Your bank account
Banks sometimes charge you fees for checking how much money is
in your bank account and for withdrawing money from it. Here we
explain how to find the right account for your needs and pay less
in bank fees.
right account for you
Here are the different kinds of bank accounts you can get and
the features they offer.
If you need a bank account to receive your pay and to withdraw
money for bills and food, you'll need a transaction
account. Different transaction accounts charge you different
fees for accessing your money.
Work out how you like to access your money and then find the
account that offers the lowest fees. For example, if you like to
withdraw small amounts of money from an ATM, you'll need an account
that has very low or no ATM fees.
Some banks offer basic bank accounts that charge no fees for low
income earners. Ask your bank if you think you might qualify, or
have a look at the list of fee-free accounts on the Australian
Bankers' Association's Affordable Banking website.
Most bank accounts offer online banking where you can transfer
money to other people or companies. Before you transfer any money
you should double check the BSB number (which stands for Bank State
Branch) and account numbers are correct. To check the BSB you can
use the Australian Payment Clearing Association's Find a BSB tool.
Online banking can be an easy way to access your money but you
need to be careful. To stay safe online, never use public computers
for banking. For more tips see protect your identity.
A direct debit (or automatic payment) allows a company to
automatically withdraw money from your account at set times to pay
for things like your electricity or phone bill, or to make a loan
Direct debits can be a good way to manage your money, but they
can become a problem if you don't have enough money in your account
when the payment comes out. You may be charged a fee if this
To avoid this happening set up the direct debit to come out of
your account on the same day you are paid.
Before you set up a direct debit, make sure you trust the direct
debit service provider as you are allowing them to take money from
For more information see direct debits.
Video: How direct debits work
Video about direct debits.
This ACCC video explains how direct debits work and how they can
become a problem if they leave your bank account short of
If you are trying to save some money, you should open a savings
account. These accounts earn high interest, which means that for
each dollar you deposit into the account you will earn a little bit
extra in interest. Some savings accounts also make it harder for
you to access your money so you are less tempted to spend it.
For more information see savings accounts.
How to pay less bank fees
Banks charge you fees for using their services, but there are
ways to reduce the amount of fees you pay.
Use a fee-free ATM
If you use an ATM to withdraw money from your bank account, be
aware that you might be charged a fee for this - especially if you
use an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank.
For more information see transaction accounts.
Take care with ATMs
ASIC and the Territory Insurance Office (TIO) have an
audio-poster advertising campaign in the Northern Territory about
taking care when you use ATMs.
Find out more about the audio poster campaign.
Some banks are offering fee-free ATM transactions for bank
customers for a trial period in some remote Indigenous communities
in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western
This means you will not have to pay any fees to use ATM services
like checking your balance checks and withdrawing cash, if you use
one of the identified fee-free ATMs in these
To get this service you will need to have an account with one of
these banks: ANZ, BOQ, BankSA, Bank of Melbourne, Bankwest, Bendigo
and Adelaide Bank, Citibank, Commonwealth Bank, HSBC, ING Direct,
ME Bank, NAB, St. George, Suncorp and Westpac.
To find out if you have to pay ATM
fees or not, look for this message on the ATM
screen: 'This ATM offers fee-free ATM transactions for
customers of some banks. If you're not sure, ask your bank whether
this ATM is free for you.'
If the screen doesn't have this message on it, then you'll be
charged normal ATM fees to use it, even if you have an account with
one of the participating banks.
You should also consider using a fee-free ATM to avoid EFTPOS fees that are charged by shops in
some remote communities when you take money out.
Check out the fact sheet, Don't lose money on ATM
fees, for more information.
Get a low fee or no fee bank account
Some banks offer basic bank accounts that charge no fees if you
meet eligibility criteria. For more information, visit the
Australian Bankers' Association's Affordable Banking website.
Even if you don't qualify for these accounts there are other
ways you can reduce bank fees.
Video: Reduce banking fees
Tips form NAB video
Watch a video about how to reduce bank fees.
This video was made by National Australia Bank's Indigenous
Money Mentor Program.
Here are some other things you can do to pay less in fees:
- Shop around for a bank account that doesn't charge a
monthly account keeping fee.
- Always have enough money in your account before you
make any payments.
- Find an account that won't charge you to
access your money the way you want to. For example, if you prefer
to go into a branch rather than online banking, find out which
banks near you will let you do this for
Case study: Stacey saves on bank fees
Stacey asked her bank how much it cost to withdraw money and
check her account balance. She found out it cost her 50c every time
she used her bank's ATM and $2 every time she used another bank's
ATM. Stacey worked out that she was paying $10 in bank fees each
week. She decided to make two withdrawals a week and check her
account once a week using her bank's ATM. Stacey saved $9 each
week in fees.
Check your statement
Check your bank statements to make sure your bank is charging
you correctly. If you think you have been charged incorrectly, you
can complain. See unauthorised and
mistaken transactions for tips on what to look out
Keep your PIN safe
Keep your PIN safe by memorising it. Don't write it on your card
or keep a note of it in your wallet or purse. Don't ever tell
anyone your PIN for your bank account, not even your family or
friends. If you do, they can take out money from your account
without your permission and your bank might not be able to help you
get it back.
If you think someone has stolen money from your account you
should contact your bank straight away.
If you use book up in your community, see our book up webpage for
information about how to use it safely.
For more information about
bank accounts, see banking or listen to our audio segments on banks,
loans and credit cards.
Last updated: 22 Nov 2018