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By Heritage Bank on September 28, 2022
3 minute read

Should Married Couples Have Separate Bank Accounts?

For many couples, walking down the aisle means new adventures are just on the horizon, many of which will involve shared expenses. This may include paying rent or a mortgage, weekly groceries, utilities, starting a family or sharing the expenses of a blended family—you name it.

 As you begin your new life together, and start planning for the future, you might wonder if opening up a joint bank account is in your best interest.

 Before you can decide, let's first review what a joint bank account is and how it works.

What is a Joint Bank Account?

Simply put, a joint bank account is a shared checking or savings account between two people. That means each individual has full access to the account in terms of transferring money, depositing checks, making withdrawals, etc.

 Although joint accounts are popular among married couples, they can also be opened between family members, business partners and other individuals of your choosing, such as a roommate.

How Do You Open a Joint Bank Account?

If you've ever opened your own checking or savings account, the experience of opening a joint account is very similar.

 You can walk into your local community bank and ask to open a joint account. In most cases, you’ll receive your debit cards the same day. Both parties opening the account will be required to provide personal information, including a driver's license and social security number.

In-person applications may seem less convenient, but showing up in person presents a great opportunity to ask questions about how the account will work and what features you can access to make banking simpler and safer. It is also an opportunity to start a relationship with a banker. Even if you do most of your banking online, it’s always a good idea to know a banker by name in the event you do need to speak directly to a banker.

 If you can’t both make it to the bank during operating hours, many banks also offer online account opening. Be prepared to upload documents verifying your identities. It may be a few days before the account becomes active. Debit cards will be mailed to your residence.

 Pros and Cons of a Joint Bank Account

As every married couple can appreciate, paying bills can be a lot easier if the money is all in one place. But there are a few pros and cons of opening a joint account that you'll need to consider.

 Benefits of Opening a Joint Bank Account

There are many ways couples agree to manage expenses. In many marriages, each person agrees to pay for certain expenses. You each need to be confident the other will pay his or her set of bills on time or both of your credit scores could be impacted.

 In some marriages, each partner agrees to cover a list of specific expenses, but one partner may rely on the other to contribute something each month toward utilities or a mortgage, or to pitch in for larger, occasional bills like home insurance or airline tickets for vacation. If that’s the arrangement you choose, you have some banking arrangements to consider.

      • Do you both currently use the same bank for your primary checking and savings? If so and you choose to retain separate accounts but split the bills, you might need to remind one another to transfer funds back and forth to ensure each of you has the funds to cover the expenses each has agreed to pay.

      • Are you currently banking at separate institutions? How often will you need to transfer money to your spouse through Zelle(R), write personal checks or hand over cash. You could wait for the check to clear or pay Zelle(R) a certain percentage to have the money in your account instantly. But what if your car insurance bill is due the next day or you are trying to cut expenses?

With a joint bank account, paying bills becomes simpler because all bills are paid out of one account. It’s also easier to monitor spending versus your household budget over time.

Disadvantages of a Joint Account

The biggest challenge of opening a joint account is trust. It takes two people who trust each other and share the same values about managing money for a joint account to work.

 You may be an expert at managing your finances and budgeting on your own. However, with a joint account, you'll need to ensure you and your partner are on the same page about money. Also, if one person enters the marriage with delinquent bills, creditors can access your joint account to collect.

 Of course, getting comfortable with each other’s money management and attitudes toward spending is part of a successful marriage, so a joint account will force you to work together on budgeting and paying bills from day one.

 What About a Compromise?

Compromising is another key factor in happy marriages. Many couples who decide to open joint accounts also maintain separate accounts. The joint account allows the couple to earn, save and spend as a team, covering the major expenses together. The separate accounts allow each person to reserve some money to cover costs for hobbies, outings and shopping splurges their spouses don’t share and might not consider worthwhile expenses.

Ready to Start a Joint Account? 

If you've reviewed the pros and cons and think you might be ready to open a joint account, Heritage Bank can help start the process.

 As a community bank, we enjoy getting to know our customers beyond their account numbers and deposits. Our bankers are interested in understanding where you are in life now as well as what you’re striving for next.

 We’ve helped tens of thousands of your neighbors buy a home, remodel their kitchens, finance a used car or boat, manage unexpected medical bills, adjust to the expenses associated with parenthood, save for dream vacations and retire comfortably.

 We’d love to get acquainted with you, too.


Published by Heritage Bank September 28, 2022