3 Reasons Not to Open a Joint Bank Account With Your Partner

Couple hugging their dog.

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You might share a roof and a life — but you don’t have to share a bank account.

Key points

  • Many couples share finances and use the same bank account.
  • You may want to take a different approach if certain factors apply to you.
  • Consider your money management style and how much you value financial independence.

When my husband and I made the decision to combine our lives by getting married, we also opted to combine our finances. As such, we applied for a credit card jointly and also opened a shared checking and savings account.

But while banking together works well for us, it may not work well for you. In fact, here are a few reasons to reconsider opening a joint bank account with your romantic partner.

1. You and your partner manage money differently

Maybe you’re a saver and your partner is a spender. Or maybe those roles are reversed. Either way, if you and your partner don’t share the same philosophy when it comes to money, and you have different styles of managing your money, then it could pay to keep your finances separate.

If your partner tends to go overboard on the spending front, they might, at some point, deplete their savings account. But if you keep your savings in a separate account that your partner doesn’t have access to, they can’t do the same with your savings.

Furthermore, if you and your partner have different views on money, sharing a bank account could become a source of conflict. You might make comments every time you see a withdrawal for a non-essential expense, and your partner might resent having to explain their purchases to you (or vice versa, depending on who’s the spender and who’s the saver). By maintaining separate bank accounts, you might manage to avoid some of the money strife so many couples fall victim to — and preserve your relationship.

2. You want financial independence

When you share a bank account with a partner, they have a say over what happens with that money. If you like the idea of being financially independent, then it’s important to have a bank account of your own that only you control. Along these lines, you may also want to maintain your own credit card account, as opposed to a joint one.

3. You want to maintain the element of surprise

Sharing a bank account works for me and my spouse except for one scenario — when one of us wants to buy the other a gift. In that situation, an unplanned withdrawal might look suspicious and lead to questions. And so at times, we’ve had to resort to sneaky measures to surprise one another with gifts — such as hoarding small amounts of cash over time to avoid taking a large withdrawal.

If this is a situation you want to avoid, then separate bank accounts could be a good solution. That way, you and your partner can use your money to treat each other without ruining those surprises.

What’s the right call?

Joint bank accounts work well for a lot of couples. But that doesn’t guarantee that you and your partner will enjoy having one.

However, don’t make that decision alone. Sit down with your partner and talk things through so you get on the same page, no matter what choice you arrive at. And remember, it’s possible to open a joint bank account but also maintain some cash in other accounts you each control individually. That way, you can split the bills you incur jointly but also retain control over some of your money.

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