How many bank accounts do I need?
It's common to have a few bank accounts that each serve a different purpose. Here's how you may benefit from having multiple bank accounts and the traps to avoid.
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How many bank accounts do I need?
The number of bank accounts you should have completely depends on your personal situation, your preferences and how you like to manage your money. Finder data shows that 30% of Australians have bank accounts with two different banks and a further 9% have bank accounts with three different banks.
At a minimum, it's a good idea to have one bank account for everyday expenses and a separate savings account to earn interest on your savings. However, there are a number of other types of bank accounts you might want to open as well, such as a joint bank account, an offset account or a business bank account.
Why you might have more than 1 bank account
Here are a few examples of when you might need to have more than one bank account:
- If you want to split up your spending into different buckets such as bills and personal spending
- If you have shared expenses with another person as well as your own personal expenses
- If you have a business or side hustle and you want to split up your personal and business income
Having several bank accounts: Real-life examples
Let's take a look at how many bank accounts some of our Finder crew have, and why:
Richard Whitten, senior writer, home loans
3 bank accounts
"I like to keep things fairly simple. I have three bank accounts. A main bank account, a joint account so my wife and I can move money between our own accounts and my home loan offset account.
I send a portion of my income directly to the offset account so it immediately offsets my home loan interest while also acting as savings. Some people prefer to have multiple accounts to save for different purposes but I find it's easier to monitor my spending and keep track of everything with a small number of accounts."
Sarah Megginson, senior editor, home loans
5 bank accounts
"Funnily enough, I hardly ever use my 'main' bank account! It's there for money to land into, but then it quickly gets transferred out to other accounts. Among the many accounts I have are: a mortgage offset account, which doubles as a savings account; a high-interest savings account for my kids, which I drip-feed $5–$10 per week into; and a joint account with my husband, which bills and direct debits come out of.
I also have a holiday fund that my best girlfriends and I deposit $20 into each week, so we can have a girls weekend every six months without feeling the financial pinch. It's by far my favourite account! I highly recommend everyone has a fun vouchers account – it's the best way to enjoy your money, guilt-free."
Amy-Bradney-George, acting editor, credit cards
3 bank accounts
"I have three bank accounts, plus two savings accounts. The first bank account is my personal everyday account where my salary is paid into and I use it to pay for personal, day-to-day expenses. I also have another personal bank account which I need to earn the bonus interest rate on my savings account. The third account is a joint bank account with my fiancé for shared expenses like rent, groceries and entertainment.
I think having a personal and joint bank account is a great way to share important expenses but also keep some independence. It helps me save as well, because I put a set amount into our joint account each month, which means I can do whatever I want with the rest (and being me, I usually save it!)."
Alison Banney, banking editor
4 bank accounts
"I have four bank accounts in my name. The first is where my salary is deposited and it's the account that's linked to my high interest savings account. I use this bank account for all my personal spending and to move money into my savings each month. The second is a joint account with my partner for shared expenses and the third account is a cash management account for investing in shares.
The fourth bank account is one I don't use much, but I keep it there for any income I earn outside of my full-time job. So if I do some freelance work, for example, I'll get paid into this separate account as it helps me see what I've earned outside of my main job when it comes to tax time."
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Benefits of having multiple bank accounts
- Manage your spending. Having different bank accounts for different purposes might help you budget and manage your spending. For example, you could have one account for rent and bills and another for daily purchases like coffee, groceries and eating out.
- Access different perks and offers. Different bank accounts offer different perks. You might have a bank account that charges no international transaction fees which you use for travelling and online shopping from overseas sites. You could have another account that offers cashback on your daily transactions which you use for your general spending, to take advantage of this offer.
- Access a more competitive savings rate. Savings accounts with good bonus interest rates will often require you to open a linked transaction account with them. This is an easy way to earn more bonus interest on your savings.
- Split up large balances. If you've got a large balance you can split it up between different banks, to ensure it's all protected under the financial claims scheme. This scheme ensures your deposit up to $250,000 with an Australian bank is guaranteed by the government. So if you've got more than this, splitting it up across more than one bank ensures it's all covered.
- Manage shared expenses more effectively. Opening a joint bank account that's separate to your personal account is a great way to manage expenses that you share with someone else. For example rent and bills that you split with a partner or roommate.
Traps to watch out for if you have several bank accounts
- Look out for extra fees. Some bank accounts charge account-keeping fees if you don't deposit money each month. If you only deposit money into one bank account but you want to open another account for different spending, check it doesn't have an ongoing deposit requirement.
- Juggling multiple accounts can be more confusing. You might find that juggling several different accounts is more stressful and that you're losing track of your spending. A good tip to manage this is to keep your accounts with the same bank so you can see them all side-by-side in your mobile banking app. Or, if you want to open accounts with different banks the Finder app is a free tool that will show you all your accounts in the one place.
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