A guide to student bank accounts in Australia

Are you going to university in Australia this year? This helpful guide breaks down how to choose the best bank account for you

January 10 2020
How to choose a student bank account in Australia

You’ll need to organise many things before you study abroad, and a bank account is one that can be easily overlooked. 

If you’re heading to study at a university in Australia then this guide can help you select a student bank account that works for you. 

1. Choose a bank

There are four major banks in Australia (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking corporation) as well as a number of regional banks. There is plenty of choice for students, so do some research into what each bank offers and which works best for you. 

2. Choose an account

There are two common types of bank accounts in Australia. They have different functions so it is important to choose the right account based on your needs.

a. Transaction accounts

A transaction account is the most common type of bank account and is used for day-to-day expenses. You can put money into the account and then access it as and when you want and use your debit card to shop or withdraw money from ATMs. 

Most banks offer specific accounts for students that generally won’t have monthly fees or may not charge you to withdraw money from ATMs. 

b. Savings accounts

This is where you can store money that you don’t need to use straight away. Not all students will need to open one of these but you may want to if you want to keep some money aside for emergencies, bigger purchases or travel. 

It is important to bear in mind a few things before settling for the bank account that you want. The first is that some banks in Australia will charge fees at ATMs if you don’t bank with them, so it might be worth checking which banks have ATMs on campus and near where you live. 

It is also important to check which type of card you will receive on opening your account. An EFTPOS card can only be used in Australia and doesn’t work for online shopping so may not be the best option for international students. However, a debit card can be used in Australia, internationally and online. 

3. Breakdown of bank accounts

There are a number of different banks across Australia that all offer different things for students. 

Bank Account name Monthly fee Extras
Commonwealth Bank Student options $0 Banking app with Spend Tracker, student discounts at chosen retailers and Cardless Cash options to get money out of a Commbank ATM. A separate bank account for international students offers the same extras
National Australia Bank (NAB) NAB Classic Banking account $0 and $0 overdraft fees Access to NAB app, digital wallet, use of the ATM network for free, can bank from any Australia Post office
Bankwest Student bank account $0 Fewer ATM fees, open up to 10 Easy Transaction accounts to separate your money 
Westpac Student bank account $0 Get $40 joining fee (based on criteria), a one-year Student Discount card, can open account online up to 12 months before arrival
Bank of Melbourne Everyday Account and Visa Debit Card for Young Adults and Students  $0 Global ATM network, fraud money back guarantee, balance alerts, access to Spend Tracker, $50 cash if you are a new customer
Citi Australia Citibank Plus Everyday Account $0  Free ATM withdrawals within the Citi ATM network, and the Citi Plus Transaction account lets you transfer money from anywhere in the world to any bank account worldwide
ANZ Student Access Advantage  $0 Secure unlimited transactions, tap and pay with mobile phone, fraud money back guarantee

4. How to open a bank account

You are able to set up a bank account in Australia up to three months before you arrive. You can fill in an online form on the website of your selected bank, which will require information such as your passport number and expiry date. 

Once you arrive in Australia you can then book an appointment at your local branch and take in your passport and proof of address in Australia to prove your identity and ensure that you can access your money. 

Alternatively, you are able to open your bank account in person, but this should ideally be done within the first six weeks of arrival. You’ll need to take along your passport, university acceptance letter and proof of a permanent address. 

Read more: The cost of studying at a university in Australia

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