Checking Accounts

Should you open a joint bank account with your partner?

Couple looking at phone and computer with dog next to them

Whether you’re newlyweds or long-term partners, one of the biggest questions people often ask is if they should have a joint bank account with their significant other. Money can be a touchy subject, especially in relationships, but it’s necessary to ensure you’re on the same page. Money is the number one subject couples fight about, and it’s the second-leading cause of divorce. Every couple’s situation is different, but below are a few points to contemplate if you’re on the fence about opening a joint bank account.

Why have a joint bank account?

Joint accounts can make managing money easier when your funds are in one place, especially if you’re using it to pay for bills like a mortgage, rent, or utilities. It also makes sense to have a shared account if you’re saving for a common goal, like a down payment on a house or a vacation.

Joint accounts also promote trust and shared decision-making. Spending can be viewed by both parties, plus you’re working together to budget your money and make decisions about your finances.

In addition, each account holder is federally insured by the NCUA (or FDIC outside of credit unions) for $250,000—a total of $500,000 if there are two account owners and no other beneficiaries. This allows you to maximize your NCUA insurance. For example, if you have an individual CD in addition to a joint checking account, your CD is still entitled to $250,000 in NCUA insurance—meaning all of your deposits are insured up to $750,000.

When joint accounts don’t make sense

A joint account may not be the best choice if you have drastically different spending habits. If one person is a spender and the other is a saver, it could potentially lead to conflict. In that case, consider opening a joint account for bills only and have individual accounts for your “fun” money.

A shared account is also not ideal if one partner has significant debt. With separate accounts, you can ensure the more financially responsible partner is protected if debt collectors come knocking on your door. If you have a joint account with rights of survivorship (which is common), then the responsibility of the account is placed on one partner if the co-owner passes away. Your account could be seized for that debt, depending on where you live.

Lastly, if one partner is paying alimony or child support, separate accounts may be best to keep track of those payments.

What to consider before opening a shared account

Some serious (and maybe not-so-fun) conversations must happen before you dive into joint account ownership. In addition to considering each other’s spending habits, you should evaluate how you communicate. Strive for open conversations and transparency with your spending and budgeting.

It’s important to take your partner’s funds into account, too, because it’s no longer just your money. For example, it’s probably a good idea to inform each other of big purchases that you need (or want) to make, like a new gaming console or home improvements. Discuss how the funds will be used, as well as whether or not you can afford it in the first place. Consider agreeing to an amount you can spend without consulting the other person (still keep your spending in check, though).

How to open a joint account

Opening a joint account is easy. You can open an account online or in person at your nearest Georgia’s Own branch. You’ll need your and your partner’s Social Security number, birthdate, mailing address, and ID, plus how you’ll fund the account.

Pros and cons of shared accounts

Pros

  • Reduces the hassle of paying bills when your funds are in one place
  • Allows you to save toward a goal together
  • Promotes trust and shared decision-making
  • Each account holder is NCUA insured up to $250,000—a maximum of $500,000 for two account holders

Cons

  • You could potentially be responsible for a partner’s debt
  • Less privacy surrounding your spending
  • Both of your spending needs to be accounted for

Whether or not to open a joint bank account is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on your circumstances and your relationship with your partner. If you’re considering opening a joint account, have an open and honest conversation about your spending habits, financial goals, and communication style.

Still on the fence? Consider speaking with a financial advisor to get personalized advice. You can meet with a financial advisor from Georgia’s Own at no cost and no obligation to discuss your situation and determine what’s best for you.

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