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Banking in Australia
Automatic teller machines (ATMs)
ATMs are available throughout Australia,
allowing you to withdraw cash, check your
funds and, in some cases, make deposits.
Note that fees generally apply when
withdrawing funds from another bank’s
ATM (usually around AUD$2) and when
using international cards.
It is a good idea to set up a transaction
account for everyday banking and a
high-interest savings account for storing
your savings. Other account types include
chequing accounts, credit accounts and
credit debit accounts. You may also wish
to open additional accounts to divide
your money for specific purposes (such as
saving for travel). Telephone and internet
banking enables you to manage your
account, transfer funds between accounts
and make payments without entering the
bank branch. To use telephone and internet
banking services, you will need to register
with your bank.
Opening a bank account in Australia
Moving to Australia can be a very busy
time, so it is a good idea to organise your
account before you arrive so you can access
your money straight away.
The process is usually as follows:
• Most banks will allow you to apply to
open an account through their website
using an online application form. You
will need to supply your passport details
when you apply.
• When your application is approved, you
will be notified and given the details
of your new account so that you can
• Once you arrive in Australia, you will
need to go into your bank and show
them your passport so that you can
access your money. At this time, you will
also receive a debit card linked to your
account and can register for telephone
and internet banking.
If you would prefer to wait until you are in
Australia before opening a bank account,
you should do so within six weeks of
arrival. You will need to visit a bank to
provide them with your details and show
them your passport as proof of identity.
They will then send you an account card in
As an international student, many banks
will offer you a special student account
that does not charge monthly account fees.
You may also be allocated an international
student banker who you can contact with
any queries, and many banks will try to find
a banker who speaks your language.
Banks in Australia
There are four major banks in Australia:
• Australia and New Zealand Banking
• Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
• National Australia Bank (NAB)
• Westpac Banking Corporation.
There are also a number of smaller
banks, including Adelaide Bank, Bank of
Queensland, Bank of Melbourne, Bankwest,
Bank SA, Bendigo Bank, St George Bank,
ME Bank and Suncorp.
Banks are usually open from 9.30 am
to 4 pm Monday to Thursday and 9.30
am to 5 pm on Fridays. Some banks and
branches may stay open longer or open
on weekends. Bank branches allow you
to transfer money, open accounts, cash
travellers cheques, order bank cheques and
exchange currency, among other financial
Australia’s currency is the Australian dollar
(AUD). There are bank notes for $5, $10,
$20, $50 and $100; gold-coloured coins
for $1 and $2; and silver-coloured coins for
5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents.
Prices are rounded to the nearest 5 cents
when you pay (for example, $2.93 rounds
EFTPOS and other payment methods
In addition to cash, EFTPOS is available at
most stores and restaurants. EFTPOS allows
you to pay for items electronically using
your bank debit card to access money
from a savings or cheque account. You
can also withdraw cash through EFTPOS
at some stores (including supermarkets
and petrol stations). Other payment
methods include credit cards, which can
be used for purchases in store, over the
phone or online; credit debit cards (Visa
or MasterCard), which allow you to use
money from your debit account to pay
for items over the phone or online in the
same way as a credit card; and cheques,
which are typically only accepted for larger
payments such as a rental bond.
Having an Australian bank account will ensure that you have easy access to your money to pay for your
accommodation, tuition fees and living expenses, and will allow your employer to deposit your pay into
your account if you choose to work.
Things to look for when selecting a bank
• Are there any application fees?
• Can you open an online savings
account before you arrive so you can
earn interest on the funds you send to
• Are you provided with a personal
banker? If so, does your banker speak
• Are you eligible for a student account
that does not charge monthly account
• Is there a minimum opening deposit
required at the time of opening an
account and a minimum balance you are
required to maintain?
• Can you transfer money to Australia
with your foreign exchange provider of
choice when setting up an account?
• Does the account include a Visa or
MasterCard debit card at no extra cost,
so you can shop online with your own
• Does your bank have a national network
• Does your bank have a large number
of ATMs? Do the bank’s ATMs provide
access in multiple languages?
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