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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.

I myself have 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. 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). I could have saved literally hundreds of dollars if I had been using Capital One instead of my old bank when I was studying and traveling abroad in college. As long as you stay in good standing and pay your bills, Capital One is going to be your best choice. 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.

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 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). 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.

7 Comments leave one →
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  3. Zach permalink
    May 7, 2015 5:14 pm

    Do you have to move the fun from your American bank account to your Australian bank account, or are the accounts just connected so you have access to your American bank through an Australian bank without international fees?

    • Zach permalink
      May 7, 2015 6:31 pm


    • May 12, 2015 12:50 pm

      Hi Zach,

      If you are still in the States, I would recommend looking at moving some of your funds into a bank that doesn’t charge international fees (such as Capital One or Charles Schwab) or perhaps one that has an agreement with a bank in Oz (I believe Bank of America has a partnership with Westpac so you can withdraw from their ATMs without fees). Once you are in Australia, you will want to open an account with a bank there to get paid when you start working. I only used my money from the States (I had Capital One and could withdraw with minimal ATM fees) until I started working, and then I was making enough money that I only needed to use the funds in my Australian bank account to pay for things.

      In the beginning also primarily used my credit card to pay for everything I could (Capital One doesn’t charge international fees) and then I could pay off my credit card with my American bank account. I hope that answers your question!


  4. Lindsey permalink
    January 6, 2016 9:53 pm

    We are traveling from the states to Australia to visit, and I’ve heard that when you use a credit card you have to have a pin number. We have a Capital One credit card, but they can’t give us a pin…. They have the new chips, but are set up for signatures rather than a pin number. Can you comment on that?

  5. January 15, 2016 4:40 am

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