Banking in Australia
There are a lot of banks to choose from in Australia. The old way of doing things was to charge a monthly fee just to have an account, but thankfully most banks seem to be moving away from this. In general, the process of opening an account is very easy.
National Australia Bank
I myself had a checking and savings accounts with nab (National Australia Bank). I like nab because they have no fees and it was really easy to set up an account, but honestly, I picked them because it was nearing closing hours, I needed an account by the next day, and they were the closest bank. The negative of nab is that they don’t have a ton of ATMs, so they can be a bit more difficult to come across.
Commonwealth Bank and ANZ are much more common ATMs to see out and about. Westpac is the other major bank, and St. George, Macquerie, BankWest, and Bank of Queensland are some others.
I have found that I make the most use out of ANZ ATMs because they’re everywhere and I don’t get charged any fees for withdrawing money with my Capital One bank card.
Using Your American Bank
If you’re from the States and coming to Australia, or traveling at all, I highly recommend Capital One. I have both a credit card and ATM card from them and wish I had started using them earlier! They don’t charge any fees at all (not only no fees for using another bank’s ATM, but no foreign currency/exchange fees either). As long as you stay in good standing and pay your bills, Capital One is going to be your best choice. [NOTE: This only applies to online Capital One accounts, now called Capital One 360.]
I’m not sure how they compare in terms of interest rates or other aspects with other banks, but if you’re going abroad I’m pretty sure they’re the best option out there. Charles Schwaub is another great option to look into.
What You Need to Open an Account
Overall, opening an Australian bank account is simple. Don’t be intimidated and put it off until the day before you start a new job!
All you’ll need to take with you is a piece of identification (best off with your passport) as long as you open it within six weeks of arriving in Oz. You should probably have an Australian address, too (though you could probably use your hostel address and just change it when you find a place).
Related: Finding Housing in Australia
In fact, if you don’t have an address I think that most banks will probably accept just a phone number and call you to pick up your ATM card when it arrives instead of mailing it to you. And again, do take into consideration how often you might need to take out cash and which ATMs are closest to where you live or work.
And again, do take into consideration how often you might need to take out cash and which ATMs are closest to where you live or work.