Banking in Australia

1 March 2012
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Overview of Banking

This section gives a basic overview of the Australian banking system and provides links to banks and internet sites where you can get more detailed information. Please read our disclaimer statement.

The Banking System

Australia has an advanced banking system, with various types of institution: large, Australia-wide banks, smaller state-specific banks, a number of credit societies/credit unions and a few other financial organisations, such as insurance companies who have diversified into banking.

Banking for New Migrants

The banking needs of new migrants differ from those of established Australian customers. Some banks, in particular Westpac, have dedicated Migrant Banking teams, branches and specialists who can help you set up your banking before you even arrive in Australia.

As Australia's first bank, Westpac has nearly 200 years experience in helping migrants create a new life in Australia, making them one of Australia's largest, oldest and most reputable financial institutions. Westpac also has specialist bankers who understand the challenges and needs of new migrants and our staff diversity means that we can speak in your native language.

Typical Facilities

Obviously each bank will offer their own mix of accounts and facilities, but here is a list of typical facilities offered:
  • Transaction Account for day-to-day transactions. Usually zero or very low interest paid for credit balances.
  • Savings Account which can be "at call" (ie. no notice required to withdraw funds), or a fixed notice period for withdrawal or a term deposit (fixed interest rate, fixed term).
  • ATMs (automatic teller machines) - are located at most shopping centres. Usually free if you use a machine linked to your bank's network, otherwise a fee can be charged.
  • EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) - ie. paying for goods using your bankcard. Most banks and retail outlets offer this facility and the funds may be taken from your current, savings or credit account. The larger retailers normally let you draw extra cash out as well, with no charge.
  • Credit Cards Mastercard, Visa and American Express cards are commonly available, with a variety of features, such as zero annual fee, so many days interest-free, rewards points etc.
  • Internet Banking is now offered by most banks, enabling you to check balances, transfer money between accounts, pay bills (BPAY system) and so on
  • Telephone Banking

Fees and charges

It is common for there to be a monthly fee on transaction/cheque accounts, with a certain number of free transactions per month. There are many variations, though, such as zero monthly fee if a certain balance is maintained.

You may incur charges if you withdraw cash from an ATM outside of your bank's network and of course, you will normally be charged for overdrafts or other transactions like bank cheques.

Government taxes: If you've heard of something called FID (Financial Institutions Duty) and BAD (Bank Account Debit) tax, don't worry because they've been abolished.

Opening a Bank Account

provided by our sponsors Westpac, Australia's First Bank.

Before You Leave Home

One of the first and most important things you'll need to organise when moving to Australia is your new bank accounts. Doing so, especially before arriving, can provide flexibility, security and peace of mind.

With Westpac, if you want to open a bank account in Australia for everyday transactions, a Westpac Choice could be right for you. We will waive the current $5 monthly service fee for 12 months, after this period the $5 monthly service fee will be waived if your minimum deposits are to the value of $2,000 within the month.¹

To save and earn interest at the same time you can open a Westpac eSaver, an online savings account and link it to your Westpac Choice account so you can access your savings anytime.²

Once you are set up with these 2 accounts you will be ready to successfully manage your money in Australia. You will also be able to take advantage of certain Online, Telephone and Mobile banking facilities while you are still overseas.

What happens next?

  • Once your application has been processed, we'll email you the new account details within 3 business days and post a Welcome Pack to your nominated address within 15 business days.
  • Once you have your account details, find out how to transfer your funds to Australia.
  • Complete your identity check.

To find out more...

Things you should know

  1. After the first 12 months, the monthly service fee will be waived if customer initiated deposits of at least $2,000 have been made by the last business day of the month.
  2. Other fees and charges apply.

Credit Cards & Home Loans

provided by our sponsors Westpac, Australia's First Bank.

Depending on your visa and employment status we may be able to help you apply for a credit card and mortgage before your arrival.

Apply for a credit card

An Australian credit card offers a convenient way to shop and pay bills, plus you could link to your Westpac Choice account to access your own funds.

Westpac offers a range of cards to choose from, depending on your needs and situation. From cards with a low rate; no annual fees, through to selected cards offering a full range of benefits, including reward point programs and complimentary overseas travel insurance cover as set out in the policy.¹

Apply for a home loan

When deciding which Australian mortgage or home loan suits your situation, you can choose from a range of products including variable rate or fixed rate home loans or line of credit home loans.

We also provide a loan package, offering interest rate discounts and additional savings on other banking products.

Once you've got the basics

Once you have arrived and set up the basics, we can help manage your other finances, including UK Pension transfers, Business Banking, Foreign currency accounts any many other products and services.

To find out more...

Things you should know

  1. Complimentary insurance covers are issued by Zurich Australian Insurance Limited ABN 13 000 296 640 AFSL 232507 (Zurich) to Westpac Banking Corporation under separate Master Policies. Zurich is liable for separate risks insured and the benefits of the covers are extended to Westpac's cardholders (as third party beneficiaries) as complimentary benefits. Cover is subject to the terms and conditions and exclusions of the relevant policy available on Limits apply. No Westpac Group company has any liability in connection with the insurance policies.

Australian Banks


Australia-Wide Banks - "The Big Four"


National Australia Bank

ANZ Bank

Commonwealth Bank


State-Specific and Other Banks

St. George Bank (mainly NSW,VIC,SA)

Bank of Melbourne

Bank SA

BankWest (WA)

Bank of Queensland (mainly QLD with some branches in NSW and VIC)


Other Resources

Infochoice has a comparison of current mortgage and deposit rates.

MoneyManager has more information on banks and comparison of fees and charges etc. run by the Australian Consumers Association has several articles comparing different accounts and banks. Follow Money & Rights > Banking.

Banking Terminology

Below is a list of terms used in Australian banks and other financial institutions, along with a description or the equivalent term as used in other countries.

Banking TermDescription or Equivalent Term
ABNAustralian Business Number
ATMAutomatic Teller Machine, Cash point, Cash Machine
ATOAustralia Taxation Office
Bank chequeBanker's Draft, Cashier's Check, Certified Cheque, Demand draft
BPAYBill payments system available through internet banking
BSB codeBank/State/Branch code, which identifies the branch where your account is held
Credit ratingA bank's rating of a customer's creditworthiness
Debit CardA card where you access your own money in a linked account
eStatementPaperless bank statements that are available online
EFTPOSAll transactions conducted at a Point of Sale terminal
FXForeign exchange
Home LoanMortgage, property loan
Managed fundUnit trust
Mobile bankingBanking using a mobile phone
Online bankingBanking over the internet
PassbookA paper book that records bank transactions
PayPass™Contactless payment system by MasterCard®
PayWave™Contactless payment system by Visa
PDSProduct disclosure statement - the full terms and conditions for a financial product
Periodical paymentStanding order, equal monthly instalments (EMI)
PINPersonal Identification Number
Savings accountA bank account which earns interest on your money
SuperannuationPension, provident fund
SWIFT codeAn international bank identifier for transferring funds
Telephone bankingBanking over the phone
Term depositsFixed deposits, time deposits
TFNTax File Number
Transaction accountCurrent account, bank account


Information on this website is intended to give the reader an overview of many aspects of life in Australia, such as healthcare, real estate, tax, superannuation etc.

While we at have performed a large amount of research on each subject area, we do not claim to be experts in those fields and we recommend that migrants discuss their requirements with companies specialising in those fields before making purchases, investments or other decisions concerning their move.

The content of this website is general in nature - no specific advice is intended.

We provide links to other companies as a service to our readers. We have taken reasonable care to ensure that each linked website does not contain offensive or inappropriate material. However, we are not responsible for the accuracy of any of the material in any linked website, or the advice that may be contained therein.