Best Joint Bank Account For Couples

Find out with Savvy what to look for, what to expect and how to compare and choose the best bank account for you as a couple.

Last updated on May 3rd, 2022 at 05:30 pm by Cate Cook

Compare and find the best bank account for a couple

Finding your ideal joint bank account is all about working out what your real needs are as a couple. A young couple just starting out their financial life will have very different needs from a married couple who have been together for 30 years and are now approaching retirement.  Look at offers from a variety of institutions with Savvy and find out how to compare them so you can access the best deal possible.

What options are there for joint bank accounts?

Your first decision will be whether you need an everyday or transaction account, or whether a savings account or term deposit is more appropriate.  If you want to shop online, pay bills, transfer money to other people and use payWave or PayPass for regular living expenses, look at joint transaction accounts.  If you want somewhere to park your savings, look at either a straight savings account, an offset account or a term deposit.

Whatever your needs, Savvy can help you find the best bank account for a couple in Australia regardless of your banking requirements.  By comparing joint bank accounts from a variety of different financial institutions, Savvy can present you with free factual and relevant comparison information to make your choice easier.

What features should we compare?

Account fees:

No-fee accounts have been available for children, students and pensioners for a long time, but now the best joint bank accounts for couples are also fee-free.  Other accounts offer fee waivers or no-fee options if a certain sum is deposited each month, so compare fees carefully to make sure your banking is as low-cost as possible.  Fees can include monthly account-keeping charges (usually around $5 to $10 a month) or fees to use other banks’ ATMs (often around $2 to $3 per transaction).

Interest rates:

On savings accounts, bonus interest rates can be offered if certain deposit conditions are met.  For example, the standard interest rate offered may be 0.2% p.a., but an additional 0.8% p.a. is offered if at least $1,000 is paid into the account each month.

Special offers:

Special offers such as Pay TV subscriptions, reward points, frequent flyer points and cashback offers are available for customers as an incentive to open a new joint account.  Check out any special offers with Savvy to make sure you don’t miss out on a great deal.

Online or in person: what’s your style?

High street banks still exist and many credit unions and building societies have a bricks-and-mortar presence in major cities and regional centres. If you’re of a generation where you like to walk into a bank and speak to a bank teller, you should look for a bank which has a branch near you for convenience. 

However, if you prefer to do all your banking online, a digital bank or a neobank may offer the best joint account for you as a couple.  These online banks offer the very latest in banking technology, with features including:

  • account sweeping – where any funds in a transaction account over a pre-defined limit are automatically transferred to a savings account
  • predictive budgeting – where the app predicts what bills you have coming up and alerts you to put that money aside to pay your bills
  • round up accounts – where any transaction you undertake is rounded up to the nearest $1 or even $5, depending on your preferences.  The rounded sum is transferred into a designated savings account

Overseas transaction fees

If you travel a lot, or are students who likes to explore other countries, compare overseas transaction fees and how much the bank will charge you to use ATMs overseas, as such charges vary a great deal and can really add up if you are overseas for a considerable time. 

How do we choose which joint account is right for us?

If you’re a younger couple…

Transaction accounts:

Your busy lives may mean you’re constantly on the go, so compatibility and ease of use considerations are features to look closely at.  Make sure the bank account of your choice has low to no fees and a mobile app which is compatible with your smartphone or watch.  For example, if you have an iPhone, make sure the account you choose allows you to use Apple Pay.  If you’ve got a Samsung phone, make sure your account supports Samsung Pay.  If your phone isn’t one of these brands, though, Google Pay compatibility is what you need to look out for.

Savings accounts:

When it comes to saving money, think about your longer-term future and find a savings account that matches your desired goals.  Are you thinking of buying your own home together one day? If so, you may be saving for a deposit?  In this case, a high-interest savings account which compounds your interest monthly, or even a term deposit, may be the best option to keep your savings secure and earn you the highest possible interest.

Term Deposits:

A term deposit is when you deposit a cash sum for a defined period, ranging from a month to a set number of years.  By locking your cash savings away you’re able to get a higher interest rate than you’d receive in a standard savings account where your funds are at call.  The fact your funds can’t be touched once they’re in a term deposit may help with the discipline of aggressively saving for a home deposit.

With a joint savings account, you may be able to opt for an account that offers a tiered rate of interest depending on the funds deposited each month.  If you’re both earning an income, depositing your wages into your account may give you the highest interest rate possible, as some savings accounts have a requirement to deposit at least $1,000 a month or more to earn the highest interest rate.

If you already own your first home, an offset account linked to your home loan reduces the interest you pay on a dollar-for-dollar basis.  Therefore, in an environment where interest rates on savings are low, it may be more financially worthwhile to opt for an offset account linked to your home loan rather than a savings account earning interest.  Savvy can help you compare interest rates on both your home loan and your savings account to make sure you’re not missing out on a better deal.

If you’re an older couple…

Concession card holders:

Either one or both of you may be receiving the aged pension or may hold a concession card.  If so, you can open a basic joint bank account that combines the two functions of savings and transactions.  A concession account will allow you to shop, pay your bills and transfer money to other people, but you’ll still earn interest on the balance of the account.  It may even be possible to include your children as co-signees on your joint account so they’re able to help you with shopping or run errands for you using a linked debit card.  However, the interest earned with such an account won’t be the highest rate possible, so think carefully if a joint concession account is the most suitable option for your immediate needs.

Are you aged over 65 but not receiving an aged pension?

Transaction accounts:

You should still be able to take advantage of a fee-free transaction account if you’re not in receipt of an aged pension but are still over the age of 65.  Look for special offers which could give you either a cashback sum or other benefits you’ll find useful if you’re about to open a new transaction account.

Savings accounts:

If you’re not receiving a government pension but are still aged over 65, a savings account earning high interest may be the best joint account for you. If you get your superannuation pension paid into a pensioner savings account with a tiered interest system, you may qualify both for no account fees and the highest interest rate available.

More of your questions about joint bank accounts for couples

What should we consider before opening a joint account?

Some of the key considerations to think about before opening an account include:

  • What’s the purpose of opening the account?
  • How much will we each contribute to the account?
  • What are our different attitudes towards spending?
  • Do we still want to keep some of our funds separate?
  • Should we take out a ‘one to sign’ or ‘both to sign’ account?
What are sub-accounts?

A sub-account is created by partitioning a transaction or savings account into two or more separate sections.  These can be used to divide up everyday accounts for different purposes or savings accounts for different goals.  There’s only one account number and one set of account fees, but it’s divided up into sections online which you can name individually.  For example, your savings account may have a sub-account called ‘car’ and another called ‘holiday’ so you can see how your savings are tracking for each savings goal.  Savvy can help you compare accounts to find one that allows sub-accounts if this feature is important to you.

What is a budget tracker and are they a good idea in a joint account?

This is another banking innovation which is now becoming more common in joint transaction accounts in Australia. The bank supplies an app which can monitor your spending and produce an online report showing you how much you’ve spent in various pre-defined categories.  For example, it could show you how much you’ve spent on takeaways, groceries, utility bills or subscriptions.  You’re able to log into the app to see how much you’ve spent, saved and have left throughout the month. This can be a very useful feature for a couple with a joint account, as each person can see exactly how much has been spent in each category.

If one person dies, what happens to a joint account?

What happens to bank accounts when someone dies will depend on the banking institution you’re with.  Most joint accounts in Australia are opened on a ‘one to sign’ basis, in which case the remaining partner can close the joint account and re-direct the funds to their individual account.  Some banks will need to see the death certificate if the joint account was opened on a ‘both to sign’ basis. Similar rules apply to what are known as ‘lost’ bank accounts. This could occur if a joint account is opened, but the couple separates and lose contact with each other. If the account is ‘one to sign’, the remaining party can close the account without having to contact the lost partner.

Can joint accounts involve more than one person?

Yes – it’s possible to set up a joint account with three or more people, or even two or more entities as signatories.  For example, two brothers or sisters may open a joint bank account with their parents so they’re able to offer their parents assistance in old age.  A trust fund can hold funds on behalf of a company, with various directors or financial officers as signatories.  The best joint bank account for a couple or an individual varies significantly, so it’s well worth comparing accounts with Savvy until you find one that suits your situation.