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May 18 2011

Banks in Australia

Banks in Australia

Opening a Bank Account in Australia

Under current government legislation, you need to provide personal identification up to the value of 100 points when opening any account (including loan accounts), or when becoming signatories to accounts.

  • A passport or Birth Certificate is worth 70 points
  • An Overseas Drivers Licence is worth 25 points
  • An Australian Drivers Licence is worth 40 points
  • A Credit Card is worth 25 points
  • A Medicare Card is worth 25 points

A full list can be seen at:

New arrivals can sometime open accounts with special identification requirements, if done within a short time of arrival.

Bank Fees

Many Australian Banks have account keeping fees, commonly $5 per month, although some are Free, it is worth shopping around.

HSBC is a common account for many newly arrived British, as it can provide FREE banking, and a decent interest rate on deposits.

This account is designed for Internet banking as there are very few HSBC branches around, although you can however make deposits and withdrawals at any Post Office, Free of Charge, and, as from 3 March 2009, HSBC will allow unlimited FREE withdrawals at any of the HSBC or 1,800 Westpac branded ATMs nationally. (this does NOT include St George ATM’s)

The normal fee for ATM transactions, with almost every other bank, is $1.50 to $2 per transaction.

Note: HSBC’s 5 Free ‘any other bank’ ATM transactions per month that used to be allowed without incurring ATM transaction fees, was removed under the ATM Reform on March 3rd 2009.

ATM Fees

Most ATM transactions will incur fees, unless you ONLY use an ATM that belongs to your bank.

The fee that you are charged when you use an ATM that is not operated by your own bank is called a “Foreign Transaction Fee”, or “Other bank ATM Fee”.

Transaction fees may be charged on “Balance Enquiry”, “Withdrawal” and “Deposits”.

As from March 2009, most of these fees will be shown on the ATM screen, before you choose to finalise the transaction thereby allowing you to abort, if you do not wish to pay the fee. Some banks have agreements with other banks, so that they do NOT get charged a “Foreign Transaction Fee”. Examples of these are:

Following the RBA involvement, bank customers must now, from March 3rd, 2009, be notified of the charges before making a transaction at another bank’s ATM, and then given the opportunity to opt out of the transaction without being charged.

However, it appears that some banks, including NAB, Westpac, St George and ANZ have all announced smaller extra fees which will NOT be shown on the ATM screen at the time of the transaction.

Some of the above banks may have recently decided not to impose these fees. It would be best to double check, as things are changing rapidly at the moment.

Only the fee being charged by the ATM operator will be shown, at the time of the transaction, on the ATM screen.

An example of these fees as at March 3rd 2009 was:

Balance    Withdrawal    ATM Direct Charges
Enquiry         Fee    Institution
$2.00      $2.00     ANZ
$- -.–      $2.00     Bank Of Queensland
$1.00      $2.00     Bankwest
$2.00      $2.00     Commonwealth Bank
$2.00      $2.00     Heritage
$0.50      $1.50     nab
$- -.–      $1.75     RediATM
$2.00      $2.00     St George
$0.80      $2.00     Suncorp
$2.00      $2.00     Westpac

This was sourced from a pdf file at :

Be aware of Bank advertising that may lead you to believe that you will pay nothing….

I have just seen one bank advertising “No charge for ‘bank name’ customers when they use “Foreign ATMs”13 March 2009”.

However, further down in smaller print, it does say: “customers will not be charged “disloyalty fees” for using “Foreign ATMs”, although they could still be charged a “Direct Charge” by the ATM operator”

Opening an Australian Bank Account from the UK

AUSTRALIAN BANKS with Facilities in the UK to assist in opening an Australian account

  • Commonwealth Bank, Financial and Migrant Section, London EC4V 4HA, Tel: 0207 710 3990
  • HSBC Bank, International Branch Tel: 020 7991 7278 (HSBC UK now appear to charge 100 to help with this)
  • NAB Migrant Banking Centre, 4th Floor, Gateway House, 28 The Quadrant, Richmond, TW9 1DN. Tel: 020 8614 9320

AUSTRALIAN BANKS with special facilities for opening an Australian account from the UK

  • ANZ – The ANZ Access Advantage Account is available to be applied for to open an account prior to coming to Australia.
  • Westpac – Migrant Banking Facility from Westpac Bank
  • NAB – The NAB now have a dedicated migrant banking team.

Most of these accounts will require you to visit the branch that you opened the account at, to identify yourself and activate the new account.
Identification, mainly during the first 6 weeks, normally consists of your Passport, and proof of an Australian address. After this initial period, you will need more forms of Identification.

Banks
  • Info Choice NOT A BANK But a web site to compare banks and their services.
The Big Four/Five Banks

St George and Westpac customers can each use the others ATM’s, from 1st Dec 2008, following the merger of these two banks.

Some of the other Banks
Online Banks

(Normally higher interest rates but with less facilities)

  • ING DIRECT – 3.75% Standard Deposit Rate as at 14/3/2009
  • HSBC Online – 1.00% Standard Deposit Rate as at 14/3/2009 (between $5,000 and $499,999)
  • HSBC Serious Saver – 3.50% Standard Deposit Rate as at 14/3/2009 (if no withdrawals in the month) (No minimum opening or ongoing account balance)
  • St George DirectSaver – 3.45% Standard Deposit Rate as at 14/3/2009
  • Rabobank Australia Ltd – 4.00% Standard Deposit Rate as at 14/3/2009

Some Savings accounts often have promotional interest rates that revert to the standard rate after a short period; for example:

Take account of these, and note the ending dates of the promo period

Bank Accounts for Children
Main Banks:
  • Bank West – Kids Bonus Saver
  • NAB – Smart Junior Saver
  • ANZ Bank – Progress Saver for Kids

Credit Unions:

  • Mecu – mysaver
  • CUA – Credit Unions Australia
Credit Cards
Financial Papers
Exchange Rates
Mortgage Brokers / Non Bank Lenders
  • Aussie home loans – a mobile lending force of more than 750 mortgage brokers at 2011.
  • Rams home loans – A mortgage broking company owned by Westpac Bank.
  • Mortgage Choice – 445+ Mortgage Choice franchisees nationwide at Dec 2007.

Win a Luxurious home in Australia with Hometown Prize Draws.

For Books with Free Delivery to Australia, look at: BookDepository UK and USA

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