Pros and cons of joint accounts
Can cover joint bills together
You can both check and run it
Avoid arguments over missed bills
Keeps joint spending separate
You have to trust the other person
Could damage your credit record
Complicated if you fall out
Overdraft could get you into debt
What is a joint bank account?
It works the same way as a normal current account but is held in the names of two or more people who can use it.
They are usually taken out by people who live together like couples, housemates or family members. You could all pay money into a joint account and use it to pay shared bills like:
Mortgage or rent payments
Utility bills like gas, electricity and water
Entertainment, like TV subscriptions
Some banks only let you open a joint account with one other person, but some let you have four or more people named on a bank account. You can usually open them with anyone: you do not need to be married to or living with the other account holder.
In England and Wales, the money belongs equally to everyone named on the account if they all pay into it or are married. In Scotland, the money belongs to whoever paid it in.
Decide on who can make withdrawals
You can sometimes set up a mandate on the account, which specifies who can run it. You can choose between:
Either to sign: Anyone named on the account can make changes or spend the money in it.
Both to sign: Any changes to the account, spending or withdrawals need the permission of both account holders.
Most current accounts have an either to sign mandate and come with a debit card for each person, meaning either of you could spend the money in the account.
Most banks send statements to everyone on the account, but some let you choose a lead account holder who receives the statements and can make some changes to the account.
If you want to make a change to the overdraft you need everyone on the account to agree to it. Changes to personal details like an account holder's surname or address can usually be made by that person.
What they cost
They come with the same charges as sole accounts, including:
Failed direct debits fees
Annual or monthly fees for keeping open some packaged accounts
If you manage your account carefully, you should be able to use it for free. Here are all the costs that come with current accounts and how to avoid having to pay them.
They could also cost you money if another account holder spends too much, which could:
Use up some or all of the money in your account
Leave you in your overdraft, which means you owe money to your bank
Mean you have to pay interest on what you owe
Mean you have to pay fees if you exceed your overdraft limit
If this happens, both you and your joint holders are responsible for paying it back and for any fees. If you have a sole account with the same bank, they could even take money from it to cover what you owe on the joint account.
HM Revenue & Customs are also able to take funds from your joint account if the other person owes them unpaid taxes.
How they affect your credit record
If you hold a joint account with someone else, their financial history becomes linked to yours.
If they have had debt problems in the past or miss repayments in the future, this could put lenders off offering you a loan, mortgage, overdraft or credit card even in your sole name.
This is because any form of borrowing shows up on your credit record, including a current account if it has an overdraft.
They can still show on your credit record after you close the account. Here is how to remove a financial association with someone once you no longer hold any accounts with them.
What protection can you get?
The money you hold in your bank account is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. It can protect up to £85,000 per person named on a joint account.
For example, if you held an account jointly with your partner, up to £170,000 in your accounts with that banking group would be protected if your bank went bust.
How to get a joint bank account
You can apply for a joint account in the same way as getting a bank account by yourself:
Compare joint accounts using our comparison
Decide on the best joint account by working out which features you need
Apply online, in a branch, by phone or by post
Decide if you want everyone to sign to make withdrawals or just one of you
Provide any identification documents the bank asks for
Start using your account
How to work out which features you need
You can get almost any current account jointly with someone else. When you choose an account, decide which of the following you need:
Direct debits and standing orders
A debit card for each account holder
A cheque book
Rewards or cashback on your spending or bill payments
How to use your joint account
How to withdraw money
If everyone on the account can operate it individually, you can withdraw money by:
Getting cash from an ATM
Paying on your debit card
Setting up a standing order or direct debit
Writing a cheque
Withdrawing cash in a branch
Sending a bank transfer using internet banking
However, you cannot use all of these if you set up the account so everyone needs to sign for any transaction.
For example, your bank could only let you write cheques if they are signed by both of you, or authorise online transactions with both of your passwords.
How to keep track of your balance and transactions
Any account holders can track the transactions and balance at any time. You can do this by:
Signing into your internet banking and checking the statement
Checking your monthly paper statement or requesting one by post
Phoning your bank
Checking your balance at an ATM
Receiving balance updates by text message
How to remove a joint holder
You can remove one or more people from a joint account and leave it in the name of the remaining account holders. For example:
If you have an account with your partner, you could transfer it into just their name or yours
If you have an account with three housemates and one moves out, you could remove them from the account
Banks need signed permission from everyone on the account to remove someone, and some ask for identification documents or for you to visit a branch as well.
If you can agree on who the money in the account belongs to, you could withdraw it, share it out and then close the account or transfer it into just one of your names.
If the separation is less amicable, you can ask your bank to freeze the account until you can reach an agreement or even settle it in court. Here is how to separate your finances from an ex partner.
The account will pass into the name of the surviving account holder once you have contacted the bank and given them a copy of the death certificate.
However, if the deceased person paid in most of the money into the account, it could be part of their estate. This means it may need to be taxed or given to someone else like the beneficiary named in their will. You may need to get financial advice or appoint a solicitor.
How to add someone to your account
You need to provide the bank with:
Signed permission from the existing account holder
Full name, address and other personal details of the new person as well as their signature
Any identification documents they need from the new account holder
Some banks need you both to visit a branch to provide identification and complete their paperwork.
How to close a joint account
Most banks need a request to close the account to come from all the account holders. You usually need to request this in a branch or in writing.