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Should Couples Share A Bank Account?

Should Couples Share A Bank Account?

• Updated: May 19, 2016

Thirty years ago having joint bank and credit card accounts was fairly common.  Now, couples have a different approach when it comes to the commingling of individual funds.  Recent studies show that increasingly more couples are choosing not to pool all of their financial resources together. It makes good financial sense for individuals to understand what the pros and cons are before deciding to open a joint account.
Related: Financial Discussions You Need To Have Before Marriage

Pros of having a joint bank account

  • Easier access to funds for either spouse. 
    • At any given time, either spouse will have access to the funds.
  • Fewer legal hoops to jump through to get to the funds should one of the spouses suddenly pass away. 
    • If in the unfortunate event that one of the spouses passes away, the other will have immediate access to the funds without having to go through probate or deal with a will.
  • No unpleasant financial surprises, and ease of keeping track of funds.
    • With a joint account, both spouses can see how much money is going into the account and how much money is coming out of the account.
    • Helps to keep financial conversations on the forefront. 
  • Reinforces trust between the spouses. 
    • When pooling income couples tend to trust each other more, and tend to work harder at making the relationship work.
  • Fewer bank charges.
    • Let’s face it, banks are always looking for ways to charge additional fees.  Even if the fees are minimal, why just give your hard earned money to the banks? 

Cons of having a joint bank account

  • One spouse has debt such as unpaid child support, unpaid back taxes, or student loans.
    • It doesn’t matter if the account is a joint account, the account can be levied for any of the above mentioned debts. When the account is levied, the innocent spouse usually has to jump through hoops to get their share of the funds back. 
  • One spouse is lousy at keeping track of the amount that he or she withdraws from the account.
    • This can cause bounced check and overdraft fees, which adds up.
  • Divorce or Separation. 
    • While neither party enters into a marriage thinking of getting divorced or separated, either one can occur.  If it does, things can get ugly.  For example, one spouse withdrawing all the funds from the bank account and skipping town is not unheard of. 


Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of having a joint bank account, we’ll discuss joint credit card accounts.  Does having joint credit card accounts help to increase your FICO score?  Yes, providing that both people pay their bills on time.  Each person has his or her own credit score.  There is no such thing as a combined credit score.  However, when two people have joint credit card or credit line accounts, information is shared on each person’s credit report.  A good FICO score is calculated as follows:

Payment History

35%

Amounts Owed

30%

Length of Credit History

15%

Types of credit in use

10%

New Credit

10%

Legally intertwined in debt.  This doesn’t sound very appealing, now does it?  Well, having joint credit cards or credit lines, that is exactly what you would be getting yourself into.  This is why it is important to know the financial habits of the other person before making the decision to open a joint bank or credit card account.  Remember, joint means that you both are equally responsible for the account.  If you have joint credit card accounts and decide to get a divorce, be sure that all of those joint accounts are closed.  Divorce is stressful enough without having to deal with post-divorce credit problems. 
Keep Reading: 6 Life Events That Can Affect Your Credit Score

If both parties are on the same page, having joint bank and credit card accounts could make commingling of individual funds less of a hassle.  However, if you’re not on the same page, you really should think long and hard before opening a joint account. While the two of you may be deeply in love, keep in mind that love doesn’t pay the bills.  At least not in the traditional sense anyway. 

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