Banking families: who belongs with who?

Banking families: who belongs with who?

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 In fact, the banks are so closely linked that in Victoria all St George branches, ATM and staff have been replaced by Bank of Melbourne.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.  

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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.  

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Learn more about bank accounts

How do you set up a bank account online?

Once you’ve compared bank accounts and found the right one, the process of opening a bank account online is quite simple and can be done in around 10 minutes.

To set up a bank account online, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide an approved form of ID as well as your tax file number (TFN).

If you’re a new customer of the bank, you’ll need to verify your identity and potentially upload documents before you can complete your online application.

Once your ID has been verified and you’ve set up your bank account online, you should receive your bank cards in the mail along with your PIN and any other account details.

Can I have a PayPal account without a bank account?

You don’t need a bank account to send or receive money through PayPal. However, you do need a bank account if you want to withdraw money from your PayPal account.

Can the government take your money from your bank account?

There are some instances when the government can take money from your bank account. This generally occurs in situations where you have an outstanding government debt.

Before it can take money from your bank account, the government authority owed money would first need to issue a garnishee notice. 

A garnishee notice is issued by the government agency (such as Centrelink or the ATO) to a third party that holds money for you or owes you money.

To take money from your bank account, your bank would be issued with the garnishee notice requiring it to pay ‘your money’ to the requesting agency to satisfy the debt.

How can you cash a cheque without a bank account?

You can cash a cheque without a bank account if you visit the bank that issued the cheque. For example, if somebody sends you a cheque from Bank X (as written on the cheque) and you visit Bank X, it’s likely that Bank X will let you cash the cheque – provided the person who wrote the cheque has enough money in their account. Bank X would probably charge you a fee for the service.

Do I need to open a business bank account?

Just because you’re in business doesn’t necessarily mean you need a business bank account. You could be a sole trader not registered for GST, and use your personal bank account for business.

If you do want a business account, there are plenty of benefits attached to business transaction and savings accounts, as well as business term deposits.

There are business bank accounts designed for businesses with a high volume of transactions, and those for start-ups with a small amount of trade. You could also include an EFTPOS service with your account.

Some business bank accounts charge for the number of transactions per month, while others offer a pay-as-you-go fee structure, where you only pay fees for transactions you make.

It’s up to you whether your priority is mainly transactions, or earning the maximum amount of interest on your principal. There’s a business banking solution for you if you need one.

Can foreigners open bank accounts in Australia?

Many Australian lenders allow foreigners to open bank accounts in Australia. Often, this can be done before you arrive in the country – with no Australian address required. When you get to Australia, you can pick up your debit card, using your passport as identification.

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

Can I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

Can I close a bank account with pending transactions?

You can close a bank account with pending transactions. But after the account is closed, any incoming transactions will be declined by your (old) bank.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t occur is to either wait to close your account until all pending transactions are complete, or contact the creditor and supply them with alternate bank details.

If you’re unsure whether you have any scheduled transactions, you can speak to a banking representative over the phone or via online support.

In most cases, your bank withholds the amount owing for pending transactions (such as online purchases).

Because the pending amount is deducted from your bank balance, you can close your bank account and the purchase will be honoured.

Can I close my bank account over the phone?

In most cases, you can close a personal or business bank account over the phone. In fact, this is the best way to ensure you’ve closed an account properly.

By speaking to a banking representative, you can capture and close out any pending transactions, or interest owing/payable on the account being closed.

In the instance where the account is a joint account, or you have multiple bank accounts you want to close, your bank may send you a form that you need to fill out and return.

Either way, you would be advised over the phone of the steps you need to take. Calling your bank ahead of closing an account is often a smart course of action.

How do you transfer money from PayPal to a bank account?

Transferring money from PayPal to an Australian bank account is simple. Just follow these three steps:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Click ‘Transfer Money’
  • Follow the instructions

The money will take three to seven business days to reach your bank account.

Once you’ve made the transfer request, it can’t be withdrawn.

Can you get a payday loan without a bank account?

Yes. Some payday lenders are willing to transfer loans to prepaid debit cards instead of bank accounts.

How do you change your account name on NAB banking?

Changing the name on your NAB bank account is straightforward, as long as you have the right documents.

If you’ve just got married, divorced or legally changed your name, here’s what you need:

  • Married – a marriage certificate
  • Divorced –your ‘decree nisi’
  • Legal name change –your legal name change certificate

You can take either the original document, or a certified copy, into a NAB branch, where it needs to be sighted by a bank employee and a copy taken.

Your NAB bank account name will be updated immediately. New debit, ATM and credit cards with your updated name will also need to be issued. These usually take between five to 10 working days to be posted out to you. Your existing cards will keep working until you activate your new ones.

If you haven’t legally changed your name, but just want to change your account nicknames, you can log onto NAB and do it through the Settings/Mailbox menu.

Can I set up a bank account online?

Most Australia-based lenders will allow you to set up a bank account online. Requirements vary from lender to lender, but you will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary ID.