How to Select the Best Joint Account

Aditi Shekar
November 18th, 2019 | 4 mins
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TLDR: When it comes to selecting the best bank for a joint bank account, there are a lot of things to consider - like bank fees, online accessibility, any additional perks, and more.

You’ve decided to take the next step in your relationship — opening a joint bank account. But how do you know which is the best bank for joint accounts? We break down all the essential details you need to know before taking the leap.

Advantages of a joint bank account

Before you start to consider where to open a joint bank account, it's a good idea to solidify a few details with your partner.

A few advantages to consider:

  • It could make your lives easier if you and your partner are always playing musical chairs with bank transfers for shared expenses
  • The account would be in both of your names, so both of you would have easy access to your combined funds and could easily log in to check the balance
  • A shared account can open up better communication about spending and saving as a team

When to avoid a joint bank account

There are times when opening a joint account might not be the best idea, especially if you aren't on the same page about how to navigate your finances. Moreover, having a joint account means both of you are able to withdraw funds from that account, without getting "approval" from the other party. That means that you need to be totally comfortable giving your partner full access to your shared funds.

If there's any reason why you might be hesitating, a joint account might not be a good option just yet.

How to open a joint bank account

A joint bank account is very similar to your personal bank account — except that there's another person who's authorized to use it. The good news is that you can open a joint account in-person or online, depending on what you prefer or what your bank requires. Whichever route you choose, you'll each need to have documents proving your identity, such as your documents showing your social security number and a valid U.S. address. Once you’ve selected which bank you want to open a joint account with, opening the account itself should take than 30 minutes or less.

Additionally, you may also have the option to turn an existing individual checking account into a joint account. To do so, you’ll want to contact your bank and add your partner as a co-owner of that account.

What makes the best joint bank account

With so many options out there for joint bank accounts, it can be hard to choose. Here are some good qualities to look for when shopping around.

Low or no bank fees

Depending on the bank, joint bank accounts can charge anywhere from $0 to $15 in monthly maintenance fees. According to a recent MyBankTracker study, the average account costs $9.60 per month in maintenance fees just for it to exist. Some banks offer ways to avoid these fees, like maintaining a specific minimum balance or enrolling in direct deposit. However, it's best to make sure you can qualify for a fee waiver before opening the account. Otherwise, try to find an account that doesn't charge monthly fees.

Don’t forget to also look at ATM fees, overdraft charges and foreign transaction fees. All banks are required to share their “fee schedule” with you, so don’t be shy about asking for it.

Local or national

Now's the time to think about the type of institution you want to house your money in before opening a joint bank account.

One consideration is whether you prefer a credit union, which is typically a local entity, or a nationwide bank. Credit unions aren't focused on making a profit, so they often offer higher savings and lower interest rates on loans. That's not traditionally true for a national bank. However, one disadvantage of a local or smaller bank is the lack of ATMs or branch access outside of the area.

Online access

Given how much of our lives are digital, it’s not surprising that many young couples look for banks that are easily accessible on-the-go. Whether it’s the ability to deposit a check via your phone or access help when you want, online banks typically have strong mobile and web apps that make it easy to manage your money.

Online banks reduce the overhead costs of maintaining branches and use those savings to offer new and improved products and services for their customers. Unsurprisingly, online banking is one of the fastest growing trends around the world. Just like with a brick-and-mortar bank, you'll want to make sure that you have access to customer service & ATMs, and watch out for hidden fees.

Additional perks

The best joint accounts come with extras like free checks, refunded ATM fees and/or bill pay. These perks might seem small, but they can really create value over time. Before opening an account, consider whether the bank in question has any perks that appeal to you and your partner and would make your life easier.

Sign-up bonuses

Some banks offer bonuses just for signing up. This reward shouldn't be your only reason for opening an account with a specific bank. However, it never hurts to make a $100 or more off of something you were already planning to do. Look around for sign-up rewards by searching for terms like “bank name sign up bonus”.

Top-notch customer service

You should be able to easily reach a customer service agent when you need one. Before opening a joint bank account, check the institution's customer service access and read customer reviews of its service. Can you reach them within the app or via a phone line? How quickly will a customer service agent get back to you if you have a question or a problem?

ATM access

Look into the bank's ATM network to make sure you'll be able to withdraw your cash quickly and cheaply. If it's a physical bank, see how many branches are near you and how many in-network ATMs are within driving distance.

How Zeta Joint Accounts can help

Zeta Joint Accounts are cash management accounts built for two that have both checking and savings capabilities. Learn how our joint bank account can save your relationship.

We'll give you a little teaser: there are no monthly fees, minimum balanaces, or overdraft fees. We give you an app with a ton of budgeting and automation features that will keep you and your partner on the same page while also taking over your money chores for you. Plus, we have a team of Zeta Concierges at the ready to help you navigate your account and any and all money moves.

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