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Banks rake in $4.19 billion in fees from households

Banks rake in $4.19 billion in fees from households

Banks charged customers an eye-watering $4.19 billion dollars in bank fees last year, according to the latest figures released from the Reserve Bank of Australia today.

RateCity.com.au analysis shows this equates to $441 per household in bank fees a year.

While the overall total fees paid by households is down from the previous year, credit card fees have clocked in at $1.71 billion – an increase of $36 million from the year before and the highest annual total on record.

The biggest drop was in fees from transaction accounts, following the scrapping of ATM fees by Australia’s major banks in late 2017. Today’s figures show a 20.4 per cent drop in transaction account fees from the year prior, a decrease of $223 million.

How much Australian households spent on bank fees in 2018

Key categoriesSpend

Change from last year

Credit cards$1.71 billion+2.2%
Home loans$1.17 billion-7.0%
Transaction accounts$869 million-20.4%
Personal loans$341 million+1.5%
Other deposit accounts$42 million-9.0%
Total$4.19 billion-6.5%

Source: RBA domestic banking fee income 2018, released June 20, 2019

RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall said: “Australian households are throwing $441 a year down the drain in bank fees, despite the fact there are good, fee-free products on the market.

“People often see fees as annoying but unavoidable. That’s not necessarily true. In most cases you can escape paying fees by picking fee-free products or haggling with your bank to have them waived,” she said.

“Credit cards are the worst offender and today’s data shows the problem is growing. Firstly, the fees can climb as high as $1,200 a year and secondly, a lot of Australians have more than one card burning a hole in their pocket,” she said.

TIPS

  • Call your bank and ask them to waive any fees you are paying. Arm yourself with three examples of low or fee-free products before you call.
  • When shopping for a home loan, check the comparison rate of any potential home loan to give you an indication of hidden costs. 
  • When taking out a new loan or refinancing, ask your lender to waive any fees. Chances are they’ll want your business enough to say yes.
  • If you have a rewards credit card, assess whether you are getting enough value out of the program to cover the costs of the annual fee (and any other charges you might be paying).
  • Opt for a low-fee transaction account that offers ATM rebates and waives overseas transaction fees.

HOME LOANS

Around 27% of home loans have no upfront fees and around 8% of home loans on the RateCity.com.au database have no upfront or ongoing fees.

Fee-free options

LenderProductUpfront feesOngoing feesOngoing variable rate
Macquarie BankBasic Home Loan$0$03.44%
UBankVariable Home Loan$0$03.59%
SuncorpBack to Basics$0$03.69%
WestpacFlexi First Option Home Loan$0$03.78%

CREDIT CARDS

RateCity.com.au data shows there are 28 cards with no annual fees.

Some cards with no annual fee

CompanyProductAnnual feeInterest ratePerks
American ExpressLow Rate$08.99%Low rate
ColesNo Annual Fee Mastercard$019.99%Rewards points
HSBCPremier World (Rewards Plus)$019.99%Rewards points

BANK ACCOUNTS

Transaction accounts with no fees or low fees

CompanyProductMonthly feeOther fee waivers
ING DirectOrange Everyday$0No ATM fees in Aus or overseas. Third party ATM fees rebated. No currency conversion fees.
Macquarie BankTransaction account$0No ATM fees in Australia or overseas. Third party ATM fees waived but only in Australia. No currency conversion fees.
ME BankEveryday Transaction Account$0No ATM fees in Australia. Third party ATM fees waived. International fees to apply however.

Sources: RateCity.com.au, RBA domestic banking fees income, ABS household projections.

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Property & Personal Finance Writer Nick Bendel before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about bank accounts

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 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.

Do you need a bank account to get a credit card?

To get a credit card, you need to show proof of income, which will almost certainly require you to have a 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.

What do I need to open a company bank account?

To open a company bank account, you will probably have to provide 100 points of ID, an ABN and an ACN. You will probably have to provide the details of all signatories as well.

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.

What do you need to open bank accounts?

Opening a bank account is one of the simplest online tasks you could perform. The hard part is deciding which type of bank account you want to open.

All banking institutions have a website where you hit ‘apply’ on the account of your choice and step through an application in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s a list of information that is generally required for applications.

  • Identification (driver’s licence, passport, proof of age card, proof of citizenship and/or birth certificate)
  • Tax file number (so you don’t get charged the highest tax rate)
  • Address, contact email and phone number

If you decide to open a new account at the branch, make sure you ask beforehand what information you need to take with you, or take all of the above to be safe.

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.

Can the government take your money from your bank account?

There are some instances when the government can take money from your bank account. This generally occurs in situations where you have an outstanding government debt.

Before it can take money from your bank account, the government authority owed money would first need to issue a garnishee notice. 

A garnishee notice is issued by the government agency (such as Centrelink or the ATO) to a third party that holds money for you or owes you money.

To take money from your bank account, your bank would be issued with the garnishee notice requiring it to pay ‘your money’ to the requesting agency to satisfy the debt.

Can you get a payday loan without a bank account?

Yes. Some payday lenders are willing to transfer loans to prepaid debit cards instead of bank accounts.

Can I set up a bank account online?

Most Australia-based lenders will allow you to set up a bank account online. Requirements vary from lender to lender, but you will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary ID.

How long does it take to open a bank account?

The length of time it takes to open a bank account varies, depending on whether you want to open it online or in person.

Online

Most banks and credit unions have simple online applications that usually take no more than 10 minutes to fill out. It can be especially fast if you have your identification documents like your driver’s licence and passport handy. Sometimes you will instantly be approved and the bank account opened. However, depending on the financial institution, it may take a day or so to be processed and your account number issued. Your account information and ATM or debit card will then be mailed to you, which usually takes between five to 10 days.

In person

If you decide to go into a branch or office to open a bank account, it may take about half an hour. Make sure you bring your identification documents with you. Also book an appointment if you can, otherwise you might be forced to wait in line. Sometimes your ATM or debit card will be issued on the spot, otherwise you’ll need to wait for one to arrive by mail, which usually takes between five to 10 days.

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’

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.