This is it! You’ve decided to move to Australia or to study there for a while. You’re probably very excited, but also scared. Australia is really far away! Now that you’ve got your visa, opening a bank account in Australia will seem very straightforward.
What documents do you need?
When it comes to documentation, Australian banks use a point system. Each document is assigned a number of points and in order to open a bank account, you’ll need to present documents that add up to 100 points. Still following us? Don’t panic, it’s much easier than it sounds. Here is the list of documents with their associated points:
- Passport – 70 pts
- International driving license – 40 pts
- Any card with your name on it: this includes credit card, student card or library one – 25 pts
- A document stating your name and Australian address – 25 pts
If you do the maths, bringing your passport and driving license is enough to open your bank account, as it would be in most cases.
Open your bank account before arriving in Australia
One of the great things about banks in Australia, at least for the “big four”, is that they let you open a bank account online up to 1 year in advance of your arrival. It takes between 5 to 10 minutes to go through the process. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to go to your local branch to present your documents once you arrive in the country.
Opening your bank account in advance gives you time to wait for a good exchange rate and make a deposit whenever it is convenient and beneficial to you. Make sure you use Neomy to get alerted about the exchange rate.
Banks in Australia
Australia has many banks. It is not easy for us to tell you which one is the best as it is a matter of personal preference. All of them offer similar packages for professionals, business and students.
That being said, we suggest you opt for one of the “Big four”, especially if you plan to travel. Indeed, they have the most extensive ATM network in Australia. Let’s have a look at what they offer:
National Australian Bank (NAB)
It’s probably the largest bank in the country with around 3,500 ATMs. The classic account is probably your best option. It comes with a Visa debit card (it is nearly impossible to get a credit card as a non-resident). There is no minimum deposit required nor are there any overdraft fees. Withdrawals are free at NABATMs and RediATMs.
Unfortunately NAB does not offer accounts dedicated to students.
If you’re new to Australia, the Smart Acces Account is made for you. You can open it online up to 3 months before your arrival. You’ll be charged a monthly fee of AU$4 for the account unless you deposit at least AUD$ 2,000 per month.
The Student Smart Access Account can also be opened before you move. The credit card is free for the first year and monthly fees and deposit requirements will be waived for the duration of your studies.
Again, with this bank, you can open a bank account before you arrive in Australia,up to a year in advance. The Basic account comes with no fees during the first year. If you are under 25 or deposit at least AUD$ 2,000 per month, the account will remain free for 12 months. Otherwise, you’ll be charged AU$5 per month. You’ll get a contactless debit card.
Westpac’s Everyday Bank Account can be opened online up to a year prior to your arrival. It is free for the first year, or indefinitely if you are a full-time student. It comes with a Mastercard debit card.
The costs you should be aware of
Be careful with ATM withdrawals; they’ll be free, but only if you use your own bank’s ATMs. Withdrawing from another bank’s ATM will cost you around AU$2 per transaction.
Most of the time, Australian accounts are free from monthly charges if you deposit a minimum each month, which is normally around AUD$2,000.
Check your bank’s policy regarding overdraft fees in order to avoid any nasty surprises.
Transfer funds into your Australian account
Now that you’re all set with your account, you’ll probably have to transfer money into it. You might simply want to make a bank transfer between your home account and your new Australian account. Be careful though, as this is probably the most expensive way to send money between two countries. Banks may apply outrageous fees on such transfers. What’s more, they use poor exchange rates to make even more money on your transfer.
Make sure to compare them before making your choice: you can do that easily using this exchange rate comparison tool.
You are now all set to open a bank account in Australia. We hope that this information has been useful.