Types of Bank Accounts

A Savvy look at all the different types of bank accounts available in Australia, comparing features and options.

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, updated on September 11th, 2023       

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Compare different bank account types

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  
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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  
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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
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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
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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  
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Westpac Choice for easy day-to-day banking

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More about the different types of bank accounts available in Australia

There’s a myriad of bank accounts available in Australia, from accounts designed for children to pensioners and from students to businesses.  Deciding which one is right for you depends on narrowing down your choices depending on which banking features you need.  Compare accounts with Savvy to bring you accurate and up-to-date comparison information to help you make the best choice.

Which type of bank account should I choose?

The type of account that’s best for you will depend on your demographic and how you intend to use your account.  It will also depend on whether you’re looking for an everyday transaction account, a savings account, an offset account or a term deposit (which is a longer-term savings option).

Everyday transaction accounts are primary, everyday accounts which allow you to pay bills, shop and spend.  They usually don’t earn any interest, and often have monthly account-keeping fees.

Savings accounts, which are often linked to a transaction account, are where you store your money to earn interest and to save up to buy big-ticket items such as cars and overseas holidays. 

A term deposit is a deposit for a set period which often gives access to a higher interest rate. 

An offset savings account reduces the interest you pay on your home loan by offsetting the principal amount you borrowed to buy your property.

Here are some ideas to help you further narrow down your choice of accounts:

  • If you’re an Australian student: some special youth or student accounts offer fee-free or low-cost banking plus free ATM withdrawals.
  • If you’re an overseas student studying in Australia (or intend to travel): look at an international account, also known as a global bank account, which may allow you to make deposits in multiple currencies and save money on international money transfers
  • If you’re about to buy a home: use Savvy to compare various home loans and consider opening an account with the lender you’d like to approach for your loan
  • If you own your own business: business bank accounts offer more frequent, detailed statements and access to accounting tools online to assist with account reconciliation on large volumes of transactions
  • If you want to open an account with another person: there are special joint accounts for couples or friends who both want to share or access the same account
  • If you’re a young person: you could look at accounts aimed either at children, youth or students, depending on your exact age. Children’s accounts (also called junior accounts) tend to be joint parent and child accounts for kids up to the age of 12.  After this age, there are youth accounts which you can generally use up to the age of 18, 21 or even 25. All of these accounts for young people tend to be fee-free, and some come with bonus interest deals to help your savings grow faster.
  • If you’re over 65: pensioner or concession transaction accounts often have low or no fees, with some doing away with overdrawn fees as well. Some also offer bonus interest on a savings account if you get your pension or monthly super income paid directly into a linked transaction account. 

Savvy can help you narrow down your choice of bank accounts by presenting you with clear and easy-to-understand banking comparison information.  Compare accounts side by side until you find one that has the best possible interest rates and all the features you’re looking for.

What choices do I have with regard to banks and financial institutions in Australia?

The types of institution you can choose for taking out your account boils down to four basic options:

  1. A traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ bank which has numerous branches where you can go in and speak to a bank teller for assistance with your banking. These traditional banks once dominated the Australian banking market, and offer almost every financial product available from banking to business loans, investment through to insurance.
  2. An online bank – which doesn’t have high street branches, but can assist with enquiries by phone, online chat boxes, emails and SMS. Online banks are often characterised by great response times to enquiries, less strict lending criteria and very competitive interest rates both for loans and for savings accounts.  They offer a narrower range of financial products than the big banks but can offer a more personal service. 
  3. Credit unions – which are not-for-profit organisations which return any profits to their members via cheaper banking and loans, reduced fees and higher interest rates for savings. Many have physical branches you can visit in the major cities, but also offer sophisticated online platforms, phone assistance and banking, plus online chat assistance and email support.
  4. Building societies – similar to a credit union, a building society is owned by its members and offers a limited but very competitive range of banking products and loans. As profits are returned to members, they’re able to offer highly competitive home loan interest rates and banking products that offer low or no fees and bonus interest on savings accounts.

Are all banks equally safe? What is the government's banking guarantee?

All these financial institutions are known as Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADIs).  They’re all regulated in the same way by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).  All Australian ADIs use the same type of encryption technology to safeguard their members’ details, so your identity information is just as safe with a building society as it is with a high street bank.

In addition, all Australian licenced financial institutions are covered by the Australian Government’s Financial Claims Scheme, which provides a safety net for deposits up to $250,000 per accountholder per ADI.  This protects individual accountholders in the highly unlikely event that a financial institution should fail during a global financial crisis.

Types of bank account

Why compare bank accounts with Savvy?

Things to consider when choosing your account type

Frequently asked questions about the types of bank accounts available

Do I have to be an Australian citizen to open a bank account?

No – you don’t have to be an Australian citizen, or even a resident in Australia, to open an account here.  If you’re an Australian resident, your application for an account is treated the same way as if you were a citizen.  If you’re an international student, you can open an account in Australia up to three months before you arrive here to start your studies. 

What ID will I need to open a bank account?

If you’re new to the financial institution you will have to provide 100 points of ID to prove your identity.  Some primary ID documents are worth 70 points, whilst other secondary forms of ID are worth from 25 to 40 points.  At least one form of ID has to show your photograph and your signature.  The most common forms of ID to open an account are a passport and a driver’s licence or student ID card in the case of a young person. 

What are sub-accounts and what are they used for?

Some banks allow you to set up ‘sub-accounts’ on savings accounts, so you can name your sub-accounts for different savings goals.  For example, you could name sub-accounts for ‘holiday savings’ or ‘savings for caravan.’  Such named sub-accounts can help with the motivation to save so customers can watch their funds grow and realise their financial dreams faster.  Sub-accounts have no additional fees and are just there for customers who like to organise and sub-divide their savings.

Is there a limit to the number of accounts I’m able to open?

No – there’s no legal limit to the number of accounts you’re able to have open at one time.  However, it’s important to remember that you may be charged account-keeping fees, so there may be little to be gained by having multiple accounts.  Of course, if you choose no-fee accounts, this may not restrict you if you wish to have accounts with multiple lenders or for multiple purposes. 

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