Three reasons you should be unhappy with your bank account

Graham Cooke 23 June 2016

How often do you think about your bank account? I’m guessing not that much.

Most people see their bank account as nothing more than the place they keep their cash. But your bank account could be doing a lot more for you than it currently is. Here’s three reasons why you should be thinking about it.


You’re probably sick of paying ATM fees.

In many countries, citizens can withdraw cash from any ATM for free. But in Australia, you’ll be hit with a hefty $2-$3 fee if you withdraw cash from any ATM that's not part of your bank’s network. If you were withdrawing $50 each time, that’s 5% of the total transaction. If you were getting $200 cash each week and half of your withdrawals were from “foreign” ATMs, it would add up to a whopping $260 a year for a service most Europeans get for free.

But… you can easily avoid these fees. There are several bank accounts on the market that allow you to take cash out from any Australian ATM – including non-bank ATMs in pubs and clubs – for free. You’ll still be charged the fee when you use an ATM, but it will be immediately refunded back to your account. Look for banks and accounts that offer this features, such as those available with ING DIRECT and ME Bank.

You’re probably sick of paying account maintenance fees.

The Reserve Bank of Australia published a study last week showing that Australian households spend an average of $112 each year on bank fees for transaction accounts. Bank account maintenance fees are a major component of this cost, often costing around $5 per month. That works out to be $60 a year.

Most banks will waive this fee if you have a balance over $2,000, but what if you could forget about it entirely? Several banks offer transaction account products with no maintenance fees, no matter how low your balance is, including NAB, HSBC, Bankwest, Citi and ANZ.

You’re probably not receiving any cash back on you everyday spending.

Paying for things has never been easier. The rise of debit cards (there are now two for every adult in Australia*) and contactless payment has lead to a near-cashless society. The average Australian now spends $458 per month on their debit card. How would you like to get some of that money back?

Some banks are now offering a kickback for customers who use contactless payments for everyday purchases, as long as you meet some basic conditions. For example, the ING DIRECT Orange Everyday account offers 2% back on every purchase under $100 as long as you get your wages paid into your current account. This amounts to $109 per year.

Combining these three features could net you an easy $481 extra in your pocket every year. What’s your bank account doing for you?

*source analysis of data from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Graham Cooke's Insights Blog examines issues affecting the Australian consumer. It appears regularly on

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