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Joint Bank Accounts for Unmarried Couples

Joint Bank Accounts for Unmarried Couples
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarcoUpdated August 11, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Many couples choose to merge their finances in one way or another. Some couples choose to completely merge their finances, whereas other couples may choose to have both individual and joint accounts. Married or not, you can choose to have a joint bank account with your significant other if you wish. Keep reading to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of opening a joint bank account for unmarried couples, as well as what the process entails.

Can Unmarried Couples Open a Joint Bank Account?

Yes, it is possible for unmarried couples to open a joint bank account. Plenty of couples do this because they want to combine their finances, even if they aren’t married. Having a joint account can be helpful after moving in together to balance joint household expenses, such as bills, groceries, furniture, and cleaning supplies. It’s possible to open a joint checking account or a joint savings account, the latter of which can come in handy if the couple is working towards a mutual financial goal together, such as buying a home or paying for a wedding

How Joint Bank Accounts Work

Joint bank accounts work similarly to individual bank accounts, except two people (both account owners) have the ability to make deposits, withdraw money, and check the account balance. Both account owners will also have the option of linking a debit card to the account or writing checks.There is no division of assets with a joint bank account. It doesn’t matter who deposits money into the account, both account holders have equal access to the funds and don’t need permission to spend or transfer the money held in the joint checking or savings account.Recommended: Joint Bank Accounts for Married Couples

Benefits of Having a Joint Bank Account

There are benefits associated with opening a joint bank account for unmarried couples that may help a couple decide if this is the right financial move for them. These benefits include:
  • Easier money management. If a couple is trying to manage their finances together, such as paying bills or working towards a savings goal, having their money in one place can help simplify managing their financial lives.
  • More accountability. When trying to meet a savings goal, some may find it helpful knowing their partner can see how much they’re spending, which may hold them more accountable.
  • Extra FDIC insurance. When a couple opens a joint bank account, they receive up to $500,000 worth of insurance through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), instead of the $250,000 worth of FDIC insurance they would get with individual accounts.
  • Increased transparency. Couples looking to strengthen their bond may appreciate the level of trust and transparency that a joint bank account brings to the table. 

Risks of Having a Joint Bank Account

Of course, it’s also important to take the risks of opening a joint bank account for unmarried couples into consideration before making this major financial move. Risks of joint bank accounts include:
  • Less control. When a couple combines their money — even if it’s just some of their money — into a joint bank account, they do lose some control over how that money is spent. This can cause relationship issues if the couple doesn’t agree on how to spend the money — especially if one partner spends more than they contribute.
  • Decreased privacy. Some people may not appreciate their partner being able to see all of the purchases and transfers they make from the joint account.
  • Creditors can seize the money. If one partner owes a debt, creditors, collection agencies, and even government agencies like the IRS may be able to garnish money from the joint account.
  • Increased communication needs. If the couple doesn’t communicate well about the comings and goings of their joint account, it can be easy to accidentally overspend and get hit with an overdraft fee.

Alternatives to Consider

Opening a joint bank account for unmarried couples is a big move to make. If a couple decides they aren’t ready to make that commitment, they do have other options to make managing joint expenses and savings goals easier.
  • Make a plan. Each party needs to know who is covering what expenses, how much is generally being spent, and what they’ll be expected to pay for on their own. Creating a joint budget and spending plan can help ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises that can lead to arguments. 
  • Create a system. Whether the couple wants to split bills, pay each other back for groceries, or set aside money each month for a shared savings goal, they need a system in place for doing so. They should pick a time each week to sit down and hash out who owes who what and to make sure they’re on the same page. 
  • Choose how to transfer funds. The couple should choose a way to transfer each other money for shared expenses. This can be done via a bank transfer, with an app like Venmo or Splitwise, via check, or with cash. 

The Takeaway

It is possible to open a joint savings account with a significant other, even when not married, but doing so is a major commitment and requires frequent communication and trust if the couple wants the experience to be a positive one.Looking for a new bank account for a fresh start with a partner? Lantern by SoFi makes it easy to shop for a new savings account. With Lantern, it’s possible to compare current savings rates and minimum balance requirements of top providers. That way, couples can compare their options together and find a bank that suits both their financial needs and goals.Compare high interest online savings accounts and find today’s best rate with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for opening a joint bank account?
How do I choose the right bank for a joint account?
What happens to a joint bank account in case of a breakup?
Can unmarried couples apply for joint credit cards or loans?
Photo credit: iStock/LaylaBird

About the Author

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco is a personal finance writer and editor based in Southern California. While she spends the bulk of her time writing about complex financial issues, she also tackles a variety of subjects ranging from food to fashion to travel. Her work can be found across dozens of publications such as Credit Karma, LendingTree, Northwestern Mutual, The Everygirl, and Apartment Therapy.
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