Fix your finances in 2020 and save over $3,000

Fix your finances in 2020 and save over $3,000

Start the new year with more money in your pocket by making four simple changes to your finances – it may save you over $3,000 in 2020.

1. HOME LOAN – switch and save $2,683

If you have 25 years left on your $400,000 home loan and are paying the average rate of 3.75 per cent and switched to the lowest rate on the market, you’d save $224 a month and $2,683 a year.

Savings when refinancing from average to lowest rate – owner-occupier (P&I)

Loan Size Average rate Lowest rate Monthly savings Annual savings
$400,000 3.75% 2.69% $224 $2,683
$500,000 3.75% 2.69% $279 $3,353
$750,000 3.75% 2.69% $419 $5,030
$1 mil 3.75% 2.69% $559 $6,706

Notes: Based on an owner occupier paying principal and interest (P&I) switching 5 years in to a 30-year loan using the average rate on Does not factor in fees. Average rate based on average owner-occupier P&I variable rate on RateCity data base. Data accurate as at 14 January. 

Consider looking for a home loan with:

  • A rate below 3.20%
  • $0 annual fee

Keep in mind that there are typically costs associated with refinancing your mortgage. For more information, please read our Refinancing Guide.

2. CREDIT CARD – switch and save $305

You may significantly reduce your credit card interest payments if you switch to a low-rate and no fee alternative.

The latest RBA statistics show the average credit card account has $1,980 outstanding at the end of the month.

The average credit card interest rate on RateCity’s database is 16.66 per cent, while the annual fee is $131.

However, if for example you switched to NICU credit card, you’d pay 8.99 per cent and $0 respectively.

If you made minimum repayments (2 per cent) on a balance of $1,980 debt over 12 months, you’d be charged $341 interest on the higher-rate card but only $167 on the lower-rate card.

Differences between credit cards

Credit card Annual fee Interest rate Annual interest payments
Average standard credit card $131 16.66% $341
No fee low rate credit card $0 8.99% $167
Difference $131 7.67% $174

Notes: Figures based on a balance of $1,980 over 12 months. Annual interest repayments assume minimum monthly repayments of 2 per cent and factors in annual fee. Interest calculated monthly. Data accurate as at 14 January. 

Consider looking for a credit card with

  • No annual fees
  • No ATM charges
  • No foreign exchange and ATM fees

3. TRANSACTION ACCOUNT – switch and save $63

You can save a lot of money by shopping around for a no-fee bank account. There are now a growing number of banks that offer accounts with no monthly fees, as well as perks like no overseas exchange fees and ATM charges.

On RateCity’s database, the average monthly fees on a transaction account is $5.25 a month. That’s $63 a year.

However, 72 per cent of transaction accounts have no monthly fees, so it’s easy to find a fee-free option if you do your research.

Differences between bank accounts

Bank Monthly fee
Average transaction account $5.25
Lowest fee transaction account $0
Difference $5.25

Note: Data accurate as at 14 January. 

Consider looking for a transaction account with:

  • No monthly fees
  • No ATM charges
  • No foreign exchange and ATM fees

4. PHONE PLAN: switch and save $240

Another way to save money in 2020 is to switch from a phone plan with a big brand to a similar plan with a lesser-known company.

Let’s say you own your own phone and want at least 15GB of data per month, unlimited calls and texts and access to a high-speed 4G network.

Telstra’s Small plan offers all that for $50 per month, whereas Amaysim offers these features as well as 25GB more data for $20 less as well as the bonus of unlimited international calls to 10 countries.

Differences between phone plans

Phone plan Data Calls Texts Monthly price
Telstra - Small 15GB Unlimited Unlimited $50
Amaysim Unlimited 40GB 40GB Unlimited Unlimited $30
Difference +25GB 0 0 $20

Note: Data accurate as at 14 January. 

How to begin your $3,000 savings journey

One of the easiest ways to find more competitive bank accounts, credit cards or home loans is to use comparison tools, such as tables and calculators.

    • Comparison tables are a helpful way to compare apples with apples. You’ll filter down and view a range of options side by side, so you can clearly see their interest rates, potential repayment amounts, fees and any features.
    • Calculators can allow you to see if you can afford one or more options you’ve compared. This is done by showing you your potential monthly/fortnightly/weekly repayment amounts.

Comparison tools can be helpful for budgeting or judging which options will cost more over time due to interest rates or fees.

Keep in mind that switching financial products can incur fees, such as upfront fees. Make sure you do your research and read the Product Disclosure Statement of your new product before you commit to anything.

By making the switch to more affordable loans, credit cards, or bank accounts, you could kick some financial goals early in 2020.

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Learn more about bank accounts

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.

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.


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 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.

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.

Can foreigners open bank accounts in Australia?

Many Australian lenders allow foreigners to open bank accounts in Australia. Often, this can be done before you arrive in the country – with no Australian address required. When you get to Australia, you can pick up your debit card, using your passport as identification.

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)

How can I find bank accounts in my name?

To find ‘live’ bank accounts in your name, you’ll have to ask individual lenders, which involves contacting them one by one and proving your identity each time. To find ‘unclaimed’ bank accounts (those that have been inactive for at least seven years), you can use this website.

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 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.

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 find a bank account number by name?

For privacy reasons, Australian banks won’t hand out account numbers or other details about their customers. However, if you provide a bank with a BSB and account number, they should be able to confirm if those numbers belong to one of their customers.

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