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Fee-free Freedom: Take Action Against Bank Fees

Information verified correct on February 22nd, 2017

Do you think bank fees are worth fighting over? For those taking part in a class action lawsuit against 'unfair fees' they are.

Bank fees are an unfortunate part of life and something that we all need to deal with, but some Australians think the banks have gone too far. Over 185,000 banking customers are preparing to take on eight banks for 'unfair' fees. The class action lawsuits are against the banks for allegedly charging customers excessive fees between $20 and $45 for overdrafts or ‘over the limit’ fees. The lawsuit is a game changer for Australia’s financial services industry and shows what public pressure can do.

We often forgot how much power we as consumers have over our finances. Yes, we rely on banks and financial institutions to keep our money safe, provide us with credit and give us access to funds that we need to live our lives. But this does not mean we have to pay high fees. Consumer choice has driven competition between financial service providers which has resulted in increased savings for us. The internet has provided consumers with the tools they need to find the best deal. Consumers should remember that access to information about financial services is right at their fingertips and it’s important to compare services to maximise your own savings potential and find the right product for you.

The case shows a marked change in the finance industry. Australians have had enough of paying collectively billions of dollars in bank fees and if these cases win, there will likely be a shake­up of all bank fees across the industry. The finance industry has changed considerable over the past few years, with government regulations encouraging increased competition and a number of emerging smaller financial institutions offering great savings to Australians. We as consumers also saw a huge win in July 2011 with the introduction of a government ban on home loan exit fees, encouraging consumers to compare and find the best home loan deal for their financial situation.

But fees and interest rates have always made it hard for Australians to plan and manage their finances. Last year, we collectively paid our banks over $11 billion in bank fees – over $4 billion of which was from households. Financial institutions cannot be relied upon to charge fairer fees or drop their fees altogether - the only way we will make real changes to the banking industry is if more Australians compare their financial products and switch. This will encourage competition between providers and will be a win for the consumers.

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      If you don’t want to start a class action lawsuit but are still not happy with fees or charges from your bank, then you can compare credit cards and other products here at finder.com.au. There are many credit cards with no annual fees, including platinum and gold cards. There are also many home loans with no annual service fees and a large number of home loans that don’t charge redraw fees. Many transaction accounts come with no monthly service fees and fee­ free transactions. By reviewing products and comparing aspects of savings promises you can determine the best product for your situation. For example, you shouldn't choose a rewards credit card if you aren’t going to find a benefit from the rewards.

      It’s up to more Australians to take on the responsibility with their financial products by reviewing their options and comparing deals. It will not only force competition between banks but also will save consumers potentially thousands of dollars every year.

      Compare a range of bank accounts

      Rates last updated February 22nd, 2017
      $
      Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
      NAB Classic Banking
      $0 monthly account fees.
      Tap and pay with your NAB Visa Debit card, NAB Pay for Android or NAB PayTag for iPhone.
      Visa $0 $0 No monthly account keeping fees. No ATM fees when using NAB and rediATMs. Open More
      St.George Complete Freedom Account
      10% Cash back for online gaming purchases.
      Waived account keeping fees when minimum deposit is met with no minimum balance.
      Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
      ING DIRECT Orange Everyday Account
      $75 cash bonus up for grabs
      Get a competitive ongoing variable rate when linked with a Savings Maximiser.
      Visa $0 $1,000 No monthly account keeping fees. No ATM fees using any ATM in Australia if you deposit $1,000 each month. Open More
      Bankwest Easy Transaction Account
      Pay no ATM fees at over 10,000 ATMs in Australia (conditions apply).
      Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly service fee if you deposit a minimum of $2,000 per month otherwise $6 monthly fee applies. No ATM fees when using St.George / Westpac / BankSA ATMs. Open More
      Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
      Earn Qantas Points on eligible purchases and on your account balance.
      Conditions apply.
      Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Free access to Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest) though third party fees may apply. Open More
      ANZ Access Advantage
      Apple Pay, Android Pay and ANZ Mobile Pay. Take advantage of Apple Pay by linking your ANZ Visa Debit card to an eligible iPhone and seamlessly pay for purchases with your phone.
      Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at ANZ ATMs. Open More
      Westpac Choice
      $0 ATM withdrawal fee at 50,000+ ATMs globally.
      Via Westpac's Global ATM Alliance. Get Cash without your debit card (conditions apply).
      Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly service fee if you deposit a minimum of $2,000 per month otherwise $5 monthly fee applies. No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne ATMs in Australia. Open More
      BankSA Complete Freedom Account
      Open one in less than 5 minutes with Cardless Cash available.
      Visa $0 $2,000 No monthly service fee if you deposit a minimum of $2,000 per month otherwise $5 monthly fee applies. Free access to BankSA, St.George, Westpac and Bank of Melbourne ATMs. Open More
      BankSA Express Freedom Account
      Get Cardless Cash, free SMS and email alerts.
      Visa $0 $1,000 Avoid ATM fees when using BankSA, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and Westpac ATMs. Avoid the monthly fee if you deposit $1000 into this account each month. Open More
      Bank of Melbourne Complete Freedom
      Get Cardless cash and shop securely with your Visa debit card. Customise SMS and email alerts.
      Visa $0 $2,000 No monthly service fee if you deposit a minimum of $2,000 per month otherwise $5 monthly fee applies. Free access to Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
      Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
      Get Cardless Cash and PAYG branch and cheque services.
      Visa $0 $1,000 No monthly service fee if you deposit a minimum of $1,000 per month otherwise $3 monthly fee applies. Free access to Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More

      Shirley Liu

      Shirley is finder.com.au's publisher for banking and investments. She has completed a Masters in Commerce (Finance) and is the author of hundreds of articles. She is passionate about helping Aussies make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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