A joint bank account is a type of shared account that gives you and another person full access to deposited money and banking features in one place.
This type of account can be a convenient tool if you need to manage money with a family member, businessperson or partner. In the latter case, a joint account can be helpful for a couple “if there’s inequality in terms of one person earning more money than the other person,” said Rita-Soledad Fernández Paulino, a personal finance coach who goes by “Soledad” and the founder of Wealth Para Todos. “Having two people on the account can create some equality,” she added.
No matter your reason for opening a joint checking account, experts don’t recommend putting all of your cash into a joint checking account. Doing so hinders your financial autonomy.
Read on to discover the best joint bank accounts.
Comparing the best joint bank accounts
|Bank||APY||Minimum deposit requirement||Minimum balance requirement||Monthly fee||Physical locations|
|Ally Interest Checking||0.10% to 0.25%||$0||$0||$0||No|
|Alliant High-Rate Checking||0.25%||$5||$0||$0||No|
|Capital One Money Teen Checking||0.10%||$0||$0||$0||Yes|
|Wells Fargo Everyday Checking||N/A||$25||$0||$10 (can be waived)||Yes|
|Connexus Xtraordinary Account||Up to 1.75%||$5||$0||$0||Yes|
More details on the best joint bank accounts
What is a joint checking account and how does it work?
A joint checking account is a bank account for two or more people. Usually, joint accounts work best for couples, business partners, close family members or parents and children. Although a joint checking account has two account holders, it functions like a standard one.
“You can open joint accounts at most banks and most big banks,” said Bola Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance. “When it comes to joint accounts, it’s just confirming that both of you are going to have access.”
In most cases, both account holders have equal access to the account to transfer and deposit cash or handle other banking services. However, depending on the account, parents often have complete control over spending limits and other features on their child’s account.
It’s important to note that both account holders are responsible for the account — including any fees you incur.
“You are both liable for the consequences of overdrafts, fees and other financial obligations as it pertains to this account,” said Shang Saavedra, founder and CEO of Save My Cents. So, holding each other accountable for transactions and spending thresholds is crucial to keep the account in good standing.
How to find the best joint account
Before you settle on a bank, it’s important to review multiple joint checking accounts at different banks to find the right fit for your financial needs. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing your account.
FDIC or NCUA insurance
Most banks and credit unions are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration, respectively. Each account holder is protected for up to $250,000 per person, per account. So a joint account that is FDIC- or NCUA-insured typically receives coverage for up to $500,000 ($250,000 per account holder).
Some banks charge additional fees that can eat away at your balance. For example, you may overdraft your account if your partner makes an unexpected expense. If you’re sharing the account, you’ll need to communicate and keep an eye on the account to stay on top of any account charges.
Here are a few fees to look out for:
- Insufficient funds.
- Monthly maintenance (or service) fees.
- Overdraft fees.
- Out-of-network ATM fees.
- Wire transfer fees.
You may avoid some of these costs by choosing an account with low or no fees, like Ally’s high-yield checking account. Some joint bank accounts also waive fees if you meet specific requirements. For example, Wells Fargo waives its monthly maintenance fee if you have a $500 minimum daily balance, at least $500 in direct deposits or meet other requirements.
If you need to deposit or withdraw cash often, make sure you have access to in-network ATMs in your area or select a joint checking account with no or low ATM fees. Most banks and credit unions have in-network ATMs to avoid paying extra for ATM use. Out-of-network ATMs usually charge a few dollars, but some banks waive these fees up to a certain amount. If both account holders need to withdraw cash from ATMs regularly, the fees can add up, so an account with a higher ATM rebate may make sense.
Digital or mobile banking
Mobile or online banking can be helpful when both account holders need to access the account from anywhere. Most banking apps are free and can handle basic services, such as depositing checks, transferring money and more. Joint bank accounts generally have separate logins for each person to manage the shared account and other individual accounts, such as savings or credit card accounts.
Online vs. in-person banking
Make sure you and the other account holder are comfortable accessing and managing money at the bank you choose. Traditional brick-and-mortar banks offer the benefit of in-person banking, but online banks generally offer higher yields and fewer fees because they have lower overhead costs. Consider what you need from a bank, whether that be in-person assistance or the ability to bank from anywhere, and compare your options before opening an account.
Most banks offer features that make managing the account and the expectations easier for both account holders. Soledad recommends setting up text alerts for both account owners when setting up a joint account or committing to consistent money dates where you review your transactions together. That way you and your partner stay in touch on recent spending to avoid any financial confusion.
With a joint checking account, it’s best to have clear expectations, said Soledad. “That means discussing when money can be withdrawn from the account, how much and the process for withdrawing the money in the account,” said Soledad. You and your partner may also clarify if there’s a certain threshold you shouldn’t exceed without talking first.
How to open a joint checking account
Once you narrow down your preferred bank and account, it’s time to apply. You can generally apply for a joint checking account online or in-person, depending on the bank. You’ll need a few documents from both account holders to get started, including:
- A government-issued ID or passport.
- Social Security card or Tax Identification Number.
- Proof of your address.
- Phone number and email.
Some banks require a minimum deposit amount to open an account. If so, check the approved methods, such as ACH, wire transfer or cash.
Usually, you’ll open a joint account the same way you’d open a traditional checking or savings account. When filling out your application, you’ll check a box that asks if you want to add a co-owner, joint owner or additional account holder. That lets the bank know to list two people on the account instead of one. From there, you’ll be asked to provide select information about the co-owner to add them. When applying, it’s important to make sure the account is set up properly, said Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance.
“Make sure it has both of your names on the account,” Sokunbi added. That way, both of you will be able to make deposits, withdrawals and do anything related to the account without the other person’s permission, she said.
Should you get a joint bank account with your partner or spouse?
“For couples who would like to have more transparency into each others’ money lives, having a joint checking account makes it easier for you to be able to see when money is being added and spent,” said Saavedra, founder and CEO of Save My Cents. This is especially true if you plan to fund and pay all of your bills from the account.
But even if the account is primarily for paying bills, it’s best to think about any other goals for joining finances before opening one together. It may be to hold each other accountable for spending or to more easily pay bills. Regardless of the reason, both partners will need to track money coming in and going out to keep the account in good standing. And if you’re unaware of how each person spends money, merging finances like this for the first time will create a learning curve, said Saavedra.
It’s also important to be really clear with expectations around the purpose of the account and how to access it in order to minimize conflict, added Soledad. Not having money conversations regularly can be detrimental, especially if your goals aren’t aligned.
“It is so important, before you decide to manage your finances with another person, for you to be very clear about your own financial wounds, your own money goals and your own money beliefs,” said Soledad. For instance, one person may want to set aside money for early retirement while the other person may choose to put more money in sinking funds to travel more now. Not being aligned while sharing funds could make it hard to manage money together, Soledad said.
Alternatives to joint checking accounts
If you don’t want to have a joint checking account, you can have individual checking accounts. But you’ll be the only person who can withdraw and deposit money.
You may also choose only to have a joint account for certain expenses, such as rent, bills or shared expenses like groceries.
While joint accounts can make it easy to see your complete financial picture, individual checking accounts also have their benefits, including autonomy. You may want to keep your savings or extra money you’re not ready to combine in another account to maintain your financial independence. For example, you can deposit part of your paycheck into your shared account and the rest into an individual checking or savings account. Or you can simply move money to a joint checking account as needed.
“There’s a lot of couples who don’t even have their money intertwined,” said Soledad, who was previously in relationships where money and accounts were kept separate. “Our values weren’t aligned when it came to spending money, so a joint account would just create more issues,” she said.
Have an open and honest discussion about how you plan to manage your individual and combined expenses, and consider your individual needs to decide if a joint account makes sense. If so, discuss how you plan to use the account to find the right one for your needs.
Pros and cons of a joint banking account
A joint bank account can be a good way to combine paychecks and manage money in one place. But there are also some disadvantages to sharing finances.
Potential to earn more in interest by keeping a higher balance
How we research banks
More than two dozen options were examined across a broad range of categories in both traditional and online-only banks and credit unions to determine these picks for the best joint checking accounts. First, we required all selections to be either FDIC or NCUA-insured. We also prefer banks with low or no minimum balance or deposit requirements. We also looked closely at account fees, favoring those with no fees or lower barriers to maintaining an account. We also looked at online features, availability, ATM access and overdraft protection. Lastly, we considered accounts that earn APY, welcome bonuses and other perks.
The banks, credit unions and neobanks we reviewed include: Alliant, Ally Bank, Axos, Bank of America, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, BMO Harris, Capital One, Chase, CIT Bank, Citi, Connexus, Discover Bank, LendingClub, Liberty Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Presidential Bank, Quontic Bank, Regions Bank, SoFi, TD Bank, TIAA (now EverBank) and Wells Fargo.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.