TRANSACTION ACCOUNTS

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Everyday transaction accounts have been around long enough to become one of the most common accounts to be offered by banks and credit unions. However, the recent intense competition witnessed among online savings account providers offering eye-catching interest rates has grabbed the spotlight and overshadowed many of these long standing everyday transaction accounts.

What used to be simple is now specialized and personal transaction accounts differ widely in their features and suitability. Finding the best account for you involves shopping around to avoid unnecessary fees and charges. But first, consider the following points.


Types of transactions

Before deciding on a transaction account, it is wise to determine the types of transactions that you will frequently make each month. Here are the most common:

  • ATM via your own institution
  • ATM via another institution
  • EFTPOS
  • Internet transfers
  • Cheques
  • Direct debit
  • Bpay
  • Over the counter - branch access


Number of Transactions

 

After ticking off the above checklist, start estimating the total number of transactions that you make a month for each type e.g. how many EFTPOS or ATM withdrawals. You do not have to be a mathematical whiz to come up with an estimate because you can either look at your previous month's printed or internet statement from your bank or you can simply estimate your weekly transaction behaviour. The number of transactions you make for each type of transactions is vital because financial institutions offer a wide variety of differently 'priced' personal transaction accounts such as:

  1. An account that charges you a flat monthly account-keeping fee with the benefit of having access to free unlimited own institution banking transactions.
  2. A pay-as-you-go account where you only pay for the charges per transaction.
  3. An account that charges you both a lower monthly account-keeping fee and charges a lower per-transaction fee.

Best Transaction Accounts Out There

The trick in choosing the best type of transaction account involves you having to estimate your monthly transaction costs against the flat monthly account-keeping fee charged. Intuitively, what this is means is, if you seldom transact, go for a pay-as-you-go account, and if you transact a lot, go for a flat monthly fee account. Also, note that most institutions still charge you for transactions that you make with other institutions, such as using another institution's ATM.

However, if you are someone who rarely transacts and only requires the most basic types of transactions; you may want to consider an online savings account which doubles as a savings account while providing you with the benefit of conducting a few transactions. Another question you should ask yourself is whether you are prone to overdrawing your account balance. Overdrawing on your account will lead to the payment of hefty penalties among many institutions and these penalty amounts vary greatly between institutions.

Monthly account-keeping fees charged by institutions for an everyday transaction account are mostly between the ranges of $3 to $6, with $5 being the most commonly charged fee.

Below is a table of everyday transaction accounts with low transaction fees and no monthly account keeping fee.

Everyday Transaction Account with NO Account Keeping Fee

CompanyProductMonthly Account keeping feeDirect Debit feeEFTPOS transaction feeATM withdrawal own network feeATM withdrawal other network fee
Hume Building Society Youth Extra S5 Nil Nil Nil Nil $1.25
Police Credit Mulitpack-At Call S1 Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
Qantas Staff CU At Call Deposits Nil Nil Nil $2.00 $2.00
Unicom Credit Union Access Account Nil Nil Nil $1.50 $1.50
Bendigo Bank Ultimate Account Nil Nil $0.70 $0.70 $1.50
ANZ Bank Equity Manager Account Nil Nil $0.50 $0.50 $0.50

Source: CANSTAR CANNEX 19/09/07

Here is a table of banks' everyday transaction accounts with low monthly account keeping fees.

Everyday Transaction Accounts with no Direct Debit, EFTPOS Transaction and ATM Own Network Fees

CompanyProductMonthly Account keeping feeDirect Debit feeEFTPOS transaction feeATM withdrawal own network feeATM withdrawal other network fee
nab Smart Direct $3.00 Nil Nil Nil $1.50
Westpac Choice eAccount $3.00 Nil Nil Nil $2.00
Commonwealth Bank Streamline e-Access $4.00 Nil Nil Nil $1.50
Bank of Queensland Reverse Charges Account $4.00 Nil Nil Nil $2.00
ANZ Bank Access Advantage $5.00 Nil Nil Nil $1.50
St George Bank Express Freedom $5.00 Nil Nil Nil $1.50
BankWest Lite Transaction Account $5.00 Nil Nil Nil $1.95
SUNCORP Everyday Options $5.00 Nil Nil Nil $2.00

Source: CANSTAR CANNEX 19/09/07

Although most institutions charge a fee when you use another institution's ATM machine, the tables above show the trade-off for zero monthly account-keeping fees is usually extra fees when you use your own institution's ATM. That's why it is crucial to focus on your own spending habits. Choosing the wrong transaction account could mean you are paying fees much greater than the flat fee charged by some for unlimited transactions. The key to a happy relationship is the same as with any other type of financial product: make it your business to know the product and its conditions before deciding if it is right for you.

How do I compare transaction accounts?

RateCity is the best website to shop around on for everyday transaction accounts and most other financial products. At RateCity, you can use expert comparative data from CANSTAR CANNEX, Australia's leading financial research and ratings firm. CANSTAR CANNEX has analysed and evaluated hundreds of accounts to award five stars to only the very best. The CANSTAR CANNEX star ratings go much further than just looking at interest rates. They also take into account important features so you can be confident you are getting the best product.

Use our easy search tools to compare transaction accounts at RateCity.

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This is an information service. By browsing on the website and/or using our search tools, you are asking RateCity to provide you with information about Transaction Accounts from multiple financial institutions. We will try to show you a range of products in response to your request for information. The search results do not include all providers and may not compare all features relevant to you, for further details refer to our FSCG. The rating shown is only one factor to take into account when considering these products. See the rating methodology. We are not a credit provider, and in giving you product information we are not making any suggestion or recommendation to you about a particular credit product. If you decide to apply for a transaction-account, you will deal directly with a financial institution, and not with RateCity. Rates and product information should be confirmed with the relevant financial institution, see our terms of use for further details.