While there is no clear winner, our analysis goes to show you should really do your research when comparing accounts.
Choosing a bank is a difficult but very important decision. Whether you’re saving for a home, your retirement, a holiday or simply for a rainy day, you’ll want to get the best possible results with the financial institution you choose.
But from the range of accounts available to interest rates, fees, the efficiency of online banking platforms and even the size of branch and ATM networks, there’s a whole lot to consider before you can choose a bank.
NAB and Commonwealth Bank are two of Australia’s “Big Four” banks, and they both offer an extensive range of financial products and services to millions of customers. But which one has the right bank account for you? We compared the two banks across a range of key areas to see who came out on top.
Meet the contenders: NAB vs CommBank
NAB has been helping Australians manage their money for more than 150 years. Boasting 10 million customers and more than 800 locations spread across Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world, it offers a wide range of transaction and savings accounts, credit cards, home loans and business banking solutions to customers.
The Commonwealth Bank commenced operations in 1912 and today employs more than 50,000 people. With more than 4.6 million active online customers, CommBank has locations across Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. It offers everything from savings and transaction accounts to home loans, credit cards and much more.
As this feature focuses largely on the savings and transaction accounts available from each bank, the table below shows the deposits on the books of NAB and the Commonwealth Bank.
Deposits on Australian books of individual banks ($million) as of August 2016
|Non-financial corporations||Financial corporations||General government||Households|
*Figures taken from Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Monthly Banking Statistics, August 2016
How they compare
To help you decide which bank offers the right products and services for you, let’s take a closer look at what each has to offer.
The NAB Classic Banking Account is a simple everyday banking account with no monthly account-keeping fees. It features a Visa debit card at no extra cost, and 24/7 access is provided via online and mobile banking. There are no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirements with this account.
CommBank’s Everyday Account Smart Access is also a simple everyday transaction account designed to provide easy access to your money. A $4 monthly account-keeping fee applies, but this fee is waived if you deposit at least $2000 a month. A debit MasterCard is also included and you can enjoy 24/7 access to your funds via online and mobile banking. Unlimited electronic transactions are also allowed.
|NAB Classic Banking Account||CommBank Everyday Account Smart Access|
|Monthly fee||$0||$4 (fee waived if you deposit at least $2000 per month)|
|Debit card||Yes – Visa||Yes – MasterCard|
|Online banking access||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile banking access||Yes||Yes|
|ATM withdrawal fee||$0||$0|
Looking for an account that makes your money work harder for you? Savings accounts pay a high rate of interest on your account balance, allowing you to save towards your financial goals.
There are several different types of savings accounts available from NAB and CommBank, so let’s take a closer look at how they each stack up.
High-interest online savings accounts
The NAB iSaver Account is a high-interest online savings account that offers a base variable interest rate of 1.20% p.a. but also allows you to earn an extra 0.70% p.a. for a four-month introductory period. There are no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirements, and no transaction or monthly account-keeping fees.
Meanwhile, CommBank’s NetBank Saver Account is an online savings account with a standard variable rate of 1.05% p.a. However, it also allows you to earn 1.50% p.a. bonus interest for a three-month introductory period. There are no transaction or account-keeping fees, nor are there restrictions on minimum deposits or balances.
|NAB iSaver Account||CommBank NetBank Saver Account|
|Maximum interest rate||1.90% p.a.||2.55% p.a.|
|Standard variable rate||1.20% p.a.||1.05% p.a.|
|Bonus interest rate||0.70% p.a.||1.50% p.a.|
|Introductory rate period||4 months (accounts up to $1 million)||3 months (accounts up to $5 million)|
|Minimum deposits required||No||No|
|Minimum balance required||None||None|
|Linked account required||Yes||Yes|
Reward saver accounts
Reward saver accounts pay bonus interest to “reward” you for satisfying special terms and conditions, for example depositing a minimum amount into your account each month.
NAB’s offering in this category is the NAB Reward Saver. This account offers a base interest rate of 0.50% p.a. but pays bonus interest of 2.05% p.a. every month you make at least one deposit but do not make any withdrawals. Other features include no monthly account or transaction fees.
CommBank’s offering is known as the GoalSaver Account. This account offers a standard variable rate of just 0.01% p.a., but you can earn bonus interest of 1.79% p.a. each month you deposit at least $200 and make no more than one withdrawal. There are also no monthly account-keeping fees with the GoalSaver.
|NAB Reward Saver||CommBank GoalSaver|
|Maximum interest rate||2.55% p.a.||1.80% p.a.|
|Standard variable rate||0.50% p.a.||0.01% p.a.|
|Bonus interest rate||2.05% p.a.||1.79% p.a.|
|Conditions to achieve bonus rate||Make at least 1 deposit each month but do not make any withdrawals||Deposit at least $200 and make a maximum of 1 withdrawal per month|
|Monthly account fees||No||No|
Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that CommBank offers its YouthSaver Account to customers under 18 years of age. This provides a maximum variable rate of 2.30% p.a. to account holders who make at least one deposit but do not make any withdrawals each month.
A term deposit provides a guaranteed return on your investment, allowing you to lock away your money and earn a fixed interest rate for a set term. Both NAB and Commonwealth offer term deposits for periods ranging from one month to five years, with different interest rates available depending on the amount you deposit and the term you select. There are no monthly account fees to contend with and both banks require a minimum investment of $5,000.
The table below outlines the interest rates that apply to term deposits of $5,000 with CommBank and NAB. As you can see, the highest rate available depends on the term you choose. For example, while CommBank offers a 0.40% p.a. higher rate for one-month deposits, NAB’s rate for 36-month deposits is 1.30% p.a. higher than CommBank’s.
|1 month||3 months||6 months||12 months||24 months||36 months||48 months||60 months|
|NAB||1.50% p.a.||2.10% p.a.||2.10% p.a.||2.40% p.a.||2.60% p.a.||2.70% p.a.||2.75% p.a.||2.80% p.a.|
|CommBank||1.50% p.a.||1.75% p.a.||1.75% p.a.||1.90% p.a.||1.90% p.a.||1.90% p.a.||1.90% p.a.||1.90% p.a.|
From checking your account balance to paying bills and even transferring funds overseas, there’s plenty of everyday banking transactions you can complete via your bank’s online banking portal.
NAB’s portal is known as NAB Internet Banking. It allows you to keep track of your finances 24/7 and offers protection against scams through NAB Defence. You can pay bills, transfer funds, report lost or stolen cards and check your account balance and recent transaction history.
CommBank customers do their online banking through NetBank. This multi-award-winning online banking platform is designed to make it convenient and easy to manage your finances whenever you want. It allows you to do everything from paying bills and viewing online statements to transferring funds to more than 200 countries around the world. There’s also a Security Guarantee to cover losses from unauthorised transactions.
The tasks and transactions you can perform are fairly similar between the two platforms, so deciding which one is better may come down to your opinion of which one is easier to use. CommBank offers a demo NetBank account to help you sample the features on offer, while you can also read reviews of each platform and ask family and friends for their recommendations.
If you conduct an increasing number of transactions from your tablet or smartphone, like millions of other Australians, it’s also important to compare the mobile banking solutions offered by NAB and CommBank.
NAB’s Mobile app offers instant transfers, bill payments and a quick balance check feature. You can also transfer money overseas, bank on your Apple Watch and find your nearest ATM or branch.
The CommBank app works on smartphones and tablets and allows you to pay bills, transfer funds, and tap and pay to make purchases with your mobile. You can also use the app to find your nearest CommBank ATM or branch.
|Platform||NAB Mobile||CommBank app|
|Available from||Apple App Store, Google Play, Windows Phone Store||Apple App Store, Google Play|
|Available on tablets||Yes||Yes|
With an ever-increasing percentage of banking transactions carried out online or over the phone, it’s essential that you can get in touch with your bank’s customer service team. If you ever have a problem with a transaction or a question about your account, you need to have quick and convenient access to the assistance you need.
Take a look at the table below for detailed information on the customer service offered by NAB and Commonwealth Bank.
|Phone||Live chat||Internet banking messages||Online FAQ section||Online help forum|
|NAB||Mon-Fri 8am–7pm (AEST/AEDT)Sat-Sun 9am–6pm (AEST/AEDT)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Number of ATMs
The size of a bank’s ATM network can have a big impact on how cost-effective and convenient it is for customers. There are no extra fees attached when you withdraw from an ATM that’s part of your bank’s network, but withdrawing from another provider’s ATM will incur a fee of $2 or even $2.50. While this might not seem like much on its own, these fees can quickly add up to a significant amount.
Commonwealth Bank customers can access more than 4,000 ATMs around Australia through the CommBank ATM network and its partnership with BankWest.
Meanwhile, NAB is partnered with rediATM to provide its customers with fee-free access to more than 3,400 ATMs.
Both banks have handy online services to help you find your nearest ATM, so visit the Commonwealth Bank ATM locator or NAB’s Find a location or service tool for more details on where you can withdraw funds without being slugged with fees.
Number of branches
Do you prefer the convenience and face-to-face contact of doing your banking at your local branch? Whether opening a new account, making a deposit or withdrawal, or simply seeking advice on a financial matter, there are plenty of everyday banking tasks you can perform by visiting a branch if you prefer.
NAB and CommBank both operate extensive branch networks across Australia. CommBank holds a significant advantage with 1,131 branches, while NAB has 748 branch locations Australia-wide. The table below shows a state-by-state breakdown of each bank’s points of presence that offer a branch level of service.
*Table taken from Australian Prudential Regulation Authority publication Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions Points of Presence, June 2016.
Of course, the true level of a bank’s convenience is determined by the number of branches it has close to you. Both CommBank and NAB offer handy online tools to help you find your nearest branch, so use these services for a clearer picture of which bank has the strongest presence in your area.
There’s no easy answer to the question of which bank is better for savers, NAB or Commonwealth Bank. As the above comparisons show, the right bank for you will depend on your personal situation – the type of account you’re looking for, the interest rates and special offers available, and even where you live.
So before you choose NAB, Commonwealth Bank or any other bank to handle your savings or transaction account, compare the products and services on offer from each bank. This will help you make an informed decision about which bank is right for you.