Everyone loves watching their rainy-day funds grow, but when you’re being stung with fees on your savings account, this can really put a dampener on things.

Nowadays it’s relatively easy to find a no fee savings account, as more and more competitive options have hit the market from providers outside of the big four banks. You just need to know where to look.

Whether you're dreaming of an Australian beach holiday or saving for a new car, whatever your savings goals are, here is everything you need to know about finding a no fee savings account.

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Learn more about savings accounts

What savings account fees are there?

There are a range of potential fees you may be stung with on a savings account. If you’re aiming to have a no fee account, consider one that does not charge the following:

  • Account keeping fees
  • ATM fees
  • Withdrawal fees
  • Overdraw fees
  • Foreign transaction fees, such as currency conversion fees

A savings account provider may charge you with one or more of these fees for transferring, withdrawing or debiting your savings. The best way to find out exactly what fees your account may charge is to take a look at the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). The PDS should be easily found on your provider’s website, and will outline any fees and costs, as well as any bonus interest rates and the conditions that need to be met to earn them.

Which fees might I be charged on different savings accounts?

There are a few main types of savings accounts in Australia, and they do not discriminate with their fees and costs. In fact, every savings account type may potentially charge you a fee.

But to earn the highest return on your savings, you’ll still need to choose a savings account type that best suits your financial situation and budget. Here are the different savings account types to choose from:

  • Conditional savings account

A conditional savings account, also called an ongoing savings account, is one that allows savers to earn a high bonus rate as long as they meet certain conditions. These conditions may include maintaining a minimum balance, meeting a minimum deposit amount each month, no withdrawals (via ATM or using your debit card at checkout), and being connected to a linked bank account or other financial product, such as a credit card. The high interest rate is offered at an ongoing rate, compared to introductory (standard) savings accounts. Keep in mind that it is a variable interest rate and subject to fluctuation with the market.

  • Introductory savings account

An introductory savings account, also called a standard savings account, is one that offers savers a higher interest rate for a set period of time. This introductory rate is one account holders can earn without having to meet any conditions, typically from four to six months. After this, the rate will revert to the standard variable rate for the account. This is typically much lower than the introductory rate.

  • Online savings accounts

For your convenience, some savings accounts are now entirely based online and accessible through platforms like web banking and mobile apps. Online savings accounts may offer higher interest rates than a traditional provider as they can avoid costly overheads by cutting out branches. However, if you rely on face-to-face banking, an online banking account may not suit you.

  • Kids savings accounts

Created to help little Aussies watch their pocket money and savings grow, a kids savings account typically comes with higher interest rates than adult accounts, but also greater monthly account fees and conditions. This is to prevent parents from opening accounts in their children’s names and parking their own savings in there for the higher interest. Kids savings accounts are handy tools to help teach children basic financial literacy in a digital age.

  • Pensioner savings accounts

Pensioner savings accounts are designed to help Australians over the age of 55, or those receiving a government pension, securely store their nest eggs. Pensioner savings accounts may also come with tiered interest rates, meaning the greater your account balance, the higher your interest rate. This type of deposit account also offers greater flexibility than regular savers, in that your bank and savings account is often combined. This allows you to continue to earn interest on your balance while making unlimited direct debits and purchases with your funds.

How do I get the highest return on my savings account?

A common misconception of savings accounts is to only look at the interest rate. However, interest rates are not the only thing you should use to compare accounts. A high interest savings account with the best rate on the market, but high fees, will see the ongoing costs you pay eventually cancel out the bonus interest.

It’s a no brainer that paying through the nose in fees on a savings account isn’t going to help your nest egg grow. To earn the greatest return on a savings account, you’ll need to find one with:

  • The most competitive interest rate;
  • The least amount of (or no) fees;
  • A linked everyday transaction account with a provider you like; and
  • Conditions you can easily meet.

This is where comparison tables can come in handy for savers. Like the one on this page, a comparison table allows you to clearly compare different savings accounts by filtering down the type you want and then sorting by the most relevant field.

For example, you may want to sort the table by maximum interest rate to find an account that offers the highest rate. Then, you can click on more details to view any potential details and fees, such as the base rate and whether it requires a minimum deposit on opening.

Help! I keep not meeting my savings account conditions.

Not being able to meet a conditional savings account's conditions is not an uncommon scenario for Aussie savers. However, unless you're willing to alter your budget and lifestyle to do so or switch to an introductory savings account, you may want to consider another option: a term deposit. 

Term deposits are a lot like savings accounts, but these deposit accounts encourage much stricter savings habits. Your savings will be locked into the account for a fixed period of time (a few months or even years) with a set savings rate that cannot change for that time frame. 

If you struggle with dipping into your savings via ATM withdrawals or direct debits, not meeting the minimum account balance of a term deposit may be a factor to consider. You also may not need to link to an everyday bank account and can nominate exactly where you want your final, mature balance to be deposited at the end of your fixed period.

Frequently asked questions

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)