Joint checking accounts are checking accounts offered by banks that allow more than one person to manage the money in the account. Opening one is no different than opening an individual checking account, except for the fact that all parties will need to provide their information.
Joint checking accounts are typically opened by couples who are in a long-term relationship, often married, but can also be opened by a parent and child or business partners. According to a UCLA study, couples who have a joint checking account are happier in their relationships, but people open joint accounts for other reasons, such as having a pooled family account to serve as an emergency fund. Whatever your reason for needing a joint checking account, you’ll need to find the right one for your situation.
For instance, a student opening an account with their parent will need a different type of account than an executive with multiple income streams managing an account with a business partner. We looked at more than two dozen joint checking account options that are available nationwide and narrowed them down to our top six options based on fees, customer service, ease of setup, and overall convenience.
The 6 Best Joint Checking Accounts of 2020
Ally: Best Overall
Formerly GMAC, Ally was rebranded in 2010 to focus on online banking. Ally’s joint checking account is easy to set up and can be managed directly from your phone. Ally offers a high annual percentage yield (APY) compared to many other options and has high customer reviews. All of this, plus Ally’s simple application and management processes, make it our best overall joint checking account.
Ally can act as a full-service bank for many customers, offering high-yield savings accounts, the ability to invest in a money market account, or get a personal loan for your car, house, or other miscellaneous needs. Ally has excellent customer service. You can easily sign up for a joint checking account online and you won’t pay any monthly fees or minimum deposit amounts.
Overall, Ally offers a joint checking account option that’s competitive with both traditional banks and other online-only options. Ally can be an excellent choice for those looking for a convenient, low-fee joint checking account.
Azlo: Best for Entrepreneurs
If you’re a freelancer or a small business owner who needs to start a shared checking account with multiple owners, Azlo might be the best choice for you. Azlo offers an online business banking option that is easy to set up and caters to business owners. We chose it as our best option for entrepreneurs because of their no-fee commitment, strong customer service, and how easy it is to open and manage on an ongoing basis.
Azlo differs from the other options on this list because, rather than opening a personal account, you would open a business account. Many business owners want to separate their business finances from their personal, but they also want their co-owners or spouse to have access to the business’s checking for tasks like paying bills or depositing funds.
Azlo works through BBVA, a large traditional bank, and it doesn’t charge you any fees or require a minimum deposit, and if you overdraw your account, there are no charges or fees.
You can enroll and bank entirely online, and the signup process only takes a few minutes. If you’re an entrepreneur and need others on the account, Azlo is an excellent choice.
Axos: Best Online Account
Axos is an online-only bank with a full array of financial options from checking accounts to mortgage loans. With five personal checking options, including a joint checking account for you and your minor child as well as a business checking solution, Axos offers something for everyone. We chose Axos as the best online account because of their 20 years of online banking experience, numerous account options, zero-fee checking, and above-average customer ratings.
Axos’ checking accounts come with no fees, unlimited ATM reimbursements, and you can earn up to a 1.25% APY. Axos also offers a high-yield savings account and investment portfolios as well as personal loans to pay off credit card debt, refinance a house, or purchase a car. You must be 18 years of age to apply for all of their accounts except their teen checking account.
Axos has an excellent online account option, making it easy to manage your account from anywhere. To sign up, you need to complete an online application and there is no minimum deposit required.
Capital One: Best for Teens & Students
Capital One is our best joint checking account for teens and students because it gives you great features like no fees, fee-free ATMs, and text alerts sent to both you and your teen that allow you to see your child's spending in real time. The account comes with a 0.10% APY on all balances, allowing teens to slowly grow their account over time and get a better understanding of the importance of saving over spending.
A Capital One joint checking account is easy to set up via an online application, and you can fund the account with online or mobile check deposits. They’ve also designed an intuitive, easy-to-navigate app to help those who are new to managing their money better understand their spending patterns and set savings goals. Parents can even reward their teens with a small deposit when they achieve their goals.
Capital One’s account requires at least one joint account holder to be at least 18 years old and must be the parent or guardian of the minor account holder. All account holders must be at least eight years old.
Capital One has a plethora of other financial tools from credit cards to savings accounts and auto loans. They are a great source to help your teen go from their first checking account to their first car loan. Capital One has strong customer reviews, and you can get started quickly by filling out an online application.
Alliant: Best Credit Union Account
Alliant is a credit union, which differs from normal banks because credit unions are non-profit financial institutions. Although using a credit union doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get better fees or interest rates, during bad economic times your rates and services will likely remain the same whereas traditional banks might lower your interest rates or take away other benefits. Alliant is our best credit union joint checking account because of its online offerings, easy-to-use mobile app, no monthly fees, $20 in monthly ATM rebates, and strong 0.25% APY.
Alliant has received numerous accolades, mostly for its online banking experience. Many credit unions have been slower to adapt to online banking, not developing a solid app or online banking experience for their members. Alliant has gone above and beyond to make sure its app is not only available but is the best in its class, and Alliant competes with many traditional banks by letting you manage your account entirely from your mobile device.
You can apply for an Alliant joint checking account online but you must first become a member of the credit union. To be eligible, you must be a relative of an existing Alliant member, be a member of a select partner organization, live or work in a qualifying community, or provide a small donation of $5 to a partner charity. Once you qualify, you’ll just need to provide a government ID to prove you’re at least 18 years of age along with either your Social Security number or tax ID number. The entire process can be completed in less than 10 minutes.
Simple: Best for Budgeting
Simple offers a shared banking account where you and your significant other (or anyone else, for that matter) can create financial goals and work via Simple’s online platform to save and hit those goals. Simple is our best joint checking account for budgeting because the budgeting tool within the app shows you exactly what is “safe to spend” by calculating your account balance minus the amount you need to save to hit your monthly goal. It will also tell you specifically how much you have left after your goals are met.
Simple has terrific customer reviews including a 3.6 from Consumer Affairs. Customers love how easy it is to use the mobile app, how intuitive the goals and “available to spend” features are, and the bank's strong customer service. Although Simple does not offer savings accounts or auto loans, it does offer no-penalty CDs and personal loans, which can help customers consolidate credit card debt.
Simple allows you to share your goals or provide extra accountability toward reaching your financial goals. The shared account comes with a 0.60% APY regardless of your balance, and you can sign up online within a few minutes by providing some basic personal information and a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license.
What Is a Joint Checking Account?
A joint checking account is an interest-bearing bank account with permissions for more than one person to manage deposits, withdrawals, and account changes. Anyone who is an account holder on a joint checking account has the right to any money kept in that account and typically must report that money on things like financing applications.
Joint checking accounts can be used to save money or to pay for expenses by any of the authorized account holders. The biggest benefit of a joint checking account is the convenience of being able to consolidate your money in one place rather than transferring money to various accounts when two or more people need to manage their money together.
When someone mentions a joint checking account, they are typically not referring to a business bank account. However, business bank accounts can act like joint checking accounts by having multiple “managers” of the account at the bank who all work for the same business.
How Do Joint Checking Accounts Work?
Opening a checking account involves providing your name, address, date of birth, and your Social Security or tax ID number. At the end of the process, you’ll be asked to deposit funds into your account with the minimum required amount varying by the bank. While some banks will let you open an account without any money in it, most won’t finalize your account until it is funded.
The only difference for opening a joint account is the added step of providing the same information you provided about yourself for each additional account holder. Managing your account is as simple as abiding by whatever rules your bank provides, such as keeping enough money in your account to cover both your spending and the minimum amounts you’re bound to before being charged any fees.
Who Can Use a Joint Checking Account?
Whoever signs up as an account holder when the joint checking account is created, or whoever is added at a later date at the agreement of all current account holders, can have full access and management oversight of the account. Many financial institutions will require at least one joint account holder to be over the age of 18 and some will require all account holders to be of legal age.
If there is a joint account holder under the age of 18, many banks will require the other account holder to be related to the minor. Adult account holders, such as partners who are not married, don’t need to be related. It’s important to understand the requirements and restrictions of the financial institution you’re using for your joint checking account before opening the account or depositing any money.
How Much Do Joint Checking Accounts Cost?
The best joint checking accounts cost nothing to set up other than any required opening deposits, which will typically be accessible and available within a day or two of being approved for an account.
Note that some joint checking accounts require a minimum balance, and if you drop below that amount, you’ll be charged a fee. Additionally, if you overdraw your account and spend more than you have, the bank will charge you processing fees, an insufficient fund fee, or an inconvenience charge.
However, the best joint checking accounts have very minimal fees, often none at all, and will cover up to $100 in overdrawn charges before you incur any additional fees.
How Do Joint Checking Accounts Differ From Individual Accounts?
Other than convenience if you’re managing your money with another person, joint checking accounts also increase the amount of FDIC coverage for your account. Each co-owner of a joint account is insured up to $250,000, meaning a couple can safely keep $500,000 in the account and be protected should anything like a market crash impact your financial institution.
Another key difference to remember for joint checking accounts is that creditors of any account holder could potentially access the funds in the account. For example, if your co-account holder winds up with a legal or financial judgment against them, the money in your account won’t be safe. There’s also almost no protections or recourse if one account holder drains the account without your knowledge.
Overall, though, the account operates the same whether it’s a joint checking account or not. You can still deposit and withdraw money as long as you abide by the terms and conditions of your account.
How We Chose the Best Joint Checking Accounts
We looked at more than two dozen joint checking accounts and narrowed them down to the top six you see on this list. We looked at how easy it is to set up an account, the reputation and customer reviews of the bank, what the fees were, and what additional features the checking account offered. We found that the best banks typically have minimal, if any, fees for normal banking and were easy to set up and manage online.