - Things can get complicated when money is going in and out of multiple accounts for different things. A joint account could help keep you both on track.
You set the amount - Rather than sending money to each other for bills every month, you can make regular payments into your joint account either online, via mobile, or in branch. Best of all, you set the amount you pay in each month so you can spend within your budget.
You manage it together - With both of you in control, you can manage your finances together. This keeps things fair and makes sure you’re both in the know about your joint financial situation.
Do we both have to pay our salaries into a joint account?
You don't have to, but you can if you want to. You might want to keep the current accounts you both already have, then set up a separate joint account that you both pay a pre-agreed amount into.
Can you open a joint account if you’re not married?
Yes. You don’t even have to live at the same address, but if you are planning on moving in together, you could open one before you do to help furnish your new home, for instance. You could also use a joint account to save for your wedding, honeymoon, or other milestones. However, you don’t need to be a couple to open a joint account, which is why flatmates often open one to keep on top of bills.
How do I open a joint bank account?
The process of setting up a joint account is much the same as opening a standard account, as long as you’re both over 18 and both meet the requirements for a single account.
Here’s what you’ll generally need, although bear in mind it may differ from bank to bank:
- Proof of ID – this can be a passport or a photocard driving licence.
- Proof of address – this can be a bank statement or utility bill and needs to be less than three months old.
- A healthy credit rating – you’ll both be ‘co-scored’ when you apply to open a joint account, so it’s best not to go ahead until both your credit ratings are in shape.
Things to consider when opening a joint account
With a joint bank account comes joint responsibility. This means if one of you creates any debt on the joint account, the other party would also be liable.
As mentioned above, it’s important to remember you will be ‘co-scored’ when you open a joint account, so if one of you has a bad credit history, it could affect the other. If you’re thinking of setting up a joint account with a flatmate you’ve just met, make sure you know a little bit more about their credit history before applying to avoid being rejected.
Any party with access to the account can make withdrawals and set up Direct Debits and Standing Orders, so it’s worthwhile agreeing in advance how you want to manage this. It’s a good idea to set some ground rules for what you’ll be using the account for, so there’s no disagreements further down the line.
You might be using this account to put money aside for bills. However, we all know bills have a sneaky habit of going up, so make sure you’re paying enough into the account to handle a sudden spike in any of your Direct Debits.
We’d also recommend having a conversation around what will happen to the joint account if you decide to go your separate ways. It might be a tricky conversation, but definitely worth having early on. If there is a dispute between both parties, we’d recommend closing the account straight away until you’ve reached a settlement.
Is a joint bank account right for us?
Only you can answer that one. Now you know the main reasons for opening a joint account, you should have a better idea if it works for you and how you see yourselves managing your money together. If you’re both willing to take on the responsibility that comes with a joint account, it can be an easier way to keep on top of bills and save for life’s big events together.