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Published on 8th February 2016

Choosing the Best Joint Account

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Forget the dozen red roses and romantic meal in a packed restaurant; you can even pass up the purchase of expensive jewellery. Nothing says I love, trust and am henceforth totally committed to you quite like entwining your finances with those of your partner. But before you get over excited and present your beloved with a passbook for a joint account this Valentine’s Day, read on to find out the advantages, disadvantages and realities of managing a bank account made for two. Are you ready?

What is a joint account?

A joint bank account allows two or more people to access the same account, with equal rights to draw and deposit money. As you’d expect, this type of account tends to attract married couples, those in civil partnerships and couples who are living together and have shared bills. If you live in a shared house, you may be considering opening a joint account with your housemates to cover joint bills. Whoever you set up an account with you will need to be very clear about what the potential consequences, what the money is to be used for and how the account is managed.

Compare the best accounts in the UK on our Smart Money People Bank Account Leaderboard!

What are the benefits of a joint account?

When you have shared financial commitments such as rent or a mortgage, utility bills, grocery shopping and perhaps even children, having a shared account makes servicing those joint commitments easier. There are no constant calculations of who owes what or quibbles about who’s turn it is to pay for takeaway or to foot the bill at a restaurant, your money is their money and vice versa.

If as a couple you’re looking to cut back on your spending or want to work towards a particular goal such as buying a house or perhaps saving for a wedding, a joint account can provide greater financial transparency. You can see how much money you both have coming in, what essential bills you are both paying and hopefully work out a budget that’s suited to your goals and individual finances.

By directing both of your monthly salaries into the same account, you should also benefit from increased compound interest if you have a positive balance by adding together what would have been two smaller balances. And if you’re worried you could be stung if anything goes wrong with your bank, it’s worth remembering that the Financial Services Compensations Scheme limit will be applied to both of you. This means your account is protected up to 150k rather than the new individual limit of 75k introduced on January 1st 2016.

What are the disadvantages of a joint account?

If you pay your money into a joint account you need to be able to rely on your partner to manage yours and their money effectively. If one of you is better at money management than the other or you disagree about each other’s spending habits, there is little you can do. If one person takes money out of the account without the other’s knowledge, there’s no way of forcing them to pay it back. When the account goes overdrawn you are equally responsible for the associated debt and you might find payment of your personal bills such as mobile phone bills is jeopardised by bad money management by your other half. With a joint account you are not just giving someone access to your money, you’re also giving them the potential to direct the use of that money themselves.

This leads us to one of the most important things to consider when you open a joint account; the credit histories of you and your partner will become linked. This means that if one partner has a poorer credit score than the other it may have a negative impact on the score of the other partner. With this in mind, it’s vital to be honest about your financial situations.

Reduced privacy is another often overlooked side product of sharing an account and transparency over spending isn’t always a good thing. If you have drastically different salaries it’s possible one of you may start resent the other’s spending or one of you may feel inadequate about your contribution to the pot. Itemised statements will also make it make it difficult to plan the giving of surprise gifts, so booking a romantic weekend away become even more of a stealth operation.

Before you open a joint account you may also want to explore ways you could maximise financial advantages by opening separate accounts and decide if the advantages of individual accounts outweigh the convenience of a joint bank account. Could holding separate bank accounts help you access better features such as a free fixed overdraft? Might you miss out on two attractive sums for opening an account? Or perhaps closing the account you are currently using will mean sacrificing free phone insurance and therefore increase your expenditure?

If you’re hoping to save towards buying a house together, would you be able to save more if you each opened a Help to Buy ISA, maximising the potential input of government funds? Take your time and explore all the options before you commit to a joint account. And, when you sign that mandate be aware of your dual accountability. You should strongly consider whether you would prefer an account that requires a co-signature from account holders for the drawing of cash.

Best Joint Account for Paying Bills

If you’re looking for an easier way to manage bills you both have to pay, most of the current accounts which have great rewards come up trumps with those who use them, for example, the Santander 123 Current Account.

Best joint account offers

Before you get started, make a note of your account essentials together such as any overdraft you’d like built in and search for the best joint bank account based on your requirements. You should also look out for added extras such as cashback for changing accounts.

With most joint accounts simply being current accounts with a secondary account owner, look to the best current account list in order to find the best offers around.  

Compare joint current accounts

If opening a joint bank account is the next romantic stop in your relationship, take a look at what real people had to say about their own accounts. Smart Money People features genuine customer reviews of joint accounts including the best joint bank accounts for young couples and the best joint bank accounts if you’re not married. Why not do some digging now?

Had a love or hate experience with your joint bank account? Let us know by leaving a review of your account.

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