I’m starting a series on what our married finances look like that will run until I run out of inspiration :)
My husband and I opened up a joint checking account back when he moved in at the credit union where we both had accounts. We also both had online savings accounts at Ally Bank. At the beginning of 2016, I moved my accounts to Alliant Credit Union because I was tired of meeting the rewards checking account requirements and Alliant has the same savings account interest rate as Ally Bank.
Back when we were both at the same credit union, we would transfer money to each other to pay each other back. As things became more serious, we started using a lazy spreadsheet to keep track of who paid for what rather than paying each other back for each individual item, so that wasn’t nearly as annoying as it would have been at the beginning. Plus, Square Cash is incredibly useful and easy to use, so that made the separate credit unions transition easier.
Managing the joint checking account became far more annoying though because then in order for me to get money into it, I needed to first transfer the money to my checking account at our shared credit union and then transfer that sum to the joint checking account OR send my half of the money to my husband via Square Cash and he transfer the whole amount into the joint checking account. We hadn’t used the joint checking account in a year until we went to the first wedding of the year and paid our interior designer via check out of the joint account and then this turned into a huge hassle when we then wrote about 10 checks off the account this year. We also pay our biweekly house cleaner with a check.
And then we got married, which prompted the joint accounts debate again. Like good engineers, we’ve been developing requirements for a joint account. Our two top contenders are Ally Bank and Alliant Credit Union. We ruled out our current shared credit union as they don’t have good interest rates and the ATM fee rebates require a certain number of debit card transactions per month. We ruled out major banks as they have terrible interest rates, though we will likely keep a brick and mortar joint account as well at least for now for ease of depositing the wedding present checks that we have been getting.
- All of our checking and savings accounts should be at the same financial institution: her personal checking, his personal checking, her personal savings accounts, his personal savings accounts, joint checking, and joint savings accounts. Neither of us is convinced into spending money that is in savings, so this is a great convenience fee.
- We should be able to transfer immediately and freely between all of the accounts listed in 1.
- We should be able to ACH transfer quickly (ish) for free to accounts at other institutions.
- The checking account should refund at least 2 ATM fees per month, for free with no requirements. [Alliant does this immediately and has a $20 maximum. Ally Bank has a $10 maximum and I’m not sure how quickly they do this.]
- Easy to acquire free checks on the checking account because apparently we write a lot of checks off the joint account.
- Free bill pay, but that seems to be a given these days.
- A clean and friendly user interface on their website (ahem current shared credit union does not meet this!)
- An easy to use mobile app [Ally is currently winning this one, but Alliant’s Twitter account says they’ll have a new app out in November]
- Ability to deposit cash at ATMs
- Two-factor authentication [Neither Ally nor Alliant seem to have this…]
- The savings account should have a reasonable interest rate, e.g. at least 1% today.
This has been a fun decision to make! Generally I make more of our organizing personal finance decisions since I’m the planner, but my husband took to /r/personalfinance and Bogleheads to research these two options before we give one a try.
I’ll report back in a few months on how we’re enjoying the one we picked! It will, after all, take a little while to get things rearranged.
Readers, how did your banking setups change when you got married?