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 I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

How can I deposit cash into my bank account?

The traditional way to deposit cash into your bank account is to go to a branch and give it to a teller. These days, many banks will allow you to make deposits through an ATM as well.

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.

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 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.

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.