Pros and Cons of Joint Bank Accounts

Pros and Cons of Joint Bank Accounts

Written by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated October 6, 2020

A joint bank account is a bank account that is shared by two or more individuals. All users of the account have the same amount of power and authority, thus can withdraw or deposit money whenever need be. The purpose of this account is to have equally shared rights and responsibilities, so it’s important to have a strong trust between all users. Commonly used between couples, close relatives, and business partners, all activity in the account is recorded and can be viewed by all users. Keep in mind that anyone with their name on the account has access to all the funds in the account. The following will list and explain the advantages and disadvantages regarding joint bank accounts.

How to be in a Financially Successful Relationship, click here.

Pros

  • Easier to access spouse’s wealth when he or she passes away. After the death of a loved one, their account becomes frozen and you lose access to their money. Banks are very strict and slow when it comes to situations like this. However, having a joint bank account allows you to access your spouse’s money right away.
  • A good way for newlywed’s to merge their finances. As a new couple, a joint account can be beneficial in order to see where the money is going and understand your partner’s spending habits. Both partners can point out any careless, irresponsible spending before it’s too late and causes a missed payment or bounced cheque.
  • Easier to manage. All paycheques are deposited into one account while the mortgage payments, bill payments, and savings are all withdrawn from the same place. This makes managing finances very clean and easy to follow, as money comes in and goes out from one account. Maintaining daily operations become effortless.
  • Encourages income sharing. If one spouse doesn’t make as much money as the other, the lower income spouse could benefit.
  • Promotes a united and cohesive relationship. As both partners put their money and trust in each other, their mindset changes from “my money” to “our money.”
  • More travel reward points if your credit card is linked to the account, as there is double the amount of spending.
  • More convenient to pay off your mortgage from one bank account. Both partners can transfer their income into their bank account, which will then be used to make mortgage payments.

Cons

  • It makes things messier when getting a divorce or breaking up. While all the money is in one account, it may be hard to separate when breaking up.
  • Loss of privacy. Some may feel uncomfortable with sharing all the details about their income and spending habits.
  • You can’t surprise any members on the account with a gift.
  • If one user has a poor credit history, it can be detrimental to everyone (interested in building your credit history? Read this)
  • Conflicts can arise when sharing a bank account. Whether it’s with your wife, roommate, best friend, business partner, or sister, disagreements are common and having a joint bank account can start various types of problems. As all members have equal rights to the account, they can deposit, withdraw, transfer funds, or change details of the account at any time without your knowledge or consent. The following conflicts could arise:
  1. It’s very common and easy for business partners to cross you, so beware whom you do business with.
  2. Being taken advantage of.  Due to the equal rights being shared with a joint account, it’s very easy to be taken advantage of. If you’re passive, your spouse, friend or business partner can convince and persuade you to follow their orders or undergo illegal actions.   
  3. Joint accounts can create family problems, as personal conflicts within a family can spread outwards towards financial issues. The greedy son who was attached to his recently dead mother’s account can refuse to give his father any of the money.
  4. Spending styles and habits can create issues. If you want to spend a lot of money and enjoy the finer things in life, but your husband is very cheap, this can create conflict as well.
  5. Stealing or transferring money out of the account is not only easy but also unstoppable if done by a user. There aren’t many options for getting back your stolen money because they were legally allowed to take it.
  6. You’re liable. If an account is overdrawn, each account holder is held responsible for the entire amount owed. This means you can become responsible for paying off another person’s debt, even though you did not help create the debt.
  7. One member can have a power trip. If one person on the account makes more income than the other, he or she can develop an ego and feel a sense of power and entitlement in the relationship.

As you can see, there are both positive and negative results associated with sharing a joint bank account. However, your decision to get one depends on your relationship and trust with the other users. If you have a strong, committed, and close relationship with a lot of trust for each other, the benefits of a joint account can greatly outweigh the consequences. In addition, this isn’t an all or nothing decision. You can always choose to have both. Couples can have a joint account and two separate accounts as well. This way they can have their own privacy and freedom with their own money, but also share and enjoy the benefits of a joint account.

Looking for more information on deal with joint financial issues?

  • Who Has to Pay Off the Credit Card Debt of a Deceased Person? Here.
  • Is it Possible to File a Joint Consumer Proposal? Read here.
  • Will Filing for Bankruptcy Affect my Spouse? Find out here.
  • Protecting Your Finances During a Divorce, click here.  

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Caitlin is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security. One of the main ways she’s built good financial habits is by budgeting and tracking her spending through the YNAB budgeting app. She also automates her savings so she never forgets to put aside a portion of her income into her TFSA. She believes investing and passive income is key to earning financial freedom. She also uses her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect Aeroplan points so that she can save money when she travels.

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