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Joint bank accounts are great if you have shared expenses with another person or even several people, such as a partner or roommates. In this guide you’ll learn about the different types of joint accounts available in Australia, the steps to set one up and what to consider before going ahead.
You can also compare some joint bank accounts in our comparison table below and apply online for free in less than 10 minutes.
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Joint bank accounts
What is a joint bank account?
A joint bank account is a transaction or savings account held in more than one name, allowing multiple people to access the account. These accounts are generally used by family members, couples or business partners who share expenses such as rent and bills as well as common everyday living costs.
Types of joint accounts
You can open a joint transaction account, savings account or even a joint term deposit in Australia. The best joint account for you will depend on how you pan to use the account.
Joint transaction accounts
A joint transaction account is a regular everyday bank account that you can use for everyday purchases and spending. Each account holder will have their own debit card linked to the account to make purchases. Each account holder will be also able to log in to the account using Internet banking or via the mobile banking app, to see all the transactions made and to transfer money.
Just like a regular bank account, you can set up direct debits for shared regular expenses like rent or your monthly Internet bill so the money is automatically debited from the account. If the bank supports Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay you can also use these digital wallets to make contactless purchases with your smartphone.
Joint savings accounts
A joint savings account is the same as a standard savings account, except it can be held in more than one name. You can both transfer money into the savings account and earn interest on your balance, provided you meet the account conditions. To earn the highest interest rate on the account, you’re usually required to deposit a certain amount each month and make limited to no withdrawals. A joint savings account is a great way to save for a shared goal, for example a holiday or even a house deposit.
Joint term deposit accounts
A term deposit is a type of savings account that allows you to deposit a certain amount of money and lock it away for a length of time that you choose, while earning a fixed rate of interest. If you open a joint term deposit with someone else, you’ll be need to both decide how much money you’d like to deposit and choose your term length from one month to up to five years.
A joint term deposit is a good way to save for a shared goal or to use as a safe investment while you both don’t need to access the funds. When the term deposit matures, you’ll receive your money back plus your interest.
How to compare joint accounts
Use our comparison table above to compare a range of joint transaction accounts, savings accounts and term deposits. These accounts are all able to be opened in more than one name.
If you’re opening a transaction account look for one with low or no account keeping fees, ATM fees or transaction fees. If you’re opening a joint savings account look for one with a high interest rate and monthly deposit and withdrawal conditions you can easily meet. When comparing term deposits, you should look for a term length that suits you both that also offers a competitive interest rate.
Benefits of opening a joint account
- Easily manage joint expenses. It’s handy to have a joint bank account if you regularly need to pay for joint expenses, such as groceries or household items. This way you won’t need to transfer money back and forth to one another or constantly send IOUs; you can simply use the joint account.
- Save together. If you’re saving for a shared goal, such as a house deposit with your partner, having a joint savings account is a great way to stay motivated and encourage each other to save.
- Individual access to the account. Each account holder will receive their own debit card that’s linked to the joint transaction account, so you can make joint purchases without the others being present. You’ll also receive your own logins to the account online.
- Easily manage bills. With all the money in one place, it makes it a lot easier for couples to manage their personal finances, pay rent and other bills.
- Meet savings account conditions. Some savings accounts require you to deposit a large amount of money each month in order to earn the highest interest rate. With more than one person contributing to the account, it’s easier to meet this deposit condition.
Joint bank accounts come with some risks
- Both parties can access the money. Because you both have complete access to the account, either person can spend the money. This is why it’s important to open a joint account with someone you trust.
- Overdraft facility. If your joint account has an overdraft facility available, it means you can spend more money than what’s available in the account forcing your balance to go into the negative. Even if you didn’t spend the money, you’re both liable to repay the money and your credit score may be affected if you can’t.
- Division of funds if you separate. If you separate from your partner, dividing the funds in the joint account can be a messy, awkward task. Also, there’s nothing to stop the other person from clearing out the account entirely.
- Loss of privacy. Everyone whose name is on the account will have easy access to the account online and will be able to see the transaction history of all account holders.
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Should you open a joint bank account?
If you’re considering opening a joint bank account with your partner, friend, relative or business partner, here are some questions to ask yourself first.
- Do you both spend money the same way? If one of you is more frugal with your money while the other loves to shop, you’ll need to devise a spending strategy before opening an account together. It’s a good idea to put together a budget that you’re both comfortable with.
- Do you agree on your shared expenses? Some expenses are more obvious to define as shared expenses than others. You should agree on what expenses are shared and what expenses should remain individual expenses.
- Do you trust the other person? If you don’t trust the other person to manage your money responsibly, then you might want to reconsider opening an account with them.
- Do you share the same financial goals? Opening a joint account will be much easier if you both have the same or similar savings goals in mind.
- How much money will you each contribute? Will you both deposit the same amount of money into the account each month or will one of you contribute more? For example, if one of you earns a higher salary you might decide they should contribute more.
- Will you keep a personal bank account as well? You might decide to open a joint account for your shared expenses and keep your individual bank accounts active for your own personal spending.
How to open a joint bank account
Once you’ve considered all the points listed above and have agreed on a budget and/or savings goal, you can follow these steps to open an account.
- Compare accounts. Use our comparison table above to compare a range of joint transaction, savings and term deposit accounts. When you’ve decided on an account, click the “Go to site” button where you can complete the online application process.
- Complete the online application. You’ll need to select the joint account option when beginning the application and provide names and personal details of all account holders.
- Verify your identities. All account holders will need to verify their identity using their driver’s licence, passport or Medicare card.
- Select how many debit cards you need. If you’d like all account holders to have their own debit card linked to the account, you can request this during the application process. When your account is approved, you’ll each receive a debit card in the mail.
How do I close my joint account?
If the account has an 'either party to sign' requirement you can close the account on your own, by simply contacting your bank. However, if the account has a 'both to sign' requirement you'll also need the other party's signature to close the account. If the other party is unwilling to close the account you can request for the bank to freeze it.
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