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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 categoriesSpendChange from last yearSpend per household
Credit cards

$1.70 billion

-0.23%

$176

Home loans

$1.09 billion

-7.49%

$113

Transaction accounts

$703.92 million

-19.02%

$73

Personal loans

$325.21 million

-8.17%

$34

Other deposit accounts

$39.99 million

-5.65%

$4

Other fees

$59.34 million

5.85%

$6

Total

$3.92 billion

-6.79%

$406

Exception fees

$472.12 million

-14.81%

$49

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.

CREDIT CARDS

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

Low fee credit card examples:

LenderCardAnnual feesCurrency conversion feesRate
American ExpressLow Rate

$0

3.00%

8.99%

BankwestZero Mastercard Platinum

$0

0%

17.99%

Teachers Mutual / Uni BankTeachers Credit card

$0

2.90%

11.50%

HOME LOANS

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:

LenderHome loanAdvertised rateApplication feesAnnual fees
HSBCFixed rate loan

2.09% - 2 yrs

$0 (plus ‘at cost’ valuation. fee)

$0

BCUFixed rate loan

2.12% - 2 yrs

$0

$0

Pacific Mortgage GroupFixed home loan

2.19% - 2 yrs

$0

$0

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

BANK ACCOUNTS

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.

BankAccountAdmin feeATM provider feesO/S ATM fees (from bank)O/S ATM provider feeCurrency conv. fees
INGOrange Everyday

$0

$0

$0

$0

0%

Macquarie BankTransaction Account

$0

$0

$0

At cost

0%

HSBCEveryday Global Account

$0

At cost (free at HSBC)

$0

At cost

0%

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 RateCity.com.au 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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This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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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.

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.

How can I check my bank account balance online?

Checking your bank account balance online is a simple process. Once you’ve logged in to your online banking, clock on the relevant account and the balance should be visible.

How do I transfer money from Paypal to my bank account?

Transferring cash from Paypal into your bank account is simple…if you have a Paypal account that is.

Once you’re logged into your Paypal account, the account balance will appear on your home page. Below your balance are two options:

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Choose option two if you want to transfer money from your Paypal account to your personal bank account.

The next screen will prompt you to either enter new bank account details or choose a bank account that’s connected to Paypal. You can always add more bank accounts to your Paypal profile.

Another way to transfer out of Paypal is by jumping to the wallet tab on the top menu, and clicking ‘transfer money’. Both options will give you the same result.

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 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 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.

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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.

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 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 debt collectors take money out of your bank account?

Many people find themselves struggling to cope with debt at one time or another. In these cases, a debt collector could contact you to demand payment for a debt, to explain the consequences of you failing to pay a debt, or to organise alternative payment arrangements.

If you’re contacted by a debt collector, you may be wondering what their rights are and whether they can take money out of your bank account.

Creditors cannot access money in your bank account unless a court order (also known as a ‘garnishee order’) is made to allow creditors to recover debt by taking money from your bank account or salary.

If this happens, the creditor can take money out of your bank account unless you pay the debt in full or make an alternative payment arrangement such as paying in instalments through the court.

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.

Which bank is best for business accounts?

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to the question of which bank is best for business accounts. That’s because ‘best’ will differ from customer to customer, depending on their unique circumstances. These include not only your company’s financial position, but also its size, its age and the sector in which it operates. Another factor to consider is what features you want in a bank account. Your business may require different features than another business; and your business may require different features tomorrow than it does today.

The best thing to do is to thoroughly research the market before opening a business account. And when you do open an account, you should reassess your options every year or two, because the market moves quickly. A particular bank might offer the best account today, but be surpassed by one or several rivals tomorrow.