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Australian Bank Accounts

One of the most important things you will need to do is set up an Australian bank account to manage your finances with. Thankfully, we live in the age of the internet so you can organise this prior to your arrival if you have the correct documentation.

All you need to do is decide which bank is right for you and then you can proceed with your bank account.

Some helpful tips:

Before you choose a bank, it’s important to consider carefully what your needs are and which banks satisfy those. Australian banks can also be notorious for having sneaky charges applied to certain accounts so be aware of these prior to opening your bank account.

 

 

Main Banks in Australia

Whilst there are many banks to choose from in Australia, the ‘Big Four’ are the main players in this space. These are the banks which will provide you with the most ATM’s and a range of options in terms of your needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best, but they are the easiest to choose from.

ING DirectCommonwealth BankANZWestpacNational Australia Bank (NAB)
One of the most popular banks in Australia, ING Direct is completely online and has no branches or dedicated ATM’s anywhere in the country. Not classified as one of the “Big Four”, this bank has had a major impact on banking within Australia. With the lack of physical overheads, ING is able to offer competitive interest rates and terms to all its customers and was mentioned as the everyday banking preference by The Barefoot Investor (Australia’s cult money book). Offering zero international transaction fees, free ATMs for any ATM in Australia (and worldwide) and no monthly fees, the ease of access and simple setup mean a lot of people have decided to make the move across in more recent years! Website: ing.com.au
Commonwealth Bank has the largest ATM network in Australia and the most downloaded banking app. They also have customer service availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which none of the other “Big four” have. Website: commbank.com.au
This is another one of the “Big Four” banks. Website: anz.com.au
Westpac is a fantastic alternative if you happen to be travelling. With over 50,000 global fee-free ATM’s through their ATM Alliance. Website: westpac.com.au
NAB is a favourite amongst a lot of people too. It is the only bank out of all the “Big Four” banks which does not charge monthly account fees. That makes it a smart alternative to all the others.  Website: nab.com.au

 

 

Common Australian Bank Fees To Look Out For

Whilst the government has tried very hard to crack down on these fees with the banking royal commission in 2019, it has not alleviated all the hidden costs which can be attached to having a bank account in Australia.

ATM FEES Whilst the royal commission cracked down on these in 2019, be aware that it may still cost you in order to withdraw your money. The ATM’s often found in service stations, your local 7/11 stores or pubs are usually independently owned and can incur fees of anywhere between $2 – $3.50 for withdrawing your own cash. Recently I used an independent ATM with a $250 cash out limit on it. The fee to use it was $2.80 and I needed to get $300 out. I ended up having to do two separate transactions in order to get the right amount out and all up it cost me $5.60 just in ATM fees – ridiculous I know! Some banks like ING Direct reimburse you for any ATM fees incurred if you have $1000 or more going into your account with them each month. An incentive worth looking into.

ADMINISTRATION ACCOUNT FEES – Prior to signing up for a new bank account, double-check if opening an account with that bank incurs a monthly administration fee. If it does, ask the bank to waive those fees or look for an account which they offer which has $0 monthly fees. Finder.com.au is a wonderful comparison website which can help you to find a bank account with no fees and no hidden costs.

INTERNATIONAL FEES – As you are already travelling to Australia from your home country, it makes sense that you look into these fees closely prior to opening a bank account here in Australia. If you play your cards right, you will be able to avoid many of the astronomical international fees whilst travelling or returning home. Getting an account with an attached debit card will mean you won’t need to move your money around and will also mean that you will be able to access online banking!

TELLER FEES – Be aware, some banks may charge you for using their teller services at the banking outlets (cough, cough, Commonwealth Bank). If you are a frequent user of these banking services rather than online banking, this might be important for you to note.

 

 

Best Australian Bank Accounts for Foreigners and Expats

You will know best what your needs are when it comes to banking. The things you should look out for the most are the fees which we have listed above. If you are an avid traveller, or very likely to use ATM’s in rural areas, service stations or 7/11 stores, it is worth you finding a bank account which diminishes the charges on things like that. Not all banks are created equal in their abilities so prioritise what your needs are and work back from there. As we said above, ING has a bit of a cult following in Australia for everyday banking, NAB is great for $0 monthly account fees and Westpac has a great range of international ATMs.

All the banks listed above give you the opportunity to open a bank account whilst you are still abroad. Just go through their website and complete the steps online. You will need your passport and be planning to arrive within six weeks of the application date.