Banking in Australia

This is part of the note I took after I started at Macquarie University in 2016.

Opening a bank account – provide TFN if you have

If you don’t have TFN, you can still open the account but don’t forget to provide TFN to the bank later to avoid paying the highest rate of tax. (but don’t worry, you can take it back by filing the tax return at the end of financial year)
You may need: Passport, campus card, a credit/debit card or bank statement from your home country, proof of address
Be aware that fee may occur even if you check balance from another banks’ ATM. Ask your bank for detail.
The ATM cash withdraw limit is usually 1000 AUD per day at most Australian banks.

Monthly fee

Check the fee schedule before you open the account. I prefer banks with no monthly fee, such as UBank.

Cash out is free at Woolworths

Need cash but want to avoid ATM fee? Cash out at supermarkets.

UBank, a division of NAB, offer 2.87% interest rate

Open UBank USaver + Ultra (savings + transaction) account to get 2.87% interest rate if there is a $200 inward transfer every month. It’s quite convenient as it automatically moves money between checking and savings account. They also support Google Pay and Beem It. They don’t support PayID.

Domestic inter-bank transfer is free but takes 1~2 working days

If you’re planning to move money (AUD) from a bank to another within Australia, you may consider a domestic inter-bank transfer. You will need BSB and account number. It does not incur any fee at the most bank but takes one or two business day for the process. I’ve tried to send money from NAB to HSBC Australia myself, my money was deducted in NAB right after I submit the transfer request and shows up at HSBC Australia at the next business day and there’s no fee occurred.

You may consider services such as Beem It and PayID as the alternative.

Some banks require SMS authentication while making an inter-bank transaction over Internet banking

This will become an issue if you need to manage your Australian bank account while you’re overseas. Make sure

  • Your mobile plan includes international roaming, and it’s activated.
  • Your destination and/or home country is on the list. Check your carrier for detail.

Pros and cons of HSBC (or Citibank) global transfer

Some international student may leave most of their asset (money) at hometown bank and transfer it to Australia every half year. In this case, HSBC global transfer may be a good idea if you have HSBC account in Australia and your hometown. Transfer can be done within HSBC network which incurs a lower fee, compared with telegraphic transfer through SWIFT.

But be aware that HSBC global transfer may not available in your hometown, and the exchange rate may not that good at your hometown’s HSBC. Always consider all factors before making the decision.

Please also be aware this solution may not suit your need if you already have Australian dollars in your non-HSBC hometown bank because it may not cost effective to move AUD around within your hometown. For example, if I need to move AUD from Cathay United Bank Taiwan to HSBC Taiwan without converting Australian dollars to New Taiwan dollars, the only option is to transfer with a telegraphic transfer (SWIFT) which will incur an extra fee.

The Western Union global transfer is fast but might be costly

A telegraphic transfer takes several days to complete, but the total cost may lower than the Western Union. The cost of Western Union transfer may vary by dollar amount and destination.

If you bring something important or valuable with you, consider hiring a safe deposit box

I don’t have jewellery but I do have documents that I cannot afford to lose. Please refer to another article for safe deposit box comparison.

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