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It’s easy to chip away at your spending money when travelling overseas. Aside from unexpected expenses popping up, there are plenty of fees associated with overseas spending that can quickly cut into your budget.
The good news is that with some planning and research, you can reduce or even eliminate overseas EFTPOS fees and other international fees, so you can put your money towards having a good trip.
What is an overseas EFTPOS fee?
An overseas EFTPOS fee is also known as a ‘foreign transaction fee’, an ‘international transaction fee’ or an ‘overseas transaction fee’.
This is an extra charge that you incur when you use a debit card linked to your everyday bank account to make a purchase at an EFTPOS terminal overseas.
For example, if you use your debit card to buy a souvenir in a store in another country, you can be charged extra by your bank for making the transaction. The fee is usually a set dollar amount or a percentage of the total purchase price.
While most banks charge a fee for overseas transactions, some debit cards come with low or no overseas EFTPOS fees. However, debit cards with no overseas EFTPOS fee can still come with other international fees.
Other types of international fees
Along with overseas EFTPOS fees, there are certain other types of fees you can be charged for spending or withdrawing money overseas:
- ATM withdrawal fee – You can be charged twice for withdrawing cash at an overseas ATM using a debit or credit card – once by your bank and once by the foreign ATM provider.
- Currency conversion fee – Currency conversion fees can be charged when you use a travel card, credit card or debit card. You’ll usually incur a fee if you pay for something in a currency foreign to the default currency on your card (Australian dollars).
- Merchant fee – Some overseas merchants add a surcharge to transactions for using an overseas card, however this applies only to credit cards.
- Money exchange fee – If you buy foreign money, the exchange desk or money changer may charge a money exchange fee or give you a lower exchange rate so they can make a profit.
- Cash advance fee – If you’re using a credit card, you’ll incur a cash advance fee each time you make an ATM withdrawal.
Tips for avoiding fees when travelling overseas
Although it’s difficult to avoid fees altogether when travelling, you can minimise how much you pay. Here are some simple tips:
Choose a card with no EFTPOS fees or ATM withdrawal fees
Some bank accounts come with debit cards with no overseas transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees. Compare bank accounts to see what’s available.
Withdraw money from partner ATMs
Some banks have a network of global alliance partners that allow you to withdraw money from their ATMs for free. Keep an eye out for your bank’s global ATM partners.
Make charges to your card in Australian dollars
Some merchants allow you to make EFTPOS transactions in Australian dollars. By doing so, you may be able to avoid a currency conversion fee.
Limit withdrawals and transactions
If your bank charges fees as a set dollar amount, rather than a percentage of the total amount, spending or withdrawing money in bulk means you’ll have to pay the base fee less often.
Property Personal Finance Writer
A property and personal finance writer, Nick Bendel covers property, loans, credit cards, superannuation, and other bank products. Nick has previously written for The Adviser, Mortgage Business, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and InvestorDaily, and loves getting elbow-deep in the latest ABS, APRA and RBA data.
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Frequently asked questions
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 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.
Are bank accounts frozen when someone dies?
Yes, Australian bank accounts are frozen when someone dies. If you want to close the account of somebody who has died, you might have to provide proof of death and a copy of the will. You might also have to prove your relationship to the deceased person.
If you have a joint bank account with somebody who has died, you will generally be entitled to all the money in the account. Again, you might have to provide proof of death if you want to change the bank account from a joint account to a one-person account.
Can I start a bank account online?
Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. 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 identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.
Can you deposit money into somebody else's bank account?
One of the easiest banking tasks in the world is depositing money. You can even deposit money into someone else’s bank account if you wish.
The basic information you need to deposit money into a third-party bank account is:
- Payee’s name
- Bank, building society or credit union (though this isn’t necessary)
- BSB (or bank code, which is the branch identifier)
- Account number
Including the name of the financial institution isn’t necessary – particularly with online banking – because the BSB will identify this for you.
A handy tip is to record yourself (or add a personal message) in the transaction description or reference. This will show up on the recipients account, letting them know who’s paid them the money.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 I link a bank account to Paypal?
Paypal is a safe and convenient way to pay online without the need to share your financial details. You can send and receive money or accept credit and debit cards as a seller using Paypal.
It’s easy to link your bank account to a Paypal account and start making transactions within minutes.
To start, you first need a Paypal account (it’s free to join). When setting up your Paypal account, you will be prompted to link a credit card or bank account (or both if you wish).
PayPal works without a balance; you can use Paypal to shop or send money when your balance is zero.
When your Paypal balance is zero, Paypal will ask you to choose your preferred payment method at the checkout.
This could be either your linked bank account or credit card. Your bank details can be updated if you change banks or credit cards.
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 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.
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’
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 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 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.