When you're looking for a saver account, you pay attention to the interest rate first of all, as this determines how much of a return you'll get on the money you deposit.
Secondly, you look at the features and perks that the account offers, as well as any rules that might apply to your handling of the account. Ideally, you want a good rate of interest that's fairly fuss-free. If you're wondering what the conditions might be, examples include having to deposit a minimum amount each month in order to earn a bonus interest rate. There may also be restrictions on the number of withdrawals you can make each month before losing your bonus rate.
It can be hard to find the right balance between an attractive interest rate and easy-going rules (or even none at all). Generally speaking, if you want fewer conditions, you might have to cop a lower interest rate.
There are lots of saver products on the market right now, so the best thing to do is to compare your savings account options to filter through the dozens of savings accounts out there to find the best one for you.
CommBank GoalSaver details at a glance
Commonwealth Bank, or CommBank, has the popular GoalSaver savings account, which offers a fairly competitive interest rate.
As with a lot of bonus savings accounts, the total interest rate is split into a base interest rate, and a bonus interest rate if certain criteria is met. Luckily, CBA's criteria is pretty straightforward in that you only need to grow your savings balance each month. The downside is, the base interest rate is a lot lower, meaning if you need to dip into your savings, you might sacrifice a lot of interest that month.
Another bonus too is that the top interest rate is available on large balances - it'll apply on balances over $1 million. Many other banks' top savings account rates have relatively low maximum balances of $50,000 or $100,000 for example.
Another option through CBA is the NetBank Saver. The NetBank Saver account rules and interest rates tend to be similar to the GoalSaver, but there's no minimum deposit requirement. It's also an introductory savings account, offering the top interest rate for up to five months.
If you have a lot of money to invest, then Commonwealth Bank's GoalSaver might appeal to you. However, if you look further afield, you might find higher interest rates.
CBA's GoalSaver compared to other accounts
CommBank vs Westpac
The Westpac Life product could be considered GoalSaver's closest competitor. Like CBA, to attain the top rate you simply need to grow your balance. The base interest rate also tends to be more generous so you aren't penalised as heavily if you fail to meet the criteria.
However, the linked Westpac Choice transaction account charges a $5 monthly fee unless you deposit at least $2,000 a month, you're a tertiary student or you're under 30.
Westpac also has a special Life interest rate for 18-29 year olds, but the conditions are a little more onerous, and it has a deposit cap of $30,000.
CommBank vs NAB
NAB's Reward Saver account tends to feature similar interest rates to CBA's GoalSaver, but the conditions to get there are slightly different. With NAB you must make a deposit before the second-last banking day each month, and make no withdrawals. The top savings account rate applies only to balances up to $50,000.
CommBank vs ANZ
ANZ has two distinct branches with its savings accounts, the regular bank, and ANZ Plus. ANZ Plus is a digital-only offering and must be accessed through the ANZ Plus App.
ANZ Plus offers a competitive interest rate, and no conditions that need to be met. The maximum balance is $250,000 - after that a much lower interest rate applies on the WHOLE balance. So you effectively get penalised if you have hefty sums in the account.
CommBank vs Macquarie
Macquarie offers a very streamlined approach, with one main savings account. It offers an introductory rate with no conditions attached. The intro period is four months, and the interest is fixed. That means if interest rates go up, your account rate stays the same as when you opened the account. After that, a lower ongoing variable rate applies.
The maximum deposit is $250,000 to attain the full rate, after which lower interest rates apply.
CommBank vs ME
ME Bank's Online Savings Account offers savers a bonus rate with some conditions to get there. They will need to link a transaction account and make four tap-and-go purchases a month (settled). The bonus interest applies up to $250,000.
The base interest rate is next to nothing - like a lot of savings accounts - so you will need to make sure you fulfil the criteria every month to get the top rate. You can withdraw as much as you like without losing your interest rate.
As ME Bank is now owned by Bank of Queensland, it shares an ADI. This means if you have money in a BOQ account, both balances will go towards the $250,000 guarantee.
CommBank vs UBank
UBank claims to be Australia's first fully-digital bank. This means the experience is largely app/online based, and branchless.
None of UBank's savers charge account-keeping fees and you can open any of these accounts - or link an transaction account in a matter of minutes.
The UBank USaver account offers savers an attractive bonus rate and relatively few conditions to get there. All you have to do to attain the top rate is deposit $200 a month from an external source. The base interest rate tends to be much lower, however, so if you fail to deposit this amount, you will get barely any interest that month.
UBank is owned by NAB, and they both share an ADI. This means if you have money in a NAB account it will count towards the $250,000 guarantee as well.
CommBank vs ING
Made popular by The Barefoot Investor, ING's Savings Maximiser consistently has one of the highest interest rates in the market, but has some conditions to get there.
To get the top rate, savers will need to deposit at least $1,000 a month and make five settled card transactions in the linked Everyday Account. They will also need to grow the Savings Maximiser balance every month.
The highest interest rate applies to balances up to $100,000, after which a lower rate of interest applies.
The ING product is distinct in the market in that by fulfilling this criteria, savers also get some bonus perks. First, the everyday account will attract zero foreign transaction fees, which can be handy if buying online overseas, or while travelling. And second, ING does not charge any ATM fees and will refund any host ATM fees from around the world. This can be handy if you need cash in a pinch, whether you're in a random Sydney pub or in Sao Paulo.
It's not always about the Big Four banks
The Big Four banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB, have dominated the Australian banking scene for decades but in recent years, they haven't always offered the highest interest rates. They don't necessarily need to compete for business as their existing customers often choose to open savings accounts and term deposits with them. This is often easier than going to an entirely new provider because they already have a relationship with the bank.
As detailed above and in our comparison tables, there are many banks out there offering competitive products. While it could be most convenient to keep all your banking in one place, if you go further afield, you might find a better interest rate or other features that suit you.
All banks are covered under the Financial Claims Scheme
There may also be concerns about the safety and security of online-only and digital banks. However the good news is that all Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs) are covered under the banking regulator's $250,000 deposit guarantee. This is also called the Financial Claims Scheme.
If your institution in question offers a bonafide savings account, then it's covered. This means that in the extremely unlikely event the bank folds, you can get your money back up to this amount.
This is $250,000 per ADI licence, meaning if you had a million dollars, you could stretch it evenly across four different banks and you'd be covered for every dollar. On the other hand, quite a few smaller digital banks are owned by larger incumbent banks, and they tend to share an ADI - in this case, balances across trading names contribute to the singular $250,000 cap.
A full list of institutions can be found on the APRA website.