The best joint bank accounts

CoupleJoint accounts can be a practical way to handle money with a partner, relatives or housemates. They are a good way to manage 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?

Best for 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 bills.

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

The account also offers up to 3% interest on your balance. 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 want to use the Santander 123 Current Account as their main account stand to benefit most as two salaries have the potential to deliver even more credit interest. But as a secondary account, perhaps used by housemates just for bills, the in-credit interest might not deliver much.

You have to pay a fee of £2 a month to get access to the account. You need to have £500 a month going into the account and to have two direct debits set up. But with most household costs exceeding this, it shouldn't be a tough target to reach.

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 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.

The great thing is the bonus gets paid even if you empty the account each month.
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!

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.

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.

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.

The bonus offer only applies if you and your partner are new customers and is only paid per account not per person.

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

Elsewhere the Halifax Reward Current Account also carries a £100 bonus offer as well as the £5 monthly cash bonus.

You need to switch via its switching service to qualify and move all automated credits across, deposit at least £750 a month and set up at least two direct debits to qualify for the incentive.

Like the First Direct deal the bonus is per joint account rather than per customer.

Earn £100 or up to 5% interest by switching to another bank

Joint account downsides
I'm a big fan of joint accounts as they are 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. Read How to untangle joint finances for more.

If the account becomes overdrawn by one person, each account holder is liable for repaying the debt. Read You could end up with debt that isn't even yours for more.

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 Banker's Association has put together a handy leaflet and the Citizens Advice Bureau has outlined a few things to think about.

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