How to open a Bank Account in Australia

So you are planning on moving to the “Land Down Under.” It’s a great decision. Mild climates and the various terrains make it the perfect place to build a life. You are going to need to do some preparing when you move however, and one of the first things you will want to do is open a bank account in Australia. It can be quite difficult to live and work if you don’t have one. Your boss needs to be able to deposit your paychecks each week. You also need to be able to pay bills, pay your rent and get groceries. You may need to send money back home to your family. Whatever it is you definitely need access to a debit card.

Do It Before You Move or When You Arrive

Depending on what you want to do, you can open an account before you move there or after. Many people use a type of travelers company to set up an account. Many people do this because it is convenient and organized. They know all of the paperwork that you need, have the forms for you to fill out and and help you pick out the perfect bank in Australia for you. This is not the only service they provide. You can have them do many things to assist you in your move going as smoothly as possible.

Other Services a Travelers Company Can Provide

  • Various services other than a bank account provided in a general moving package:
  • To work in Australia you need a Tax File Number
  • Help getting your Visa
  • Help getting a job
  • A SIM card for your cellphone
  • Housing arrangements
  • A meeting when you get to Australia to orientate you to the country.

To utilize these services, you can expect a package to cost anywhere from $79-$900. It varies on how much assistance that you require. If you need a place to stay for a few days and a guaranteed short term job, that’s on the higher end of cost.

Opening an Account Yourself

If you don’t want to spend the money to have a travelers company set up an Australian bank account, you have the option to do it yourself. You only need a passport if you do it in the first month and a half of living there. If you do not do it by then, you need to bring additional forms of ID so it’s suggested to do it promptly.

Day to Day Bank Accounts

If you want to do day to day banking in Australia, you want to ask for an everyday transaction account. This is for doing the banking that you do often, usually daily to every few days. Withdrawing from ATMs, shopping online, direct depositing your paycheck, using a debit card and making payments in stores using the EFTPOS keycard system. You may also receive a VISA or MasterCard debit card with your account.

Credit Accounts

Once you begin working and getting a steady stream of income flowing in, you may qualify to get a credit account and receive a credit card. You have to earn the rights to one here as a credit card in Australia does not come automatically. You have to prove your credit history by living here awhile and earn enough money.

High Interest Savings Accounts in Australia

If you can afford to leave money in account without withdrawing any at all, you can earn quite a bit of interest off it.They have higher interest rates than regular savings accounts because you are expected to leave it alone for a certain amount of time. You can ask your individual bank in Australia what Kind of interest rates they can offer you on this type of account. You can’t replace your main account but if you can afford to wait for the interest to grow, this is a very profitable capital venture with no work involved.

Fees and Charges

It happens to us all. You can collect a high amount of fees that you didn’t read carefully enough about. Most banks charge you fees but they have to tell you about them. Before signing up for a bank account in Australia, you should always be aware of what fees may show up on your statement and how to avoid them if possible. Speak to the bank about it.

Common Types of Fees and Charges

There are a few fees that you should expect to pay if you are using an account. Australian bank accounts generally charge around $4.00 to $5.00 per month for their services.
You can look for a smaller bank that has ATM’s close to where you live that have fee free banking. If you can deposit a certain amount of cash, they waive the charges for you. It is usually a larger sum of money.

Transaction Charges

If you get lucky, you can find an Australian bank that allows you to do as many transactions as you wish in a month. That is not the case with all banks. Some charge you a small fee for each purchase that you make that is not in cash. Others give you a limit each month then charge the fee when you go over that amount. It’s usually about 30 to 50 cents a purchase.  Other

Charges From ATM Use

If you have an ATM card in Australia, you want to use ATM’s that are in your banking network. It will save you bunches in unnecessary fees. Some banks have unlimited withdrawals while others are free up to a certain amount. If the ATM is out of your network, you can be charged up to $2 for using it. Banks are allowed to charge you a fee for using another bank’s ATM as well if they choose to. It isn’t common practice in Australia but does happen.

Ut-Oh, You’ve Overdrawn From Your Account

Overdrawing on funds that you do not have is one of the biggest faux pas that people make. It is also a big hassle for the bank so they charge you a significant fee. There are some accounts that have protection against it in the event you overdraw but generally the fee is around $35 and you can be charged more by the day. You need to check your balance every day to make sure no regularly scheduled payments are coming out that you forgot about.

Reducing Your Bank Fees

There are some ways you can cut down on the amount of fees you are paying:

  • Understand your fees and stay below your transaction limits
  • Use self service whenever possible like online or the phone, it’s not often known but some branches if you go on you are sometimes charged a fee for taking up a bank tellers time.
  • If you use the EFTPOS at a store get cash out with it. This will only count as one purchase
  • Take out more money at a time and keep some in a secure location. Less small cash amounts equals less fees.
  • Make sure you are always over the minimum balance so you don’t go over and get a large overdraft fee

The Big Four and Other Banks in Australia

There are 4 banks that are the biggest ones in Australia nicknamed “The Big Four.” These are all Australian owned and operated banks. Other banks have begun offering deals like no bank fees for the first year to compete with them. Some of the banks are;

  • Commonwealth Bank offers no service fee the first year
  • ANZ
  • National Australia Bank (NAB) also has no fees each month for the first year.
  • HSBC and ING are worldwide. HSBC is one of the easier banks to transfer into from your home country. ING has only has high interest savings accounts.

Questions to Ask

Always look around before settling on a bank. You want to get the best deal that you can. Ask questions to assess what bank in Australia meets your needs. Here are some things to ask:

  • Where are your ATMs and branches located? Is there one locally?
  • What kinds of day to day and savings accounts do you have
  • What is your interest rates on various accounts?
  • What other services do you offer that might interest me?
  • Tell me about your overdraft policies.
  • What are the charges for transferring money out of the country? How do I move my money?
  • What Kind of rates do you have on loans?
  • What are your monthly service charges?

International Transfers

Things have changed in the last few years in sending money around the world. You were forced into using your bank to send money and that was that. Fees stayed high because of this but internet companies have added competition to the marketplace driving the fees down.

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