When intertwining your finances with others, whether that’s your life partner, business partner, friend or your kid, you can use a joint checking account to make things easier and more convenient. The banks that offer these checking accounts set up the services to accommodate multiple account holders.If you’re looking for the best checking accounts, Benzinga researched and found the best joint checking accounts.
Best Overall: Ally Bank
Ally Bank is the best overall joint bank account because it makes it easy for people to set up and operate a joint account. While the bank is online-only, it offers helpful online and mobile apps that allow customers to completely manage their accounts. It also has a large network of free ATMs. The bank does not require a minimum deposit and pays interest rates of 0.10% for balances under $15,000 and 0.25% for balances above that. Ally Bank allows its customers to use a trust account to set up a joint account. The bank charges few fees and no monthly maintenance fee, making it the best overall joint online checking account on the market.
Best for Parents and Kids: Capital One
For parents who want to teach their kids how to handle finances, the joint checking account at Capital One is a great choice. It allows one adult and one child, who is as young as 8 years old, to open a joint checking account together. Each party to the account can access the app that manages the account, use the ATM card and, if the minor is older than 13, send money via Zelle. But the parent can block the child’s ability to conduct certain transactions and can see all the account activity. Parents can link their existing accounts to the Money Teen checking account to transfer allowances or babysitting fees. The biggest downside to this account is that owners can only use debit cards to make a purchase – no checks are issued on these accounts.
Best for Options: Axos Bank
Axos Bank offers three types of checking accounts, all appealing to different customers. The simplest is its Essential Checking account. The basic joint checking account offers no minimum balance, no monthly maintenance fee, no overdraft fees and unlimited ATM use. An added feature offered by this bank is its Direct Deposit Express that allows customers to have access to their paycheck deposit two days earlier than what is normal.
If you’re looking for high interest rates, the Rewards Checking account might be the right joint account for you. This account offers the best possible APY: 1.25%. To earn this interest rate, you will need to receive a direct deposit every month of at least $1,500 and use the account’s debit card ten or more times each month. Additionally, you will receive all the benefits that the Essential Checking account offers.
If you and your partner like the idea of cash back, check out the CashBack Checking account offered by Axos. You will receive 1.00% cash back on all debit card purchases that require a signature. You will also receive all of the benefits that the other joint accounts offer at this bank.
Best for Access to Branches: Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo offers all the benefits of a large, national bank including access to 4,900 branches and a large ATM network. Its Everyday Checking account is a great choice for joint accounts. To avoid the $10 monthly fee, you can maintain a daily balance of $500, have $500 in monthly qualifying direct deposits, be 17 to 24 years old or have a linked Wells Fargo Campus ATM card or a Campus Debit Card. The downside to this bank and checking account is the numerous fees that the bank charges can quickly add up.
Best for Cash Back: LendingClub Banking
If you plan to keep a minimum balance of $2,500 in your checking account or receive that same amount in direct deposits, you can earn 1% cash back on all signature-based purchases. LendingClub Banking considers a signature-based purchase one where you select “credit” instead of “debit” at check out. While the APY is on the low side for this checking account, the free ATMs worldwide and cashback features make this a contender if you do a lot of traveling.
Features to Look for in Joint Checking Accounts
When looking for a joint checking account, look for the features that best suit your and your checking partner’s lifestyle. Here are some features you should consider.
1. Interest Rates
Banks offer different interest rates on checking accounts, and if earning money on your deposits is important to you, you should look for a bank that offers a high APY. Some banks offer a base account with an average APY but add incentives that allow you to earn a higher APY if you meet certain requirements such as minimum direct deposits.
The last thing you want in a joint checking account of for the bank to take money out of your account to pay for excessive fees. Many of today’s banks offer a no-fee checking account and if fees are a concern for you, you should look into one of these types of accounts.
If you want to save money without an effort, look for a checking account that offers round-ups. This special feature takes the money you spend and automatically rounds it up to the next nearest dollar and deposits the rounded-up amount in your savings account. For instance, if you spent $1.95, the bank would round the amount up to $2 and add .05 to your savings account. These continuous small deposits can add up over time.
4. Debit Cards and Check
While most banks offer debit cards with checking accounts, not all banks allow you to write checks from an account. If having the ability to use both debit cards and checks is important to you, be sure to find out if the bank you are considering offers both features.
How to Get Approved for a Joint Checking Account
Getting approved for a joint checking account isn’t difficult, but it will require you to take a few steps to get it properly set up. Here are the simple steps you should take when opening a bank account.
1. Pick Your Partner Wisely
Co-mingling your funds with someone else is serious business, and before you set up a joint checking account, you should think about your reasons for doing it and understand the basics of checking accounts. If you’re a parent and want to give your child a great education about handling money, that’s a legitimate reason. If you’re part of a couple and want to share expenses by using the same account, that’s another sound reason to set up a joint checking account. Or, if you’re in business with someone and need a joint checking account to manage the business, that’s another way these accounts benefit people. But if you’re setting up an account with a friend who is always in financial trouble to try and help them, you might want to think about the possible consequences before opening the account.
2. Select the Right Account
Banks offer many types of joint checking accounts, each with its own features and benefits. Do you want an account that pays interest? Or do you prefer an account that offers cash back on your expenses? Do you want you and your checking partner to have equal control over the account, or do you want parental control for an account you have with your minor child? Do you want to open an online-only account, or do you want access to local branches? All of these are questions you should answer before searching for the joint checking account that will best serve your needs.
3. Prepare Your Documentation and Funds
Once you and your checking account partner select the bank, it’s time to prepare all the documentation you will need to open the account. Each of you will need to provide your name, date of birth, social security number and proof of identity. Some banks will also ask you for proof of residence. If you are opening an account with a minor, you will have to co-sign for your child.
In addition to those documents, you will have to prepare the funds for deposit. The amount you deposit will depend on the required minimum deposit of the bank you choose. Some require no minimum deposit, so you can fund the account with only a couple of dollars. Others have minimum requirements, and you will need to ensure you have the available funds to open the account.
4. Fund the Account and Secure Your Debit Card
The bank where you open your account will have rules about how you will fund your account. For instance, if you open an online checking account, you won’t be able to use cash for your deposit. Check the requirements at your bank and prepare to fund the account.
Next, you will need to secure the account information, such as the account number and access to your online banking portal and arrange to receive your debit card, and if applicable, your checks.
How you can Improve Your Finances
Working to improve your finances is a great way to prepare for a better future. You can take certain steps that will put you on the road to a better credit score and overall finances. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Understand Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
One of the keys to improving your finances is getting a big picture view of them. Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio provides a picture of how healthy your finances are. It shows you how much debt you have in relation to your income. Most experts agree that striving for a 30% or lower DTI is best. To calculate yours, divide your total monthly bills into your gross income. Once you know your number, you can work to improve it.
2. Create a Budget
A lot of people hate the idea of a budget, but the truth is that by setting one, you can create a path to financial freedom. When you know in advance how much money you have coming in and exactly where it will go, it takes the guesswork out of your finances. You will no longer wonder if you can afford that vacation or pair of shoes – instead, you can refer to your budget and get an answer based on facts.
3. Pay off Your Debts
There is nothing more discouraging than using your entire paycheck to pay down credit cards and other debt. That’s why making a plan to permanently pay off your debt is a great way to get your finances in order. Once reduce or eliminate debt, you will have more money to invest.
You can start by paying off the smallest debts to provide yourself with the motivation to keep going, or you can tackle the debts with the highest interest rates first and that will reduce the amount of money you ultimately have to pay.
4. Ensure Your Bills are Paid on Time
If you want to build your credit – and why wouldn’t you? – ensuring that your bills are paid on time every month is important. But it can be easy to forget a bill now and then. But paying any bill late will negatively affect your credit score. To avoid these unfortunate dings, set up automatic payments so that your bills are always on time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a joint checking account?
A joint checking account is an account managed by two people with equal authority to make deposits and withdrawals. The only exception is a joint checking account between a parent and a minor – in that case, the parent has more control over the account and the actions the minor can take.
Should couples get a joint checking account?
Whether or not couples get a joint checking account is a decision they will have to make between themselves. Everyone handles money differently, and this type of checking account will work better for some than others. It will provide a more effective way of handling expenses if the couple is co-mingling their funds.
What are the disadvantages of joint accounts?
A joint checking account can have disadvantages if you open one with the wrong person. For instance, since both parties have equal access to the funds, one person could drain the account. Also, both partners share liability, so if one person writes a check that cannot be covered by the amount in the account, both partners would be liable for the overdue amount.