From paper to plastic – how to ditch fees for good

From paper to plastic – how to ditch fees for good

A small fee on your last bank transaction might feel like a drop in the ocean, but if you’re ignoring all your account fees, you may soon be struggling to keep your head above water.

If you take the time to do your research, you could ditch the pesky fees for good.

Ongoing fees

Ongoing or account keeping fees are regular payments charged by your lender outside of interest. They’re common across most financial products, including home loans, car loans and credit cards.

Some of the most frustrating ongoing fees come with bank accounts, as it’s very easy to avoid paying them if you shop around.

Bank accounts with ongoing fees


Bank account

Account keeping fee


People’s Choice Credit Union

Everyday Account


Waived if you have an active Home Loan Package, Financial Planning Relationship or meet three or more additional criteria.

AMP Bank

Bett3r Pay


Waived if you deposit $2000 in your account each month

Bank of us

Go To


Waived if you deposit $1000 in your account each month


Qantas Transaction Account


Waived if you deposit $2000 in your account each month

Source: Data accurate as at 09/09/2019 

Some lenders, like the ones mentioned above, will charge you an ongoing/monthly fee. However, these will typically be waived if you meet certain criteria. If you’re set on sticking with a lender that charges these kinds of fees, try to ensure you stick to their rules. $6 a month can quickly turn into $72 a year if you’re not careful. research has found that out of the 144 bank accounts in their database, 43 have ongoing fees. If only 30 per cent of bank accounts have ongoing fees, perhaps it’s time to consider your options?

Each of Australia’s big four banks offers an everyday bank account without ongoing fees, as do a range of smaller providers. If you’ve been with the same bank account since you were a kid that charges an ongoing fee, and you’re looking to ditch it for good, consider switching to a no-fee account.

Annual fees

Annual fees are, as the same suggest, a fee your provider will charge you once a year. These are common in credit cards and home loans, as the annual fee helps account for their benefits, such as a mortgage redraw facility or credit card reward points.

Credit cards with higher-than-average annual fees


Credit card

Purchase rate

Annual fee

Qantas Money

Qantas Premier Titanium




Prestige (Citi Rewards Program)



American Express

Qantas American Express Ultimate Card



Source: Data accurate as at 09/09/2019

Credit cards can have some of the highest annual fees around, but you can’t paint credit card fees with the same brush. Higher fees can be due to the rewards programs and premium services offered to customers. If these services are important to you in a credit card, it may be hard to avoid an annual fee.

There are 28 credit cards without annual fees on’s database. If you want to cut annual fees from your budget, you’ll need to do your research.

Use comparison tables to filter out accounts that charge annual fees. You’ll also be able to compare interest rates, features and other fees associated with the product to keep costs down.

Credit cards with zero annual fees



Annual Fee


Brisbane Heat supporters’ Low Rate Credit Card


First Option Bank Ltd

Low Rate Visa Credit Card


St.George Bank

No Annual Fee Visa


Source: Data accurate as at 09/09/2019

Overseas fees

Everyone’s felt that post-holiday regret when you finally see how much overseas fees stung your shopping spree.

The most common overseas fees are currency conversion fees and ATM withdrawal fees. While you can’t control the exchange rate of the country you’re visiting, you can choose credit cards or bank accounts that don’t charge these fees. research shows the average overseas ATM fee charged by Australian banks is $4.13 per transaction but can climb as high as $5.50. The average currency conversion fee is 3.13 per cent of the transaction value.

Transaction accounts with no international fees

Bank account

Overseas ATM fee

Fee from ATM provider

Currency conversion fee

Admin fees


ING Orange Everyday





Must deposit $1k and make 5 transactions monthly

Citibank Plus


At cost



Fee-free international money transfers

RAMS Action


At cost



Overseas ATM must display the Cirrus or Maestro logo

Source: Data accurate as at 09/09/2019

For example, think about how often you withdraw cash in America for tipping. Say you withdrew money five times over your trip, you’d be charged on average $20.65 for the privilege.

Again, doing a little homework and choosing a fee-free provider could save you the laundry list of overseas fees you might cop on your next holiday. 

Bills, bills, bills

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) recently reminded Victorians that receive paper bills they may be eligible for fee exemption.

According to a release by CAV, “an average customer receiving paper bills for their electricity, gas, banking, credit card and phone services could be paying $120 a year just on paper billing fees”.

Providers have exemptions, however, from paper billing fees if customers are:

  • older Victorians
  • registered for a concession
  • receive income support
  • on a hardship program, or
  • do not have access to the internet.

Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Sam Jenkin, recommended Victorians “contact your providers and ask if you are eligible for an exemption from paper bill fees.”

“It may be only a couple of dollars for each bill, but it can quickly add up – especially for people on a low income,” Mr Jenkin said.

Avoiding paper bills is a priority for many environmentally conscientious Australians. If you’re still receiving your bank statements and bills via post, switch to email bills to avoid these fees.

If you rely on paper bills for any of the reasons listed above, speak to your bank – you may be able to have the fees waived. You’d be surprised at what your bank is willing to do if you just ask. 

How to avoid pesky fees: 

  1. Keep $100 in your account. You never know when an unexpected bill might take your account into the negatives. Keeping at least $100 in your bank account at all times can hopefully help you avoid accidental overdrafts.

  2. Meet the criteria. Some fees can be avoided as easily as ensuring you meet minimum deposit amounts in your bank account. Double check the fine print on your financial products and make sure you’re meeting all the criteria.
  3. Make direct deposit bill payments. Some companies will charge you a fee just for taking your money – usually if you use a credit card to pay your bills. Consider making your bill payments direct deposit only, and then setting these up to be paid automatically. This will cut out credit card fees and help you keep on top of bill due dates, so you also avoid overdue fees.
  4. Use comparison tools. Looking for a new credit card that doesn’t charge fees? It’s as easy as doing your research. Use comparison tables to filter through credit cards that don’t charge annual or ongoing fees.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask. Banks want your business. If you’re considering switching to another bank because of the fees your current bank is charging you, you’d be surprised at what they’d be willing to do to keep you on the books. For example, use a comparison table to find a few bank accounts options that don’t charge ongoing fees.

    Call your bank and ask if they’ll match this. Threaten to leave – and be prepared to do so if they won’t cut the fees. After all, you’ve now got a list of fee-free options to choose from.

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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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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).

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.

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.