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What Is a Joint Checking Account?

Key Takeaways

  • Joint checking accounts make all funds shared and available to both signers on the account.
  • These accounts are typically prevalent with couples, senior citizens and caregivers, and parents with children under 17.
  • Some people use a combination of joint and individual checking accounts.

Joint bank accounts can be a smart way to consolidate funds and manage household expenses, but they're not a perfect choice for everyone. It's important to analyze your individual situation to determine if they're a good option for you.

In a joint checking account, all funds are shared and available in full to both signers on the account. This means your money is not just yours — it also belongs to your co-signer. Both of you can use all available funds regardless of who deposited the money; on the flip side, you’re both responsible for fees, debts, and penalties on the account.

Monitor your finances closely

Since you both have equal access to your joint checking account, be sure to keep good track of your balance and hold each other accountable for spending. You may share one checkbook but carry your own debit cards. You also have the option to share online banking. As you each make payments from the account, pay attention to each other’s spending so you know how much you have left and therefore don’t risk an overdraw. This can easily be done by having low balance alerts or transaction confirmations sent to your mobile phone or email.*

Who uses a joint checking account?

Joint checking accounts are typically used by the following people:

  • Married couples and people in relationships: When you're in a committed relationship, the question of joint accounts is bound to come up. Opening a joint checking account allows you to pay bills from one account, which can help make managing household accounts easier. Since many of your other assets will be merged, especially if you get married, it makes sense to combine your checking accounts as well. Both members of the account have equal access to withdrawals even if one deposits more than the other. In the event of divorce or breakup, these assets are taken into account when dividing up other finances and properties, so your money is more secure.
  • Senior citizens and caregivers: As relatives get older, you may need to help them with their finances and bookkeeping. In this case, you can have yourself added as co-signer on a joint checking account with them. This will give you full access to statements and funds as well as responsibility for the account and its balance, income, and debt. If you would prefer to avoid the co-ownership and ensuing responsibilities, you could instead work with a legal advisor to be granted Power of Attorney. This would allow you access to the funds and statements without co-ownership.
  • Parents and children: Banks that allow minors to open student checking accounts sometimes require a parent to be a co-signer, particularly for children under 17. This provides security for the bank. It also allows the parents to closely monitor spending, as well as teach their children how to manage finances and stick to a budget.

Using joint and individual accounts

Some customers prefer to open a joint checking account for some expenses and individual accounts for others. For example, you may want to pay for your car or credit card from your individual account while saving a joint account for shared household expenses. To help fund these accounts, direct deposits can usually be split between them.

More information

We are committed to helping you reach your potential by providing personalized solutions. Our dedicated colleagues can help you find the right product to help you reach your goals. To learn more about joint checking accounts, please call 1-877-360-2472, visit us online, or Ask a Citizen at your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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