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Joint current accounts – what to consider

Joint current accounts – what to consider

A joint account can be a simple and effective way to pay shared finances, such as household bills. However, setting one up can be a big commitment – you can each see what the other is spending and you’re both responsible for any outstanding debts. Read our guide to see whether it’s a decision that’s right for you.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 24 OCTOBER 2019

What is a joint account?

You can set up a joint account like any other current account – some banks might let you do this online, while others will ask you to go into a branch and set it up in person. You’ll need proof of who you are and your address.

How do I set up a joint account?

You can set up a joint account like any other current account – some banks might let you do this online, while others will ask you to go into a branch and set it up in person. You’ll need proof of who you are and your address.

How many people can share a joint account?

A joint account is usually shared between two people. However, some banks allow up to four people to share an account – useful if you’re living in a shared house as a  student  or with a partner.

What are the benefits of a joint account?

Having a joint account to pay for household expenses, such as bills, food, rent or a mortgage, means you can keep track of your outgoings and budget more easily. Once you’ve paid in your agreed monthly amount, you’ll know exactly how much of your wages are left. You might want to put this amount into your own current account or a savings account.

What’s more, if all or both of you pay a set amount into the account each month, it helps to avoid arguments over who owes what! 

What are some of the disadvantages of a joint account?

With a joint account, someone else will have access to your money. And if you salary goes into the account, the other joint account holder will be able to see just how much you earn, and vice versa. The other account holder is also entitled to withdraw all of the money.

But it’s not just lack of financial privacy. You’re also binding yourself to another person who may or may not be as savvy with their money as you, and any bad credit experiences on that account will reflect badly on you too.

Can we all receive a debit card for the same joint account?

A bank can issue more than one debit card for the same account, for which the bank can charge an annual fee. However, some banks may issue identical cards with the same 16 digit number and CVV number (the 3 digit security number on the back of the card). It’s always good to check with your bank what your options are.  

With identical cards, you can return things and get a refund more effectively and build up loyalty points more easily (such as Nectar points). Cards with a different CVV and 16 digit number allow you to keep a close eye on individual transactions.

Some people use a joint account but don’t have debit cards; they simply use the account to set up direct debits and standing orders to pay off shared expenses. 

Who manages what with a joint account?

It’s up to you and your fellow account holder to decide who does what. What you agree on will be set out in a ‘joint account mandate’, which makes clear whether only one or all of you can withdraw cash, sign cheques or close the account. The mandate itself can be cancelled or amended, but you can agree whether only one or all or you control this. When it comes to debts, you’re all responsible. 

What happens if we start arguing over the joint account?

If your relationship with the other joint account holder(s) breaks down, then it’s important to cancel the joint account mandate as soon as possible. This essentially freezes the account so that no one can run off with all the money, although you can still deposit money. You’ll need to decide how you split what’s left in the account; if you can’t, then the courts will decide for you.

How much can each person withdraw from the joint account?

If you’re married to the other joint account holder, you’re both assumed to have an equal right to the money in there – no matter how much an individual put in. So if you put in £250 a month and your spouse £500, then you each have a right to all of it, even though you put in less.

If you aren’t married, have access to a joint account but don’t put money in it, then you don’t have an automatic right to the money – unless it can be proven that the account was intended for both of you to use, or a mandate is set up in place to be able to withdraw the money.

Comparing current accounts

Searching for a current account is the same whether you want a joint one or one just for you. You’ll need to compare benefits and consider whether you need an overdraft and if so, how much. The only difference is that with a joint account, you’ll both need to agree on what’s important. So let’s  start comparing.

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