Why are Australian banks so good

Open a bank account in Australia: Free & online from home

Those who travel to Australia often plan a stay of several weeks or even months due to the long distance and the associated long flight. In such a case the question arises whether the Opening an Australian bank account is not preferable to taking travelers checks, cash or domestic credit or debit cards. If you intend to work on the 5th continent, your own account on site is of course inevitable.


Australian bank account benefits

The following points speak in favor of opening a bank account in Australia:

  • There are no ATM withdrawal fees or traveler's checks exchange fees.
  • There is no risk of major loss of cash.
  • It is possible to open an account before arriving from home.
  • Several large banks offer a nationwide network of branches.
  • The opening formalities and account management are simple, clear and inexpensive or even free of charge.
  • Online banking is easily possible with all Australian accounts.
  • If you choose a good time to deposit, you can benefit from the favorable exchange rate.
  • A debit card with a credit card function allows cashless payments.
  • A checkbook can be requested as an option, as this method of payment is much more common in Australia than in Europe.

Fees, deposits & transfer speed

As in Germany, there is a processing fee for every ATM withdrawal in Australia. Depending on the amount and the frequency of withdrawal, this can have a strong influence on the travel budget in the long run. However, the fees do not apply if the ATMs of the account-holding bank are used. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure that the bank has a comprehensive network. When using domestic credit or debit cards in Australia, there are usually high transaction fees (often 6 euros per transaction).

Note: There are credit cards from certain direct banks (e.g. Comdirect or DKB) with which you can withdraw cash free of charge at almost all ATMs - worldwide! In addition, using the account is also free of charge, customer service works great and online banking is very straightforward (see: Free credit cards).

If you use traveler's checks as a means of payment, you have to pay a fee according to the denomination per check. In addition, the checks are not accepted everywhere, which can be a real problem at a remote gas station, for example. Carrying a large amount of cash naturally increases the risk of loss or theft.

If Australian services are to be paid for in advance, a lengthy, sometimes cumbersome and often expensive international transfer can be avoided. For example, accommodation, rental cars and tolls can be paid within one day. In addition, in many cases there is no need for a deposit if an Australian bank account exists.


Banks, account opening & ATMs

Almost all Australian banks have established free account management for at least twelve months. Only a few of the approximately 25 different companies are of interest to German, Swiss or Austrian visitors. As is known from Europe, some regional banks belong to larger providers, which consequently increases the number of branches and toll-free ATMs.

The Westpac specializes in accounts for foreign visitors and enables uncomplicated pre-opening from your home country. It offers a fully functional checking account (optionally an additional savings bank account with relatively high interest rates) that can be opened up to a year before arrival and is free of charge for the first twelve months. On the website, which is also in German, the fairly unbureaucratic opening can be done in a few minutes. Westpac also includes the regional banks Bank of Melbourne, Bank of South Australia and St. George Bank. There are over 2,900 ATMs across Australia.

The major international bank HSBC has a wholly Australian subsidiary that allows pre-opening accounts. Anyone who identifies themselves in one of the twelve German branches of HSBC Trinkaus can open an unlimited Australian bank account there without an Australian address. HSBC offers 3,000 ATMs nationwide.

In the ANZ Bank An account with a limited function can be opened up to twelve months before the planned arrival, which for the time being only allows deposits. It must be activated at a branch using an Australian address within the first six weeks of arrival. The ANZ has 2,600 ATMs and charges monthly fees that depend on the deposit amount.

The National Bank of Australia NAB allows an account to be opened only after arrival on site and with an Australian address. For travelers, it offers the NAB Traveler Card, which can be requested online. No normal fees are charged for them at the ATMs, provided they have a Mastercard logo. Local provider fees are possible and there are an impressive 3,400 ATMs in Australia. The prepaid card is not accepted everywhere.

In the Commonwealth Bank An online account can be opened three months before arrival. The account, which can currently only be used for deposits, must be activated upon arrival at a local branch with an Australian address. At the abbreviated Commbank, to which the Bank of Western Australia also belongs, the account management costs between four and six euros per month.


Australian address, account activation & card delivery

Applications are made online at all banks that allow pre-opening from Germany. If you don't have an Australian address, Westpac or HSBC are the right choice. In contrast to Westpac, however, HSBC has to go to a branch in Germany. The customer receives the account data and PINs digitally.

For ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB, with the exception of the Traveler Card, Australian addresses are required for account activation. All banks also require the presentation of the passport with the entry stamp on it. The branch of the activation is then managed as the "home branch" of the account and is the contact person in cases such as a replacement card, issue of the debit card and any other accounts.

If a debit card, prepaid card or account card and / or a PIN is sent separately by post, the addressee should be the nearest branch. In the case of temporary addresses, the risk of loss is too high and a new application can take up to two weeks, which keep the applicant at the location of the branch office for so long.

When applying for or describing the account type in person, nobody in Australia can use the term "current account". Most banks use the term "Everyday Account", which is understood across Australia. A possible savings account is called a "Savings Account" and offers a relatively high interest rate.


Use the currency advantage

If you already open an Australian account from home, you can take advantage of a currency advantage with sufficient lead time. Since the rate of the Australian dollar (AUD) fluctuates against the euro, a favorable rate development can be awaited when transferring money to the Australian account. Fluctuations of up to more than twenty euro cents per AUD are not uncommon within a year and with timely transfer, the transferred amount can quickly mean ten percent or more credit in the Australian bank account.


Tips for using an automated teller machine (ATM)

The ATMs in Australia (ATM = Automated Teller Machine) are comparable to the European ones. In addition to paying attention to skimming, accessing the data through manipulated components, regional peculiarities must be taken into account. In very hot and / or dusty areas, preference should be given to ATMs that are located in closed rooms. The same goes for the subtropical and tropical regions, especially during the rainy season. The function of the ATMs can sometimes be disturbed due to these influences. In the event of a malfunction, such as the card being withheld or the money not being issued, it is helpful to note down the ATM number and take a photo of the display when making a later complaint.


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