Bank account boom: what banks are offering to win your business

Bank account boom: what banks are offering to win your business

Interest rates have dropped to record lows and savings account rates are just scraping above zero per cent. This has led to banks scrambling to find new ways to fight for your business - through the humble bank account.

And with generous perks on offer, there are a few ways everyday Aussies looking to nab a new bank account may come out on top, if they know where to look.

Bank account boom

If you’ve contemplated opening a new bank account this year, you’re not alone. The latest data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) found that Australians have opened more than 750,000 new debit card accounts since COVID.

We’re are also squirreling away our cash more than ever, with almost $100 billion more in our bank accounts now than pre-COVID. In fact, recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data tipped that Aussies are now saving almost one fifth of our incomes on average.

  March-2020 Oct-2020 Change since COVID-19
(pre COVID)
Number of debit card accounts



Deposits by household

$998.7 billion

$1.1 trillion

$99.7 billion

Source: Debit cards data from APRA monthly banking stats released Nov. 2020. Deposits data released by APRA, Nov 2020.

But not all banks accounts are created equally. This means that if you’re one of the many Aussies opening new accounts, you may want to ask: what’s in it for me?

Many banks are offering up to $100 in cash, as well as other incentives to get new customers to open and use their transaction accounts. Other perks may include a free bottle of wine, discounts at retailers, petrol discounts and even donations to your favourite charity (see tables below for full details).

Cash offers for transaction accounts

Bank Account Special Conditions
86 400 Pay Account $10 cash Get $10 after you make a purchase in your first 30 days of account opening with signup code "WELCOME10".
Australian Military Bank Military Rewards Account 1% cashback Earn 1% cashback on Visa Paywave purchases under $100 when you deposit >$2k each month (capped at $25/mth). 'Cents gifting program' also transfers the spare change in your account each month to a Defence related charity selected by account holder which is then matched dollar for dollar by the bank.
Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom $50 cash Deposit $500 and make 5 eligible purchases within 30 days of account opening.
BankSA Complete Freedom $50 cash Deposit $500 within 30 days of account opening.
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account Earn QFF points 0.3 QFF pts per $100 in account each day, 3 QFF pts per eligible purchase, 5 QFF pts per overseas ATM cash withdrawal.
HSBC Everyday Global Account $100 cash, 2% cashback $100 bonus for new customers when you deposit >$2k for 3 consecutive months within first 6 months of account opening, earn 2% cashback up to $50/mth when you tap & pay on eligible purchases under $100.
St. George Bank Complete Freedom $50 cash Deposit $500 within 30 days of account opening.
Westpac Choice $50 cash Deposit $500 and make 5 eligible purchases within 30 days of account opening.

Source: Data accurate as of 17.12.2020.

Other transaction account perks on offer

Bank Account Special Conditions
Bank of us One for All Account 1% of your average annual balance donated to your chosen community organisation.  
CBA Eligible debit cards Personalised rewards and cashback if you shop at participating CommBank Rewards stores. Rewards are only earnt at eligible store locations.
Citi Global Currency Account Free bottle of wine. Pay with your Citi debit card at a participating Citibank Dining Program partner.
Citi Plus Account Free bottle of wine. Pay with your Citi debit card at a participating Citibank Dining Program partner.
Community First Credit Union Pink Debit Card $1 of the monthly $6 fee is donated to the McGrath Foundation each month.  
Macquarie Bank Transaction Account Discounts of up to 10% on eGift cards at select retailers.  
ME Bank Everyday Transaction Account ME donates 1¢ to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for every purchase using the Pink Buck card.  
QBank Everyday Plus For each Everyday Plus Account we’ll make a donation of 10 cents every month, paid quarterly, to support charities in your community.  
RACQ Bank Advantage Plus Account Save 4c/litre at participating fuel stores, plus other discounts.  
Regional Australia Bank Community Partnership Account Calculates a member's average annual balance and donates the equivalent of 1% back to a chosen group each year - at no cost to the member.  
Suncorp Bank Everyday Essentials Account Discounts of up to 15% with major retailers,  

Source: Data accurate as of 17.12.2020.

RateCity tips for selecting a bank account

Keep in mind that there’s more to a bank account than the perks being offered. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your next bank account.

  • If you buy things from overseas regularly, look for an account with no foreign exchange fees.
  • If you get cash out regularly, aim for a provider that refunds ATM fees (e.g. ING, ME Bank, Macquarie Bank).
  • Don’t pick a bank account solely based on the perks offered.
  • Don’t accept monthly fees. 73% of bank accounts on RateCity have no monthly fees while 24% will waive them if you meet certain criteria.
  • Check the fine print for hidden fees.

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.



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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.

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 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 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.

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’

Do you need a bank account to sell on eBay?

You don’t need a bank account to sell on eBay. But if you don’t have a bank account, you must provide either a credit card or debit card.

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)

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 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 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.

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.