One of the most crucial priorities when moving to Australia is setting up a bank account. While you might be able to use an existing overseas bank account, having an Australian account will quite easily make your life better, especially if you are paying rent or other bills. It is simple to open an account in Australia for international students as there are various banks that offer banking options.
1. Choosing a Bank
Although there is a wide selection of banking providers in Australia, the most common and major banks that people use are: National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank (Commonwealth), Westpac, Australia New Zealand (ANZ), and Citibank.
2. The Right Type of Bank Account
Opening a bank account helps international students pay their bills, process international money transactions, as well as managing their student accommodation in Australia. There are 3 important bank accounts for international students: Transaction accounts, Savings accounts, and Student accounts.
a. Transaction Account is the most common type of account that students can use for their daily expenses. This account allows for a safety deposit and access money, pay off bills, use their debit card for other expenses, and even withdraw money from an ATM.
b. Savings Account is linked to your everyday bank account, from which you can earn interest whenever a bit of your money is set aside in your savings account. Students can earn a higher interest rate with their savings account compared to a transaction account.
c. Student Account is like a transaction account but with the added benefits of being fee-free for everyday operations. For example, when a student account is opened, users may skip the monthly or annual account fees, deposit cash for free or withdraw from an ATM without being charged.
3. Opening an Account
Most banks allow students to set up their account online up to 3 months before they arrive in Australia. To set up an account beforehand, they must fill out an online application form on their chosen bank’s website. Typically, the bank will need information like their passport number and expiry date, phone number, email address, visa type, the Australian state they are migrating to, expected date of arrival in Australia, and a letter from the student’s educational institute which proves they are a full-time student.
Upon arrival, international students must book an appointment at their local branch to prove their identity for them to access their money. It is best to book an appointment within the first six weeks of arrival! A passport and proof of their permanent address in Australia, such as their utility bill or tenancy agreement, must be at hand during the appointment. Once their identification has been verified and their account has been approved, students will then receive their bank card within a few weeks.
4. Things to Consider
Banks in Australia may charge non-customers a fee for using their ATM machines; hence, keep in mind that the bank you are choosing has a wide range of ATMs available across your region. Ultimately, you can choose a bank with a wide network of free ATMs like Bankwest, which has Australia’s largest bank ATM network with over 3,500 Bankwest and CommBank ATMs.
Many banks often charge monthly service fees to maintain an account. This can add up in the long term; so, ensure to choose a bank that does not charge as much or waives the fees completely. International students can choose an account with Citibank Plus that permits them to withdraw money from all ATMs of Citibank worldwide for free, and no extra fee may be charged for international money transfers.
Usually, a student bank account should not come with any monthly fees for at least the first 12 months, providing an unlimited number of transactions whether it is an online transaction, via EFTPOS, or in a branch. There are a few unconventional fees that students should be careful of:
1. Overdrawn charges: If the student bank account runs out of cash, you can expect to pay a fee. This can be avoided by requesting an account with no overdraw facility.
2. International transaction fees: Using your debit card when traveling overseas can incur international transaction fees and foreign ATM fees. It is best to look into debit cards with low foreign transaction fees.
3. Overseas or foreign ATM fees: Fees will be incurred when you use an ATM that is outside of your bank’s network. Hence, looking for banks with the widest ATM network is important for those who often use ATMs.
After opening a bank account, you will receive your card along with a welcome kit. You can then transfer money into your new account and start using the card while shopping. Choosing a card that offers no extra costs is crucial.
5. Best Student Bank Accounts
- National Bank of Australia (NAB)
- The bank is available nationwide with many branches located in major Australian cities and surrounding areas.
- Offers efficient customer support online.
- No monthly account fees and overdrawn fees; however, NAB student account has an overseas ATM withdrawal fee of $5 and foreign exchange commission of 3%
- Access over 7,000 ATMs across Australia without any ATM fees.
- Open a NAB classic bank account online before you arrive in Australia by just applying via ‘Moving to Australia’ on their website.
- Users can access their accounts through their phone or internet banking services easily.
- Apply for a VISA debit card with no extra cost and shop anywhere where VISA is accepted.
- Commonwealth Bank
- An ideal choice for many international full-time and part-time tertiary students as it offers exclusive discounts on a range of banking products.
- The Student Smart Access account includes no monthly fees, unlimited free transactions from network ATMs, EFTPOS, and counter deposits. Nevertheless, the foregin exchange fee sits at 3%.
- CommBank allows students to open an account 3 months before arrival in Australia.
- Opening an Everyday Account with student options online within 5 minutes.
- The CommBank app allows users to organize and track expenses from anywhere in the world.
- Designed for full-time students who want to open a fee-free account.
- No ATM withdrawal fee with Westpac Group ATMs in Australia.
- There are over 50,000 ATMs globally via the Global ATM Alliance.
- $0 monthly service fee for full-time international students.
- Allows international students to set up their account up to 3 months before arriving to Australia.
- No Australian address is required when opening an account from overseas prior to arrival.
- Australian & New Zealand Bank (ANZ)
- Allows international students to set up their bank account prior to arrival.
- ANZ provides a Progress Savers Account that helps students grow their savings if they plan on doing part-time employment whilst studying.
- With their Savers Account, students can earn bonus interest whenever they make one deposit of $10 into their account each month without withdrawing any balance
- The ANZ Progress Account has no monthly service fee and can be linked to an Access Advantage Account, making the fund transfer seamless.
- Vast network of ATMs across the country.
- The Citi Plus Account is ideal for international students as there is no monthly account fee, which allows for money withdrawal within Citi ATM network.
- Debit MasterCard can be used worldwide to withdraw cash from ATMs.
- Instantly transfer money from any country to the Citi account or any other bank worldwide for free by using the Citi Plus transaction account
6. How to transfer funds to an Australian bank account from overseas?
- Electronic Funds Transfer: Also known as an international money transfer, wire transfer, or swift transferer. Foreign money, which is converted into AUD, is transferred to an Australian bank account electronically. Most banks, however, require an additional fee for any electronic fund transfers. To compare different money transfer services, visit: https://www.finder.com.au/international-money-transfers
- International Money Order: This money transfer method is similar to paper cheques, but the amount is paid in advance. International money works just like a domestic money order, by allowing users to prepay an amount that will then be used as a secure form of payment. Find out more by visiting: https://www.finder.com.au/international-money-orders
You are all set to go!
Moving to a completely different country for further studies can be stressful. So, applying for a bank account beforehand is wise. Mobile banking is popular in Australia, making it effortless to do online banking via mobile, like paying back your friends or making any in-store payments by tapping your phone onto the EFTPOS machines. Be sure to compare the benefits of each bank before making that decision!