Tired of lending each other money, my girlfriend and I decided to open a joint bank account despite being unmarried.
Creating a joint checking account is the first step. It allows couples like us to contribute to a shared balance using direct deposit and more easily split shared expenses like rent, bills, and groceries.
Why you might want a joint bank account
About 88 percent of couples living together say that financial decisions are a main source of tension, according to a 2016 survey from the American Institute of CPAs.
Hoping to get out in front of that, my girlfriend and I conduct monthly finance meetings at our dinner table. We also created a budget to make sure short-term spending wasn’t inhibiting our long-term goals. A joint checking account was a natural progression.
Pros of a joint bank account
The primary advantage is that it simplified paying our electricity, internet, and gas bills as well as rent and groceries. Similarly, couples wanting to save money together might opt for a joint savings account with a high interest rate.
There are other potential pros. A joint bank account with your significant other could help you:
- Avoid minimum-balance fees on your individual account
- Qualify for a higher interest rate thanks to your larger, combined balance
- Budget monthly spending to emphasize longer-term saving
Cons of a joint bank account
Like the drawbacks of opening a joint credit card, there are also cons to consider before opening a joint bank account:
- It’s harder to keep gifts a secret when they show up on joint statements.
- If one of the account holders falls into debt, creditors could pursue the entire balance.
- If the relationship goes south, untangling the account will be harder than it was to open it.
Being unmarried also brings about cons. Although divorcing couples can rely on the legal system to deal with debt, you’ll be vulnerable if your partner suddenly decides to drain the account. They have as much right to the whole balance as you do.
Communication and trust can help you avoid some of these cons.
And although the plan I forged with my girlfriend isn’t foolproof, we set some ground rules. For one, we agreed to talk through purchases of $100 or more before making them. We also promised not to judge each other’s purchases while acknowledging that what one of us buys might affect the other.
If I waste $75 on a silly purchase, for example, it will come out of our combined budget. It might mean we skip going out to dinner that week. It could also mean that we fall short of our monthly savings goal. These consequences keep us accountable.
What to look for in a joint checking account
The only real difference between bank accounts and joint bank accounts is the number of account holders. When you and your significant other are looking to open an account, it’s important to align your priorities.
After years of earning a dime in interest on my legacy Bank of America account, I liked the idea of opening a high-yield checking account with Aspiration. It offers up to 1.00% interest. I also considered chasing a big checking account bonus by joining a new bank.
My girlfriend, meanwhile, has long banked with Chase, likes their customer service, and values their ATM presence in our neighborhood.
In choosing your checking account, you might be concerned with other factors, such as:
- Maintenance fees
- Allotted number of transactions or ATM withdrawals
- A user-friendly banking app
- A collection of other banking services, from investment accounts to home loans
If you find yourself compromising on what you want in a checking account, you might be thinking about it in the wrong way. Choosing the right joint checking account should be more about what you value as a couple.
If the account’s purpose is to collectively pay for routine bills, convenience might outweigh the interest rate. My girlfriend and I, for example, elected to choose a high-yield checking account for our emergency fund but Chase’s basic offering for our everyday expenses.
How to open a joint bank account
If you’re wondering how to open a joint bank account, it’s as easy as opening a savings or checking account as an individual.
If you’re applying online, you might need to check a box next to “joint checking account.” If you’re applying in a bank’s branch, you’ll both need documentation. My girlfriend is not a citizen, for example, so she needed to supply her green card.
Aside from being 18 and having a U.S. mailing address, you’ll likely be asked to supply your:
- Street address
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license or other ID
If you choose to commingle your cash, wait until after the joint checking account is open before closing your individual checking account. This way, you can transfer funds from the old account to the new one as your opening deposit.
Keeping your older account will also give you time to change your billing information for recurring charges or to set up a direct deposit via your employer.
My girlfriend and I decided to close our individual accounts to go all in on sharing short-term expenses and prioritizing long-term savings goals. But you and your partner might decide that having individual checking accounts gives you more freedom to spend on things you want, like holiday gifts for one another.
Don’t rush to open a joint bank account
If you and your partner aren’t ready for a joint checking account, consider alternatives. You might add each other as beneficiaries on your individual accounts. You could also wait until saying, “I do.”
If you’re ready to begin merging your finances though, start by looking at the pros and cons that are specific to your situation. Take your time considering whether convenience outweighs the risks.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.36% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.82% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.41% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.45% effective May 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.41% – 6.99%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 7.89%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.38% – 6.81%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 8.19%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.60% – 9.60%6||Undergrad & Graduate|