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Fee-free Freedom: Take Action Against Bank Fees

Information verified correct on December 4th, 2016

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.

Start your own comparisons

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 December 4th, 2016
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
ANZ Access Advantage
Earn a $100 shopping voucher.
For opening a new account by 18 Dec 2016 and shop three times with your new Visa debit card by 8 Jan 2017 (conditions apply).
Visa $0 $2,000 No monthly account fee when you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Other fee waivers available based on your personal situation. 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
ING DIRECT Orange Everyday Account
Get a $75 cash bonus.
Get a competitive ongoing variable rate when linked with a Savings Maximiser.
Visa $0 $1,000 No monthly fees, and you can use any ATM in Australia for free when you deposit $1,000 each month e.g your salary. Open More
AMP Access Account
An everyday transaction account with fee-free banking.
Visa $0 $0 Unlimited fee-free transactions at rediATMs, $0 transaction fees using BankNet, mobile banking and BankPhone. Open More
AMP Cash Manager
Ongoing, variable 1.50% p.a. when you link to an AMP Visa debit card and deposit $2,000+ each month. Available on the entire balance.
Visa $0 $2,000 No transaction fees and waived monthly fee when at least $2,000 is deposited. 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 ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne ATMs in Australia. Deposit at least $2,000 per month and enjoy no monthly service fee. Open More
Bankwest Easy Transaction Account
Pay no ATM fees at over 10,000 ATMs in Australia (conditions apply).
Mastercard $0 $2,000 Minimum deposit of $2,000 per month needed to waive the monthly account fee otherwise $6 monthly fee applies. No ATM fee applicable at Bankwest, CBA, NAB, ANZ, Westpac, St.George, BoM and BankSA ATMs in Australia. 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 No account keeping fees, if you deposit $2,000 per month plus no minimum balance required. No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
BankSA Complete Freedom Account
Open one in less than 5 minutes with Cardless Cash available.
Visa $0 $2,000 No monthly account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 in the account each month. 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 ATM fees when you use Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, St.George or Westpac ATMs. No monthly fees when you deposit at least $2000 into this account each month. Open More
Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
Get Cardless Cash and PAYG branch and cheque services.
Visa $0 $1,000 No ATM fees when you use Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. No monthly fees if you deposit $1000 into your account each month. Open More
BankSA Sense Everyday Account
Save and budget – get two accounts working together and save faster.
Visa $0 $2,000 Use over 3000 BankSA, St.George, Bank Of Melbourne and Westpac ATMs in Australia for free. Open More

Shirley Liu

Shirley is finder.com.au's publisher for banking and investments. She is currently studying 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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