Banking in Australia

If you're staying in Australia for a while, understanding how banking works here, and how to open a bank account, will be useful.

banking in Australia

Accessing your money

Automatic teller machines (ATMs)

ATMs are available throughout Australia. They allow you to withdraw money directly from your bank account. Most ATMs will also accept international bank cards.

Withdrawing cash from an ATM can incur a fee. If you use your international bank card or an ATM that isn’t associated with your Australian bank account, you’ll be charged a withdrawal fee. If you use the ATM associated with your Australian bank account, you can usually draw cash without paying a fee.

For example, Robert has opened an account with Westpac. He withdraws money from a Redi ATM and is charged a withdrawal fee of $2.50. He then goes to a Westpac ATM and withdraws money. He isn’t charged a fee at the Westpac ATM for drawing money from his Westpac bank account.

Make sure you understand the fees and charges for your chosen bank account before using it.

Mobile, internet and telephone banking

You can make payments, transfer money and manage your bank accounts from your mobile, the internet or using a telephone if you register for these services with your bank.

Other payment methods

In addition to paying cash, there are a few different methods of payment available in Australia. These are:

  • EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at point of sale)
    An EFTPOS machine allows you to pay for things in supermarkets, shops, restaurants, and petrol stations. Some shops also allow you to withdraw cash when you're paying for your goods. EFTPOS allows you to electronically transfer funds when you pay using your bank card and PIN number.
  • Debit card
    Your debit card is linked to your transaction account, and it allows you to pay at EFTPOS machines and use ATMs to access your money.
  • Credit card
    A credit card is linked to a credit account and allows you to purchase things on credit (spend now and pay later with interest). In Australia, VISA, MasterCard and American Express are most commonly accepted.
  • Debit credit Card
    A debit credit card (or credit debit card) is linked to your transaction account and works similar to a credit card, except you use your own money instead of credit. In Australia you can get a VISA or MasterCard debit card. With this card you can make online purchases, pay over the phone and in places where EFTPOS is not accepted.
  • Cheques
    Some people like to use cheque books to make larger payments. Cheques are no longer necessary as you can still withdraw money from your cheque account using a debit card. If you don’t have a cheque book, you can go into your bank and pay a fee to get a bank cheque from your transaction account.
  • Mobile banking
    Google Pay and Apple Pay are increasingly being accepted in retail outlets across Australia. To use these mobile payment options, you will need to link a credit or debit card to them.

Transferring money overseas

You can send and receive money internationally from most Australian bank accounts. Be aware that a foreign exchange fee is usually charged. You can find out more about these services on most banking websites.

When in doubt, ask for help

If you're having trouble understanding how banking works in Australia, or have any questions, speak to your financial institution or bank. They have many ways in which they can support and help you.

If you're experiencing any financial problems while you're in Australia, speak to your institution’s international student support team for help. If you aren't a student and are having trouble, seek out some free financial advice to see what your options are.

Visit MoneySmart to get information and guidance on managing your money.

Bank accounts

An Australian bank account will help facilitate your payment and spending in Australia (and will be cheaper than using a credit card from your home country). Your bank account will give you easy access to your funds to pay for tuition, accommodation, food and entertainment as well as receive wages (if you get work).

Australia has a wide variety of choice when it comes to banking, from national banks through to credit unions and building societies. You will be able to set up your account before or after you arrive in Australia. It is worth taking a little time to research student bank account options before setting up your account.

The four leading banks in Australia are:

Opening a bank account in Australia

To open a bank account in Australia, you will need to provide some documentation. This may vary from bank to bank, but in general, you’ll need to provide:

  • Your Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE), a copy of your welcome letter or your student ID
  • Your passport or other forms of identification
  • Australian mobile number (if you have one).

Most banks will allow you to open your bank account online before you arrive. Once you're here, you’ll need to go to the nearest branch of your new bank to show them the relevant documentation to activate the bank account and receive your bank debit, credit or debit credit card. You can choose to open an account after you’ve arrived. Try and do that as soon as possible once you’re here.

Australian currency

Australian currency is based on the Australian Dollar (AUD). There are 100 cents in a dollar. Cash is available in the form of:

  • 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents silver coins
  • $1 and $2 gold coins
  • $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 banknotes.

In shops and supermarkets, prices are rounded to the nearest 5 cents if you're paying cash. For example, if an item costs $2.97, you’ll pay $2.95, but if the item is priced $2.99, you’ll pay $3.

We advise you not to carry too much cash on you, instead use other forms of payment options such as debit, credit and debit credit cards. Australia is also increasingly allowing mobile payments such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

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if you're in doubt, give us a call, and we’ll help as much as we can.


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