How to open an Australian bank account – can I do it before I arrive?

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Planning an extended trip down under!? Will you be on a working holiday visa? Will you be working to fund your travels? If you answered yes to these three questions then you’re going to need to know how to open an Australian bank account.

Paying bills, transfering money and the all important one, getting your wages paid are just some of the reasons you’ll need to set up an Australian bank account. Now there are a few different ways to go about this and a few pitfalls to avoid, so let’s get stuck in!!!


 


What are my options to open a bank account?

 

Firstly there is the option of going through a travelers agency. For a fee these agencies will take your details and use them to get your Australian bank account set up before you arrive. They also offer other services to help you get your adventure organized i.e:

 

  • Help with visa application
  • Help to find work
  • Tax file number application
  • Accommodation

 

Now these services range from about $100 for opening a bank account to knocking $1000 if you want everything sorting before you arrive. Having all the leg work done for you before you even step foot on Australian soil does seem appealing but for $1000 in my opinion, it’s just not worth it. Well think of it this way if someone offered you a job to fill out 6, one page forms and they were going to give you $1000… you’d be mad to not bite their hand off! How many beers is that?

I think this sort of service only really suits people with very limited or no English.

You can also do it yourself before you arrive with commonwealth bank, click here to sign up.

 

Secondly, you can do it on your own when you arrive. Don’t mess around and get straight onto it soon as you arrive, well within 6 weeks all you should need is you passport as identification. If you leave it longer, you’ll need extra identification in the form of birth certificate, drivers license etc.


 


Which is the best bank to go with?

 

In Australia there are many banks to choose from, but 4 main ones:

  • Commonwealth Bank
  • ANZ
  • National Australia Bank
  • Westpac

So how do you choose which one is right for you? As always there are main things you need to look out for:

  • What fees a bank charges
  • How many ATMs they have dotted around (pretty important)
  • Do they offer overdrafts and if yes how much are the fees/interest
  • What interest rate will they offer you on your savings

 


Banking fees and how to avoid them!

Banks in Australia love a good fee! If you’re not careful it really is quite easy to spend a fair chunk of your hard earned dollar on fees. So what are the fees and how do you avoid them?

First off let’s look at what you’ll pay fees for –

  • Accounting fees – Just to keep your bank account open can cost you up to $5 a month. Some banks offer accounts without fees and some offer n fees for the first 12 months. Shop around find a deal to avoid paying to store your money.

 

  • Using other ATMs – I could not believe this when I first arrived,person using a cash machine having to pay when you use another banks ATM!!! $2 a pop! Just think if say, you go cash machine 3 times in a week, it’s $27 a month. Key is to locate and remember where you’re own bank is.

 

  • Transaction fee – Every transaction you make on your card will cost you 50c. You may only buy a bottle of water for a $1 but if you pay on your card it’ll be $1.50. Some banks do offer free transactions up to a certain limit so again, shop around.

 


What types of account can I get?

Seen as I opened an account with Commonwealth Bank and they were good to me, for this section i’m going to use their accounts to demostrate what your looking at.

Everyday account:

Basically your bog standard, standard current account –

  • No monthly $4 account fee if you’re under 21 and meet student criteria
  • No monthly $4 account fee if you’re aged 21-24 and deposit a monthly minimum of $1000
  • No monthly $4 account fee if you’re over 24 and deposit a monthly minimum of $2000
  • No fee for using Commonwealth Bank and Bankwest ATMs
  • No personal overdraft fee and no monthly fee or interest charges if you don’t use the overdraft.
  • Access to over 4000 Commonwealth Bank ATMs

 

Savings account:

Just the usual higher interest account for your savings.

  • 2.51% interest for the first 3 months
  • 1.00% thereafter
  • Money is transferable from savings to everyday account instantly

Banking fees and rates change all the time so be sure to check out the different banks and get the best deal for you.


 


Transfering money

 

If you plan to get ahead of the game and sort your Australian bank account out before you arrive, then the odds are you’ll want to send money ahead so you can crack straight on with other important things like getting your TFN, buying a car and finding work.

 

Many people upon leaving Australia wish to send their money home or wherever they are travelling to next. There are couple of ways of sending money internationally:

 

  • Through your existing bank -This isn’t the cheapest option but it is quite straightforward. Head into a branch with your details of where you would like it sent and the teller will be able to sort this out for you… obviously for a fee! Roughly $30 up front and 1-3% of what you want transferring.

 

  • Use an international money transfer service – This can be done online from anywhere. Sign up with a company like TorFX, transfer the funds you need to send to your TorFX account, wait for the best exchange rate and hit transfer. Unlike banks, TorFX doesn’t charge any transfer fees, so their service is completely free!!! It really doesn’t get much better than that!!

                                            

                                                                      Hit the banner below!!!

 


 


Conclusion…

When it comes to how to open a bank account in Australia, there are a few different options. No matter which one you choose, you’ll end up paying more than you like in fees but that’s just the way it is in Australia. Main thing is to transfer your money by a company like torfx and not your bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “How to open an Australian bank account – can I do it before I arrive?

  • January 14, 2018 at 11:55 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Anthony. Thanks for this great info. I was not aware of all the fees involved with Australian banking. A 50c fee for each transaction, wow, that can add up fast. I guess it is better to use cash then when purchasing there? What about interest? Can u get an account that pays u interest on your balance? Is that different for banks to and needs to be shopped around? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Carl

    Reply
    • January 15, 2018 at 7:14 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Carl. yes it certainly does add up!! 50c here and 50c there soon equals $20 a month easy!
      Yes your best bet is to use a cash machine from your own bank and draw out plenty of money in one transaction. Yeah the interest changes from bank to bank, also depends on the national interest rates at the time.

      Reply
  • January 15, 2018 at 8:23 pm
    Permalink

    It’s interesting that I found this article! This is certainly a great guide for anyone looking to move to Australia. I am interested in moving from Canada to the US in the near future, and was wondering if you know if it is a similar procedure? If you have an article specifically for the US, please link me to it because I would love to read it! Overall, awesome article and thanks for posting!

    Reply
    • January 15, 2018 at 8:33 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Brendan, thanks for reading!
      In all honesty I have no personal experience of bank accounts in the US, I am hoping to get there in the next couple of years, as well as Canada. I found this link, lots of good info on the US banking system, hope it helps.

      Reply
  • January 16, 2018 at 6:19 am
    Permalink

    Very useful info thanks. My girlfriend (hopefully wife by then) and I are seriously considering packing up our lives in South Africa and joining the thousands of South Africans who have already made the change to Australia. At this stage, I’m trying to gather as much info as possible before getting the ball rolling.
    Thanks again
    Jean

    Reply
    • January 16, 2018 at 9:55 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Jean,
      I’d say it’s some leap of faith! Australia is a truly amazing place to live, so much opportunity to be had! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

      Reply

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