Should Couples Have Separate Bank Accounts?

The pros and cons of sharing a bank account with your partner

Image shows six icons, including a wallet with a credit card sticking out, a tombstone, a bank building, two hands handcuffed together, two wallets with money sticking out, and a broken heart, Text reads: The Pros and Cons of Joint Bank Accounts. Pros; convenience for everyday use, streamline some legal affairs, tow pairs of eyes for oversight. Cons: loss of independence, entering with unequal accounts, danger in case of a messy breakup

The Balance

Married couples or people in committed relationships may consider opening a joint bank account to merge their finances. Joint bank accounts are checking or savings accounts that provide equal access to all account holders. That means either you or your partner can take out money or look at the complete account history.

Before you open a joint account, consider the advantages and disadvantages, and whether opening a joint account is the right choice for you and your partner.

Key Takeaways

  • Joint accounts can make it easier to budget and share financial information as a couple.
  • Separate accounts might be a better fit for you if you want to keep most of your financial information private.
  • You and your partner can choose to have one joint account for shared expenses while keeping the rest of your money in separate accounts.
  • Even if a couple doesn’t have a joint account, they can track expenses, make budgets, and set financial goals together.

Pros and Cons of a Joint Bank Account

  • Provides financial transparency and accountability for couples

  • Makes it easier to budget as a couple

  • Encourages a sharing mindset

  • Makes money accessible for one partner if the other is incapacitated

  • Could heighten disagreements about how to spend money

  • May make it more difficult to escape financial abuse

  • Allows for mismanagement of money because of an unreliable partner

Pros Explained

  • Provides financial transparency and accountability for couples: Joint bank accounts allow couples full access to each other’s money and financial habits. Couples will also be able to get a detailed look at the percentage of their income that goes toward each spending category. They won’t need to wonder what the other person is spending money on. That may help some people reduce their spending and stick to a budget.
  • Makes it easier to budget as a couple: It can be easier to pay for rent, groceries, and other communal items from a joint account. You’ll also be able to see any duplicate costs and eliminate those. For example, if you both have Netflix subscriptions, you could cancel one of them.
  • Encourages a sharing mindset: Paying bills from a joint account rather than paying for bills on a percentage basis encourages a mindset shift when it comes to budgeting. Rather than a “yours versus mine” mentality, the money goes into the account where it becomes owned by both.
  • Makes money accessible for one partner if the other is incapacitated: A couple should prepare for all life experiences, including major illness or death. A joint bank account provides total agency over finances for a surviving partner without the need for a power of attorney or other legal documentation of permission.

Cons Explained

  • Could heighten disagreements about how to spend money: You and your partner might have different spending and saving styles. Those may become more apparent and lead to conflict that might be avoided with separate accounts. If you’re set on having a joint account, start by figuring out where you and your partner agree, and move forward from there. However, you and your partner will both need to make compromises.
  • May make it more difficult to escape financial abuse: According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, financial abuse is the number-one reason for staying in or returning to an abusive relationship, and it occurs in 98% of abusive relationships. Abusers may try to sabotage their victim’s professional prospects so that the victim cannot leave the relationship, and if all the money is in joint accounts, the abuser could immediately know when their victim is trying to get away.
  • Allows for mismanagement of money because of an unreliable partner: Having a joint account requires a deep level of trust and faith that each of you will keep the couple's best interests in mind when using joint funds. However, there have been situations when one partner cleared the funds into a personal account and closed the joint account. If you don’t have your own funds to fall back on, you might be left destitute. Be cautious and ensure you understand this risk when you sign up for a joint account.

Why Some Couples Might Want Separate Bank Accounts

Not every couple has a joint bank account. Here are some reasons you might each want your own.

One Person Has Severe Debt or Other Financial Obligations

Knowing whether a joint account is right for a couple means taking an honest look at both of your financial situations. If, say, you’re debt-free but your partner has major student loan debt and low credit score, having a joint account could impact you.

If a creditor were to come and seize assets, everything in the joint bank account could be taken. You may find it a safer option to have separate accounts until the debt is repaid.


Although your spouse’s lower credit score won’t impact yours, it will make a difference when applying for a joint credit card, loan, or mortgage. A creditor may end up using the lower credit  score when reviewing your application.

Other times, one partner may have family obligations, such as child support from a prior relationship. They could be paying for child care and education costs for years. Separate accounts could help keep those obligations outside of your joint budget.

You Want Separate Accounts

You and your partner may decide that separate accounts make the most sense at this stage in your union. Money can be a tricky topic to navigate, and each of you may weigh considerations differently.

You and your significant other might decide that the best thing you can do is keep your accounts separate, at least for the moment. You can always choose to merge finances later.


A third option is starting a joint account while keeping personal accounts open. The joint account could be used for combined expenditures such as your rent, groceries, and utility bills, and each of you would deposit an agreed-upon amount into the account each month.

Setting Financial Goals as a Couple

You and your partner might have goals that have expensive price tags attached. You might want to purchase a new home, have children, or buy a new car. These goals will likely take dedicated saving.

A joint account can make tracking financial goals easier. That way, you can quickly see wins you want to celebrate, as well as setbacks you want to overcome together.

How you work toward these goals is unique to your situation, but working together on finances isn’t just opening a joint account. Whether or not you decide to completely combine your finances, you should make time to work on:

  • Budgeting: Sit down each month to create a budget indicative of all bills and incomes. Even if you don’t have a joint account, you should still function as a unit on collective living costs. If necessary, you can use Venmo or Paypal as a tool to even up.
  • Tracking finances: Use the end of every month to review expenses. As a couple, you can make decisions about what expenses need to be reduced, such as entertainment costs, and what needs to be increased, such as savings.
  • Credit card usage: Open up to each other about any credit card debt and create a space for accountability regarding repayment. You may want to start a joint credit card for shared expenditures. That can also act as a starting point for combining finances.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have to be married to have a joint bank account?

You do not have to be married to have a joint bank account. Joint accounts are options for couples before marriage, family members, or even strangers. No relationship is required for a joint account.

How do you merge bank accounts after getting married?

If you and your spouse decide to open a joint account together, you will both need to provide the bank with identification and personal details. You’ll also need an initial deposit to open the account, which can come from an already established account or new funds.

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Financial Abuse.”

  2. AARP. "Is a Joint Bank Account Right for Me?"

  3. Equifax. "Myths vs. Facts: Marriage and Credit."

Related Articles