Opening an Australian Bank Account

Opening an Australian bank account isn't the nightmare it is in some countries and the whole process can even be done online before you enter the country. If you decide to wait until you get into the country, getting an Australian bank account should be one of the first things you do.

Having a place to store your money that doesn't mean you have to pay international banking fees each time you withdraw is a big advantage. Many travellers take out the maximum amount from their home accounts, pay the fee (which is the same no matter how much you draw out) and then immediately deposit the money into their Australian bank account. This eliminates the need to pay international fees each time you need cash.

A bank account is also essential for most jobs as pay is commonly transferred directly into an account. If you donít have a bank account your employers will often have no way of paying you and that will usually mean you won't have an employer. Getting a bank account in Australia will make life easier later on.

The most common type of account is a current or chequing account that is commonly called a transaction account in Australia. These accounts provide a cheque book, ATM access, an EFTPOS (debit) card, and the ability to pay your bills by phone or internet banking. These accounts pay very little interest but they will be able to handle your day-to-day banking needs.

There are four major banks in Australia: Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), Commonwealth, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac. There are lots of smaller, regional banks but to be able to find your bank nationwide, you should stick with one of these four.

Westpac allows you the opportunity to open a bank account before arriving in Australia. It is called a 'Westpac Choice' account and it allows unlimited transactions for a monthly fee of $5 and the first six months are free. To apply online or for more information visit the Westpac website. Hereís the information you will need to open accounts with the other three major banks: ANZ, NAB and Commonwealth.

New arrivals are usually able to open an Australian bank account with only their passport as long as they do this within the first six weeks of arrival. You also need a mailing address and hostels will often provide a letter to verify you are staying there. Sometimes banks in your home country will have partnerships with banks abroad so it doesn't hurt to ask if they have partners in Australia as this could make the process even easier.

Opening an Australian bank account, along with registering for reciprocal healthcare and getting an Australian Tax File Number should be one of the first things you do when you arrive.

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