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A young business woman using smartphone outdoor; image used for HSBC What is a joint account.

What is a joint bank account?

A joint (or shared) account is a bank account that you share with someone else. Usually it's because you are both working towards the same goal, and you share both the benefits and the costs related to it.

There are 2 main types of joint accounts

"Both to sign" means that both account holders need to okay any use of the funds in the account. This is much safer, but less convenient, as any transaction will require the permission of both parties.

"Either to sign" means that each account holder has full access to the money in the account. You and your fellow account holder will each receive debit cards and full control of the account. Each of you will also be able to see any account activity, no matter who makes the transaction. "Either to sign" is more convenient, but it's less secure. This option is usually for people you have the utmost trust in.

Is a joint account right for you?

Typically you want a joint account when you are working towards the same goal, or sharing the same responsibilities. For example, you and your partner might have different incomes, but you share household expenses as well as the cost of trips and big ticket purchases. By opening a joint account you can each contribute money to the account, which can then be used to pay for necessities.

Or perhaps you and your siblings are sharing the responsibility of looking after an elder relative. A joint account would let you access funds to cover these expenses even if the primary caregiver is out of town. It also adds a layer of transparency: each account holder will receive detailed statements about all the money coming in and out of the account.

A joint account can also be useful if you are starting a small business, but haven't yet reached the stage where you need everything a business account can provide. It can be used for the day-to-day expenses of the business, or, as a way of saving up a larger sum of money in a secure account.

Trust is key

One of the most important things about a joint account, whether it is "Both to sign" or "Either to sign" is that you trust the other person. True, with the "Both to sign" option your partner will not be able to empty your account, but if the relationship goes sour your money could still be tied up for a long time. Closing a joint account is a little more complicated than closing a regular account, because all of the account holders need to agree on closing the account.

This means you probably wouldn't want to start a joint account with your new flatmate just to be able to take turns paying the water bill. Generally people who open a joint account have a long history – and expect to have a long future – together.

Can you convert your account to a joint account?

No. But opening up a new joint account is not a complicated process. If you prefer to just keep your original account, you could consider applying for a supplementary card for your partner. This will offer many of the same conveniences as a joint account, but it's important to know that it is not the same thing.

How to get started with a joint account

If you think a joint account is right for you, then the next step is determining what kind of account you want. You can use any of our transaction and savings accounts, from Premier1 to Everyday Global to Serious Saver as a joint account. If you're opening your new account online, just be sure to check the "Joint" option in the first step of your application. If you prefer to open your new account by phone or in the branch, simply let us know and our staff will help you get started.

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  1. Eligibility criteria applies for HSBC Premier. The criteria is set out in the HSBC Premier Services Guide. Eligibility criteria remains at HSBC's absolute discretion. Terms, conditions and other restrictions apply. HSBC reserves the right to charge a monthly fee for the HSBC Premier service. We may vary the monthly service fee for HSBC Premier from time to time.