A joint checking account is a bank account owned by two or more people. It allows those parties to share equally in all the privileges and duties of account ownership. Anyone from business partners to spouses, co-parents, or even an adult child looking after their aging parent could benefit from the convenience of a joint bank account.
How do joint checking accounts work?
Joint checking allows anyone with their name on the account to make cash deposits, deposit or cash checks, withdraw money, or use a debit card associated with the account for point-of-sale purchases or at ATMs. Unlike an individual checking account, a joint account has more than one name on all statements, checks, and documents.
10 Best Joint Bank Account
We researched many of the most popular online only and traditional banks that offer joint accounts, evaluating the criteria above, as well as current interest rates, monthly maintenance fees, and sign-up offers.
If you’re okay with online banking, online banks often provide many cost-saving advantages over traditional banks. For instance, Ally Bank has a savings account with a 4.25% annual percentage yield, regardless of how little or how much money you keep in the account.
Capital One 360 Performance Savings or 360 Checking accounts make it easy to add a new account holder to an existing account or to open a joint account together.
Best known for personal loans, the LendingClub Bank is an online only bank that provides FDIC insured joint savings and checking accounts, plus cash back when you use your debit card.
Wells Fargo offers the perfect joint bank account for those who prefer a traditional bank and want the convenience of in-person banking at one of 4,700 branches across the U.S. plus 12,000 fee-free ATMs.
An online only bank that offers joint accounts, including one for teens, Axos Bank is highly rated by many review sites as the best for online banking. The bank offers five of the best joint checking accounts on our list, including Essential Checking for those who are looking for early direct deposit.
When you open a joint account at Bank of America, both parties will need to fill out and sign the application. This is not unusual, as it is for the safety and security of both account holders.
Most people think of Discover for their high-quality cash back rewards credit cards. But Discover also has a full suite of banking products, including some of the best joint checking accounts you will find. You can only open their Cashback Debit Account online.
Presidential Bank is a smaller bank with assets of $550 million. It claims to be the first bank in the U.S. to offer bank accounts online in 1995.
When you’re looking for the best joint accounts, you have a choice between a bank or a credit union. Based on our research, Alliant offers the best joint checking accounts from a credit union.
What makes the best joint checking account?
When you’re thinking about choosing the best bank, joint account features matter if you want a shared account between yourself and a partner, a spouse, or even your children. Here are some things to keep in mind.
ATM network or generous ATM-fee reimbursement program
The best joint checking account should have a large ATM network where you can check balances and withdraw and deposit money with no fees. For example, Wells Fargo, which makes our list, has 12,000 fee-free ATM locations.
Smaller banks or online banks may not have as many ATM options, but some will offer reimbursement of ATM fees if you use an out-of-network ATM.
Minimum Balance Requirements
Keeping a certain amount of money in your joint bank account can cause unnecessary stress. Look for a joint account with low or no minimum balance requirements. That way, even if your partner pulls out money, and you don’t realize it, you won’t get hit with fees or even have your joint account closed.
Availability and convenience
When you’re choosing a bank or credit union, you want to select a financial institution that is convenient to use. For many people, this means opening a joint account with easy online checking. Other people might look for a bank with plenty of local branches.
Some joint checking accounts, including Discover and LendingClub, offer rewards for using your debit card. Not all joint bank accounts offer rewards, so if this is important to you, review or list carefully to find one that does.
All funds held in joint checking accounts at federal banks are insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per account, by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. Similarly, joint accounts at credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Association, NCUA.
In addition to this federal protection, you want to make sure your joint account has all the usual security features, including:
- EMV chip cards
- Fraud alerts
- Easy debit card locking through an app
- SSL encryption for online banking
Should couples get a joint account?
A joint account can make it easier to manage your family’s personal finance, share in savings goals, and keep your activities in alignment with your priorities. But it may not be the best choice for every couple, family, or even business partners. Will a joint bank account work for you? Consider the answers to these questions first.
Do you have an individual account for your own personal goals?
Joint bank accounts may be convenient for couples or business partners with shared expenses. But if you don’t have any other bank account in your name, you may want to establish an individual account before opening a joint account.
If something happens to the relationship, you want to have access to your own funds. Plus, in any relationship, you may want to make sure you have spending money in a separate account to reach your goals, buy gifts for your significant other, or simply treat yourself.
Do you or the other account holder have debt?
When you start thinking about opening a joint checking account, you should be aware that creditors, including the IRS, can garnish joint savings and checking accounts for unpaid debt.
If one partner has a lot of debt, you may want to reconsider opening a joint account. Runaway debt could be a sign they are bad with money and not responsible enough to handle a joint checking account. If they have unpaid, overdue debt or tax debt, you are putting your money at risk of garnishment in a joint account.
Separate vs. Joint Savings?
If you aren’t comfortable opening a joint checking account, you might consider a joint savings account for shared goals. You may want to save for a:
- Family vacation
- Emergency household expenses
- Back-to-school expenses
- Wedding or other big event
Pros and Cons of Joint Bank Accounts
If you’re still debating whether to open a joint bank account with a partner, consider these pros and cons:
- Ability to save money together and track your goals
- Stick to a budget more easily when both parties can track spending
- Pay for shared household or child care expenses out of a joint account
- Fewer money transfers
- Keep tabs on household spending
- Gives both parties equal control over household finances
- One partner may spend outside the family’s means, leaving the account short of money for necessities
- Chance of overdraft fees if partners aren’t aware of each other’s spending
- Joint accounts can be garnished for unpaid debts
How to Open a Joint Account
Opening a joint account is easy at any of the financial institutions listed above. At a traditional bank, both parties typically need to show up with ID. You can deposit money in the form of cash or a check from another bank account. Both account holders usually need to sign the application forms and leave a copy of their ID on file at the bank.
To open a joint account online, both account holders will be asked to provide their Social Security number or tax ID number. You will also need a form of government ID such as a driver’s license, date-of-birth for both parties, and a current address for both parties.
How to Close a Joint Checking Account
You may want to close a joint checking account if your relationship (business or personal) has ended, or if your partner has unpaid debt or legal obligations that could result in garnishment.
If you’re paying monthly fees for an account you don’t need, you may want to close your account.
Closing a joint checking account typically does not require consent or authorization from both parties. You can close a joint account by removing any money in the account and then requesting the bank to close the account.
If the account is in overdraft, you’ll need to first bring it current by making a deposit. You may be able to close a joint account in any one of several ways, depending on your bank:
- Online: Close an account online by connecting with customer service through chat or email, or through a process on the website.
- Mail: You can send a request in writing to close an account.
- Phone: Call a customer service representative for your bank to close the account easily from home.
- In a Branch: Most traditional banks allow you to close an account by visiting the branch. ID may be required.
- Automatically: Some banks will close your account automatically if you’ve carried a zero balance for more than a few months. If closing the account isn’t urgent, this might be the easiest way. However, make sure your account doesn’t enter overdraft if you have it set up for automatic bill pay or other transactions.
Compare Joint Checking Account Options
When you’re exploring joint checking accounts, look for an account with low or no monthly fees, a convenient network of ATMs, and high customer service ratings. Speak to your partner about what’s important to them in a joint checking account to find a bank or credit union that offers the features most important to both account holders.