International students should open an Australian bank account to access money while staying in Australia. This is much safer and easier than bringing large amounts of money into the country.
Choosing an Australian bank
In Australia, there are four major banking organisations:
It is recommended to start with a bank account from one of the major banks listed above because their relationships with overseas banks are longer established and there are usually fewer complications as a result.
If you want to choose another bank, there are many other banks, credit unions and building societies that all provide the same services but may operate slightly different.
You have the option to open a bank account before you leave your home country or after you arrive in Australia.
Opening a bank account before you leave your home country
EQI recommends you open a bank account with an Australian bank before you leave home. To do this, you only need your passport as identification.
Once you open a bank account in Australia, you can transfer funds to it from overseas so your money is available when you arrive.
Accessing your money after you arrive
Shortly after you arrive in Australia, you should go into the bank and provide identification. Once identification is provided, you can access your money in your Australian bank account.
Opening a bank account after you arrive in Australia
Within 6 weeks
To open a bank account in Australia, you will need to take your passport into a bank. If you do this within 6 weeks of your arrival, you only need to show your passport.
More than 6 weeks
If you apply for a bank account more than 6 weeks after you arrive, you will need to take photographic identification into the bank, including your passport.
You are required to show 100 points of identification. For example:
- passport = 60 points
- student ID = 20 points
- credit card = 20 points.
Carrying cash currency
It is recommended to:
- not carry a large amount of cash currency into Australia. This can cause delays in clearing customs.
- use your bank account rather than carry around large amounts of cash. This can be a risk to your personal safety.
Ask about student accounts which usually have much lower account-keeping fees. Some banks won’t charge students fees for the duration of their course. You will need to show your Student ID, Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) or Enrolment Agreement to open a student bank account.
You can also minimise banking fees by checking the fine print of any terms and conditions attached to your account. For example, there may be a number of free transactions you can make per month, or there may be charges for using other banks' ATMs.
All Australian banks offer Internet banking. You can login or use a secure app to do things like:
- Transfer funds between your own accounts
- Transfer funds to someone else
- Pay bills
- Receive money from other people
- Check your balance
- Download statements
In Australia, the trend is for banks to encourage their customers to use their online services rather than come into a branch for service.
Bank operating hours
Banks in Australia are generally open Monday to Thursday 9.30am–4.00pm and Friday 9.30am–5.00pm although some branches do open on Saturdays.
There are a
number of days throughout the year when banks are closed. These are known as 'public holidays' (sometimes known as 'bank holidays' in other countries).
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
Money can be withdrawn from Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) 24-hours a day. You can withdraw cash, deposit cash, coins and cheques and conduct several other transaction types via ATMs.
There is usually a daily withdrawal limit of around A$1,000. We advise you to only carry as much cash as necessary for a few days at a time.
The fees and charges are different between banks and even between account types. You may have to pay a $2 fee to use an ATM that is not owned by the bank you use.