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Learn more about bank accounts

What are the benefits of children's bank accounts?

A children's bank or savings account has a range of benefits for both child and adult, including:

  • Security. Storing your child's pocket money, or even inheritance from a family member passing, into a bank account is much more secure than your classic piggy bank. 
  • Interest. Like a savings account, many children’s bank accounts have a base rate or standard interest rate, as well as a bonus or maximum interest rate which can be unlocked if certain conditions are met. Some of these conditions include depositing a minimum amount of money per month or making no withdrawals in a month.
  • Financial literacy. Bank accounts can be invaluable tools in teaching your kids financial literacy and good financial habits (such as saving their pocket money) from a young age. Tech-savvy young savers can also take advantage of online banking tools or educational mobile apps to help them better understand their finances. 
  • Savings goals. The biggest benefit of a bank account for young savers is the ability to help them reach their savings goals. Whether they're hoping for a specific toy or dreaming of a new bike, they can watch their funds grow, and their goals get closer and closer, with a bank account.

What fees apply to children’s bank accounts?

Most banks tend not to charge high ongoing fees for children’s bank accounts. That’s not to say you don’t need to look out for fees. Here are some costs you should keep an eye out for:

  • Monthly fees, like account-keeping fees
  • Withdrawal fees
  • ATM access fees
  • Card replacement fees
  • Overdraw fees
  • Transaction fees

What perks do children's bank accounts come with?

You may be curious as to what perks kid's bank accounts come with. The main features typically include:

  • Higher ongoing interest rates than adult saver accounts. 
  • Access to interactive, educational apps for financial literacy development.
  • Peace of mind for parents including:
    • Limited Mastercard or Visa debit card access for account holders aged 12 or under
    • No credit card access
    • Parent or guardians acting as signatory on purchases 
    • Access to statements for transparency in usage.

What should you look for in a children’s bank account?

While everyone’s situation is different, it’s safe to say the bank accounts that reward kids for saving and depositing money regularly are generally the accounts to look for. 

It can be useful to choose a simple bank account that your child can eventually easily manage themselves. Whether this is through kid-safe internet banking, mobile banking or a helpful app designed to teach children about money, giving them some control over the account will help to boost their financial literacy. 

Some banks also offer free resources to teach kids good financial habits, including videos, online games, mobile phone apps and other activities. These extras could mean some bank accounts offer additional value to kids.

It's also important to compare the child's account conditions that need to be met to earn to earn the highest interest rate offered. This may include maintaining a minimum account balance, making regular deposits into the account, making no withdrawals or direct debits from the account and much more. 

A basic account with no account-keeping fees could be a good option to help prevent the child’s balance being eaten up by fees.

Are school banking programs safe?

Often, there are programs implemented through school, with the Commonwealth Bank's Dollarmites program being the most well known. While it can have its benefits, it's important to remember that schools are incentivised to bring children on to these accounts. Plus, if you're not regularly checking any potential fees or conditions needed to meet to earn interest, you may be stung with ongoing costs and not get the best bang for your kid's buck.

What else should I know about children’s bank accounts?

Opening a children's bank account is a big decision to make for your child. Before opening an account, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Conditions and eligibility. Is there a minimum amount needed to open an account and the minimum and maximum balance required to keep the account open? What about conditions to to earn a bonus interest rate? Take a look at the product disclosure statement (PDS) before applying to ensure you and your child can meet any eligibility criteria involved. 
  • Fees and costs. The PDS will also outline any potential fees you may have to pay, such as those listed above. Keeping fees down is one way you can ensure you have the best bank account for your child. 
  • Linked accounts. Some banks also require the child to have a transaction account before they can open an associated kid's savings account, which offers higher interest. 
  • Loyalty tax. It’s important to note that many Australian adults end up staying with the same bank they joined as a child. However, most banks tend to give their more competitive products and offerings to new customers to get them through the door. By regularly comparing children's bank accounts you may teach your children the value of doing their own research and how to avoid a "loyalty tax". 

Does the children’s bank account need to be linked with a parent?

No, you do not generally need to link your own transaction account to your kid's bank accounts. Some providers may allow this, but it's typically seen as a seperate account to your adult one. 

This is by design, as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) wants to prevent parents from using a child's savings account as a tax loop hole. There are tax rules involved with kid's bank accounts:

  • No tax applies if account earns less than $120 per year in interest.
  • If your child manages the savings account, they must lodge a tax return in their own name when they are under 16, make regular deposits and earn more than $420 in interest. 
  • If you manage the account and make regular deposits and withdrawals for your child, then you may need to declare any interest earnings in your own tax return. This is because the interest earned on 'money gifts' deposited to your kid's bank account must be declared to the ATO. 

For more information on taxation laws for children's bank accounts or children's savings accounts, please visit this page

Generally, a person needs to be younger than 18 years of age to qualify for a children’s bank account, but the age limit could be lower for certain accounts. And while the money does belong to the child, a parent or guardian often needs to help their child set up their first account if they are under 14 years old. This may involve providing personal identification information, such as a birth certificate, for the application.

Frequently asked questions

How do I open a bank account for a child?

There are few better ways for a child to learn about money management than through savings. And there’s a plethora of bank accounts designed specifically for young people and children.

A bank account for a child can be opened online, over the phone or in a branch in a few easy steps. The minimum age a child can open a bank account for themselves usually ranges between 12 and 14.

If the child is too young to open the account, you can do it for them as their legal parent or guardian. 

To do this, you would need to be over 18, have an Australian residential address and currently reside in Australia (or have proof of residency).

You would also need to provide:

  • Identification for yourself and the child
  • Your tax file number (TFN) or TFN exemption

Depending on the bank account, you might be able to choose what level of access the child has to their bank account (online and via the phone).

Can I open bank accounts for my children?

A common question for new parents is, ‘Can I open a bank account for my child?’

The short answer is yes – as a parent you can open a bank account for your child.

Once you’ve compared your options and found a bank account that suits your needs, the process is relatively simple.

As the bank account is for your child, you’ll need to provide some documentation such as proof of ID, including your tax file number.

You will also need a copy of your child’s birth certificate, and in some cases you may also need to sign a guarantee of indemnity.

Depending on the bank and whether you’re an existing customer, you may be able to open a bank account for your child online. However, you may still need to go into a branch to prove your identity.

How do I open a bank account if I'm under 18?

The good news for savvy young folks like you wanting to take charge of your finances is that there are many bank accounts available for under-18s.

For bank accounts that require you to be 18 or older, you’ll have to rope in a parent or guardian to open the account for you.

Otherwise, you can apply by yourself online or at the branch of the bank, credit union or building society that has the account you would like to open. 

If applying online, you might be asked for a form of identification. For under-18s, this could be a Medicare card you’re listed on, your birth certificate and/or your current home address.

In most cases, you can verify your identity online (at the time of applying) or at the branch afterwards.

How do I open a bank account for a baby?

If you’ve just welcome a new baby into the world, congratulations. Opening a bank account for your child can be a wonderful first gift.

Before you can open your child an account, you’ll need to have a birth certificate or passport for your baby.

As the parent or guardian, you’ll also be listed as a joint holder on the account. This means you’ll need to have proof of your identification and address (a driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or Medicare Card).

Many banks and credit unions offer baby banks accounts. Usually, you can apply online; otherwise you can head into a local branch or office with your documents.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

How do you open a bank account under 18?

If you’re under 18 and you want to open an Australian bank account, you will need your passport or birth certificate. (Some lenders might require just a Medicare card or driver’s licence.) You can apply online or at a branch. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

How do I open a new bank account?

There are a number of ways to open a new bank account – online, over the phone or in the branch. The trick is to decide what type of bank account you want beforehand.

It might sound like a simple enough task, but there are literally hundreds of bank accounts to choose from. And each offer their own banking features and benefits.

A comparison site like RateCity can help you work out what bank account product matches your needs.

Once you’ve made up your mind what you want, it’s advisable to have the following information ready for the application process.

  • A couple of forms of identification (such as driver’s licence, Medicare card, passport)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, contact phone number and email (though email is not essential)

Can British expats still open bank accounts?

As a British expat, you can open an Australian bank account, and you can apply for an account the same ways an Aussie would. You can even open an account online from the UK prior to relocating.

If you’re overseas, the bank you choose to open an account with may call you to provide you with our new account details beforehand. You can then have your ID verified within a branch once you’ve arrived.

And if you’re already living down under, the following list outlines the types of information required by most banks when opening an Australian bank account.

  • Australian residential address
  • Tax file number (TFN) or a TFN exemption
  • Identification (this can be your passport)

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.

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 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’

Are bank accounts frozen when someone dies?

Yes, Australian bank accounts are frozen when someone dies. If you want to close the account of somebody who has died, you might have to provide proof of death and a copy of the will. You might also have to prove your relationship to the deceased person.

If you have a joint bank account with somebody who has died, you will generally be entitled to all the money in the account. Again, you might have to provide proof of death if you want to change the bank account from a joint account to a one-person account.