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International student bank accounts

If you're coming to Australia to study you can open a local bank account while you're here, but you'll need to meet some eligibility criteria.

If you're moving to Australia to study, one of the first things you need to get organised when you're here is your bank account. While you might be able to use your existing overseas account, having one in Australia will make things much easier, particularly if you're paying rent and other bills.

You'll need an Australian residential address and to verify your identity before you can open a bank account in Australia.

What banks can I choose from in Australia?

There are dozens of banks to choose from in Australia. The main banks in Australia are called the 'Big Four' and include Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ. These are the biggest banks in terms of market share, as they hold the most amount of mortgage loans.

The Big Four banks have the most amount of physical bank branches, which is helpful if you need to chat to someone face to face. They also have the largest ATM network. However, while they're the biggest, they don't always necessarily offer the best products. In fact, many smaller banks in Australia are just as if not more competitive than the Big Four.

What accounts are available for students?

The main account that you'll want to open as an international student is an everyday transaction account (or bank account). An everyday transaction account is where you can receive income from any work you're doing while you're here, or transfers from other people. It's the account you can use for your day-to-day purchases, as well as to pay for things like rent and bills.

You'll receive log-in details for online and mobile banking and a debit card to withdraw money at ATMs (cash machines) and make everyday payments.

Finder survey: What is the most popular bank for Australian savings accounts?

Bendigo Bank3.41%
I don't have a savings account1.71%
Great Southern Bank1.35%
Up Bank0.18%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

How to compare bank accounts

When you're choosing a bank account for your time in Australia consider the following features:

The fees

Check if the account charges monthly account keeping fees, and if there's an option of having these waived. Most accounts no longer charge this fee, but some of the Big Four accounts still do. Also check the ATM fees, international transaction fees and any other fees you may be charged.

Bank branch access

If you think you'd benefit from being able to visit a bank branch and see someone face to face, you're more likely to get this with a bigger bank that has more bank branches.

Debit card

Most bank accounts come with a debit card which you can use at ATMs and also in store to pay for things. It's worth making sure the account has a debit card, and what the requirements are to get one (you may need to verify your identity in a bank branch to get one).

Online access

It's really helpful to have a mobile banking app and Internet banking portal to monitor you account, make payments and transfer money.

Application process

This process will vary slightly from bank to bank - check if you're required to go into a branch to open the account, or what eligibility criteria you need to meet to open it online.

Can I set up an Australian bank account from overseas?

Some banks require you to be in Australia and have an Australian residential address before you apply. However, there are banks that let you apply online before you're in Australia. Typically, you will then need to visit a branch when you arrive in the country to verify your identity before you can deposit money into the account.

How do I set up a bank account online from overseas?

Once you've found the bank account you want to open, here's how to do it:

1. Complete online application

You may need the following when filling out the online application:

  • Current phone number, email address, residential address and other contact details
  • Personal details such as your name and date of birth
  • Date of when you expect to arrive in Australia
  • Visa type and the Australian state you're migrating to
  • Your expected yearly salary in Australian dollars (if you know)

2. Provide documents

You need to provide documents to verify your identity. Some banks may allow you to do this online, but some may need you to visit a branch when you arrive in Australia.

  • Your passport
  • Your Australian residential address
  • Your valid visa documents
  • A letter from the institution where you are studying on an official letterhead as proof that you are a full-time student

3. Receive your bank card

Once your identification has been verified and your account approved, you should receive your debit card. Transfer money into your new account and then you can spend away as normal.

Frequently asked questions

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