The top joint bank accounts
The top joint bank accounts
The top joint bank accounts

Joint accounts can be a practical way to handle money with a partner, relatives or housemates, when you have shared financial responsibilities like a mortgage, rent and household bills.

Most current accounts available from banks and building societies can be opened jointly with one or more people.

But which are the best bet for your situation?

Best for paying bills

If you want to open a joint account for practical reasons like sharing the cost of household expenses the Santander 123 Current Account is a good choice.

That's because it pays up to 3% cashback on household direct debits.

This bank account can earn you 1% cashback on water bills, Council Tax and Santander mortgage repayments (if you have one). Any direct debits for gas and electricity bills or Santander home insurance premiums will earn 2%, while the top 3% rate of cashback is paid on communication bills like mobile, home phone, broadband and paid-for TV packages.

The account also offers up to 3% interest on your balance. You can get 1% interest is paid on balances from £1,000, 2% is paid on balances from £2,000 and 3% is earned on balances between £3,000 and £20,000.

Couples who really want to maximise the credit interest benefits of the Santander 123 Current Account can hold one each separately and one together meaning £60,000 spread across the three accounts could earn the top 3% rate.

Couples without big sums of savings can still benefit from using the Santander 123 Current Account as their main account as with two salaries they have the potential to deliver at least some credit interest each month on top of the cashback the account offers.

But as a secondary account, perhaps used by housemates just for bills, the in-credit interest might not be as rewarding.

You need to have £500 a month going into the account and to have two direct debits set up in order to earn cashback. But with most household costs exceeding this, it's not a tough target to reach.

You should also bear in mind that the account attracts a £5 monthly fee which will eat into the cashback and any interest you make.

If Santander's monthly fee is a turn-off you could go for the NatWest Reward Account, which costs £3 a month.

It pays 3% uncapped cashback on seven different household bills paid by direct debit including Council Tax, gas, electricity, water, phone, TV and broadband.

Best for cash rewards

If the sound of cashback is appealing but you won't necessarily be paying eligible bills from the account, you can still get a cash reward.

The Co-operative Bank is offering those that have its Standard Current Account and sign up to the Everyday Rewards programme the chance to earn £5.50 a month or £66 a year.

You'll get a cash reward of £4 a month plus the chance to earn 5p on every debit card transaction you make in a month up to £1.50.

To be eligible you will need to deposit £800 a month into the account, have four active direct set up log into online or mobile banking at least once during the month and stay opted in for paperless statements.

Alternatively the Halifax Reward Current Account will pay £5 into your joint account each month, giving you £60 in a year.

You will need to pay in at least £750 a month and pay two different direct debits from the account to trigger the £5 bonus.

Another advantage of the Halifax Reward account is that you can hold one current account in a sole name and one in a joint name so you can get access to the £5 cash reward twice in a month.

A couple could conceivably earn £60 each separately and then £60 in their joint account bringing the total reward to £180 bagged in a year!

Plus, with Halifax offering new customers £125 for switching to one of its current accounts, so there's an opportunity to boost the cash reward even further.

Best for in-credit interest

If you don't plan to constantly spend what's in your joint account you should take advantage of a current account that pays a decent level of credit interest.

I've already mentioned the Santander 123 Current Account which will pay up to 3% on balances from £3,000 up to £20,000. But this might be a difficult balance to maintain, especially if you don't plan to have it as a main account.

For those likely to have a smaller balance the Nationwide FlexDirect current account will pay 5% on balances up to £2,500 for the first 12 months. But you will only get this rate if £1,000 is deposited into the account each month.

The account also comes with a 12-month fee-free overdraft which can absorb any mishaps on bills or deposits and access to exclusive customer rewards called Flexclusives.

Alternatively, there's the TSB Classic Plus Account which pays 5% on balances up to £2,000.

Unlike the Nationwide account this rate won't fall away after 12 months plus you only need to fund the account with £500 each month and opt for online correspondence. You can also earn 5% cashback on your first £100 of contactless payments each month.

A reward for switching

Most people that use a joint account will also have a separate sole account which their salary is paid into.

But if you're in a situation where you want to make a joint account your main account, perhaps with someone you trust like a partner, you can get some great offers for switching, which you can share.

HSBC is offering £150 for those that switch to its HSBC Advance or HSBC Premier account before 10 July and a further £50 when you keep it open for 12 months.

You will need to switch at least two Direct Debits or Standing Orders using the Current Account Switch Service within 30 days of opening the account and deposit at least £1,750 a month.

The Cooperative Bank is offering a £150 bonus for those that switch to its Current Account or smile Current Account (web only).

You will need to use the Current Account Switch Service to one or both accounts over and set up at least four active Direct Debits in order to qualify for the bonus.

With the First Direct 1st Account you can get £100 for making it your main bank.

In order to qualify for the bonus one or both will need to switch their account using the Easy Switch service, set up at least two direct debits and pay in at least £1,000 a month to avoid the £10 fee.

With a 1st Account you get access to a 24-hour customer service helpline and exclusive products only reserved for customers.

Alternatively the Halifax Reward Current Account comes with a £100 bonus offer (for those that apply by 18 July) as well as the £5 monthly cash bonus mentioned before.

You need to switch via its switching service to qualify and move all active credits and direct debits across, deposit at least £750 a month and close your old bank account. Switching will also enter you into a prize draw to win up to £50,000. Winners will be announced on 19th February 2016.

With these switching offers it's important to remember that the bonus offer is only paid per account not per person and some will limit the offer to completely new customers, so if you've claimed the reward as a sole customer before it might not apply.

Joint account downsides

I'm a big fan of joint accounts as they're handy tools to manage shared financial responsibilities, but they also carry risks.

Here are the main pitfalls to consider before taking the plunge with a partner, relative or housemate:

  • A joint account links people financially and means they can impact your credit rating. So another account holder with a low credit score may damage yours.

  • If the account becomes overdrawn by one person, each account holder is liable for repaying the debt.

  • You lose privacy on a joint account as all transactions will be able to be viewed by all account holders.

  • If one account holder takes money from the account without your knowledge, you won't be able to get it back. You should only open an account with people if you can trust them to act responsibly with the shared pot.

Some joint accounts can be set up as both-to-sign, where all account holders have to give permission every time money is taken out of the bank account, or either-to-sign, which allows any account holder to withdraw money.

The bank or building society you open a joint account with should set out clearly who can take money from the account, how overdrafts will be handled and how to handle disagreements or the end of a relationship between joint account holders. This agreement is called a mandate, which all account holders will have to sign.

For more information about joint accounts the British Bankers Association has put together a handy leaflet and the Citizens Advice Bureau has outlined a few things to think about.

Compare current accounts and find the right one for you

Money Monday: Finance And Relationships
Money Monday: Finance And Relationships