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Tips for comparing bank accounts
A bank account is an account through a financial institution where you can deposit income and withdraw money in a variety of ways. The best bank account for you is the account that helps you manage your finances without unnecessary fees and access your money when you need it.
You will need a bank account to access the following types of services:
- Debit card
- Electronic or online payments
- Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, or Apple Pay.
- Direct debit
What are key features to compare between bank accounts?
Not all bank accounts are made equal. Depending on your lifestyle, some banks and credit unions might offer features that best fit your needs.
- Linked to your savings account. If you open a bank account with the same bank as your savings account, you can easily transfer and access money between the two accounts.
- Monthly fees. There any many bank accounts with $0 monthly fees, however, this usually comes at cost such as limited branch access, limited fee-free transactions, etc
- Other fees. Banks can also charge fees for a range of reasons
- Overseas transaction fee. If you’re a frequent traveller, you may wish to avoid banks that charge high conversion fees for using your debit card overseas
- ATM fees. Banks will usually waive ATM fees from their network of ATMs
- EFTPOS transaction fee. Some banks will charge for EFTPOS payments over a specified threshold
- Branch assistance fee. Prefer that personal service? Be aware that some banks will charge for in-person assistance at their branch. Mobile banking is a good option for avoiding these fees
- Excess transaction fee. If you’re a frequent spender, accounts with a limit on the number of transactions you can make a month could charge you fees. If you’re a regular spender or need regular access to branches, you may wish to look into accounts for high frequency users or conversely accounts for infrequent users
- Account overdrawn fee. If you overspend the money on your account, you could be charged a fee
- While not technically fees, using services like payWave or PayPass for charges under $100 often have surcharges associated with them. To avoid these, insert the card and choose the ‘Savings’ or ‘Cheque’ option instead during payment
- High interest rate. Some bank accounts will offer a higher interest rate so you can earn interest on the money deposited in your account, but look out for honeymoon rates that are too good to be true and revert to a base rate after a few months
- Mobile banking. If you want to manage your money online instead of heading to a branch location, financial institutions that offer mobile banking are a desirable choice
- High density of ATMs. A financial institution might be the right fit for you in every other way, but if you’re constantly heading out of your way to access your money, it might not be a good fit
- Easy overseas accessibility. Some financial institutions are global, which can make accessing your money overseas easy
- Good customer service. If something goes wrong and your money is on the line, you want to know that your bank will handle the situation quickly and responsively
- Senior banking. If you’re over 55, you can enjoy unlimited access to ATM withdrawals, internet and phone banking, reduced or waived fees, and more
- Kids / Students / Youth. Some financial institutions offer bank accounts specifically for students and young adults
- Foreigners /457 visa holders. Not all bank accounts are accessible to visitors who may be staying in Australia temporarily
What else should I consider when comparing bank accounts?
When choosing a bank account, many factors come into play including spending style, location, future financial goals, comfort with technology, and general preference.
You should consider how you like to deposit, spend, and save money. You should consider whether there’s a branch location near where you live as well as ATMs in your area for easy access. Ask yourself whether you’re comfortable banking online or if you’d prefer to do your business in person at a branch location. Finally, consider your goals and where your wish to be in your financial life in the future. Choosing a bank that offers good mortgages, savings accounts, and other financial products in anticipation of the future can be an effective way to create a strong relationship with your bank.