Australia’s deregulated banking system has many local and international financial service providers. The Reserve Bank of Australia is the country’s central bank that is responsible for governing Australia’s monetary and financial systems, payment system policies and other financial matters.
If you are a non-Australian who’s planning to come to the country for good, it certainly helps to be prepared and avoid financial annoyances.
Read on to know more about the banking system in Australia has in store should you decide to move.
The Australian Banking and Financial System
As a foreigner thinking about migrating to Australia, you will be pleased to know that you can open a bank account relatively easily.
Opening a Australian Bank Account
For the most part, opening a bank account as a foreigner in Australia is a simple process which starts by comparing the types of bank account one can hold.
It is quite hard to tell which bank is best for you because it is usually a matter of personal preference. Whether you are a student, a professional or a business person, most banks offer broadly similar products and services.
Most accounts are equally straightforward to open, but tend to have very low interest rates and not many perks. With that said, your best bet is probably one of the big four banks, as these have the most extensive branch and ATM networks in Australia.
This is an important thing to consider, for reasons we’ll discuss shortly.
Once you have found a bank account that well suits your needs, you can start the application process. There are four big banks in Australia which include: National Australian Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank (CBA), the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ Bank) and Westpac. These banks have allowances for non-residents to open an account online.
Opening a Current Bank Account
All of the big four banks have tailored migrant banking facilities hence making it possible to open a current account online through their websites although as expected, you will need certain information to make this process as swift and easy as possible.
As we discuss the documentation and conditions you need to meet in order to open an Australian current account online, let’s have a look at what Australia’s big four banks have to offer.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
Essentially, the Commonwealth Bank offers two types of non-resident current bank accounts. There is one for people who plan to live and work in Australia and a student account for people who are studying there.
With CommBank you can open an account up to 3 months before your arrival in Australia. This bank provides extensive assistance to help the migrants moving to Australia have an easier time settling in.
In addition to allowing you to opening a bank account online while you’re outside the country, they also provide other guides and services which include:
- Living in Australia.
- Making the move to Australia.
- Moving from the UK.
- Moving from China.
- Opening your Australian bank account.
In addition to that, they also have details to assist you with finding a job, setting up technology, accessing your money, services and products. You can read these guides on their official website.
Requirements to Open a Commonwealth Bank Account Online from Overseas
- Be arriving in Australia within the next three months.
- Be over 14 years of age.
- Register the account in your own name.
- Have an Australian residential address.
Once you have opened an account with CommBank, you can access it through their online banking portal (NetBank).
It is important to understand that there are no monthly current account fees only for the first 12 months. A $4 fee applies after that period of time.
When you get to Australia, you will need to go to a CommBank branch in order to confirm you identity and pick up your debit card after which you will be able to start making withdrawals and payments.
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National Australian Bank (NAB)
The National Australian Bank is the largest bank in Australia. It has over 1,500 branches and more than 3,400 ATMs across Australia.
NAB’s current account has no monthly fees and as standard procedure demands, it comes with a contactless visa debit card. You can use the card to pay for purchases up to AUS$100.
In addition to that, there are no overdraft fees or minimum deposit amounts. As well as letting you open a non-resident account, NAB has a number of guides on their website to make the process of moving to Australia much easier.
These include guides on moving to Australia, healthcare, visas, accommodation, tax requirements and more. In addition to this, they also provide detailed information on how to set up your banking. With this bank, you can open an account up to 12 months before you arrive in Australia.
Requirements to Open a NAB Account Online From Overseas
For a non-resident to open a NAB current account from overseas, you must:
- Be arriving in Australia within the next 12 months.
- Be 18 years old and above.
- Be moving to either study, migrate or work.
- Not be traveling on a working holiday visa.
- Have your passport number and expiry date.
- Know your planned arrival date and the city in which you’ll be staying.
Westpac’s non-resident bank accounts can be opened up to 12 months before your arrival in Australia.
One of the benefits of opening a bank account with Westpac is that you don’t need an Australian address when you open your account. This means that you can begin the application process even before you have sorted out where you will be living during your stay in Australia.
The best thing about this bank is that it takes less than five minutes to register your account. How convenient is that!
Once your account is open, you can easily deposit money by making an international money transfer. It is a requirement of Westpac Bank to make a deposit to your account within 6 months of opening it in order to keep it active.
It may not be the best idea to make a direct transfer from your current bank account to your Australian bank account mainly due to costs incurred during the wiring process.
Alternatively, you can use a comparison table to find the best money transfer provider to use.
As soon as your account is open and active, you can use Westpac’s online portal to start managing your money, setting up transfers as well as paying bills.
The final step is to register your identity with Westpac as soon as you arrive in Australia. This is also when you will receive your master debit card for the account and can start withdrawing.
It is important to note that Westpac’s current bank account is free for the first year or completely free if you’re a full-time student. Other services offered by this particular bank include mortgages, credit cards, savings accounts and superannuation.
Requirements to Open a Westpac Bank Account Online from Overseas
In order for you to open a Westpac account online, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- Have plans to arrive in Australia within the next 12 months.
- Be over 12 years old of age.
- Register the account in your own name.
- Make a deposit within 6 months of opening the account.
- Complete an identity check within 12 months of opening the account.
- Be happy to receive electronic statements.
Westpac have a number of current account types you can open. You can apply for an account through their Westpac migrant banking page.
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Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ)
The final of the big four banks we’ll discuss is ANZ.
There are several ways in which this bank can assist you in opening a non-resident current bank account. Their website has guides on several areas including banking, superannuation, taxes, budget planning and more.
Requirements to Open an ANZ Account from Overseas
- Be over 12 years of age.
- Be arriving in Australia within 12 months.
- You shouldn’t be a resident of Australia.
- Be able to supply foreign tax details.
- Have identification documents such as your passport or birth certificate.
Opening a Savings Account in Australia
All Australian banks have the option for opening a savings account even when registering for a current bank account. The requirements and documents needed to open a savings account are similar to those used when opening a current account.
How to Open a Savings Account
These accounts are very similar to current accounts but offer you a higher interest rate in order to help you boost your savings balance.
Sometimes you can even take advantage of bonus interest rates if you deposit a certain amount into your account on a regular basis, so it’s worth comparing what offers are available.
Savings accounts typically allow you to access your funds whenever you wish and can be linked to your current account. All Australian banks have the option for opening a savings account even when registering for a current bank account.
The requirements and documents needed to open a savings account are similar to those used when opening a current account.
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A savings plan is a way to describe the process of saving enough money to buy a home or even any other life goal that’s important to you.
Australian savings bank accounts generally have reliable mobile banking systems that allow you to constantly oversee your transactions and manage their spending.
For instance, in NetBank, you can easily see and manage your savings and even set up savings goals from anywhere, anytime and all through your mobile phone! Banks such as CommBank usually allow you to choose the term of your term deposit thus giving you a lot of leeway in getting an account that suits your savings plans.
Here, we are mainly going to focus on two of Commonwealth Bank savings plans.
Future Home Saver
This type of savings plan is for customers looking to save a deposit for buying a home.
The interest is usually the standard variable interest. Generally, it is paid monthly but calculated daily. There is usually a bonus interest (noncompounding), as well.
This is, of course, subject to changes and conditions apply.
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This savings plan rewards you every time you reach a particular savings goal. Every time you save up each month, you get a variable bonus rate. This helps you build up your savings over time.
It also provides a great incentive, as it forces you to make a minimum monthly deposit.
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Methods of Payment in Australia
Like most of the rest of the world , the most popular payment methods in Australia are crebit or dedit cards. As standard, retailers must offer all the latest Visa and Mastercard payment options, include digital wallet programs MasterPass and Visa Checkout.
According to a survey conducted in 2013 by PayPal, the following are the most preferred methods of payment in Australia:
These have different transaction costs associated with them but are a popular option due to the widespread use of credit cards in Australia.
New and advanced services have largely increased security, such as MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa, which requires a customer to have their mobile phone with them so as to receive a security code when they make a transaction.
Retailers will likely need a Merchant account and payment gateway to accept credit card payments.
These use the same payment processing technology as credit cards, but access funds directly from the card holder’s transaction account.
Merchants able to accept Australian credit cards will do the same with debit card
Online Payment services
Online retailers have two main options when it comes to online payment service providers in Australia.
These providers let customers pay via credit card or electronic transfer without the merchant having access to their credit card or bank account details.
- Payment Gateways: These link an online store with a merchant account, allowing the immediate transfer of funds. They include Merchant Warrior, SecurePay and SCNet among others.
- Third Party Processors: They don’t require sellers to have a merchant account. They are often cheaper and easier to set up in the short term although they don’t settle funds daily and their fees may be higher. Some of the main third party processors include PayPal, eWay and Stripe among others.
How to Wire Money Over
Once you’ve opened an Australian bank, you may want to transfer funds from accounts in your home country to your new account.
Tips for International Money Transfers
Once you have a newly opened Australian bank account, transferring funds to it from your home country is the next step. This is known as an international money transfer and you can go about it through your bank or via an independent company. It is best to shop around for the best exchange rate and lowest transaction fees. To transfer funds internationally to an Australian account, you will need certain details about your Australian account and bank which include:
- The bank’s SWIFT/BIC (Bank Identifier Code).
- International Bank Account Number.
- Address of the bank where you opened the account.
- Your Australian account’s BSB (Bank/Branch) number.
- Your account number.
All these can be obtained by contacting the bank you’ve opened your account with.
Relocating? Find other tips on living and working in Australia.