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Open a Bank Account

Find out how to open a bank account in Australia, the legal requirements, and how to compare them with Savvy to find the best one for your needs.

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, updated on September 11th, 2023       

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Compare bank accounts

Finding the best bank account can save you hundreds on fees and connect you with the very latest in smart banking technology.  Compare bank accounts from a wide variety of providers with Savvy to find the very best offers available on the market right now.

site-logos Up Everyday Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Osko,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 0%
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Use invite code SAVVY10 for $10 upon successful sign-up. (Refer to offer T&Cs on Up website)

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site-logos ING Orange Everyday
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
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Rebates on ATM fees anywhere in Oz. No ING international transaction fees. Zero monthly fees.

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site-logos NAB Classic Banking Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • PayId,
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
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Visa $0 0.01%
Read review

No monthly account fees ever, with no conditions. Free use at over 7,000 ATMs around Australia. No overdrawn fees if you happen to go over your account balance. Open an account in less than 7 minutes.

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site-logos St.George Complete Freedom Account
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $0
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Visa $0 0%
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Get $40 with a new Complete Freedom everyday bank account.

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site-logos Westpac Choice
  Monthly Account Fee Features Card Type ATM Fee Interest Rate  
site-logos $5
  • Samsung Pay,
  • Apple Pay,
  • Google Wallet,
Mastercard $0 $0
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Westpac Choice for easy day-to-day banking

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Disclaimer: Savvy is not advising or recommending any particular product to you. We provide general information on products for the purposes of comparison, but your personal situation or goals are not considered here. Although we try to make our comparisons as thorough as possible, we do not have information on all products on the market on our site.

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How to open a bank account

Opening a bank account isn’t something that should be rushed; choosing the right type of bank account needs careful consideration to make sure the account fits your personal needs. Consider different types of bank accounts available in Australia and tips for comparing various accounts with Savvy to make sure you find one that’s perfectly suited to your requirements.

How do I open a bank account?

The steps involved in opening a bank account are:

1. Compare and select your account

Look at all the options available and choose which type of bank account you’d like to open, which will depend on your personal needs.  Savvy can help you compare accounts to find the best bank account that’s a perfect fit for you.  If you’re opening a transaction account, look at and compare the following features:

  • account fees – look for no-fee accounts and no transaction fees to use ATMs or make withdrawals
  • special opening offers, such as cashback offers, rewards points or TV subscriptions
  • payment options – make sure the payment options offered are compatible with your phone, such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay
  • apps – ensure you can use the bank’s mobile app on your phone or smart watch
  • compatibility – make sure the bank and bank account are compatible with other existing accounts you may have, plus your credit card

2. Gather your identity documents

If you’re a new customer to the bank, building society or credit union, you’ll need to provide 100 points of ID.  All banks have different rules about which identity documents they will accept but, in general, you’ll be required to show:

  • one form of primary ID which shows your photograph and signature, such as your passport, driver’s licence or proof of age card
  • at least two secondary forms of ID, which may include your birth certificate, citizenship certificate, Medicare card, government veteran or pension card, council rates notice, a debit or credit card or a utility bill showing your name and address

3. Fill in the application form, either online or in person

The application process usually only takes only around five minutes and can be done either online or in person at a bank branch.  Online banks have secured and sophisticated document ID apps which allow you to upload and verify your identity immediately.  Once you’ve completed the application process, you may have to wait five to seven days for any linked debit cards to arrive in the mail, but you should be able to start using your bank account online almost immediately.

4. Receive your debit card and sign it

When your debit card arrives in the mail, sign it immediately and log on to your bank’s online platform to activate the card (or follow the instructions that came with your card to activate it by phone).  Next, make a note of your password and add your card to your phone’s digital wallet (if you have one set up).  Finally, make a secure note of the phone number to call if you accidentally lose your card.  Now you’re ready to start using your new bank account and debit card.

How do I compare and choose which bank account is best for me?

The type of bank account which is best for you will depend on what your banking needs are and how you intend to use it.  If you want a bank where you can walk into a branch to get help, look at one of the major banks or larger credit unions or building societies which have numerous branches around Australia.  If this isn’t important to you, an online bank may offer you the lowest fees, many additional features and the highest interest rate on your savings.

If you’re wanting to save up for something in particular, look at high-interest savings accounts which can be linked to your transaction account.  Some of these allow you to have numerous sub-accounts so you can divide up your savings for particular goals.  For example, you could have one sub-account called ‘holiday’, another called ‘home deposit’ and a third called ‘new car.’  Some banks even offer a ‘sweeping’ feature which will automatically transfer money from your transaction account to your savings account when a certain limit is reached.

Most banks offer incentives to tempt you to open an account with them, as competition for new customers is fierce between banks and financial institutions.  Compare these incentives to see which is most useful to you, but don’t be tempted by offers that you’ll never use. 

For example, a free gym membership for a year may seem like a great deal, but is there a nearby gym you’ll actually use to take advantage of this offer?  You should also ask yourself if you’ll really watch any pay TV subscriptions on offer. Cashback offers may seem tempting, but check if there are any catches, such as having to deposit a set amount of money per month or open or use a linked credit or debit card.  Sometimes the fees on these linked cards can be higher than the initial cashback offer, so compare features carefully before making your decision.

We can help you compare bank accounts including the best business bank accounts free of charge and will show you easy-to-understand comparison information so you’re able to see which bank account is the right one for you.

What are the requirements for opening a bank account in Australia?

To open a bank account in Australia, you’re required to adequately prove your identity and supply a residential address and your contact details (either an email address or phone number or both).  You don’t have to be an Australian citizen, but you do legally have to be at least 12 years of age to open a youth bank account (accompanied by a parent or guardian) or 14 years old (with no parent required). 

You don’t have to be a permanent Australian resident either.  If you’re on a temporary or working visa you can still open a bank account as long as you can supply an address in Australia and sufficient ID.  Overseas students can open an account whilst they are still living abroad, and then provide their Australian address once they arrive and sort out their accommodation.

 

Common questions about opening a bank account

Do I have to supply my tax file number when I open an account?

No – you don’t have to supply your tax file number to your bank.  However, if you don’t, the bank may be forced to withhold tax at the highest taxation rate on any interest you earn.

How do I open a bank account for my business?

There are special bank accounts designed for businesses, ranging from small operations up to large corporations. Most banks have a business account manager, so speak to them if you wish to find out which account may be the best one for your business.  Savvy also compares business accounts to bring you accurate comparison information so you can see for yourself which accounts offer the best features and the lowest fees.

Is it simple to open a joint bank account with my partner?

Yes – most bank accounts in Australia can be opened either in one name or jointly with another or others.  Savvy can also help you compare the best joint bank accounts for couples.  Each person whose name is on the bank account will have to provide 100 points of ID to prove their identity.  There isn’t any limit to the number of bank accounts you can have in Australia.

Is the money in my savings account guaranteed safe?

Yes – all savings which are deposited into an authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI) are covered by the Australian Government’s Financial Claims Scheme.  This covers up to $250,000 per person per ADI in the case a bank suffers financial collapse.  Most banks, building societies and credit unions in Australia are ADIs, but you should check APRA’s list of ADIs for details if you are not sure.

What happens if I forget that I’ve opened my bank account?

Bank accounts in Australia are considered ‘lost’ if there hasn’t been any activity within them for seven years.  If this is the case, the money is transferred into the Australian government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.  However, it can be claimed indefinitely into the future if you can prove you’re the rightful owner. ASIC’s unclaimed money database can help you locate any bank accounts in your name you may have opened in the past and forgotten about.

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