Should we get a joint checking account?
February 27, 2008 11:14 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I are about to start the dreaded apartment search in NYC. Would it benefit us to open a joint checking account right now?

The issue has never come up before, because we've miraculously managed to live rent-free in Manhattan for a couple of years (my partner's previous job came with an apartment). But now we have to find a place where we'll be paying rent. Will it hurt us with brokers/renters if we don't have a joint account at the time we're looking?
posted by Tin Man to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IAAL. It's essential for each of you to have a checking account. That's a basic part of being an adult and convincing businesses that you are adults.

A joint account is not necessary -- purely a matter of preference. My wife and I have been married for 25 years, and we've never merged our finances or had any trouble because of it.

Also, in my opinion, you should each have one and only one individual credit card, with each of you added as an additional cardholder on the other's account. That way you can have either of you pay for the other's purchases if one of you has forgotten a card at home, or if one of you is pickpocketed and needs to have a credit card while the other is being replaced. My wife and I also got a joint dividend credit card, just to get the dividend.

It's far too easy and tempting to have several credit cards and let the balances build up. We have deliberately shut that door, and it's a good discipline to limit spending and pay off the entire balance each month.
posted by KRS at 12:05 PM on February 27, 2008

Thanks KRS. I'm actually asking in the context of looking for an apartment in New York. I'm wondering if potential landlords/brokers will think twice if we don't have a joint checking account, since we'll both be responsible for paying the rent.
posted by Tin Man at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2008

I don't see why it would - you don't need joint checking to have a roommate.

It might be an issue if there were some sort of stipulation that you had to prove you were in a relationship for the apartment (i.e. two unrelated people can't share the studio unless they are a couple or something like that). However, that can also be proved by bills or other similar documentation with your names and addresses on it if you lived together previously.

Overall, your landlord will be more concerned that you can afford the apartment or that you have a co-signer to to help you two afford it, rather than caring exactly where the money is physically coming from. S/he might also prefer only one check each month, but that's for you two to work out and doesn't require a joint account.
posted by ml98tu at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2008

Nope, shouldn't be a problem. I am not married, my boyfriend and I have separate finances, and the problem did not remotely arise when we got an apartment. IANR (I am not rich) so perhaps this is different in, say, a luxury building with sky-high rent.
posted by chelseagirl at 1:36 PM on February 27, 2008

Probably not. My partner and I rent in the city and have separate accounts. We've never run into trouble.
posted by greenland at 2:12 PM on February 27, 2008

Excellent. Thanks everyone!
posted by Tin Man at 8:05 PM on February 27, 2008

You shouldn't need one. They just want the money to come from somewhere. Actually, in my case, we can't pay the rent with a joint checking account, but that's another story...


Not at all relevant.
posted by oaf at 12:12 PM on February 28, 2008

I think that was supposed to abbreviate "I am a landlord", oaf...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 8:30 AM on March 5, 2008

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