A JOINT bank account can be a convenient way for couples to track their spending and manage household bills.
But opening one is not a decision you should take lightly, and it's important to consider the wider impacts of bringing romance and finance together.
It could affect your credit score and financially bind you to someone.
Alina Jaffer, a money-saving expert has shared five key questions you and your partner should ask before opening a joint current account.
Would you be using your joint current account for everyday expenses?
Having a joint current account doesn’t have to be for large purchases, a common reason for couple to open a joint account is to be able to manage household bills easily.
“As both parties are able to see just how much money is coming in and out of their current account at once, it can make sharing these joint responsibilities a lot easier,” the financial expert at Virgin Money said.
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Sitting down to create a joint budget is also a great way to start managing your money together.
There are lots of free-to-use money management apps that can help keep track of your finances.
But here are six questions you should ask yourself before you combine your finances:
Are you opening the account because you feel like you should or because you want to?
Opening a current account together might not be just about practical considerations, Alina says it might also comes down to a natural progression in your relationship – a concrete statement of “what’s mine is yours”.
She thinks couples should also consider the potential cons when deciding whether it’s the most suitable option for them.
For example, all transaction will be able to be viewed by all account holder, so you'll lose your privacy.
Also if your joint account becomes overdrawn by your partner, both of you will be liable for repaying the debt.
But most importantly, it could affect your credit rating.
Are you comfortable with your partner’s credit history?
A key thing to bear in mind for couples considering opening a joint current account is that they are "jointly liable for it".
"This means if your partner runs up an overdraft, you will be jointly responsible for repaying it," the expert added.
"If there is a risk of this happening, you have to be confident that your partner won't just leave you to pick up the bill."
You can arrange an overdraft with your bank, which allows you to borrow up to a pre-set amount.
An unauthorised overdraft is where you spend more than is in your account or go over the agreed overdraft limit.
The expert says a joint current account can have a positive or negative impact on your credit score so it's important that you can rely on your other half to spend responsibly.
Your credit score score is compiled by credit reference agencies based on your financial history and how good you are at repaying credit such as mortgages and credit cards.
If you and your partner both pay your bills on time, your credit score will benefit from it.
However, if your partner falls behind on repayments or is made bankrupt, this can harm your score and even stay on your credit report for six years.
Do you have similar spending and saving habits?
Alina also says the couple should also consider if their spending and saving habits align with each other's as it can be nerve-racking to open up your financial habits to someone else.
She added: "You may feel that you have to start justifying your spending decisions, or you may be concerned about your partner’s saving, or lack thereof.
"Communication is vital so that you can find a solution that works for both of you."
The expert suggests that one way to avoid conflict is to consider having a joint current account for shared expenses, and also have your own separate accounts.
This can give you the benefits of accessing a shared fund while being able to spend the rest of your incomes as you like.
What would happen if you broke up?
Sadly, the convenience of a joint account also comes at a price.
Joint accounts create a financial link between you and your partner, which can cause troubles if you broke up.
Alina said: “It’s never nice to think about the worst-case scenario in any relationship, however when it comes to your finances you should always stay on the side of caution.
"Should your relationship end badly, having a joint current account can become the topic of dispute and worry."
There are steps you can take to reduce the impact, such as asking your bank to put a "two to sign" mandate on the account, which means both parties need to sign for any withdrawals.
If you were to split with your partner, it might be worth asking your credit rating company about financial disassociation.
"This might be useful if you were concerned about your partner’s financial history and the implications it may have on your credit score," the expert added.
Previously, a frustrated woman has revealed how she drained the joint savings account behind her husband’s back – after he contributed just £30 during their lengthy marriage.
Meanwhile, a credit expert has shared six easy ways to improve your score in 30 mins.
For couples looking to get a mortgage, we've put together a first-time buyer guide including how much can you borrow and what government schemes are available.
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