If you plan to travel and work in Australia, opening a bank account will be one of the first steps to take when you arrive. When you get a job, your employers will need to pay your wages into an Australian bank account. For day-to-day living and expenses, it will also be much cheaper and easier to have an account in Australia. Opening a bank account in Australia is relatively quick and easy. It is even possible to start the process from abroad. Here is all the information you will need to create your Australian bank account.
Table of Contents
Why open a bank account in Australia?
What is the purpose of having an Australian bank account?
Here are the main advantages to opening a bank account in Australia:
- You will be able to receive a salary from an Australian company
- Avoid additional fees for using a foreign bank card
- You can transfer money from your home account to Australia and vice versa for cheaper
- Withdraw money from an ATM without worrying about fees
- Make online purchases
- Simplify the procedures in the event of loss of your bank card
Remember to open a bank account as soon as you arrive in the territory.
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.
Can non-residents open a bank account in Australia?
Yes, both residents and non-residents can open bank accounts in Australia, but the requirements may vary.
Choosing the Right Bank
It’s all well and good to open a bank account, but with which bank 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. It is necessary to take into account certain criteria such as:
- Bank coverage throughout Australia (you want to be able to find ATMs from this bank in all states and territories of the country)
- Whether bank fees are fixed or not
- The interest rate of the different savings accounts offered
- If the bank offers a superannuation account
- If there are any partnerships with banks in your home country
Major banks in Australia
The four most popular banks are Westpac, ANZ, NAB and Commonwealth. You will always find one of these in all states and territories of Australia.
What should I consider when selecting a bank?
Selecting the right bank is a crucial decision when opening a bank account in Australia. The choice you make can impact your overall banking experience, fees, and the quality of services you receive. Here are some essential factors to consider:
Fees and Charges
- One of the first things to examine is the fee structure of the bank. Different banks have varying fee schedules, including monthly maintenance fees, ATM withdrawal fees, overdraft charges, and foreign transaction fees. Look for a bank that offers a fee structure that aligns with your financial needs and usage patterns.
- If you’re opening a savings account, it’s crucial to compare interest rates offered by different banks. A higher interest rate can help your savings grow faster over time. Check whether the bank offers competitive rates for the type of account you want.
- Consider the bank’s ATM network. Some banks have extensive ATM networks across Australia, making it convenient for you to withdraw cash without incurring additional fees. Others may charge fees for using ATMs outside their network.
Online and Mobile Banking
- Evaluate the bank’s online and mobile banking capabilities. A user-friendly digital platform can simplify your banking tasks, such as checking balances, transferring funds, and paying bills. Ensure that the bank’s app or website meets your needs and is easy to navigate.
Accessibility of Branches
- Depending on your location and preferences, you may want to consider the availability of physical branches. Research whether the bank has branches or partner branches in your area.
- Compare the additional features and benefits offered by different banks. This could include features like overdraft protection, rewards programs, linked accounts (e.g., savings and checking), and mobile check deposit.
- If you have specific banking needs, such as foreign currency accounts, international transfers, or business banking, consider whether the bank offers specialized services that cater to your requirements.
How to open 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.
What documents are required to open a bank account in Australia?
- Your passport
- A telephone number (preferably an Australian one – you can update this online later)
- 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)
- You may also be asked your tax number in your home country (if applicable).
In parallel with your bank account, your online banking account will also be created. This will allow you to manage your different accounts easily online. We also advise you to download the bank’s smartphone app to facilitate transfers between your accounts, monitor your expenses, etc.
And once my bank account is open?
Once your bank account is open, your bank will give you a credit card. This is in general free. You can use your card to withdraw cash, pay for purchases in stores and buy products online. We tell you more below.
You will be able to receive money into your account, from Australia or overseas. You can also make transfers online, via electronic transfer or a bank. If you want to transfer your money internationally, we advise you to go through a transfer platform to save money.
Can you open a bank account in Australia from abroad?
It is possible to open a bank account in Australia from abroad. However, once you arrive in Australia, you will need to go to a branch of your chosen bank to finish the process. You will have to show your passport to confirm your identity and order your bank card. Not all the banks offer this option. But NAB and Commonwealth are among the ones with which you can open an account before arriving in Australia.
Types of Bank Accounts in Australia
There are two main types of bank 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: These accounts give you interest on your savings.
Which one to choose? Both! Without going into all the financial advantages you can get, let’s talk about a key factor for your Australian road trip: saving.
It is smart to use a savings account to “store” the majority of your money. You can use your current account for your daily expenses, and transfer money from your savings account if you start to run low. That way, if you lose your bank card or if it gets stolen, you don’t risk losing all your money. Of course, banks have insurance that enable you to get your money back eventually, but the process can take time.
Get a credit card in Australia
Opening a current account with a bank gives you access to a bank card. With one of these, you will be able to:
- withdraw money from ATMs (free of charge from your bank’s ATMs – otherwise, in general $2 from other banks’),
- deposit money (at some ATMs),
- pay for your purchases in store or online.
The card is a Debit Card (MasterCard or Visa). Make sure you have the “Paypass” option on your card, which will allow you to make contactless payments up to $100 without having to enter your PIN. (Of course, this means that if you lose your card you must cancel it immediately.)
Your card can be sent to you by post within an average of 5 working days. A second letter will then be sent containing your PIN code (which you can change later if you want). You can also request the withdrawal of your card at the counter of the bank of your choice. In any case, it will be necessary to activate your card. You can do this at a distributor, or from your personal account on the Internet.
How to transfer money from your overseas account?
Generally, you will have two different 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 end up costing you quite a lot in fees. When chatting with other backpackers, you’ll realise the most popular option is to a money transfer platform like Currencyfair or Wise. Indeed, the exchange rates will be much more to your advantage if you go through a specialised 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 bank 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
Superannuation is a kind of retirement savings plan. It is a contribution that is paid by your employer and sent to a contribution fund. This contribution must be paid in addition to salary for all employees over 18. It represents 11% of your salary (July 2023).
Be aware that most major Australian banks offer a Superannuation account. It can be a good option to combine your current bank and superannuation to simplify the process. For example, if you open an account with Westpac, the bank will offer you the option to open a superannuation account with BT, their partner. Superannuation withdrawal is only accessible to Australians once they have retired (or in certain special cases, such as for a contribution in the case of a real estate investment). Non-residents can recover part of their superannuation once they leave their territory and their visa ends.
Read also : Claim your superannuation when leaving Australia
What payment methods are used in Australia?
In Australia, commonly accepted payment methods include:
- Credit and debit cards: Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted in stores, restaurants and hotels.
- Cash: Cash is widely accepted in shops, restaurants and hotels.
- Electronic transfers: Electronic transfers are also commonly used in Australia to make payments online or to transfer money between bank accounts.
- Mobile payments: Mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are very popular in Australia.
It’s important to note that payment options may vary by location or type of business, so it’s best to check with the merchant before making a purchase.
Closing your bank account
Closing your Australian bank account is even easier than opening it. You can either go to your bank in person and ask or do it over the phone, from Australia or abroad. 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 you can transfer the money (pay attention to transfer fees in this case).
If, on the contrary, the account is in overdraft, you will have to pay this off before closing the account.
Do not forget to take the necessary steps to recover your 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.