When you think of banks, chances are your mind goes to the big four: Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and NAB.
What you might not know is that these banks own or back many other, smaller banks across the country.
These smaller banks often offer lower costs for account keeping and lower interest rates for credit cards making them attractive to many customers. Perhaps you are even a customer of these banks without knowing who their parent bank is!
So who owns who?
Bankwest is a division of the Commonwealth Bank, a major perk of which being that customers of Bankwest can access any Commonwealth Bank ATM for free including the ATMs in 7Eleven stores.
Westpac owns St George, Bank of SA and Bank of Melbourne. In fact, the banks are so closely linked that in Victoria all St George branches, ATM and staff have been replaced by Bank of Melbourne. Customers of any of these three divisions or Westpac have access to the nation’s largest network of ATMs.
NAB powers UBank, a completely online bank that claims the savings made on branches are passed on to the customer through discounts and products.
ANZ currently has no subsidiaries and operates its local and international banks under the one brand.
What’s the difference between joining the big four or a subsidiary?
Whether or not you will prefer to be with one of the major banks or a smaller subsidiary of these banks depends on your personal preference and the products you require. It can often be a case of getting what you pay for in terms of the big banks demanding more fees but providing in branch support or other such perks that smaller banks can’t offer.
If saving is your main aim, it may be worth a move away from the big four. A number of the smaller lenders, including a range of credit unions offer extremely competitive interest rates for their online savings accounts.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a home loan and a low interest rate isn’t your main concern, looking into loans offered by the Big 4 will reveal a range of package deals that can include credit cards, transaction accounts and insurance discounts.
But wait, there’s more
It’s not just the big four banks who have taken over the personal finance space. If you have a credit card with Virgin Money, Emirates or Bank of Queensland then you’re actually part of Citibank’s massive credit portfolio. As well as offering cards of their own, Citibank is all over the credit card game with the number of partnerships they hold currently at eight. Then there are the big global banks with their smaller Aussie offsets such as HSBC and ING who have their origins in offices half way across the world.
While all these links are not necessarily a bad thing, as a consumer it can pay to know who is backing your financial institution. It often won’t affect your day to day finances but knowing how the industry works gives you one more piece of information up your sleeve when looking for the best deals on the market.