Bank fees fall, but Australians still fork out $3.56 billion

Bank fees fall, but Australians still fork out $3.56 billion

Australians forked out $3.56 billion in personal bank fees last financial year, new figures from the RBA show. This equates to around $364 per household in bank fees a year.

However, we paid $404.8 million less in bank fees than the previous year – a drop of 10 per cent. 

How much Australian households spent on personal bank fees in FY20

Key categories Spend Change from last year Spend per household
Credit cards




Home loans




Transaction accounts




Personal loans




Other deposit accounts




Other fees








Exception fees




Source: RBA Domestic Fee data 2020, released 17 June 2021. Each bank provides data on income received over the financial year ending in 2020. Number of households is an estimate from ABS Household Financial Resources, Sept 2020. research director, Sally Tindall, said: “It’s great to see fees are on the way down for the third year in a row. However, with the average Australian household shelling out $364 a year in personal bank fees, there is still plenty of room for them to fall.”

“COVID has played a big part in this drop. People are taking out less cash, but we’re also not travelling overseas, saving on currency conversion and international ATM fees, which can really add up,” she said.

“This year, credit cards raked in the most in fees, however in dollar terms, it was also the category that saw the biggest drop of $244 million, year-on-year.

“Over the last financial year thousands of households have cut up their credit cards, saving hundreds on annual fees that they just weren’t getting back in perks, especially during COVID when people couldn’t make the most of frequent flyer points and travel insurance.

“Do a Marie Kondo and give your bank fees a spring clean. If they’re giving you grief instead of sparking joy, let them go.

“You might find you’re on a good deal despite the fees, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking your bank to scrap them,” she said.

Today’s RBA data shows home loan fees was the only personal banking category to have risen, this is likely to be as a result of the increase in new home lending and refinancing from FY19 to FY20.

“If you are refinancing your loan and your new lender intends to charge you application fees, ask for them to be waived. Competition between lenders is hot – they might just say yes to lock in your business.

Exception fees, such as late payment fees and overdraft fees, dropped for the third year in a row. While some banks paused these fees at the start of COVID, it’s clear Australians are increasingly avoiding these fees on their own.

“Australians are wising up to avoidable fees, such as missed payment and overdraft fees. They’ve had enough of forking out for bank fines and they’re managing their money better as a result,” she said.


CREDIT CARDS data shows the average annual fee is $141, however 35 cards (17 per cent) have no annual fee.

Low fee rewards credit card examples: 

Lender Card Rate Annual Fee
American Express Essential Credit Card



Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard



HSBC Premier World Mastercard (Rewards Plus)



BankVic Qantas Visa Credit Card



Kogan Money Black Card





The average annual home loan fee on the database is $255, while the average upfront fee is $599.

However, 60 per cent of all home loans have no annual fees and 49 per cent of all home loans have no application fees charged by the lender. 



The majority of customers are no longer paying ATM fees after the big four banks scrapped them in September 2017. 

However, data shows three banks – ING, Macquarie Bank and ME Bank – rebate all ATM fees in Australia. 



Notes: Average fees exclude products that charge $0 fees. Excludes business banking fees. Number of home loans is based on all home loan variations in the database. While it’s important to factor in fees to the overall cost of the home loan, interest rate and product features are also important considerations.


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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.



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Learn more about credit cards

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

How do you cancel a credit card?

It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.

How to get a new credit card

To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:

  • Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
  • Your employer’s contact details
  • Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

Where can I get a credit card?

Looking to get your first credit card? You might be confused as to exactly where to go to apply for one. Here’s where to go when you are ready to put in that application.

The bank: Your bank is a great place to start, provided that you have a good banking history. Since you already have a financial history, you have more chance of your application being approved.

Credit card provider: Another option is to apply for a credit card directly from the issuer, such as Visa, Mastercard or Amex. This will most likely be an online application, so do your research and apply for a suitable card for your circumstances.

Major retailers: Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones all have credit cards available. But watch out for the interest rate and annual fees – these cards are designed to help you spend more in store.

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

What is CVV on a credit card?

CVV stands for ‘card verification value’, and is also sometimes referred to as a CVC or card verification code.

A CVV code is usually needed when the card is used online or over the phone as an anti-fraud measure. Without the cardholder being physically present to sign or verify the purchase, the CVV provides an extra layer of protection. 

If you’re using Mastercard or Visa, the CVV is the three digits located on the back of the card. If you’re using an American Express, the CVV is usually four digits and is on the front of the card.

How long does it take to get a credit card?

There are a few stages you need to go through to get a credit card; each one takes a different length of time.

Applying for the card online, over the phone or in person is the fastest step. This usually takes around 15 minutes, provided you have all of your documents handy.

After submitting your application, it usually takes between one to 10 business days for the lender to assess your eligibility. Some lenders offer instant approval, although you will need to send supporting documents before it is official.

Once your application has been approved, expect to wait between one to 14 days to receive your card in the mail. Keep in mind that delays can happen during busy periods, such as if the lender has launched a special deal.