Setting up your bank account is one of the first things you should do when you first arrive in Australia. This is a relatively straightforward process that can be easily completed with the appropriate documentation.
As part of Liveable’s Essential Guide to Moving to Australia, we’ve saved you the headache of compiling all the information, and condensed the necessities all in one place.
100 Point Check
When it comes to the documents needed to set up a bank account in Australia, a points system is used. This consists of a list of documentation, with a set number of points assigned to each document. Applicants would need to present enough documents that adds up to a total of 100 points in order to set up their bank account.
The list is as follows:
- 70 Points: Birth certificate, Passport or Citizenship Certificate
- 40 Points: Australian Drivers’ licence, Student ID card issued by a tertiary education institution, Pension Concession card or a Healthcare card
- 35 Points: Land Rates (This applies only to homeowners)
- 25 Points: A card with your name on it (eg. Credit Card or an Overseas Driving License) or a document with your name and address on it (eg. Utility bill)
Alternatively, if you choose to set up your bank account within the first 6 weeks of your arrival in Australia, you would be able to easily open a bank account with just your Passport.
Which bank best suits my needs?
Whether you’re a student or a working professional, choosing which bank is best suited for your needs is largely a personal preference. Features to consider include the competitive interest rate of each bank, their bonus rate conditions and whether their online banking is available 24/7. It would also be worth considering which banks have ATMs and branches most accessible to you; as in Australia, banks will charge for ATM withdrawals if done from a different bank.
With that said, most banks tend to be similar in the sense that their accounts are equally as straightforward to open, and many are not competitive in terms of their savings accounts.
The Big Four Banks
The Big Four Banks hold a large majority of the loans in Australia and are the most popular options that many choose to save with. As aforementioned, these banks are not particularly competitive with each other. However, they each have certain characteristics that may make them more attractive to your individual preference.
ANZ’s Everyday Visa Debit Account costs $5/ month, and with ATMs all over the country, you will have no problem withdrawing cash on a whim. It also has the highest maximum variable rate for savings compared to the other Big Four banks.
Further, ANZ allows for individuals to set up their bank account a year prior to their move to Australia. This account would be free for the first 12 months, subsequently costing $5/ month. This fee, however, will be negated if you are a full-time student, under 25 or deposit at least $2000/ month into the account.
Although you will still have to physically verify your account with the 100 Point Test upon your arrival in Australia, this will allow you to plan ahead of your move here.
Commonwealth has the largest marketshare out of The Big Four. Hence, it is not surprising that they also have the largest ATM network here, making it extremely convenient to withdraw cash on the go. It has been awarded to have the best online banking system, and their phone service hotline is also available 24/7.
Additionally, Commonwealth’s Smart Access Account is made specifically for people migrating to Australia, and can be set up 3 months prior to your move. Again, you would need to verify your account with the 100 Point Test upon your arrival. Commonwealth also has a Student Smart Access Account available for students, where monthly fees and minimum monthly deposit requirements are waived.
National Australia Bank (NAB)
NAB is the only bank out of The Big Four that does not charge monthly and overdrawn fees. With NAB, there is also no minimum deposit. Further, you will be granted a NAB Visa Debit card with PayWave at no extra cost.
If you are keen on setting up a business bank account, NAB has three varieties to choose from; with the Business Everyday Account being completely free. This account can be integrated into major accounting platforms such as Xero and Reckon.
Westpac would be the ideal bank for individuals traveling between Australia and New Zealand, as it is a prominent bank in both countries. Their Everyday Bank Account is free for students, and free for the first year for everyone else. You may also apply for one 12 months before arriving in Australia.
At Westpac, you also have option of signing up for a Choice Account, which will allow you unlimited transactions at any ATMs within their global network. However, if your monthly deposits are more than $2000, this service will cost you $5/month.