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Joint vs. Separate Bank Accounts in Marriage

August 28, 2019 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Joint vs. Separate Bank Accounts in Marriage

You might share a last name, a home, and commitment to one another, but are you ready to share a bank account? More and more these days, married couples are eschewing the “I do” when it comes to completely merging finances.

Instead, many opt to keep accounts separate. While that Millennial approach might be appealing, don’t forget that financial problems and money miscommunications are one of the top reasons one study found for divorce in America .

Before you spend hours worrying about making the “right” decision, we’ll let you in on a secret: there isn’t one.

Weigh the pros and cons below with your partner, and make the right decision based on your relationship. As long as everyone’s on the same page, who’s to say you need to be in the same account?

Joint Accounts

A joint bank account with your spouse means everything’s out in the open. Both of you will have access to the account, which means you’ll each get a debit card, checkbook, and the other typical benefits that come with a checking account. Since everything’s out in the open, there could be less verbal communication involved when it comes to checking in on everyday spending.

Having a checking account together can also come in handy when it comes to setting financial goals. It makes it easy for you and your spouse to see how much you’ve saved.

Or, if you already have a home, a joint account can make it easy to take care of mortgage payments, insurance, and other necessities. Simply put, sharing that account can oftentimes be more convenient for everyday shared expenses.

It might be the last thing you want to consider, but having a joint bank account also makes it easier to retain access to your partner’s money in the event of death or emergency. If you have a joint account, you won’t have to go through the courts to get access.

Joint accounts have their benefits, but they also have some drawbacks. In the event that you and your spouse call it quits, dividing the account can get messy. Both of you generally have the right to withdraw the funds and even close the account , oftentimes even without your spouse’s approval. Opening a joint account requires a lot of trust in a couple.

Merging accounts with your spouse might also make you feel like you’ve lost some independence. This might be from income disparity, from one of you might have more debt that then other, or perhaps just feeling a loss of personal freedom.

Your spending habits will become an open book. That means it’ll be harder to buy your partner a surprise birthday gift, and it will be near impossible to hide a charge you might’ve made on a non-spouse approved shopping spree.

While you don’t have to agree with every purchase they make, both of you will see it. A joint account can make managing your finances and shared goals easier, but it also means complete transparency with your spouse. Depending on the way you share your spending habits with your spouse, a joint account might be the right move for you.

Separate Accounts

You and your spouse probably agree on plenty of subjects, but perhaps the way you spend and save isn’t one of them.

Maybe you pour over spreadsheets obsessively, while your partner is more of a set it and forget it kind of person.

Maybe it’s not how you spend your money, but what you spend it on that riles up your spouse. In this case, separate accounts might be a more appealing option.

However, because you don’t have access to each other’s day to day spending, you’ll need to communicate more when it comes to saving for and achieving financial goals as a couple.

You will have to decide how to split and pay for all of your shared expenses, like rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, and more. This might lead to more honest and open conversations about spending and saving.

Separate accounts might also be appealing if one of you has taken on major debt. This can protect the other spouse in the event that debt collectors show up, or regarding sole rights of survivorship in the event of an accident. And while no one wants to consider it, separate finances could also mean a simpler split down the line if worse comes to worst.

In addition, separate finances might make sense if you and your spouse both like to manage money. With a joint account, the responsibility might fall to one party, but if you keep your finances separate, no one needs to cede control.

Millennials are marrying later than previous generations, meaning you might already have well-established habits managing money on your own. And hey, if it’s not broke, why fix it?

When it comes to keeping separate accounts communication is key. But, that also means some independence for yourself, as well as safeguards in the event of debt or a split.

Hybrid Joint or Separate Accounts

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to joint or separate accounts with your spouse. In fact, you could try a hybrid of the two.

Both of you can keep your separate accounts while contributing to a joint account to handle common expenses such as monthly bills and future financial goals. It’s not uncommon for a single person to have multiple bank accounts, so why not try it as a couple?

If you decide to go down this route, just make sure to be clear about what the account is used for. Since you and your partner will be juggling multiple accounts and financial priorities you may have to spell out responsibilities when it comes to monitoring the account.

One Size Won’t Fit All, But SoFi Could

Your relationship is unique, so why wouldn’t your bank account be the same? What matters most is that you and your partner are feeling good about your finances, with open and honest communication.

SoFi Money® makes opening a single or joint cash management account easy. With convenient online access and no account fees (variable and subject to change), you and your spouse can worry about bigger things, like what to binge-watch next, or if you’re ordering out for tacos—again.

Find out more about using SoFi Money to help you and your partner reach your financial goals.

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