There are 4 major banks that operate in Australia – The National Australia Bank (NAB), ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation as well as a number of smaller and state run bank such as Bank of Queensland and Bank West. A number of International banks also operate in Australia but they may have a lesser number of local branches. Banking hours are usually 9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday. Some branches offer extended hours during the week and a few open Saturday morning. You can use ATM (automatic teller machines) which dispense cash and are accepted in shops, petrol stations and by taxis. Many banks offer 24 hr access via Internet or telephone banking services.
Opening an Australian Bank Account
For most long-term overseas visitors, opening a local bank account is essential. The majority of salaries and wages in Australia are paid directly in to a bank account and using a local card may reduce costs associated with using international cards.
It is recommended that you open an Australian bank account before or within 6 weeks of moving. If you have just arrived, some banks will only require a valid passport but in most cases you will be required to show 100 points of identification*.If you wait longer to open your account, you will require additional identification such as lease contract, tax file number or driving licence.
If you are organised, you can open an account prior to your arrival and arrange to transfer funds in preparation for your move. The majority of the major banks have International banking specialists or Migration bankers that are happy to assist you. In many cases you can apply online or alternatively you can join at some International migration fairs held in your home country.
Tip! Banks usually require an initial deposit within a few weeks of opening your account to avoid closure.
The 100 Points system – What ID do I need to bring?
Types of Accounts
- A Current or Cheque account is the most common every day account and allows you to withdraw money from ATM machines, have access to a cheque book and EFTPOS* card (to make card payments debited direct from your account), make direct debit regular bill payments and access telephone and internet banking to better manage your money. These accounts usually have a low interest rate and many have a small monthly account fee associated with them.
- A Savings account allows you to keep savings separate from your transaction account. These accounts often have higher interest rates but may have special conditions on withdrawals and deposits. The online savings accounts have even better interest rates due to their lower overheads.
- An Offset account where the money in the account is ‘offset’ against the balance of the mortgage which can save on interest paid.
- A Credit account comes in the form of a credit card. This allows you to delay payment for purchases or bills using your credit card but if the bill is not paid by the due date you will be charged interest. Please note -You may not be eligible to apply for a credit card until you have built up a credit history in Australia.
** Credit History – How do I build up a good credit history in Australia?
Most people at some stage will require a loan. It might take the form of a credit card, store card or even mobile phone contract. Most lenders need to be assured you are not a credit risk and can be relied on to pay back the loan. It is important to build up a good credit history to show you are a reliable candidate.
- Opening a utility account – such as a Gas, Electricity or Foxtel (pay TV) account is a good way to start. Pay your bills on time and by the due date to start proving your reliability.
- Keep your bank account in order and avoid overdue fees. If your salary is deposited directly in to your account on a regular basis you will start to build up a positive credit history of you.
- A regular job or contract helps you to establish your staying power.
- Proof of a long term residential address or regular mortgage payments can prove helpful.
- Credit cards are usually easier to get than a larger loan or mortgage. Use your payment history on your credit card to help establish you for future loan applications.
For further information on opening a bank account or on types of accounts available speak to an International Banking specialist.