Joint bank accounts

What is a joint bank account?

A joint bank account is a current account that you share with another person, usually someone you live with, for example, your spouse, partner or housemate. 

It offers a convenient way to manage shared household expenses like utility bills, rent and mortgage payments. 

You can compare joint current accounts with us in the same way you would a single account. Once you’ve looked at the pros and cons, and considered what would work best for you both, you can easily compare joint bank accounts from a range of UK providers.

How does a joint account work? 

Joint accounts often work like any other current account. The main difference is that there are two of you who are responsible for the income and outgoings of the account. 

  • You’ll each have your own debit card linked to the account and be able to make contactless payments, ATM withdrawals and set up direct debits and standing orders for regular payments.
  • You can choose to have individual bank accounts for personal spending and a separate joint account for shared household expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and the weekly shop – this could also make budgeting easier.
  • You’ll both need to undergo a credit check from the bank, so it’s a good idea to check your credit report and be honest about your finances to avoid your application being rejected.
  • You’ll both share responsibility for the account and any subsequent debts. So, if one of you overdraws on the account, you’ll both be responsible for paying back what’s owed.

How do I open a joint bank 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. Both of you will need proof of who you are and your address.

How many people can share a joint current 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 housemates. 

If you want to open a joint account with multiple account holders, check with the individual bank as some are only available between two parties.

What are the pros and cons of a joint bank account? 

Opening a joint account means you’ll be financially tied to another person, so it needs careful consideration. Before you decide if it’s the right choice for you, have a look at the potential advantages and disadvantages of a joint bank account.

Pros: 

  • Easier to keep track of household expenses like bills, food, rent or mortgage so you can budget more easily.
  • Two sets of income going into the account could earn you more interest than a sole account.
  • If you opt for a joint packaged bank account, you can enjoy extra perks and benefits while paying just one account fee.
  • If you each pay a set amount into the account each month, it helps to avoid arguments over who owes what.

Cons: 

  • Someone else has access to your money and they’re potentially entitled to withdraw all of it.
  • If the other account holder has a bad credit history, it could negatively impact your own credit rating.
  • If you’re financially tied to someone who isn’t as savvy with their money as you, it could cause friction in your relationship.
  • You’ll be jointly responsible for overdraft debt, so you could end up owing money you didn’t spend.

Will opening a joint bank account impact my credit score?

Opening a new bank account will usually lower your credit score at first, but this is common, and it should bounce back within a few months if you’re managing your finances responsibly. 

What will impact your credit score is how you use the account. If you enter your overdraft or can’t manage other debts tied to the account, this will impact your ability to secure new finance. And remember, you’re both responsible for the joint account. So, any debt your partner racks up will be tied to you as well, which means you’ll both be responsible for paying it off and both of your credit reports will be marked.

Who manages what with a joint bank 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 of you controls this or if all of you can. When it comes to debts, you’re all responsible. 

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 each of you puts 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 and 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.

If one of you withdraws or spends more than your account balance, you’ll both be held accountable for entering your arranged overdraft.

Can I open a joint credit account?

Yes, you can open a joint credit account. This is pretty normal for couples who have shared financial responsibilities. 

It can be useful because both of your credit ratings will be taken into account. So, if you have a low credit score but your partner’s is high enough, you may get access to credit that you might not otherwise qualify for. 

On the other hand, if one of you has a low credit score, you might be charged a higher interest rate or get a lower credit limit. 

Just remember, you’re both responsible for managing your credit account, so if one of you racks up a load of credit card debt, you’ll both be held accountable for paying it off and it will affect both of your credit ratings.

Author image Rob Silvey

What our expert says...

“A joint bank account is a convenient way of sharing and managing your day-to-day household finances with another person. The best joint bank account for you depends on your combined financial situation and how you plan to use the account. When comparing joint current accounts, you can check for features like cashback, rewards, interest rates and overdraft facilities, just as you would for a sole account.”

- Rob Silvey, Finances expert

Frequently asked questions

Is it illegal to have two current accounts?

No, it isn’t illegal to have two current accounts. You can open as many current accounts as you like – these could also be with different providers.

Can I have my own separate bank account as well?

There’s nothing stopping you from having your own separate bank account, as well as a joint account with another person. A joint account is useful for those with shared financial responsibilities, but you may want to keep your other earnings separate, for whatever reason.

You’re entitled to set up a personal account with the same account provider or go with another bank. 

It’s important to know that, if you have separate joint and personal accounts with the same bank, they can transfer money from the single account to the joint account, to cover any outstanding debts. However, they can’t move money from your joint account into a single account, without the consent of both joint account holders.

Can we each have our own debit card with a joint current account?

Yes, each account holder will receive their own debit card. Some banks may issue identical cards with the same 16-digit number and CVV number (the three-digit security number on the back of the card),    

With identical cards, you can return items and get a refund more effectively and build up loyalty points more easily. 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.

Can I open a joint bank account online?

Yes, you can open a joint bank account online, although not every bank offers this, so you might need to pop into a branch and set up the account in person. Once your account is up and running, you should have access to online banking and other digital features.

Can I access a joint bank account through mobile banking?

Yes, you should be able to access your joint account through your provider’s online banking or mobile banking app on different phones. This will allow both of you to access and manage your account online and on the go.

Can unmarried couples have a joint bank account?

You don’t need to be married to open a joint account. It’s important that you agree this together, to understand your responsibilities as a pair. If one of you overspends and the account ends up overdrawn, you’re both accountable for the debt and any relevant charges.

What happens if we start arguing over the joint account?

If your relationship with the other joint account holder(s) breaks down and you decide to separate, then it’s important to cancel the joint account mandate as soon as possible. This essentially freezes the account so no one can run off with all the money – although you can still make deposits. 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.

What will happen to our joint bank account if we separate?

Unless you both agree to close it, your joint account will remain active. However, if you don’t close the joint account when you split up, you’ll still be financially tied to your ex. This means that their credit rating will continue to affect your own and it could have an impact on your future applications for credit.

If you split up and both agree to close the account once done, you should contact the credit reference agencies and ask for a letter of disassociation. That way, your former partner’s credit rating can no longer affect yours in the future.

What happens if a joint account holder dies?

If one of the account holders dies, the money in the joint account will pass to the surviving person. The bank may ask to see the death certificate. The account can then be changed from a joint to a sole account or be closed at the request of the remaining account holder.

How do we close a joint bank account?

If you want to close your joint bank account, both parties must agree. You’ll need to pay back any outstanding overdraft debt, settle any regular payments on the account and either cancel direct debits and standing orders or move them to another account. 

If there’s dispute between you and the other person, you should cancel the joint account mandate immediately. This will freeze the account so neither of you can use it until the dispute’s been settled. 

You’ll then need to contact the bank and let them know you want to close your joint account. In most cases, they’ll want written consent from both of you before going ahead with the closure.

Is a joint account a good idea?

A joint account is a good idea if you and your partner trust each other and are willing to share the responsibility. It can make paying for joint outgoings, such as rent, a mortgage, household bills, etc. easier to manage and could prevent any confusion over who should be paying what. 

Just remember, you’re both responsible for the income and outgoings of the account, including any debt you may get into. So, make sure you’re both committed to using the account responsibly.

Can we get a joint savings account?

Setting up a joint savings account is a great idea if you’re looking to make a big purchase, like a house, together. It means you can work towards your goal together, with both of you able to deposit funds and contribute. You should have all the benefits of a single savings account, but simply with two, or even more, people.

However, you can’t open a joint ISA. The ‘I’ stands for ‘individual’, so there can only be one account holder. There aren’t any ISA options for a joint account.

Comparing joint current accounts

Searching for a current account is the same whether you want a joint account 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.