Banking in Australia
Banking will be a vital part of your life in Australia, so it’s important that you understand the Australian banking system and know how to set up and maintain your finances in Australia.
Having an Australian bank account will ensure that you have easy access to your money to pay for your accommodation, bills, tuition fees and living expenses and allow your employer to deposit your pay into your account if you choose to work. It is important that you are aware of the following banking information:
- Banks in Australia
Opening a bank account in Australia
Types of bank accounts
Ten things to look for when selecting a bank in Australia
- Bank opening hours in Australia
- Automatic teller machines (ATMs)
- Telephone and internet banking in Australia
- EFTPOS and other payment methods
There are four major banks in Australia:
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
- National Australia Bank (NAB)
- Westpac Banking Corporation.
There are also a number of smaller banks, including Adelaide Bank, Bank of Queensland, Bankwest, Bendigo Bank, ME Bank and Suncorp.
Moving to Australia can be a very busy time, so it is a good idea to organise your account before you arrive in Australia so you can access your money when you arrive.
The process is usually as follows:
- Most banks will allow you to apply through their website using an online application form, and you will need to supply your passport details when you apply.
- When your application has been processed and approved you will be notified and given the details of your new account so that you can transfer money.
- Once you arrive in Australia you will need to go into your bank and show them your passport so that you can access your money. At this time, you will also receive a debit card linked to your account and can register for telephone and internet banking.
If you would prefer to wait until you are in Australia before opening a bank account, you should do so within six weeks of arrival. You will need to go to a bank to provide them with your details and show them your passport as proof of identity. They will then send you an account card in the mail. Additional proof of identity is required if you wait longer than six weeks.
As an international student, many banks will offer you a special student account that does not charge monthly account fees. You may also be allocated an international student banker who you can contact with any queries, and many banks will try to find a banker who speaks your language.
It is a good idea to set up a transactional account (also known as a cheque account) for everyday banking (paying for goods and depositing income, for example) and a high-interest savings account (for storing your savings).
Other account types include credit accounts and credit debit accounts. See EFTPOS and other payment methods for more information on the transactions you can make with these accounts.
You may also wish to open additional accounts to divide your money for specific purposes (such as paying bills or saving for travel).
- Can you open an online savings account before you arrive so you can earn interest on the funds you send to Australia?
- Are you provided with a personal banker? If so, are you given the name of your banker before you arrive in Australia? Does your banker speak your language?
- Can you view your banking online before you arrive?
- Are there any application fees? Are there any monthly account fees? Are you eligible for a student account that does not charge monthly account fees?
- Is there a minimum opening deposit required at time of opening and a minimum balance you are required to maintain?
- Can you transfer money to Australia with your foreign exchange provider of choice when setting up an account? (Some banks lock customers into their own service.)
- Does the account include a Visa or MasterCard debit card, so you can shop online with your own money at no extra cost?
- Does your bank have a national network of branches?
- Does your bank have a large number of ATMs?
- Do the bank’s ATMs provide access in multiple languages?
Australia’s currency is the Australian dollar (AUD). There are bank notes for $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100; gold-coloured coins for $1 and $2; and silver-coloured coins for 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents. Prices are rounded to the nearest 5 cents when you pay (e.g. $2.93 rounds to $2.95).
Banks are usually open 9.30am to 4pm from Monday to Thursday and 9.30am to 5.00pm on Fridays. Some banks and branches may stay open longer or open on weekends. Bank branches allow you to transfer money, open accounts, cash travellers cheques, order bank cheques and exchange currency, among other financial services. Automatic teller machines and internet banking (see below) allow you to make some transactions after hours.
ATMs are available throughout Australia, allowing you to withdraw cash, check your funds and, in some cases, make deposits. Note that fees generally apply when withdrawing funds from another bank’s ATM (usually between AUD$1.50 and AUD$2.50) and when using international cards.
Telephone and internet banking enables you to manage your account, transfer funds between accounts and make payments without entering the bank branch. To use telephone and internet banking services, you will need to register with your bank.
There are a number of payment methods available in Australia in addition to cash:
- EFTPOS (linked to a transactional account): EFTPOS It allows you to pay for items electronically using your bank debit card to access money from your transactional account. It is available at most stores and restaurants. You can also withdraw cash through EFTPOS at some stores (including supermarkets and petrol stations).
- Credit cards (linked to a credit account): Credit cards allow you to make purchases and pay for them at a later time, usually with interest. Credit cards are accepted for most payments in Australia, in stores, restaurants, online and over the phone. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
- Credit debit cards (linked to a credit debit account): Visa or MasterCard debit cards allow you to use money in your own account to pay for items through both EFTPOS and credit systems. They act in the same way as a credit card (allowing you to make payments online, over the phone and in places where EFTPOS is not accepted), but use your own money rather than credit.
- Cheques (linked to a transactional account): Some people request a personal cheque book in addition to a debit card to make purchases using money from their transactional account. Cheques are accepted for payment in only some circumstances — typically for larger payments such as a rental bond for accommodation. If you do not have a personal cheque book, you can still make a cheque payment by going into a bank branch and requesting a bank cheque.