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Banking in Australia FAQs

A man is sitting on his couch at home looking at and tapping his phone. He’s wearing glasses and a striped top, and there’s a white bookshelf in the background.

Learning about banking and different types of accounts in a foreign country can seem like a daunting task. That’s why we’ve put together this handy summary of frequently asked questions about banking in Australia. Whether you’re planning to relocate to Australia, or are already here and looking to establish yourself, we’ve got you sorted.

Key tips for banking in Australia

  • Transaction (or everyday) accounts and savings accounts are the two main types of bank accounts in Australia

  • Transaction accounts (often called checking accounts or current accounts in other countries) give you access to your cash and will most likely be the account your employer will pay your wages into, if you’re working 

  • Westpac Choice is our everyday bank account and is packed with features to help you bank with ease

  • Once you arrive in Australia, you can open a Westpac Choice account online or in a local branch in just a few minutes. If you open online, you may still be required to visit a branch to verify your ID

  • You can access your money via a linked debit card, digital debit card, cash withdrawals at an ATM, or on your wearable device

  • A savings account is designed to help you save, reach your financial goals, or look after your savings.

What are the main types of bank accounts? 

The two main types of bank accounts in Australia are transaction accounts and savings accounts.

What are transaction accounts? 

In Australia, the account you use to manage your day-to-day banking is called a transaction or everyday account. In other countries it might be known as a current account or checking account. Transaction accounts are designed to give you access to your money. 


You can transfer money in and out of your transaction account, set up automatic bill payments and, if you’re working, it’ll be the account your employer will most likely pay your wages into. You’ll also use this account to take care of day-to-day spending and manage your expenses. 


Westpac is Australia’s first bank, and has a transaction bank account – Westpac Choice is our transaction account and is packed with features to help you bank with ease.

What are savings accounts?

As the name suggests, savings accounts are designed to help you save money, reach your savings goals, or look after your savings. 


Many savings accounts pay interest on your money. Some accounts will also pay you bonus interest if you meet certain conditions, such as making a minimum deposit each month. 

Different types of savings account options offered by banks: 

Bonus saver accounts offer bonus interest rates if you meet certain conditions, such as making regular deposits and not withdrawing funds during a specific period. Some accounts with bonus incentives provide a higher interest rate when these criteria are met. 


Term deposit is a type of savings account with which you lock in your money for a set period – a fixed term. In return, you receive a guaranteed interest rate. However, your funds are not accessible during the term. 


Before selecting a savings account it’s important to determine your financial goals. Whether you’re saving for particular purchases, an emergency fund, or long-term financial security, your goals will influence the type of account and the strategy you should use to reach them.

Can I open a bank account before arriving in Australia? 

No. You will need to be in Australia to open an Australian bank account with Westpac. There are, however, some steps you can take before you leave your country to ensure you’re ready. 

Organise your financial affairs

Before you move to Australia ask your existing bank how to manage your accounts while you’re overseas and cancel any direct payments for services you no longer need, such as utilities.

Identification documents

Ensure you have a valid passport, and the expiry date aligns to any visa requirements. A birth certificate, driver’s licence and passport will all be useful for identification purposes. 

How do I open a bank account in Australia? 

Once you arrive in Australia, you can open a Westpac Choice account online or in a local branch in just a few minutes. If you open online, you may still be required to visit a branch to verify your ID.​


For a list of documents that we accept, refer to  Identification Checklist. (PDF 657KB)


What identification do I need to open an account? 

For a list of documents that we accept, refer to Identification Checklist. (PDF 657KB)

How do I access my money?

You can access your money in your transaction account through a linked debit card, ATM cash withdrawals, or using a wearable device. Here's how: 

Linked debit cards

Most transaction accounts in Australia come with a linked debit card. 


When you open a Westpac Choice bank account, you’ll receive a linked Debit Mastercard® that has many of the advantages of a Mastercard credit card. However, the key distinction is that you’ll be using your own money rather than borrowed money that you’ll have to repay later with a credit card. 


With a Debit Mastercard, you have the flexibility to shop online or at any location worldwide where Mastercard is accepted. You can use this physical card for safe online shopping, in-store purchases, or cash withdrawals from ATMs. 

Digital debit card

A digital version of your card is accessible via the Westpac App. It has all the features of your physical card, allowing you to shop online, pay bills, make in-app purchases, set up recurring payments, and add it to your smartphone or watch’s digital wallet to shop in-store. 


You can access your digital card before your physical card arrives in the mail, and you can start using it immediately and with confidence thanks to the dynamic CVC (Card Verification Code), which provides extra security by reducing the risk of fraudulent activity. The dynamic CVC is a temporary code which changes every 24 hours for security purposes. 

Cash withdrawals at an ATM

You may call them money machines, cash machines or automated banking machines. In Australia, we keep it simple and call them ATMs (Automated Teller Machines).


Your debit card is your ticket to accessing your cash at an ATM.


Westpac’s mobile banking app also offers a Cardless Cash1 feature that lets you withdraw cash from select ATMs without needing your physical card. You can also use Cardless Cash to get cash to others by sending them a cash code to use at the Westpac ATM.

Shopping in stores using EFTPOS

Here’s another Aussie acronym to add to your vocabulary – EFTPOS, which stands for Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale. Although not many Aussies know that!


EFTPOS is what allows you to settle bills, or purchase goods or services using a credit or debit card at an EFTPOS terminal. Contactless technology has become the norm with many EFTPOS terminals, allowing you to pay by simply tapping your card to the terminal, no PIN required (for payments under a certain amount).

Wearables and paying on the go

Thanks to a choice of mobile wallets, you can now carry your eligible Westpac cards on your smartphone, or payment wearables such as Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. Whether you’re going for a run, stopping for a coffee, or heading out for the day, you can travel light and still make on-the-go payments.

What is the Westpac mobile banking app?

The Westpac Mobile Banking App – recently named Australia’s top banking app – is more than just a payments tool, it’s a simple way to manage your money on the go. Its dashboard has some useful budgeting tools designed to help you track your spending each month, compare your spending across categories, and follow your financial ‘ins’ and ‘outs’. 

Do all account holders need a Tax File Number?

A tax file number (TFN) is a number issued by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to identify you for tax purposes. When you start a job or open a bank account in Australia, you’ll be asked to supply your TFN. Although you’re not required to provide a TFN to open an Australian bank account, if you don’t provide your TFN, we’re required by law to withhold tax on interest earned.


It is free to apply for a TFN, and you can apply online using Individual Auto Registration (IAR). You’ll need to do this once you’re in Australia. 

Will I need to pay fees?

Fees differ between different banks and financial institutions, and specific accounts have fewer fees and features, so compare accounts, look at interest rates, and do your research. 


The Westpac Choice account has a range of benefits for people who have arrived in Australia in the last 12 months. These include:

$0 Monthly fee 

There are no account-keeping fees or monthly maintenance fees for your first year if you've arrived in Australia within the last 12 months.

$0 international transfer fees

Pay no international transfer fees when you send foreign currency overseas via Online Banking or the Westpac App. 

Fee free ATM usage 

Pay no ATM withdrawal fee at Westpac Group ATMs in Australia, and overseas through our Global ATM Alliance. 

To sum up

Whether you’re in the planning stages of moving or are already in Australia, understanding banking and types of bank accounts can make the process much more straightforward. A transaction account and a savings account are the most popular options for people who have newly arrived, providing essential financial tools to help you settle into your new life in Australia. 

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. 


1. Cardless Cash is available on eligible Westpac everyday accounts with a linked debit card. Limit of 3 withdrawal transactions per day applies, subject to $500 daily withdrawal limit and $1,000 weekly withdrawal limit. Only available at Westpac Group ATMs or select Westpac Group partner ATMs in Australia. To access Cardless Cash on your mobile you must be registered to use Online Banking and download the Westpac App. You'll also need the Westpac App (version 6.1 or above) installed on your iPhone. From 19th May 2024, you must be 18 years or older to use Cardless Cash.