Bank fees fall, but Australians still fork out $3.92 billion

Bank fees fall, but Australians still fork out $3.92 billion

Australians forked out $3.92 billion in bank fees last year, new figures from the RBA show. This equates to around $406 per household in bank fees a year.

Overall, Australians paid $285.19 million less bank fees than the previous year – a drop of 6.79 per cent.

However, new research from RateCity reveals that many fees can be largely avoided by shopping around.

How much Australian households spent on bank fees in 2019:

Key categories Spend Change from last year Spend per household
Credit cards

$1.70 billion



Home loans

$1.09 billion



Transaction accounts

$703.92 million



Personal loans

$325.21 million



Other deposit accounts

$39.99 million



Other fees

$59.34 million




$3.92 billion



Exception fees

$472.12 million



Source: RBA Domestic Fee data 2019, released 18 June 2020 based on each bank’s financial years ending in 2019. Number of households is from ABS Household and Family Projections, released 14 March 2019.

Note: Exception fees are not included in the total fees.

RateCity research director Sally Tindall said: “It’s great to see bank fees fall in almost every category for two years running. This is in part because the big four banks scrapped their ATM provider fees, however, it’s encouraging to see home and personal loan fees drop as well.”

“Banks have listened to customers’ complaints in relation to fees and acted. It’s savings Australians can put to good use, particularly now many household budgets are feeling the pinch.

“Australians are getting better at managing their money with exception fees falling by $82 million a year, that’s typically charges for late payments and overdrawn accounts.

“Nevertheless, the average household is still shelling out over $400 a year in bank fees. It’s an expense that can be cut back even further by shopping around or haggling with your bank.

“People often throw fees in the same category as death and taxes but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re paying fees, get up the gumption to ask your bank to waive them. They might just surprise you and say yes,” she said.


RateCity data shows the average annual fee is $140 however 31 cards (15 per cent) have no annual fee.

Low fee credit card examples:

Lender Card Annual fees Currency conversion fees Rate
American Express Low Rate




Bankwest Zero Mastercard Platinum




Teachers Mutual / Uni Bank Teachers Credit card





The average annual home loan fee on the RateCity database is $254 while the average upfront fee is $565.

However, 49 per cent of all home loans have no annual fees and 29 per cent of all home loans have no application fees charged by the lender.

Low fee, low rate home loan examples:

Lender Home loan Advertised rate Application fees Annual fees
HSBC Fixed rate loan

2.09% - 2 yrs

$0 (plus ‘at cost’ valuation. fee)


BCU Fixed rate loan

2.12% - 2 yrs



Pacific Mortgage Group Fixed home loan

2.19% - 2 yrs



Note: Rates are for owner occupiers paying principal and interest. Government fees and other third-party fees may be charged.


The majority of customers are no longer paying provider fees after the big four banks scrapped them.

However, RateCity data shows at least three banks rebate non-bank ATM fees, while nine banks don’t charge a currency conversion fee when shopping in a different currency.

Bank Account Admin fee ATM provider fees O/S ATM fees (from bank) O/S ATM provider fee Currency conv. fees
ING Orange Everyday






Macquarie Bank Transaction Account




At cost


HSBC Everyday Global Account


At cost (free at HSBC)


At cost


Notes: ING, Macquarie refund all ATM provider fees in Aus. ING also refunds third party ATM fees overseas. ING has monthly terms and conditions to qualify for refunds. HSBC provides 2% cashback on paywave purchases and a $100 sign up bonus, subject to terms and conditions.

  • Average fees exclude products that charge $0 fees. Number of home loans is based on all home loan variations in the database. While it’s important to factor in fees to the overall cost of the home loan, interest rate and product features are also important considerations.

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Learn more about bank accounts

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.

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.

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 a debt collector garnish my bank account?

A debt collector can garnish your bank account, but only with a court order. This drastic action is usually taken only if you’ve ignored several notices asking you to pay the debt.

If this happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it other than immediately pay back your what you owe in full or make arrangements to pay it off in installments.

Once a garnishee order is issued, your bank will put a freeze on your account as it processes the order. This usually takes two to three days and you won’t be able to access any of your money during this time.

If you have Centrelink payments, they may be protected, depending on what the court order says.

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.

How can I close a Commonwealth Bank account?

You can close your Commonwealth Bank account at any branch, provided you have appropriate identification. You can also close your account over the phone, by calling 132 221, 24 hours a day.

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).

How can I wire money to a bank account?

You can wire money to an Australian bank account either through your own bank or by using a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Either way, you’ll need the other person’s name, BSB number and account number. If you use a money transfer company, you might also need to provide the recipient’s address for large payments.

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 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 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.

Can Centrelink access your bank account?

Yes, Centrelink can access your bank account, but only if you give them a reason to. Centrelink uses data-matching software with other federal government agencies to help it crack down on welfare cheats.

This is why it’s important to give true and matching information to all government agencies.

For example, if you report to Centrelink your annual income is $25,000, but at tax time you report your income as $50,000 with the ATO, it’s likely you’ll be ‘red flagged’.

At this point, Centrelink can legally request that your bank hand over your personal bank account details, to review your finances.

In most cases, Centrelink does not have the authority to take money out of your account. You will usually be given written notice to repay the debt.

However, Centrelink can also reduce your benefits until you’ve paid back what you owe. In extreme cases, Centrelink can garnish your wages and assets (including money in your bank account) until your debt is repaid.

Can I link a bank account to Paypal?

Paypal is a safe and convenient way to pay online without the need to share your financial details. You can send and receive money or accept credit and debit cards as a seller using Paypal.

It’s easy to link your bank account to a Paypal account and start making transactions within minutes.

To start, you first need a Paypal account (it’s free to join). When setting up your Paypal account, you will be prompted to link a credit card or bank account (or both if you wish).

PayPal works without a balance; you can use Paypal to shop or send money when your balance is zero.

When your Paypal balance is zero, Paypal will ask you to choose your preferred payment method at the checkout.

This could be either your linked bank account or credit card. Your bank details can be updated if you change banks or credit cards.

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)