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Relocating to Australia is expensive and no end of people will tell you that the cost of living down under is high. All this talk of money and budgeting means that you need to find the right bank and products to manage your finances during and after your move to Australia.

What did we do?

When planning our relocation to Australia we discussed opening an Australian bank account whilst we were in the UK, with a view to transferring funds in a lump sum before moving over. We quickly learnt about the big four banks in Aus. You hear about the “Big Four” often in Australian media to describe the four largest banks by market share in the country. Here they are;

  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
  • Commonwealth Bank
  • National Australia Bank (NAB)
  • Westpac

We spent a few evenings in the UK looking at each of these banks and reading their account opening instructions, but in the end we couldn’t decide who to bank with. Our lack of decision making meant we simply did nothing and left the UK with all our money sitting in one UK account, and a few debit and credit cards.

During our first weeks in Australia we got away with using our UK debit card; it helped that we had a Nationwide (UK building society) debit card which, at the time, had low fees on international transactions (they don’t offer such low fees today). We were able to manage our finances and access cash for things like the deposit on our rental property and our son’s preschool fees by using ATM machines to draw our maximum daily limit.

The reason for describing what we did is to demonstrate that you don’t HAVE to open a bank account before moving to Australia. However, in order to research this article we’ve taken another look at the big four banks, and now that we understand Australian banking a little better we feel it would have been far more simple, and less work and stress for us in terms of visiting ATM machines, had we decided on a bank before relocating to Sydney.

What about Australian bank account fees?

Moving from the UK one of the things that worried us the most was the prospect of paying account fees for our Australian bank account. British consumers aren’t used to paying fees for routine tasks like writing a cheque or swiping a debit card. In Australia, fees for simple banking tasks used to be standard; these days more and more banks are offering fee-free accounts, but we didn’t know this when we moved over.

Which Australian bank do we recommend?

Of the big four banks we would recommend the Commonwealth Bank to families and individuals relocating to Australia. The “Moving to Australia” information provided on their website and by their International Customer Services team is comprehensive. They offer their service in a number of different languages including English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian Bahasa, Hindi, Urdu, Fijian Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese.

You can open your Commonwealth Bank account before leaving your country of origin, arrange for your funds to be transferred and visit a Commonwealth Bank when you first arrive, wherever you are in Australia, in order to present proofs of ID and collect bank cards etc.

The Commonwealth Bank has more than 1,000 branches and 4,000 ATMs throughout Australia. We know through personal experience that their ATMs are always easy to find. Their Internet Banking service is regarded as one of the best in Australia and is available on PC, phone and tablet devices. Commonwealth Bank recently launched the first social payment app in Australia, permitting mates to quickly transfer funds to each other via their iPhones.

Commonwealth Bank – no fees

We’ve already said that when selecting a bank account in Australia it’s important to check the standard fees charged. Commonwealth Bank’s Everyday Smart Access account has no monthly account fees providing you deposit $2,000 per month (which you will if you’re transferring funds and then working in Australia); this includes unlimited free electronic transactions -EFTPOS, ATM, online or automated phone banking. If you’re moving to Australia without work, Commonwealth Bank are offering Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers a three month grace period on banking fees.

**If Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers can’t deposit $2,000 per month Commonwealth Bank won’t charge fees on their Everyday Smart Access account for the first three months.**

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How to open a bank account in Australia

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To make it easier for Mum’s gone 2 Aus readers to open a bank account in Australia, we have partnered with Commonwealth Bank and can arrange for a customer service representative to contact you wherever you are in the world. Simply complete the form on the left and you will be contacted within 48 hours. Your Australian bank account can be open within minutes. You can complete the form if you’re already in Australia too!

Your information is sent only to the Commonwealth Bank, we won’t give it to anyone else. If you open an account Mum will receive a small referral fee which helps towards the running of this site. Thank you for using this form and supporting Mum’s gone 2 Aus.

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