Home Bank & Money transfers Open a bank account in Australia

Open a bank account in Australia

Open a bank account in Australia

Do you want to work and travel in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa or Work and Holiday Visa? If so, you will have to open a bank account when you arrive in the country. It is easy and free. Here is all the information you need to open your bank account.

Why opening a bank account in Australia?

Here are the main advantages to open a bank account:

  • Not having to use your credit card from home
  • Being able to be paid by an Australian company
  • Being able to make cheap money transfers from home to Australia
  • Withdrawing money with low interests
  • Buying online
  • Making the procedure easier in case of losing your credit card

Important note

Opening an account more than 6 weeks after arriving in Australia is a bit more complicated. You will be asked for additional documents. You need 100 points to create your account. For example: passport = 70 points, international drivers licence with picture = 40 points.

Which bank to choose?

It is a thing to open a bank account, but where and why? Everybody is going to be asking themselves this question. Even if bank services are generally pretty similar, each bank has its own particularities. Here are some of the most important criteria your bank should have:

  • Bank coverage is Australia wide (you want to be able to find ATMs with this bank in all states and territories of the country)
  • Whether bank fees are fixed or not
  • Interest rate of a saving account
  • Existence of a superannuation account
  • Existence of a partnership with your home bank

Major banks in Australia:

The four most common banks are Westpac, ANZ, NAB and Commonwealth. You will always find one of these in all states and territories of Australia.

Opening a bank account in Australia

To open a bank account, you just go to the bank of your choice and set up an appointment. A bank teller is then going to give you all the information you need to know to open your account. With some banks you also have the option to open a bank account online before coming to Australia. In this case, you will need to finalise the process by presenting your passport to the chosen bank once arrived in Australia.

Necessary documents and information

  • Your passport
  • A phone number (you can change it later online)
  • Tax File Number (you can add it later if you don’t have it yet)
  • Postal address in Australia (It can be your address, the address of a friend or the post office if you haven’t got a place to stay yet)
  • Usually you ll be asked your fiscal number in your home country (if applicable).

In parallel with your bank account, your “online” account will also be created. This will allow you to manage your different accounts easily online.

Which account to choose?

There are two main types of accounts:

  • Everyday account: You receive a bank card and you are able to withdraw money, pay online and in shops, and receive payments
  • Savings account: There is an interest rate for the money you put on

Which one to choose? Both! Without going into the financial advantages you can get, let’s talk about a key factor of your road trip: saving.

It is really clever to use a Savings account to “Stock” your money. You can use your Everyday account for your daily expenses and transfer from an account to another. If you loose your card or if it gets stolen, you don’t risk losing everything. There are of course insurances that will allow you to get your money back but it can be a long process.

Get a credit card in Australia

Opening an Everyday account is going to give you the right to get a credit card. With your card, you will be able to:

  • withdraw money without paying any fees,
  • make deposits,
  • pay online and in shops.

The card is a Debit Card (MasterCard or Visa). Make sure you have the Paypass option on it, you will be able to make payments up to $100 without having to use your PIN code. So be reactive in case of loss of card or if it get stolen and contact your bank immediately.

The card will be sent to you via mail in 5 business days. Then you receive another letter including your PIN code, you will be able to modify it later if you want to. You can also pick it up directly from the bank. In any case, you have to activate the card at an ATM or online.

How to transfer you money from your home account?

Overall you will have 2 options to transfer your money to Australia. Either you go through your bank (classic account-to-account transfer), or you go through an international transfer platform (recommended).

Transferring your money through your home bank can cost you quite a lot of money. When chatting with other backpackers, you realize the most preferred solution is to use one of the money transfer platforms: Currencyfair or Wise. Indeed, the exchange rates will be much more to your advantage if you go through a specialized platform. Plus, the fees are fixed so you know exactly what to expect when you transfer money.

If you go through a platform, you will have to add the IBAN of the platform as the beneficiary of your transfers to your home account. Then the platform will make the transfer to your beneficiary account in the chosen currency. Keep in mind that it takes 1 to 3 days depending on the bank for the IBAN to be validated. To add this IBAN to your beneficiaries, log into the issuing bank account (the one from which you are transferring the money).

Transfer Money to Australia

Save money when transferring money to Australia.

Opening a superannuation account

Note that in most of the Australian banks you can also open a superannuation account. Superannuation is money set aside during your working life for when you retire. As a visitor, you can claim this money when leaving the country.

It is a contribution that is paid and sent by your employer to a contribution fund. This contribution must be paid in addition to salary for all employees over the age of 18 earning a salary greater than $450 per month. It represents 10.5% of salary (July 2022).

It can be a good option to group your bank and superannuation account to make it easier when you’re leaving the country. For example, if you open an account with Westpac, the bank will offer you to open an account with their superannuation partner BT.

Closing your bank account

Closing your Australian bank account is even easier than opening it. You can either go to the bank or you do it from your home country by calling the right service. You will need to prove your identity and give your card details (number, expiry etc).

Of course, remember to pay all your bills, fines and other charges before closing the account.
If there is money left in the account, you will either have to transfer it before closing or provide the details of an account where to transfer the money to your bank (pay attention to transfer fees in this case).
If, on the contrary, the account is negative, you will have to regularize your situation before you can close the account.

Do not forget to take the steps to recover the Superannuation if your fund is linked with your bank! Also remember to contact your bank before you leave Australia to inform them that you are leaving the territory and, for example, to deactivate the security service for managing your online account. With Westpac, you can choose to deactivate the security SMS to add a beneficiary to your account, for example.

Updated on 24/06/2022

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The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!