Is there a service for an informal shared bank account?
June 7, 2015 3:15 PM   Subscribe

The ladybro and I share a lot of expenses. Generally, we split everything down the middle, but that's the result of an end-of-the-month manual accounting that's a real pain in the butt. We decided to simplify and start a small join bank account, but nearly every brick 'n mortar bank has conditions that end in big fees. Is there a simple banking service I don't know about? More inside.

Here's the dream: The account would hold about $800 and would probably come close to being depleted by the end of every month, at which point we'd both contribute 50% of the delta to bring it back to $800. The issue is that BoA, Chase etc. would end up charging us $12+/mth because we're not maintaining a minimum balance.

My next thought was , but they don't support joint accounts (oh god why) and, obviously, won't issue multiple cards. Is there another option for supporting this kind of low-balance/high-transaction joint account?
posted by GilloD to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My credit union has no-charge bank accounts with no minimum balance requirements and refunds on all ATM fees as long as you either have automatic deposits or use your debit card enough times per month. I think you need to look at credit unions, either local or national. There have been previous answers to questions here that gave good how-to advice for finding and selecting a credit union.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:20 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

CapitalOne 360 does this easily, no fees.
posted by bleep at 3:26 PM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't know if it's because we have a credit card with them, but we have 3 Chase checking and 2 savings accounts and I am 98% certain we are not paying any fees even though our balances wobble wildly over the course of a month.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:52 PM on June 7, 2015

Haven't used any of these myself, but I know there are apps and websites for splitting expenses more easily, which might make it easy enough that you don't need the added burden of an actual separate bank account. Splitwise is one of the best known of these, but there are many, many others.
posted by dhartung at 4:08 PM on June 7, 2015

I also came in here to suggest Splitwise: it has a simple interface that lets you submit expenses split between the two of you, and it tells you the current balance owed between you.
posted by katrielalex at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2015

Seconding CapitalOne360. No fees, and our joint checking account (which we use in the same way as you describe) even earns interest.
posted by rebekah at 4:38 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Highly recommend Ally. Been using it for years, and their customer service is top-notch.
posted by General Malaise at 5:06 PM on June 7, 2015

I don't have a specific bank recommendation, but I have done exactly this three separate times for various informal co-op or roommate situations and never had to pay a fee.

I agree with Dip Flash that a credit union or small/local bank is likely worth a try; maybe also a larger bank with which one of you already has an account. We did this once with BOA and twice with different local credit unions/banks, and the smaller guys are much better about sitting down with you to make something work and being willing to (for example) bend a rule that says you can only have four people on a joint account. (Note to self: don't put more than four people on a joint account, because getting them all together to make changes to the account ownership later is a hassle.)
posted by teditrix at 6:12 PM on June 7, 2015

I literally just did this yesterday with my SO at Chase. I was told that their checking account (the most basic kind) would be free if monthly direct deposits totaled at least $500. Could you and your partner each redirect $125 per paycheck to the joint account? FYI, paper checks aren't free and I don't know whether they'd charge for multiple debit cards since we plan to autopay a Chase credit card (with one person primary and one person as an authorized user) from the account for daily expenses.
posted by serelliya at 7:57 PM on June 7, 2015

Charles Schwab will do this. Excellent customer service and no ATM fees to boot.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 10:16 PM on June 7, 2015

$12 a month isn't much for what you are getting through Chase. If your personal accounts are there also, they may wave the fee. It is so easy to move money from one account to another online at Chase. I would put it back in the running because the fight that would ensue the first time one of you runs late and doesn't have time to run by some obscure credit union to deposit your share of the funds, well, it just isn't worth it.

Another option is Paypal, linked up to one of your personal accounts. You can both put in for free and then the primary pulls out to write any checks for bills.
posted by myselfasme at 6:16 AM on June 8, 2015

Charles Schwab (my personal favorite) offers bank accounts with no fees or onerous conditions. Free checks and Billpay, and ATM fees are refunded from any ATM. I just opened a joint checking account myself there. The only small hassle is that you have to submit a paper application by mail for joint accounts, and you have to open a brokerage account with them to get a checking account, but the brokerage account also does not have fees or a minimum balance. We're planning to use the brokerage account as informal joint savings, keeping the money in cash or maybe bonds.
posted by permiechickie at 7:58 AM on June 8, 2015

Find yourselves a friendly credit union and explain to them what you want to do.

The most convenient way to set this up is that you both get individual checking accounts at the same credit union and a third joint checking account. Then you can just use their online banking services to transfer money from your individual accounts to the joint account.

You each will have separate online accounts and logins. You will each have access privately to your own account and also the joint account. You won't be able to view your partner's private account, but you both can monitor the funds in the joint account. With a few clicks you can transfer funds from your private account to the joint account.
posted by JackFlash at 10:54 AM on June 8, 2015

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