Getting a joint account
Should I Get a Joint Account with my Partner?
A joint account can be a convenient way to manage shared expenses with someone you live with, for example a partner, spouse or housemate. However, it’s important to understand how joint accounts work and the pros and cons before you go ahead.
How Does A Joint Account Work?
A joint account can be opened in the same way as an individual bank account and they operate in much the same way, with the same protection from the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme). The difference is that the account is set up in two or more names, and all account holders are able to access the money in the account. You can set up the mandate so that more than one person needs to agree to withdrawals on the account if you want the extra security.
Any interest paid on a credit balance is split 50/50 between both account holders and will count towards each of your Personal Savings Allowance (this is the amount of savings interest you can earn tax free each year).
Similarly, if you have an overdraft facility each account holder is jointly responsible for paying back any money borrowed.
What Are the Pros?
- A joint account can be a simple way of managing shared household expenses. Each partner pays in an agreed amount, and all the household expenses are paid out.
- Having a joint account and agreement between both parties on how it is used can reduce disagreements related to money between partners or housemates.
- You can use a joint account to have your wages paid into, and set up Direct Debits and standing orders in exactly the same way as you would with an individual account.
What Are the Cons?
- As soon as you open a joint bank account with someone, you are financially associated with them. This means that you can adversely affect each other’s credit rating, for example if one of you has poor credit or defaults on a credit agreement.
- You are jointly responsible for paying back an overdraft debt. So, if the other account holder goes into the overdraft without your knowledge, you will be liable for half of the amount owed. Banks can even take money from one of the account holder’s sole accounts to cover an overdraft in a joint account.
- Both account holders have visibility of all transactions. If you require some privacy about elements of your spending, it is best to also keep a sole account for personal use.
What Happens If We Separate?
If the separation is amicable and you can agree on what should happen with any money in the joint account, you can go through the process of closing the account with your bank.
If there is disagreement or a dispute about who is entitled to what, you can freeze the account so that no one (including you) can access the account or withdraw money until an agreement is reached.
Remember that you will still be financially associated with your now ex-partner, so you should contact credit reference agencies to break the association and remove them from your credit file. You will only be able to do this once your joint account is closed.
Is a Joint Account a Good Idea?
Only you can answer that, once you’ve weighed up the pros and cons. If you don’t think it’s the right move for you it is still possible to split costs of living together equally. For example, you could agree which bills each of you pays from your sole accounts, or one of you could pay the other 50% of the shared costs each month.