If you’ve just arrived or are planning to make the move to the land Down Under, you’ll need a bank account to receive, save, deposit, and transfer money. Discover everything you need to know about opening a bank account in Australia, including the documents you should have before your application.
Banks in Australia
For the sixth-largest country in the world, you might be surprised to learn that there are just over 50 banking institutions in Australia. For context, the UK has around 300 banking brands in operation. But what the ‘world’s largest island’ lacks in quantity is made up for with the quality of its banks.
Some of the most popular and established banks in Australia include the ‘big four’ of:
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank).
- National Australian Bank (NAB).
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ).
In addition to these popular banks, Australia has seen the rise of several app-only banking companies that offer traditional services such as business banking, trading, stockbroking, insurance, and funds management.
Types of Australian bank accounts
Bank accounts in Australia tend to fall under one of the following main categories:
- Transaction accounts.
- Savings or deposit accounts.
- Term deposit accounts.
- Business accounts.
- Student accounts.
Each type of account offers different features and services to suit your financial needs or situation. For example, a term deposit account could be perfect if you want to make long-term savings. Term deposit accounts are similar to the UK’s Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) as they both have better interest rates than other savings accounts. However, with a term deposit account, you’ll need to add a minimum amount every month and leave it in the account for an agreed length of time.
Opening an Australian bank account from overseas
If you’re about to move to Australia, certain banks will allow you to open an account from overseas. You’ll usually be able to open an account with most banks if:
- Your bank at home has a correspondent banking relationship with a bank in Australia. A correspondent bank is an authorised financial institution that provides services on behalf of another. For example, CommBank is the correspondent bank to Barclays Bank in the UK.
- The bank is an international bank like HSBC, operating in multiple continents. If you already have an account with an international bank, opening an account in Australia is easier.
While setting up a bank account in these scenarios is more straightforward, it’s not the only way to open an account from abroad. For all other banks, you can apply from overseas with:
- Your passport number and email address.
- Your arrival date and point or port of entry.
- A ticket showing you’re coming to Australia within a year of opening the account.
- Proof that you’re at least 16 years of age.
- Evidence, usually a visa or permit, that you’re travelling to Australia to migrate, study or work.
- An initial deposit in Australian dollars which will vary depending on the bank.
What’s the minimum age for opening a bank account in Australia?
Most traditional Australian banks require you to be over 18 years old, although some newer companies accept applications from people aged 16 and over.
How long does it take to open a bank account in Australia?
Depending on the bank, you can open an account online or in person in about 10 minutes. Once your account is open, you’ll need to verify it in person at a later date if you haven’t yet arrived in Australia.
What documents do I need to open a bank account in Australia?
For both in-branch or online applications, you need to complete Australia’s 100 point system for documentation. When presenting documents in Australia, you’ll need to bring several documents that add up to 100 points or more. The points are assigned as follows:
- A birth certificate, passport or citizenship certificate is worth 70 points.
- A drivers’ or shooters’ licence, public service employee ID card or a Commonwealth or State Government financial entitlement card is worth 40 points.
- A credit or debit card with your name on it is worth 25 points. Some banks will accept other cards, such as a library or store card.
- A document with your name and address on it, such as a utility bill or bank statement, is worth 25 points.
How to open a neo bank account in Australia
In recent years, there has been a considerable rise in the number of neo banks. Also known as digital banks, neo banks have no branches on the high street, meaning you need to manage your account online or on a smartphone app. In Australia, the leading app-only banks include:
- Volt Bank
- Xinja Bank.
|Fun fact: 86400’s name comes from the number of seconds in a day.|
The advantages of an app-only bank account are that they’re easy to open and don’t require as much paperwork as traditional banks. In some cases, you can even open an app-only account without proof of address.
Can you open a bank account without proof of address?
Yes. Proof of address isn’t required when setting up an Australian bank account. Instead, you’ll only need to show proof of residency, such as a work or student visa. Most Australian banks have basic requirements for migrants, students and foreigners to open bank accounts.
What’s the best bank account to open if you’re new to Australia?
That depends on the services and features you need. If you’ve just arrived in Australia, you may want to start with a transaction account. A transaction account, internationally known as a current or checking account, lets you deposit, receive, withdraw and transfer money abroad or domestically. You can even set up features like Direct Debits and standing orders to help pay utility bills.
Regardless of the type of bank account you choose, it might be worth banking with one of the big four. Collectively, CommBank, NAB, ANZ and Westpac have the most extensive branch and ATM (cashpoint) networks in the country. The big four are also the most experienced in assisting expats, migrants and students open and managing bank accounts in Australia.
Before opening an account in Australia, have a look at Azimo’s list of things to consider when choosing a bank account:
- What is the initial minimum deposit?
It varies from one account to another, but sometimes like the Bank of Queensland‘s ‘Bonus Interest Savings’ account, you aren’t required to leave one at all.
- Is there a monthly service fee?
Certain banks charge a monthly fee for the upkeep of your account. Monthly fees usually apply to accounts with a wider range of benefits. For example, CommBank‘s ‘Everyday Smart Access’ account has a 4 AUD monthly fee. However, the fee is waived if you’re under 25, a full or part-time student or, deposit a minimum of 2,000 AUD per month.
- Is there a minimum monthly deposit?
Some banks require you to deposit a certain amount every month to keep the account open. As mentioned above, depositing the minimum amount usually means you won’t have to pay the monthly service fee.
- Is there a minimum balance?
Some banks won’t let you go under a certain amount of money in your account. A fee may apply if you do. If a minimum balance doesn’t suit your banking needs, ANZ’s ‘Everyday Banking’ account doesn’t have one.
- Are there any overdraft fees?
If you mistakenly or agree to take out more than your balance, a fee may apply. Check what the cost is and if you can afford it in the event of an emergency.
- Does the bank have highly-rated online banking and mobile apps?
If you like banking on-the-move, choose a bank with a secure and easy-to-use app and website.
- Has the bank set a monthly transaction limit?
Sometimes banks put a cap on how many transfers or withdrawals you can make every week or month. If you’re financially supporting relatives overseas, find out about any limits on transfers beforehand.
- Can you make low-fee overseas money transfers?
If you need to send money to relatives abroad regularly, check if this feature is available and how much it costs. A lower fee ultimately means more money for your family on overseas transfers.
They may be the best option for storing your cash, but banks should be avoided when it comes to sending money overseas. Download the Azimo app on iOS or Android and start transferring money to loved ones around the world.