Opening an Australian Bank Account from Overseas (Australian Bank Accounts Explained)

Australian Banking for the Backpacker

If you're preparing for a backpacking trip in Australia opening an Australian bank account is going to be an absolute necessity for your trip! With it you will be booking accommodation, buying day-to-day shopping, getting your wages paid into it, drawing cash out for activities and of course buying things from the shops using EFTPOS (more in a moment).

An Australian bank account can be opened before you go which you can then transfer funds into in advance for when you arrive or alternatively you can open an account when you get there. Both options for opening a new Australian bank account are covered in this article as well as some helpful ideas about how to choose the right account for you.

Read the Electronic Funds Transfer - Transferring Money to Australia section to get the heads up on how to transfer your money into your Australian bank account. This way you can coincide it with your arrival in Australia ready for when you need it.

The Major Banks in Australia

So, the major banks in Australia are CommonWealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank (NAB) and A.N.Z.

Australia is a massive country with a lot of different environments, from huge cities to remote outback towns and during your trip you will experience both. What has this got to do with choosing a bank account? In Australia, if you draw cash out of a rival A.T.M (i.e, you have an A.N.Z account and you draw money from a Westpac A.T.M) you will be charged for that transaction.

Make sure you choose a bank with lots of cash machines all over Australia, so you know you can always find one from your bank and don't have to worry about getting charged. In the cities you will generally find your own branch but in the more remote areas they only usually have one or two of the major banks depending on population size.

Most banks will charge a small monthly fee (around $5 per month) for your bank account, but make sure you shop around because there are some that don't (ie, Westpac). Also some banks require a minimum deposit to open your account so check and see how much that will be before you apply. It's all about researching different banks, weighing up your options and comparing the best deals until you find the right one for you.

When choosing which Australian bank to open your account with, find out how much they charge for transferring money from abroad, i.e. home, and how long it will take to process because they can vary quite a lot!
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