Your everyday account
Just about everyone has an account with a bank, credit union or
building society to receive pay or basic benefits, take out cash
and pay bills. Banks call these savings accounts but they are
really 'spending' or transaction accounts because you pay different
fees depending on how and when you take out your money.
The trick is to find a transaction account that costs you less
in fees and suits your everyday spending habits. Here are some
things to think about when choosing a transaction account.
Compare fees and
Different accounts charge different fees.Your bank may charge
- Monthly account keeping fees
- ATM fees (for your bank's ATMs and even
more for using another bank's ATMs)
- Phone banking fees
- EFTPOS fees
- Internet banking fees
- Branch fees
Only keep the money you need to cover your everyday costs in
your transaction account. Put the rest of your money in a savings
account and watch your savings grow with the extra interest.
Think about how you like to access your money and then find the
account that offers the lowest fees for your preferred method. For
example, if you like to withdraw small amounts of money from an
ATM, you need an account that has very low or no ATM fees.
Find a basic bank account
Some financial institutions offer basic bank accounts with:
- No account keeping fees
- Free monthly statements
- No minimum deposit amounts
- No overdrawn fees
You can find which financial institutions offer these basic bank
accounts on the Australian Bankers' Association's Affordable Banking
Interest charged on overdraft
Check the fees charged if you withdraw more money than is in
your transaction account. This is called going into overdraft. You
could be charged a set fee for each transaction you make when you
go into overdraft, or you could be charged interest on the amount
that goes into overdraft. Sometimes, both penalties may apply.
Banks usually charge higher fees and interest rates for
overdrafts than for personal loans. It is important to keep
up to date with your account balance to make sure you have enough
money for bills and for automatic payments like direct debits. See overdrafts for
Read our case study on transaction
accounts where twin sisters Genevieve and Caitlin have very
different ways of using their transaction accounts.
If your bank account is overdrawn and you receive Centrelink
payments your bank is not allowed to take anymore than 10% of your
fortnightly payment to recover the debt. If your bank is
taking more than 10% find out what you can do about
your overdrawn accounts on the Department of Human Services
Use a debit card instead of a credit
You may have seen advertisements for debit cards that are
offered through your bank account. These cards let you pay for
things over the phone or on the internet with your own money.
Previously, you could only pay this way with a credit card which
can be much more expensive. For more information see debit
Keep your bank account safe
Never tell your PIN or account code to anyone,
including a friend or family member. Don't record it on your card
or with something you keep with your card. If you do either of
these and there is an unauthorised transaction on your account you
won't have any right to get your money back. Most
unauthorised transactions happen because a person gave someone else
their PIN or code. For more information see unauthorised
transactions on your bank account.
It is also not a good idea to use your birth date or a
recognisable part of your name as your PIN, because this makes it
easy for others to guess.
Check your bank statement for your transaction account every
month to make sure your bank is charging you correctly and that
there are no unauthorised fees or
If there is a transaction that you did not make, contact your
bank, credit union or building society immediately. See how to
complain for more information.
Some banks let you withdraw money at an ATM without a card. To
do this, you usually need to log in to your banking app on your
smartphone and select the option to receive a cash code. You'll
then receive a unique code by text message, and may also receive a
personal identification number (PIN) by
separate text message if required by your bank. Then, you simply
find an appropriate ATM and use the code to collect your cash.
You only have a short period of time to get to an ATM before the
code expires. The code will also expire as soon as you withdraw
If you don't have a banking app you may be able to use this
system by calling your bank and identifying yourself. You can also
use it to give cash to someone else such as a family member or
close friend, by giving them the code.
Banks regularly offer new accounts with more
competitive features. You should look closely at the fees and
features of these new accounts and consider switching bank accounts if you
find an account that's better suited to your needs.
Last updated: 24 Oct 2018