Money in, money out

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

Company Product Monthly Account keeping fee Direct Debit fee EFTPOS transaction fee ATM withdrawal own network fee ATM 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

Company Product Monthly Account keeping fee Direct Debit fee EFTPOS transaction fee ATM withdrawal own network fee ATM 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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Learn more about bank accounts

Can you open another account at the same bank?

Yes, you can open another account at the same bank if you already have an account there, but some banks place a limit on how many specific accounts you can open.

Generally, though, it is possible to have more than one everyday account, one personal account and one joint account, or have different types of accounts – such as a transaction account and a savings account.

Keep in mind that some bank accounts come with fees, so you could be charged twice for having two types of the same account at the same bank.

Also, if you have more than one high-interest transaction account at the same bank, only one account will be able to earn the highest rate of interest.

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.

How do I close my bank account online?

You can usually easily open a bank account online, but you often can’t close it online.

Many banks and credit unions will only let you close an account if you go into a branch or call them on the phone.

However, some banks will let you request to close the account via your internet banking. Check your financial provider’s website for details.

Just remember: If you still have funds in the bank account, transfer them to another account, or withdraw the cash. Also, if you have any payments like direct debits going in or out of the bank account, these will also stop when you close your account.

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.

Can you find your bank account number online?

If your bank offers online services, you should be able to find your bank account number online by logging into your account on your bank’s website and checking your details there.

Keep in mind that each type of account you have with a bank comes with a unique account number. This means if you have a bank account as well as a savings account, for example, your bank account number and your savings account number will be different.

If you don’t have access to your bank account online or can’t login, you should be able to find your account number on a mailed bank statement, if you have one.

Alternatively, you can call your bank’s customer service number or visit a branch to retrieve your account number.

How do I overdraw my Commonwealth Bank account?

Overdrawing a bank account can happen by accident. It’s often hard to know what your balance is, particularly with direct debits, scheduled repayments and pending transactions competing for cash.

To avoid being stuck with a bank fee every time your account is overdrawn, you can apply for a personal overdraft. This will enable you to overdraw your account up to an approved amount.

A personal overdraft is connected to your CommBank Everyday Account, so you can enjoy easy access to extra funds once approved – anywhere from $100 up to $20,000.

Your overdraft funds can be accessed via your CommBank keycard or Debit MasterCard, or online through NetBank and the CommBank app.

To apply you can either call the Commonwealth Bank directly or visit your local branch.

How do I close a bank account?

Closing a bank account is one of those tasks that’s easy to put in the too-hard basket. There are quite a few steps involved, some which may require you to hang on the phone for a while.  

Here’s a handy checklist of items to tick off, so the job gets done quicker. If you don’t do your banking online, the following steps can also be done at a branch.   

  • Cancel any scheduled or recurring payments
  • Update your direct debit details (such as loan repayments) with creditors
  • Export your payee address book (to keep a record of saved third-party bank account details)
  • Transfer the balance of your account (to the new bank account)
  • Close your account online, or by calling the bank or visiting a branch

How do you delete your bank account from PayPal?

Deleting your bank account from PayPal is a simple three-step process:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Choose the account you’d like to delete
  • Click ‘Remove bank account’

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.

How do you open a bank account in Australia?

Opening a bank account in Australia is usually a straightforward process. Some banks give you the option of opening an account online, while others require you to visit a branch.

Different bank accounts offer different features, so it’s best to compare your options to find one that suits you.

All banks require you to pass an identity check to open a bank account. Australia uses the 100-point identification system, which means you’ll need to show a number of forms of ID that, together, add up to 100 points.

Common ID types include a driver’s licence, passport, Australian visa in a foreign passport, and Australian Medicare card. You’ll find out what types of ID are accepted when you go through the sign-up process online or at a branch.

Once your account is open, you’ll be given or sent a debit card that you can use to make purchases and withdraw money from your account.

How to transfer money to another bank account

Transferring money to another bank is often called a bank transfer, and it can be done a few different ways.

Customers generally need three pieces of information to transfer money to another bank account. Customers need the account name, BSB and account number of the account they wish to transfer money to.

One way of transferring money to another bank account is in a branch with the help of a staff member; they will often give you a receipt as well as confirmation of the transfer.

Transfers can be also made via internet banking and phone banking.

Some banks also allow customers to make transfers via partnered ATMs, especially if the account is with the same bank.

Can I open a bank account in another country?

Despite having a bad rap for facilitating tax evasion, it is possible and legal to open a bank account in another country, also known as an ‘offshore account’.

Some people choose to open a bank account in another country to invest overseas, for higher interest-earning potential or to access foreign banking services.

The process for opening an offshore bank account differs depending on the financial institution and country in which you’re opening the account.

Typically, you will need to provide identification such as a passport, a local bank statement and a signed declaration proving the source of the money being used to open your account. Usually, deposits into offshore accounts can be made by international money transfer.

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 foreigners open bank account in Australia?

If you’re migrating, studying or working in Australia, you’ll be pleased to know that you can open an Australian bank account. For the most part, opening a bank account in Australia is a simple process which starts by comparing the types of bank accounts foreigners can open in Australia.

Once you’ve found a bank account that suits your needs, you can start the application process.

When you apply for the account, you’ll need to provide proof of ID which may include your passport, overseas ID or credit card. You may also need to provide a copy of your visa and proof of address in Australia.

Depending on the bank and the type of account you choose, you may be able to apply for the account online or over the phone before you arrive in Australia.