Joint account or N26 Shared Spaces? Comparing the options

Want to take the next step with a partner and manage your finances together? Read on to get a side-by-side-comparison of the options and features, so you can decide what’s best for you.

9 min read

Finances might not seem like the most romantic topic. But the closer a couple gets, the more important money often becomes — for instance, if you decide to move in together or adopt a dog. That’s why there are options for handling your banking together — for example, with a joint account or N26 Shared Spaces. But why is this so important?

Finances can be a relationship stumbling block

Whether you’re meeting at a restaurant, the movies or the theater, many people are more than happy to pick up the whole check on a first date. Over time, though, the routine of day-to-day life gets established — and brings new expenses with it. You might cook at home more often or plan your first holiday together. That’s the perfect time to talk about how to split costs, if you haven’t already started. 

Sharing expenses is less about how much each of you contributes. Ultimately, that depends on your salaries and whether you’re both employed. The important thing is that you’re talking about finances in the first place. Lots of couples steer clear of this topic in an attempt to avoid arguments. 

The problem? If you ignore something as important as money, it can have all kinds of ramifications. One person might feel unfairly treated because they’re covering the lion’s share and putting their own desires second. Sooner or later, this leads to frustration. 

But the person who’s contributing less might have worries of their own. Women and the self-employed, for instance, are more likely to work part-time or on an irregular basis. Not only can it be stressful to be financially dependent on others, it puts these groups at greater risk of poverty in old age. In any partnership, talking about the future from a financial perspective is a key way to actively combat all these concerns. Both parties might earn the same amount but handle money totally differently. This, too, can lead to arguments — especially if you don’t have an overview of what’s going on financially.

How to manage money as a couple

The good news? Talking about money can actually be enjoyable — and bring you closer together. It’s important that both parties take time to look realistically at their current financial situation. It’s also helpful to learn about options for managing shared costs. Let’s compare the features of two different options: N26 Shared Spaces or a joint bank account.

N26 Shared Spaces and joint accounts: Key info at a glance

N26 Shared Spaces

Joint account

Number of users

1 account holder, max. 10 additional users

Max. 2 users, both have to be account holders


Drag & drop money or move it automatically with Rules or Round-Ups, add or remove participants 

Account with its own IBAN, make transfers, card payments for both, Rules for standing orders, Insights feature


Flexible, quick, ideal for putting money aside with your partner or a group 

Transparency, control, security, ideal for regular shared expenses (e.g. rent)

Suitable for

Friends, family, roommates, couples

Couples that live together 


N26 premium account for the account holder, other users don’t need premium accounts, general requirements for opening an account

All N26 plans incl. N26 Flex, general requirements for opening an account 

N26 Shared Spaces — the flexible way to save money with other people

N26 Shared Spaces are a premium feature available with N26 Smart, You, or Metal accounts. The concept is that you can create up to ten N26 Spaces for different expenses or savings goals, alongside your main account. Then, you can share each Space with up to ten N26 customers, so those users can access that specific sub-account and move money back and forth. Here are the main perks at a glance.

1. Put money aside for a savings goal 

Let’s say you want to go to the Canary Islands for a winter break with your better half. You need a budget for flights, the rental car, accommodation, meals and activities — let’s say it’s €3,000. To save for your trip, you set up an N26 Shared Space, call it #Canaries or #Vacation with bae and share it with your partner. Then, you each drag and drop a certain amount, say €1,000, from your main account to the sub-account you share. This amount is now safe and sound in the N26 Shared Space, and there’s no risk it’ll get spent on other things.

2. Watch your savings grow together 

So, you currently need €1,000 more before you can go on your hypothetical vacation. You can use Rules or Income Sorter to automatically move money from your main account to the N26 Shared Space for your trip. If, say, you earmark €100 a month for this, you’ll each have paid €500 into the N26 Shared Space after five months — and it’ll be time to jet off to Tenerife! Alternatively, you can activate Round-Ups and automatically save for your vacation when you spend money. This feature rounds every card payment up to the nearest euro and sends the spare change to whichever Space you choose.

3. Stay flexible in case things change

Life is full of surprises and plans can change. Maybe you tell some friends about your vacation plans over dinner and another couple is keen to come along. Why not go together and save some money on your rental car, for instance? With N26 Shared Spaces, you can easily divide up your vacation budget among four (or even up to ten) people and watch the pool of money grow as people make regular payments. And if something changes, you can simply add new participants or remove other users from the N26 Shared Space.

4. Move money back and forth as needed

Your Spaces are located in your Finances tab in your N26 app. You can simply drag and drop money between your main account and your N26 Shared Space. If, say, you want to pay for your hotel or rental car, just move however much you need from the N26 Shared Space to your main account and make the payment as normal. It takes just a few seconds — perfect for when you need to use your joint vacation fund to quickly settle your group’s bill in a beach bar or a shop. All the other participants can use this feature too, of course. The transaction list shows all the activities in the Shared Space so you always know what’s going on. Once you’re back from your vacation and have squared everything up financially, you can delete the Space or repurpose it for a different goal.

Joint accounts — total control when splitting costs 

In contrast to Spaces, you don’t need to go premium to open a joint account. You can set one up with a free N26 Standard account — even if you have a negative Schufa score. The joint account is intended for two N26 customers. You’re both the legal owners of the account and are equally responsible for it. So, what are the benefits of this in practice?

1. Make recurring payments a breeze

No matter whether you already share an apartment or are about to move in together, a joint account puts all your regular domestic expenses in one place. Instead of spending ages working out who owes what, just have your bills — like rent, electricity, gas, internet, and streaming services or subscriptions — debited directly from your joint account with its own IBAN. You can even make annual payments like your home insurance, car tax, or utility bill from your joint account. If you get some money back, such as a rebate on your electricity bill, the credit will go straight back to your joint account.

You can top up the account by regularly paying in a pre-set sum to suit your financial circumstances. This can come from either your main N26 account or an account at a different bank.

2. Keep an eye on your spending and make tweaks as you go

A joint account can also be used for variable costs like food shopping, of course. This depends on the decisions that you’ve made about how to share finances and resources. If you go to the drugstore but 80% of the products you buy are for your partner, you might object to splitting the bill 50/50.

None of us are perfect and we all sometimes buy things without thinking. That’s exactly why we offer the Insights feature. It gives you a clear breakdown of all your income and expenses so you know exactly where your money goes each month. If you’re spending a disproportionate amount of money at the drugstore, for instance, you can talk to each other and find a better solution together. It’s useful to set a budget for variable costs, or to write down exactly which products (like cleaning products and toilet paper) are for your shared household. If you want to buy something for yourself, you can either use your own account or transfer the difference from your main account to the joint account.   

3. Same rights, same responsibilities

Unlike N26 Shared Spaces — where you give other users a power of attorney — joint accounts have two holders in the eyes of the law. In other words, both parties can make transfers, download statements and access the account in full (known as the “or” model). 

If you don’t need a joint account anymore, like if you break up or move back into separate homes, it can’t be closed unless both parties agree. (This doesn’t apply if one party has died, however.) You’re also both liable if there aren’t enough funds in the joint account to cover a debit or it gets seized. Even if one party only checks the transaction log once in a blue moon, this isn’t a defense: They still have access to it and are equally responsible.

In other words, you really need to trust each other if you have a joint account. On the other hand, it offers a high level of control and security. That makes it ideal for couples who already live together or feel comfortable taking this step. Of course, you can also have a joint account with your mom, your long-term roommate, or anyone else you like! It’s important, though, that you trust them when it comes to financial matters.

4. Easily manage your joint finances

It takes just a few minutes to open your joint account. Once it’s been set up, you can access it from the Home area or Finances tab in your N26 app and effortlessly switch between your personal account and your joint one. If you’ve got N26 Smart, You, or Metal, you can link your virtual card, physical card, or additional cards to the account. Standard customers can add their virtual card, or receive an N26 Mastercard for a one-off fee of €10 and pair it with their joint account. You can both independently access your money and all the features — no matter whether you’re using the app or your card.

You can only create and manage your joint account via the N26 app. However, you can use the web app to track your transactions if you want to set up a family budget or make more detailed plans for the future. Once you’ve got a good understanding of your income and expenditure, you can work out how much to save and pay into the joint account — be it for a wedding, buying a house, or other goals.  

Your money with N26

No matter whether N26 Shared Spaces or a joint account is the right choice for you, it takes just a few minutes to open an account. Plus, there’s zero messing around with paperwork. N26 Shared Spaces give you maximum flexibility and help you reach your savings goals jointly with other people. And the free, all-digital joint account puts you both in control, so you can easily make day-to-day payments from your smartphone or with your card. Thanks to Insights, you’ve also got a clearer sense of your income and outgoings — so you can make even better plans for your future together. Open your account today and start loving your bank.

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