The banking industry believes that banking should be affordable for all Australians. Banks offer basic bank accounts with no account keeping fees and free monthly statements to suit disadvantaged and low income Australians.
What is a basic bank account?
A basic bank account is a transaction account that has fee-free features and provides eligible customers with an account they can receive their government benefit payment into and access free banking transactions. The following have been identified in an ABA review of banking offerings as commonly-recognised account features for a basic bank account:
- No account keeping fees: Customers are not charged an account keeping fee no matter how they use the account.
- Free monthly statements: Customers are not charged a fee for receiving a monthly account statement, if they chose this frequency. In addition, customers can choose to receive the statement electronically (via email if this option is offered), in hard copy (by mail), or statements can be viewed via Internet or mobile banking.
- No minimum deposit amounts1: Customers do not have to maintain a minimum account balance to open an account.
- The ability to set up and cancel direct debits: Customers can set up and cancel a direct debit with different service providers (such as utilities, insurance companies, etc) for free.
- No overdrawn fees2: Customers will not be charged an overdrawn fee if they make a payment, transfer or a direct debit while there is insufficient or no money in their account (in other words, if their bank account is ‘in arrears’).
- The ability to access a debit card at no extra cost3: If a customer would like a debit card linked to their transaction account (such as a card with a Visa or MasterCard logo), their bank will link one to their account for free. Some banks may restrict eligibility for some types of debit card by age. Some banks may combine the debit card with your ATM card.
Free and unlimited transactions through all of the following banking channels:
- Branch (over-the-counter services)
- Telephone banking
- Internet and mobile banking4
- Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS)
- Bank owned and networked Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) across Australia5
What is the eligibility criteria for a basic bank account?
Generally, to qualify for a basic bank account, a customer will need to hold a Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. If a bank requires a customer to hold a Concession Card or Health Care Card, they will typically require that income support or family assistance payments social security benefits be paid into this account.
Some banks do not have any eligibility criteria and offer a free transaction account to all customers.
Which Australian banks offer basic bank accounts?
Click here to see a list of banks and what they offer.
Where to go for more info
- ASIC’s MoneySmart website provides information and tools to help you make the most of your money. For more information, go to www.moneysmart.gov.au.
- The Department of Human Services’ Financial Information Service (FIS) is an education and information service available to all Australians. While the FIS does not provide financial advice, FIS officers can help you make informed financial decisions. To speak to a FIS officer call 13 23 00 or visit their website.
- Financial Counselling Australia’s ‘Debt Self Help’ assessment tool provides assistance to people that find themselves in financial difficulty and information about how to get back on track with free, independent financial counselling. See their website for more information.
If you feel like you’re losing control of your finances, having trouble repaying a credit card bill or making your home or personal loan repayments, then banks can help. Find out more.
1 Some banks may require a customer to have their government benefit payment paid into this account.
2 Some banks do not allow an account to go into ‘arrears’, which means that if there is not enough money in your account, a payment, transfer, or direct debit will not be processed. However, if your bank does allow these transactions, you will not be charged an overdrawn fee when this happens.
3 A debit card linked to a transaction account comes with EFTPOS, Visa or MasterCard logos. A Visa or MasterCard debit card can be used to make purchases and transact online.
4 Some banks do not currently have mobile banking functionality where a customer can access their account from their smartphone or via an app and their online banking channel is available via Internet banking.
5 If customers choose to use ATMs which are not operated by their bank or part of a networked arrangement in Australia, the customer may have to pay an ATM direct charge (“ATM fee”) to the ATM operator to complete their transaction.