Australian Banks - the Big Four, the Smaller Ones and How to Compare their Offers

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If you are relocating down under, you will want to know more about Aussie banks and what to expect from them. Where to park your money? What fees do they charge? Where to get more information?

These questions are very specific and there is no right answer - everything depends on your circumstances.

Then what will you find in this article?

Here's what it is all about:

  • which are the 4 major banks in Australia, 
  • some fees that you need to be aware of,
  • a list of comparison sites where you can find specific information, so that you can make an informed decision.


The majors

The four major Australian banks are, in alphabetical order:

  • ANZ,
  • Commonwealth,
  • NAB,
  • Westpac.

The Commonwealth bank is probably the largest one (by the number of their customers) and has the most ATMs. But the other three are not too far behind.

Some of the other banks are: St George, BankWest, Bank of Queensland, Citibank, ING, Suncorp.

If you are a BankWest customer, look for Commonwealth bank ATMs and grab your cash there.

If you are a St George customer you can use both its ATMs and those of Westpac.

Australian banks are very solid institutions. They have weathered the global financial crisis extremely well. And they are very profitable. Which means your money should be safe with them.

Did you know that if you are relocating to Australia  or coming here to study you can open a bank account while you are still overseas? Find out more about this option by checking Westpac bank's website.


Fees charged by Australian banks

When you are trusting banks with your money you'll also pay various fees. It just helps them be more profitable.

Let's see which are some of these fees?
Here we go:

  • monthly account fees for transaction accounts,
  • annual fees for credit cards or loans,
  • transaction fees for withdrawing cash at ATMs, usually other than those owned by the respective bank, and sometimes for purchasing goods by EFTPOS (via your card at the checkout),
  • balance enquiry fees,
  • fees for withdrawing cash through a branch teller,
  • account overdrawn penalties,
  • cheque dishonour penalties...

The list can go on and on, as there are so many products available and each of them has different features.

You can find accounts that have many of the fees waived, but they can come with conditions attached, such as:

  • maintaining a certain monthly balance in the account, 
  • depositing your salary or a certain amount every month,
  • access to a limited number of free ATM or EFTPOS transactions.

It is really worth thinking about how you are going to spend your money and what transactions you would do before opening an account.

If you are in the know, you can minimise your financial costs and keep your cash in your pocket rather than hand it to banks.

Comparison websites

So where can you get more information about these products?

Obviously on each bank's website, but it can be quite time consuming and difficult to compare apples to apples. A better option is to visit comparison sites that offer great information about Australian banks and their products.

Other websites are: www.infochoice.com.au, www.mozo.com.au, www.ratecity.com.au, www.creditcard.com.au.

They also provide information and education on money matters. And because we are talking banks and money, check these other interesting pages to get more tips about credit card debt and how to minimise it:



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