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Best Transaction Accounts

How to find the best transaction bank account for your individual needs

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, updated on July 31st, 2023       

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Compare transaction 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,
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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,
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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,
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Visa $0 0.01%
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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  
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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
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Mastercard $0 $0
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Westpac Choice for easy day-to-day banking

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How to find the best transaction accounts in Australia

Transaction accounts have been around for decades, but there are many new features being introduced into the personal banking space which offer an exciting glimpse into where the best accounts are heading in the future.  In this guide to finding and comparing the best transaction accounts, Savvy brings you key information about the features to look for to find one that’s just perfect for your personal needs.

What are the main differences between a transaction account and a savings account?

A transaction account helps you carry out your everyday banking.  It allows you to receive your salary or wages, pay for goods and services and shop both online and in person.  Either credit or debit cards can be linked to your transaction account, and you also have the ability to pay other people using BPAY, PayID, QR codes or Osko payments.  There are transaction accounts geared toward many different types of customers, including separate business transaction accounts.

On the other hand, the main function of savings accounts (including term deposits and investment accounts) is to earn you interest and increase your nest egg.  These accounts don’t tend to have as many features as transaction accounts.  For example, you may not be able to pay other people using BPAY or PayID through your savings account. 

For this reason, many banks and financial institutions encourage customers to open both a transaction account and a savings account at the same time and link both bank accounts together.  Some banks require you to open a linked transaction account when you open a savings account with them. This way, if you do want to withdraw money from your savings account, you can transfer it to your transaction account, and then use a debit card to withdraw cash, or use online banking to buy goods or pay for services.

How should I choose which transaction account is best for me?

Think about which transaction account functions you use most often, and find an account that offers those features inexpensively or free of charge.  Although some of the larger banks charge a range of fees on transaction accounts, many banks do offer accounts that are free of monthly fees.  Savvy can help you find the best transaction account for your individual needs by offering free and easy-to-comprehend comparison information to help you make the right choice for your family.

If you do lots of shopping using your debit card, choose an account that has a debit card offering reward points per dollar.  Make sure these rewards are ones you’ll actually find useful.  An annual membership to a gym that isn’t in your area or to a Pay TV subscription you’ll never watch won’t be of much benefit to you. 

Check the rewards offered will actually be enjoyed – otherwise, you should continue comparing accounts until you find one which offers rewards you’ll actually use.  For example, some banks offer points that can be used to buy vouchers at popular stores.  Some of the best transaction accounts are linked to cards that offer frequent flyer points.  These add up over time and can reward you with a free flight to your favourite holiday destination.

What are some of the best transaction account features to compare?

  • If you’re an overseas student or do a lot of business internationally, consider a global account (also known as an international account). These offer low or no overseas transaction fees and some allow you to receive funds and pay for goods and services in multiple currencies
  • If you travel frequently, or enjoy frequent holidays and need cash overseas, look for a bank which is either a member of the Global ATM Alliance (which gives you access to over 50,000 ATMs internationally free of charge) or one which offers a set number of free overseas ATM transactions per week or month
  • If you live in a remote location which has no ATMs or bank branches but does have a local post office, look for a transaction account which offers free deposits and withdrawals at any post office through Bank@Post. By comparison, some banks charge as much as $4 per Bank@Post transaction
  • If you shop online, be aware of banks which impose a surcharge if the merchant is based overseas. Some banks charge between 1% and 3% on all overseas transactions as a fee for overseas service, whereas other banks offer overseas transactions free. This can be an expensive mistake if you don’t realise your favourite online shop isn’t based in Australia
  • If most of your banking consists of online payments (for example, utility bills or regular subscriptions), look for an account which doesn’t charge for online BPAY transactions and offers online banking free of charge. This could save you a considerable amount on fees, as some banks charge anywhere between $1.50 and $3 per online transaction.

What’s new in the best transaction accounts?

The best transaction accounts offer a range of new features which are transforming the personal banking landscape.  These include:

  • Rounding up – where your transactions are rounded up to either the nearest $1 or $5, and the remaining money is automatically transferred into your chosen savings account
  • Account splitting – allowing you to have multiple sub-accounts under the one account number, like separate drawers in a filing cabinet. Each of these sub-accounts can be given a different name and icon
  • Spending prediction – where scheduled monthly payments are anticipated and alerts are sent to you reminding you the payment (for example for a utility bill or subscription) is about to come out of your account
  • Account summarising – where you can click on an icon and see at-a-glance a summary of your spending in certain categories, such as ‘takeaway food’ or ‘utility bills’
  • Personal alerts – allowing you to receive an alert every time money goes into or comes out of your account, so you know the minute your pay lands in your account
  • Sweeping – where you set an upper limit on your transaction account – and when that limit is reached, any excess money is automatically transferred into your savings account

Types of bank account

Why compare bank accounts with Savvy?

Here’s more of your questions about transaction bank accounts

Do some banks offer fee-free transaction accounts for children, students and pensioners?

Yes – most banks waive their account-keeping fees for kids, students, pensioners and retirees.  Many also offer no-fee banking for young adults under the age of either 25 or 30 years old, or for older Australians over the age of 65.

Is it best to have more than one transaction account?

There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of how many bank accounts you should have.  Some bank customers compare the features of various options and open multiple accounts to take advantage of the free features on offer.  Other customers prefer to stay with one financial institution and claim discounts for having multiple accounts with the same bank.  Some banks offer free transaction accounts if you open a linked savings account, while others offer free banking if you open a term deposit.  Others find it more manageable to simply have one account for all their transactions.

 

What’s the difference between account fees and transaction fees?

Account fees are often monthly costs charged by some, but not all banks. They are usually in the range of $3 to $6 a month. If you open an everyday transaction account with a monthly fee, you’ll automatically be charged that fee unless you fall into an exemption category, such as children, pensioners and retirees.  On the other hand, transaction fees are charged per transaction that you may choose to carry out, such as paying someone by BPAY, depositing a cheque or sending money overseas.  There are specific per-item fees for many of these transactions, which is why it’s important to compare accounts with Savvy to find one which best fits your banking needs.

What’s the best transaction account for an overseas student in Australia?

If you originate from overseas or travel a lot, you’ll want an account that does not charge overseas transaction fees and perhaps one that allows payments to be made, and money to be transferred, in multiple currencies.  Such accounts are often known as international or global accounts. Many banks don’t charge full-time students account-keeping fees, but do charge for overseas transactions.

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