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Fee-free Freedom: Take Action Against Bank Fees

Information verified correct on January 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 January 22nd, 2017
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    NAB Classic Banking
    Tap and Pay with your Android Phone using NAB Pay.
    No minimum deposit required.
    Visa $0 $0 No monthly account fees, ever. Free use at over 3,400 NAB and RediATMs Australia wide and $0 overdrawn fees. 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 fees, and you can use any ATM in Australia for free when you deposit $1,000 each month e.g your salary. 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 a $6 monthly fee applies. No ATM fee applicable at Bankwest, CBA, NAB, ANZ, Westpac, St.George, BoM and BankSA ATMs in Australia. Open More
    ANZ Access Advantage
    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 No monthly account fee when you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Other fee waivers available based on your personal situation. Open More
    HSBC Day to Day Transaction Account
    Your Visa debit card unlocks special privileges worldwide with the HSBC home&Away Privilege Program.
    Visa $0 $0 $0 monthly fees. No ATM fees at over 3,000 HSBC, Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne and 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
    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
    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
    Bank Australia Everyday Access Account
    Earn some interest on your everyday funds.
    Everyday bank account that's potentially fee-free.
    Visa $1.50 $2,000 Access to over 3,000 rediATMs. No monthly fee if you at least deposit $2,000 per month, or have a loan or investment of $50,000 with Bank Australia, or are under 25 years of age. 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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