Best bank in Australia: Big Four VS smaller banks
Is bigger, better? Take a look at the bank accounts offered by the big banks and see how they stack up against others in the market. Let’s see who the best bank in Australia is.
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The Big Four are the largest banks in Australia - Westpac, NAB, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ. But how do they compare to smaller banks? Customers have easier access to ATMs, making it easier to take out cash. They'll also benefit from 24/7 customer service. However you may receive lower interest rates than smaller, more competitive brands. Use our table to see how much interest you could earn. Some of the smaller banks could offer quite strong interest rates.
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See how Big Four bank accounts compare with other Australian banks
Who are the Big 4?
They all offer a wide range of products, including transaction accounts, savings accounts, term deposits, and home loans. They also have the largest ATM network in the country which is handy for getting cash out.
How are they different from each other?
But what's the difference between these four? Here's some points of difference among the Big Four that may help you decide which is right for you.
- CommBank. They've got the largest ATM network in Australia and the largest bank in terms of market capitalisation. They also have the most popular mobile banking app, which is handy to help manage money goals.
- NAB. They've got the only bank account out of the Big Four that doesn't charge monthly account keeping bills (Correct as of January 2020).
- Westpac. They have the largest overseas ATM network, allowing you to access more than 50,000 global ATMs fee-free through the Global ATM Alliance. This could be a great option if you're a regular traveller.
- ANZ. First Big Four bank to offer Apple Pay, although all Big Four banks now offer this feature.
Should I go with the Big Four?
That all depends on what you're looking for. If you want easy access to your money, 24/7 customer service or competitive home loan rates, the Big Four could be a good option for you.
But if you're more concerned about interest rates on your savings accounts and term deposits, you may be better off looking at smaller banks. This is because smaller banks are typically more competitive than the larger ones as they're fighting for you as a customer.
What are the benefits of banking with The Big Four?
- More access to your money. By choosing one of The Big Four, you will have easy access to your savings through their large number of branches, ATM networks and online banking. Our research shows that The Big Four currently hold the biggest ATM networks in Australia.
- 24/7 customer service. Depending on The Big Four bank you choose, you're likely to have access to customer service 24/7 if you have a financial emergency.
- Easily link your Big Four bank account. If your everyday account is already with one of The Big Four, you'll find it easy to link to other savings accounts (assuming you can link to any Australian financial institution).
What are the risks of banking with one of The Big Four?
- Choosing a brand. The Big Four are all well-known brands in Australia, but you should still look at other banks when making your comparisons. This helps to ensure that your savings are working as hard as possible towards your financial future.
- You are probably receiving lower interest rates. The Big Four have a reputation for having the lowest interest rates in the market for their savings accounts. You can compare some of the best high interest savings accounts here.
- Less competitive. Due to their popularity, The Big Four banks are not always as competitive with their rates as smaller banks.
The Big Four’s market share
Commonwealth Bank currently has the largest market share out of The Big Four while NAB currently has the smallest market share. Since The Big Four hold such a large market share, borrowers tend to think it's safer to apply for a loan with one of them, or to deposit their savings with one of these banks. Even if you feel more comfortable with keeping your savings with one of The Big Four, keep in mind that most banks in Australia are covered by the Government Guarantee, insuring your savings up to $250,000 per person, per institution should there be a financial crisis.
|Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)||$149.11 billion|
|Westpac Banking Corporation.||$90.65 billion|
|Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)||$72.68 billion|
|National Australia Bank (NAB)||$75.8 billion|
*As of January 2020. Source: ASX200 List
How to compare Big Four bank savings accounts
When you are looking at savings accounts offered by The Big Four, make sure you take the following features into account:
The interest rate
Interest rates will help determine how quickly your savings can grow. Look at the base variable rate of the account to determine which ones have the best value. With The Big Four, each one offers a savings account that pays bonus interest for meeting specific terms. Check this rate as well, and add it to the base to see how much interest you will really be earning.
|Big Four savings account||Savings account variable interest rate||Account conditions|
|Westpac Life Account for 18-29s||Maximum variable rate of 3% p.a.||For customers aged between 18-29 each month you grow your balance (excl. interest) and make 5+ settled debit card purchases from your linked Westpac Choice account, up to a balance of $30,000.|
|ANZ Online Saver||Maximum variable rate of 0.3%||First 3 months only, then reverting to 0.05%|
|NAB Reward Saver||Maximum variable interest rate of 0.3%||Must make no withdrawals and at least one deposit a month.|
|CommBank NetBank Saver||Maximum variable interest rate of 0.4% p.a.||First 5 months only, reverting to 0.05%|
Bonus rate conditions (if there are any)
The terms for earning the bonus rate should play a big role in the account you choose because if you don't meet them, you will only earn the base rate for that month. For example, with Westpac, you need to make at least a $50 deposit and have no withdrawals to get the bonus rate, while CommBank requires that you grow your savings by at least $200 but allow one withdrawal. Since the base rates are typically very low, you will want to ensure that you are able to meet these terms before investing your savings.
24/7 online banking
The Big Four banks all have Internet and mobile access, so it comes down to who offers the simplest online or mobile banking experience. CommBank's NetBank has arguably been voted the best. Look into the apps as well to ensure that they are compatible with your mobile device if you like banking on the go.
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