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Opening a Bank Account in Australia

If you’re going to be living and working in Australia, you will you need a bank account where your employer can deposit your income, pay bills and rent, make payments by credit card and withdraw cash.

In this article, I will show you how to open an account in Australia and discuss the pros and cons of using accounts like Wise and Revolut which can be opened before or when you arrive in Australia.

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1. Banking in Australia

1.1 The Basics

In Australia there are 4 major Banks (Big 4) that have the biggest market share, they are as follows:

Getting paid and paying for things in Australia is generally straightforward, like many other countries, but there are a few tips that can make the process even better.

For instance, setting up a Wise account can be an excellent way to get started quickly and easily, whether you are still at home or already in Australia. Additionally, opening a bank account with one of the major banks in Australia is highly recommended.

This approach helps you avoid many fees and, more importantly, provides a reliable and confident method for employers to pay you. It also ensures you can easily handle payments while you are in Australia and manage you different currencies easily and inexpensively.

Let’s start by exploring which banks to use;

There are a lot of other banking institutions in Australia that can be more competitive but the larger banks tend to have more branches and online services.

1.2 Benefits of Using a Larger (Big 4) Bank in Australia

Doing your banking with a major (big 4) bank is generally considered the best option in our opinion due to the following reasons.

1.3 Types of bank accounts

There are different types of bank accounts in Australia. The most common account that people open is an everyday or day-to-day account. When opening an account they will likely ask you what type of account you would like. 

Here’s a quick summary of each account to help you choose which is best for you.

All of these accounts have different fees. We set out the different fees for each Bank in the next section.

1.4 Which Bank Has the Lowest Fees?

When considering opening a bank account in Australia it is worthwhile to check the fees and interest rates you will receive.

We have set out a breakdown of the interest rates and fees provided by the banks (current as of March 2024).

Everyday Account Monthly Fees Withdrawal Fees (ATM) Overdrawn Fees and Others
Commonwealth Everyday Account $4 or $0* $0 $15 + interest each day if the account is overdrawn
Other fees
NAB Classic Account $0 $0 No fee but debit interest may apply
Other fees
ANZ Access Advantage $5 or $0* $0 Debit interest may apply
Other fees
Westpac Choice $5 or $0* $0 $15
Other fees
*Source: Certain criteria must be met
Savings Account Interest Rate
Commonwealth NetBank saver 5.10% p.a. for introductory rate
2.35% p.a. standard variable rate
NAB isaver 5.00% p.a. introductory rate
2.00% p.a. standard variable rate
Westpac Life 5.00% p.a. introductory rate
2.00% p.a. standard variable rate
ANZ Plus Up to 4.90% p.a.*
*Terms and Conditions apply

2. How to Open a Bank Account in Australia?

Now you have decided on a Bank, let’s go through what you need to open a bank account in Australia documents.

Watch this video;

2.1 What Documents You Need

You don’t need many documents to open a bank account in Australia.

If you have arrived in Australia less than 6 weeks you only need:

  • To be over 14 years old
  • A Residential Address – You can use the Hostel Address you are staying or a friend’s address. You can easily change the address later don’t worry see section 6 for more tips
  • Passport

Arrived in Australia more than 6 weeks ago

If you arrived more than 6 weeks ago you will need further identification as well as the above:

  • Birth Certificate or driver’s license.

Easy as that. See section 2.2 for a step-by-step guide on how to open a bank account in Australia

2.1.1 Tax File Number to Open a Bank Account in Australia

Some of the banks may ask for a Tax File Number when you open your bank account.

It is recommended that you open a bank account within 6 weeks of arriving in Australia.

See our complete guide on How to get a Tax File Number

Once you have all the documents ready you can open an account in person and online. The easiest way to open a bank account is to visit a branch of the banking organization you have chosen.

You can open a bank account in person or online very simply. See the next section for how to do so.

2.2 How to Open a Bank Account

2.2.1 In Australia

By providing the documents shown above 2.1 you are effectively showing banks you are a “resident for tax purposes” which is a common requirement for banks.

  • The duration of your stay in Australia. (a Working Holiday Visa shows you plan to spend enough time in Australia to become a “resident for tax purposes”)
  • Your intentions and activities in Australia. (like a Working Holiday)

To do so it is pretty easy and takes around 5-10 minutes online or you can go to a branch with your documents.

Below are the links to the big 4 banks which you can use to set up an account.

Note:  When writing this guide I tried to open an account with all the Big 4 banks, the easiest websites to use and follow instructions were Commonwealth Bank and NAB. I found ANZ and Westpac to be confusing with a lot of information and difficulty finding where to click for the next step.

2.2.2 From Overseas

Some Australian banks like CommBank and HSBC allow you to start the process of opening an account from overseas, but the finalization often requires you to visit a branch in person once you arrive in Australia to complete additional steps and claim your debit card.

3. Tips to Help You Open a Bank Account

4 tips for hassle-free bank account opening for backpackers

If you think you will be in one place for a while, choose a bank that has branches close to your location. This is because even if you’ve decided to open a bank account online you may need to visit a branch at some point.

If you are having trouble opening an account online go to your nearest branch as they will assist you. When you arrive at a branch you will most likely be greeted by a concierge or someone at the front desk.

Make it clear to them that you “want to open an account in person” can be helpful if you don’t want to do it online.

Locking and Unlocking Cards

Once you have opened your account, download the banking app from your bank. The app is very useful for making payments and has many useful features. You can use your mobile phone with Paywave directly from the banking app also.

The most useful feature for me is to lock and unlock your debit card. I often lock my card when I’m not using it and unlock it when I want to use it. This can be done in a few seconds from your phone.

Most banks have options to keep it locked for international transactions and online transactions to avoid getting fraudulent charges on your card. Simply unlock it when you need to make an online payment and make sure to lock it when you’re finished making the payment.

4. FAQ

You can open a bank account without a passport if you have a Birth Certificate or Valid Australian Drivers License.

Australia Uses Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) as a form of payment for virtually every in-store transaction. It is very rare to not be able to pay by Eftpos. Places that you may not be able to pay by eftpos might include a small food stand at a festival or event or very remote areas of Australia.

Paywave (contactless payments) is very widely used, although over $100 you will need to enter you PIN number. In some cases you may find Paywave is not working and need to insert your card to make a payment.

Yes, you can open a bank account before you even set foot in Australia. The process for opening an account from overseas is super easy and only takes about 5 minutes online.

We found the easiest bank accounts to open in Australia were Commonwealth Bank and NAB. Their websites are easy to use and straightforward.

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