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What is a joint bank account?

Joint bank accounts, including joint current accounts, are designed to help people manage their money together. This makes paying for joint bills much easier and can save you the task of transferring money between accounts.

Have you considered opening a joint bank account but not sure where to start? We have put together a useful guide on how a joint bank account works and what to look out for.

What is a joint bank account?

A joint account is a type of bank account where more than one person is responsible for the account and its management. There are generally no restrictions in regards to the relationship between the two people opening a joint bank account, meaning you may share a bank account with a friend, a partner or a spouse for example.

Everyone named on the account has equal access to the joint bank account, but also equal responsibility. This can make it easier to manage shared bills such as rent, mortgage repayments or utility bills, but may also give you less control of the money leaving the account. Keep in mind that both of you may need to meet the provider’s eligibility criteria to be able to open the account. Both of you may also need to pass credit checks.

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What are the benefits of a joint account?

If you live with another person, a joint bank account can be used to cover shared expenses, making life a little more straightforward.

When it comes to managing a joint account, it is important that you find a way that works for both you and the other account holder, as a joint account can be managed in a number of ways. Many people opt to deposit a percentage of their monthly income into their joint account for their shared bills, and keep the rest for their personal spending.

Remember, with a joint bank account, you will both have full visibility of how much each person is paying in and what is coming out.

Are joint bank accounts a good idea?

If you’re looking for an account that offers a straightforward way of sharing money and managing expenses, a joint bank account may be right for you.

You will both have the ability to manage the account, deposit money, set up payments and withdraw cash. With this in mind, it is important to think carefully before entering into a joint account with someone.

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Things to look out for

There are a few important things to consider before opening a joint bank account. Joining your financial records together may negatively affect your options for opening new accounts and getting credit in the future. This is because if one of you has a poor credit score it may have a negative impact on the other.

Opening a joint bank account often involves consent, allowing both of you to instruct on the account. This means that either of you may be able to apply for additional services and facilities, such as an overdraft, without obtaining additional consent from the other person.

It is important for you both to monitor the account closely as you might not always know of the other accountholder’s spending. This could result in missed payments or the account going overdrawn. If this happens, both account holders will be equally liable for the whole debt, and it can affect both parties’ credit score.

A joint bank account can also affect the privacy of your spending habits, as bank statements for that account may be visible to both account holders.

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How do I open a joint bank account?

To open a joint bank account you may be asked to provide details such as proof of address and identity. All account holders will also need to sign a formal agreement which specifies the conditions of having a joint bank account and what that means for both parties.

You may also be asked to provide additional information, such as your individual incomes, NI numbers and employment status.

What can I use to prove my identity?

There are several documents you can use to prove your identity. Some of the more common ones include, but are not limited to:

  • A current and valid passport
  • A current and valid photo driving licence
  • A birth certificate / adoption certificate (under 18s only)

What can I use to prove my address?

Depending on the bank account provider, you may need one or more of the following to prove your address:

  • A current and valid photo driving licence
  • A student loan letter / statement confirming house address (valid for current academic year)
  • A local authority council tax bill (valid for current tax year)

Learn more about what documents you can use for Proof of Identity and Proof of Address.

Do you have to live together to have a joint bank account?

No, you usually don’t have to live together in order to open a joint bank account.

Can I take my name off a joint account?

Yes you can take your name off a joint bank account, however, you may need permission from the other account holder to do so. If there’s an overdrawn balance, account providers sometimes require you to pay this off before your name can be taken off the account.

Sometimes, all parties who have access to the joint bank account need to sign a document if they wish to close, freeze or make changes to the account. This may differ between bank account providers, so it’s always best to ask your provider before you go to open or close your account.

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Can a sole account be converted to a joint bank account?

Yes, many account providers will allow you to add a second account holder to an existing bank account. It’s always a good idea to check with your bank account provider beforehand as the process of adding a second person may vary between banks and account providers.

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Can one person close a joint bank account?

Generally, when you and the other account holder commit to a joint account agreement, you are allowing for the account provider to accept an instruction from either of you.

If for any reason the relationship ends, your account provider will normally support you if they are formally made aware of any dispute between the account holders. However, this could result in neither of the account holders being able to use the account until the dispute has been settled, or an agreement has been reached.

There are certain providers who will allow you to request both account holders permission before carrying out any instructions. If this is a feature that you want, it’s best to ask your provider to see if the option is available to you.

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Can a joint bank account affect my credit score?

Opening any type of bank account can temporarily affect your credit score. This is because a credit check is required for many bank accounts. When a credit check is carried out, it can leave a footprint on your credit file.

This in itself may not have a negative effect on your credit score, but applying for multiple bank accounts or credit over a short period is likely to.

Having a joint bank account with someone makes them a “financial associate”. You may be negatively impacted if you have a financial associate who has a poor credit score. This is because providers may also look at their credit score when deciding whether to offer you products and services, even if you are applying in your own name.

Before applying for a new account, particularly if you are looking for an overdraft option, it’s a good idea to use an overdraft eligibility checker. Overdraft eligibility checkers will carry out a ‘soft search’ to help you understand how likely you are to be accepted for an overdraft, without affecting your credit score.

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Important things to remember

  • You don’t have to open a joint bank account to help someone with their finances. If a bank account needs to be cared for by a person other than the account holder, setting up a Power of Attorney may be an option.
  • Do not open a joint bank account if you have any doubts on whether it is right for you and your circumstances.
  • Never open a joint bank account if you feel pressured into doing so.
  • Remember that both account holders are equally liable for the whole debt if the account is misused or goes overdrawn.
  • For information on what to do if you or someone you know are experiencing financial abuse, visit The Money Advice Service.

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