The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA, or CommBank) is Australia’s largest multinational bank. It has branches across New Zealand, Asia, the UK and the USA and is the largest company on the Australian Stock Exchange. It was established in 1911 by the Australian government, listed on the stock exchange in 1991 and fully privatised by 1996. It also owns Bankwest, Colonial First State Investment and the ASB Bank in New Zealand.
Today, CBA has more than 875 branches around Australia (compared to 1,134 in February 2020) and the largest network of ATMs, estimated to be over 2,000. When it comes to choosing your ideal account, Savvy provides comparison information in an easy-to-read format so you can see how bank fees, features and accounts vary and choose an account that best fits your banking needs.
*Please note that Savvy does not represent Commonwealth Bank for their banking products.
More about the Commonwealth Bank
What are the main banking products offered by the Commonwealth Bank?
As would be expected with Australia’s largest bank, CommBank offers a very wide range of banking products and bank accounts including personal banking, home loans, investing and super, insurance, business and commercial loans. Its award-winning banking app is packed with helpful features to assist your budgeting, track your spending and save money.
CommBank’s main everyday transaction account is known as a Smart Access account and comes with a $4-a-month account-keeping fee. However, there are many waivers and exceptions to this fee, such as for:
- those under 25 years of age
- part or full-time tertiary students
- veterans’ and disability pensioners
- those who have a balance of $50,000 or more in a linked account
- customers who have a CommBank home loan
The Smart Access bank account is available to use either online through NetBank or through CommBank’s mobile app, which is packed with advanced account features previously only available through a handful of neobanks. It can be linked to a Mastercard credit or debit card. Cardless cash is also available, allowing you to withdraw funds from an ATM without having your physical card on you. Payments can be made using Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay and there’s also a card rewards scheme known as CommBank Rewards. This scheme offers cashbacks and rewards on popular retail brands such as Menulog and JB Hi-fi. For example, in May 2022, there’s a $15 cashback reward when you spend $30 or more at Menulog.
Features of CommBank’s mobile app include:
- Bill Sense – which predicts and alerts you when your bills are coming up
- Spend Tracker – which divides your spending into different categories
- Transaction notifications – which you can set to send you a notification when money goes into or out of your account (for example, when you get paid and your wages are received)
- Lock, block, alert feature – which enables you to securely lock your cards in the event you lose them and block certain types of payments (such as online payments, gambling payments, and international payments depending on your preferences).
Concession card holders (such as Commonwealth Seniors health care card holders) can open a Streamline Basic account which has no account-keeping fees and no transaction fees. There’s also no overdrawn fee and full access to CommBank’s online NetBank and CommBank mobile app.
Older Australians and pensioners aged over 55 who are retired can open a Pensioner Security account, which is a hybrid transaction and savings account offering interest on the balance of your funds. Interest offered is 0.01% p.a. for balances up to $50,000, 0.05% p.a. for any balance between $50,000 and 250,000 and 0.2% p.a. for funds at or over $250,000.
Students aged under 25 get a Smart Access account with no account or transaction fees and young people aged under 14 years old can open a Smart Access Account for Youth. Children aged nine or over can be issued with a debit card which comes with the ability for a parent to set a temporary card lock and a weekly spend limit. Parents can monitor their kids’ spending through their own CommBank mobile app when they have joint accounts with their children.
There are two savings accounts on offer from CommBank: a Netbank Saver and a Goal Saver account. The NetBank Saver is an online account offering a 0.05% p.a. standard interest rate, with a fixed bonus rate of 0.20% p.a. for the first five months (for your first NetBank Saver account only). After the initial five months, it reverts to the standard interest rate. The Goal Tracker function of the CommBank app lets you set a savings goal, and the app will break it down into weekly targets and regularly update you as to how close your savings goal is.
A Goal Saver account has a basic interest rate of 0.05% p.a. with a bonus interest rate of 0.20% p.a. available if your account balance has increased in the month (excluding interest earned) and at least one deposit has been made into the account. Be aware of a $3 withdrawal fee if you take money out at a bank branch or through phone banking.
CommBank offers term deposits ranging from one month to five years, with a minimum deposit of $5,000. A special offer available in May 2022 includes an interest rate of 0.3% p.a. for a 12-month term for balances from $5,000 to $2 million. Other term deposits have different interest rates depending on the sum deposited. For example, a six-month term for amounts under $50,000 will attract an interest rate of 0.10% p.a., but if you deposit more than $50,000 this rate rises to 0.15% p.a. For 24 to 33 months (or 60 months), a rate of 0.25% p.a. rises to 0.3% p.a. if the amount deposited is over $50,000. For these longer deposit terms, the interest is paid annually.
What do I need to open an account with CommBank?
To open an account with Commonwealth Bank at a branch, you’ll need to be at least 14 years of age, have an Australian residential address and provide sufficient ID. If you’re aged under 14 you can open a Smart Access Account for Youth with your parents or guardian.
To provide sufficient ID, you’ll need either your Australian driver’s licence, Medicare card, passport or birth certificate. To open a Goal Saver account online, you’ll need to be 18 years of age. CommBank says the application process will take about 15 minutes.
The pros and cons of Commonwealth Bank
A mobile app which shines
CommBank provides an award-winning mobile banking app offering plenty of handy features to help you budget and save
Numerous bank branches and ATMs
Australia’s largest network of ATMs and highest number of branches provides the convenience of a bank that is always just around the corner
24/7 Australian call centre
CommBank has an Australian call centre that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so an answer to your queries is never far away
Limited savings goals
It’s only possible to set one savings goal in the Goal Tracker app, whereas rival banks allow multiple savings goals to be set simultaneously
No split accounts
The CommBank app does not allow account-splitting or the ability to create multiple sub-accounts to help with household budgeting
Account-keeping and transaction fees
CommBank isn’t shy in charging banking fees, with their transaction fees and account-keeping fees amongst the highest in the industry