Understanding the Pros and Cons of a Joint Checking Account

Joint checking accounts are a common way for people to connect their finances. There are many benefits to setting up an account this way and account holders can enjoy these advantages. That being said, there are also some drawbacks to opening a joint bank account.

When opening a checking account with another individual, regardless of the relationship, it is important to have an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of establishing a joint account because it is a financial commitment.

Here are a few of the most common pros and cons of joint checking account:


Convenience is often cited as one of the most popular reasons why people decide to open their bank account with a joint person.

For instance it is common for many couples who are either married or live together to share a joint account in order to pay household bills with. Since many couples often combine incomes in order to run the household, combining deposits and both partners having the ability to withdraw funds makes it easier and convenient.

Other reasons why people establish joint accounts are for accessibility and assistance. For young adults parents often establish an account to help their child transition to adulthood, or to help them along if they are in college. For elderly parents, children often are listed on a joint account so they can make sure their parents’ bills are paid in a timely fashion so it can relieve some of the burden.

Business partners often open joint accounts because it separates the individual finances from company transactions and offers a higher degree of convenience and accessibility.  It also protects each partner from messing up and shifting funds to the wrong account if all business related monies are directed to a small account.

Survivorship is another notable advantage to a joint checking account. In the event of death, a joint account ensures the surviving owner gets the money in the account and the account does not go into probate. Legally when one owner passes away, any money goes to the other co-owner.


While the advantages are many, it is important to note when considering a joint account what the disadvantages are because there are several to know about before making the commitment to share a bank account.

The first is to understand the account can be emptied or overspent by one co-owner without the other’s knowledge or permission. Approval for spending funds is equally shared by both owners and even if every penny is drawn out, this is acceptable. If there is any lack of trust in a relationship, a joint account is probably not a good idea.

Keeping track of deposits and withdrawals of a joint checking account can be difficult. Unless the accounting logistics are worked out ahead of time and agreed upon, it can get awfully hard to keep track of inflows and outflows of cash. The risk of an overdrawn account or a bad check being written is higher unless this issue is addressed from the start and both account owners agree and uphold their end of keeping careful notations of spending.

With ATMs and online banking this can be checked easily and perhaps avoided, but it can be unpleasant if an expenditure needs to be made and it turns out the account does not have sufficient funds. Careful documentation is essential in joint checking accounts if both parties consistently use the account.

An irresponsible account owner who intentionally writes bad checks is another drawback. Again, full trust in the person is essential.

The liability aspect of joint checking accounts is something to consider. If one owner is sued or has other financial obligations that need to be paid legally, the joint account can be affected. There is no 50/50 in funds, if the person who has a debt needing to be paid, any accounts in their name are often taken into consideration.

There are many pros and cons to joint checking accounts, however by doing the homework and understanding what is involved in joint checking accounts can clear up some concerns. Once all the information is derived, it is easier to make a decision on whether or not a joint checking account is worth opening.