Best Joint Bank Accounts

What features to look for and how to compare bank accounts to find the one that’s just right for you and your partner, right here with Savvy.

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, updated on September 11th, 2023       

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Finding the best bank account can save you hundreds on fees and connect you with the very latest in smart banking technology.  Compare bank accounts from a wide variety of providers with Savvy to find the very best offers available on the market right now.

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More about finding the best joint bank account

Taking that next step forward by deciding on a joint bank account can be an exciting time in the life of a developing relationship.  Take a look here at the best joint bank accounts with Savvy to find out what features are available and how to compare them to ensure you get the one that’s right for you and your partner.

What different types of joint bank accounts are there?

A joint bank account is either a savings or transaction account which is in more than one name.  They’re normally opened by couples, family members or businesses wanting a way to have all parties able to use the same bank account.  All nominated account holders usually have equal access to the account and often have their own linked debit card to enable payWave and PayPass purchases and cash withdrawals to be made.  The two different types of joint bank account in Australia are:

Either to sign

An ‘either to sign’ (also known as one to sign) joint account means both parties can equally open the account, close the account, withdraw funds and carry out transactions independently

 Both to Sign (also known as two to sign)

A ‘both to sign’ joint account involves both parties giving their authorisation for a transaction in whichever way they choose to receive their notifications; this could be via SMS, smartphone notification requiring a PIN to be entered, email with an authorisation link, voice or face recognition or in person at a branch.  

There are joint accounts for almost every banking need and combination of persons.  As well as basic savings and transaction joint accounts, there are also numerous types of small business accounts, term deposits and offset accounts which can be opened in more than one name or the names of more than one entity. 

Other types of joint accounts include:

  • Babies, kids, teens, and youth accounts which can be opened jointly with parents, guardians or godparents
  • Student accounts, which could be useful for two students who are living or travelling together
  • Business accounts, which can be set up to give banking authority to a company secretary, with approval required by the company director or chief financial officer before money leaves the account
  • Pensioner or concession accounts, which can be used by adult children wanting to help elderly parents with shopping or groceries
  • Trust accounts in various forms, where one person can access funds they hold in trust for another person or entity, such as a young child, a disabled person or a charity or not-for-profit
  • Term deposits, which are an agreement to park your cash with a bank for a particular length of time (from months to years) in return for a higher interest rate
  • Offset accounts, which are a form of savings account which reduce the interest you pay on your home loan.  For every dollar you save in your offset account, you’ll pay interest on one less dollar you owe through your home loan.  However, you won’t earn interest on the money in an offset account.

What features should we compare before deciding on a joint account?

The key to finding the best joint bank account for a couple lies in comparing similar accounts from multiple financial institutions until you find an account that best suits your particular needs.  Savvy can help you with this task by presenting you with clear comparison information in an easy-to-understand format so you can contrast different offers with ease. Some of the areas to look out for include:

  • Fees – how much is charged in monthly account-keeping fees? Many financial institutions offer fee-free accounts these days, so beware of excessive account fees.  Young people under 21, children, students, pensioners and concession card holders can all get fee-free accounts, so it’s important to not pay too much for your banking
  • Special offers – are there any special offers currently being advertised that could be worth taking advantage of? These can include offering cash bonuses, cashback offers, frequent flyer loyalty reward points, fee waivers, gym memberships or pay TV subscriptions as an incentive to attract new customers
  • Interest rates – for savings accounts and term deposits, the interest rate offered is the most important piece of information to compare, as it can make a big difference to how quickly your savings grow. Compare interest rates offered and see if bonus interest offers (where a bonus interest rate is paid if certain deposit or withdrawal conditions are met) are worthwhile pursuing
  • Accessibility – does the account offer a mobile platform which is compatible with your smartphone or watch?  Could you link your existing credit or debit card to the new account?  Will the account let you store any linked cards you have in your digital wallet?  Make sure the new account you open will be compatible with your existing financial setup to make life easier for you, not more complex.

How do we decide if a joint account is right for us?

It’s vital to have a good relationship with the person you’re opening a joint account with.  Research has shown that fights about money are a common major issue for most Australian couples, so it’s important to talk about your expectations of a joint account before you rush into opening one. 

Some of the things to consider include:

How much is too much?

Decide how much money either partner can spend on new or unplanned purchases without consulting the other.  Agree on a dollar limit and stick to it if you want to ensure your joint account journey runs smoothly.  It’s important that neither party gets an unexpected unpleasant surprise when they check the account’s balance.

What shall we spend our money on?

Agree in advance on what the joint account funds will be used for.  Is the account to be used for joint items only, such as paying the rent or mortgage or utility bills, or is it to be used for discretionary spending too, like meals out or trips to the movies?

Discuss your account boundaries

Most relationships have financial ‘trigger issues’ which can lead to disagreements.  For example, this may be who pays expenses for step-children or in-laws, whilst for other couples, expensive personal hobbies which aren’t shared may cause friction.  Before deciding to open a joint bank account, it’s a good idea to discuss these topics and decide what your joint account rules and boundaries are.

Types of bank account

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Top tips to make a joint bank account work for you

Agree on spend and save amounts

Reach an agreement about how much of your monthly household income you will allocate for saving and how much you’ve got left to spend. If you both know what your financial limitations are then you can work together to reach your savings goals

Plan joint savings goals

Part of the fun of being one half of a couple is planning for the future together. Many banks now allow account splitting or the creation of multiple sub-accounts. These sub-accounts can be named individually and used to save for specific goals, such as a new car or an overseas holiday. Having a joint savings account called ‘new car fund’ can increase savings motivation.

Agree what will happen if you hit a speed-bump

If you have a disagreement with your partner, agree in advance on how you will end your joint banking arrangement. Which one of you will close the account and how will you split any funds remaining in the account? You should also discuss what you’ll do if either of you becomes incapacitated so that all bases are covered before you open your account.

Make time to talk

With the busy lives which most couples live today, it’s important to make time regularly (at least once per month) to talk to each other about your household finances and jointly plan how you will manage your money into the future. Researching the best joint bank account for a couple together will start you off with a good communication habit.

Your most commonly asked questions about the best joint bank accounts

Do online banks offer the best interest rates for joint savings accounts?

Some of the highest interest rates are offered by online banks, building societies and credit unions. These financial institutions don’t have huge overheads from high street branches or have any shareholders, so they’re able to offer customers lower or no-fee accounts and higher interest rates on savings accounts.  Compare your options with Savvy to find out which account may offer you the best deal for your joint savings.

Can either party close the account without the permission of the other?

With a ‘one to sign’ joint account, yes.  If the account is a ‘both to sign’, though, it’ll take permission from both parties to close the account.

Who pays income tax on the interest from a joint saving account?

This will depend on the personal situation and the age of the joint parties.  With children’s accounts held jointly with a parent, there is an exemption for children under 16 from paying income tax on interest earned.  If both parties are adults, the interest is split 50/50 between each individual.  If one or either party to a joint account is aged over 65 or is a pensioner or concession card holder, ATO deeming rules will apply to interest earned.

Who has the responsibility for any debt accrued on a joint account?

Both signatories to a joint account share responsibility for any debt accrued on that account, such as overdrawing, which is why it’s important to trust your partner before agreeing to a joint account together.

Is it cheaper to have a joint account than two separate accounts?

That will depend on account fees which your financial institution may charge on your joint account.  Youths, students and pensioners can enjoy fee-free banking, but other accounts may have a monthly fee of $5 a month or more.  In most cases, you’ll save money overall by sticking with one account compared to two.

What happens to a joint account if one holder passes away?

What happens to an Australian joint bank account when someone dies will depend on the rules of the specific financial institution you’re banking with.  With ‘either to sign’ joint accounts, which are the most common type, the surviving partner will be able to operate the joint account as normal, including closing the account and transferring its balance to another.  In a ‘both to sign account,’ the account will initially be frozen by the financial institution to protect the estate of the deceased person.  You may need to complete a ‘notice of death of customer’ form and the bank will need to see a copy of the death certificate before taking further action. 

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