How to compare and choose the right everyday transaction bank account

Your bank account is how you manage your everyday finances, receive your salary or Centrelink benefits, pay bills and withdraw cash from ATMs.

You can’t avoid having an everyday transaction account but you can choose the right one for you, with no fees and all the functionality, apps and features that you need.

Your transaction account will record all your transactions, from the smallest direct debit to your monthly mortgage payment, it’s all there in black and white. This record helps lenders to decide how careful you are with money and it also helps you to keep track of your spending and rein it in if necessary.

What you need to ask yourself when you’re comparing bank accounts

Everyone will have a different ideal or ‘best’ bank account, because everyone has different needs and aims. This is how you find your best account.

What’s your must–have feature?

Almost all transaction accounts come with BPay for paying bills. You might also want an account that’s linked to ApplePay, GooglePay or SamsungPay. You might be drawn to banks with leading phone banking apps, for example, or you might be content with a basic account that simply lets you pay money in, draw money out and make direct debits.

You can even get a transaction account that gives you QFF points.

Are your ideal features worth the fees?

Most bank accounts in Australia charge monthly fees, but they all differ in both size and scope. Account fees are becoming a thing of the past, however, with many banks reducing or waiving them if you deposit a minimum amount every month.

Where are you in life?

Some stages of your life make having a savings account very important. If you can easily link your transaction banking account to your savings account then this makes it easier to save up money.

Do I need a transaction account?

Yes, you need an everyday transaction bank account in Australia.

Looking for a bank account with low or no fees

The first thing you need to do is to head to a trustworthy comparison site. You’ll see in the comparison tool a tab that looks at monthly account fees. You can rank them in terms of ascending or descending amounts and when you see the features the fee gives you, you can decide if it’s worth paying or not. You’re also able to search for fee – free bank accounts as well.

Frequently Asked Questions about transaction bank accounts

Do I have to pay tax on the interest I earn with my account?

You need to declare all interest earned to the ATO, even on your transaction account. The ATO has probably already received information from your bank about your interest earned, so don’t pretend.

There’s been a BPay error on my account, how long will it be before I get a refund?

It can be up to 14 working days for your money to come back to your account as your bank has to contact the merchant and then the merchant has to respond and investigate and deal with the situation.

Can I use an ATM to deposit money?

Not all ATMs accept deposits. Lots of the bigger banks will let you do this. You need to search for deposit ATMs near you before deciding on an account.

Do I need a joint account with my spouse?

No there is no law, rule or requirement for you to share a bank account with your partner or spouse.

But if both of you want a joint account, they can be very handy indeed.

You may have a joint savings account for holidays, for example, or a joint transaction account that you both deposit money into for a joint expense like a mortgage or childcare.

How do I complain if I’m not happy with my bank?

Every bank has its own dispute resolution service and this is where you have to head first if you have a complaint. Mostly, the complaint is resolved and you might even receive a goodwill gesture; however, if you feel your bank hasn’t satisfied your complaint, then you can take it further to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Are there any risks associated with choosing and maintaining a bank account?

There aren’t any huge risks nowadays; even in the case of a bank folding customers are covered by the government’s deposit guarantee. The biggest risks are mainly confined to choosing the wrong sort of account and ending up paying more than you need to in fees.

The other thing to watch out for is choosing a bank account that doesn’t have enough features, or the wrong sort of features for you. You can always migrate to another account or even another bank if you suddenly find your present account doesn’t “do” enough for you.

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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