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All Your Questions About Savings Accounts, Answered

Need-to-know information about choosing and using the right savings account.

November 2020 – 7 minute read

Key takeaways from this article:

  • The importance of savings accounts
  • Types of savings accounts available
  • Different types of interest explained
  •  Setting savings goals


Everybody’s got to start their savings journey somewhere, so it stands to reason you’ve probably got a few questions about how savings work (and how they can work for you).

From picking the right savings account to understanding financial lingo, we’ve compiled all the info you’ll need to make the most of your hard-earned cash.

What exactly is a savings account?   

Let’s get back to basics – because sometimes a little refresher is the best place to start. Your everyday transactions account is the one you use to deposit your salary and withdraw your cash whenever you need to pay the rent, bills or go shopping. Generally, you don’t earn interest on your transaction account.

A savings account, however, is where you stash your cash you don’t want to spend right now and the bank generally rewards you with interest for saving. Whether you’re saving for some new shoes, a holiday, a house deposit, or just in case, a savings account could help you reach your goals sooner.

What are the different types of savings accounts?

Generally speaking, a savings account is a great way to kick-start the journey to achieving your savings goals, whatever you’re working towards.

But not all savings accounts are created equal. There are some different options you can use to ensure you’re best placed to achieve those goals:

1. Short-term savings accounts

Short-term savings accounts are great for those things you need to do in the immediate future, like parking cash between big purchases, because they reward you with a high introductory interest rate. That means you’ll get bang for the bucks you’ve stashed away for a short period of time.

2. Mid-to-long-term savings accounts

Mid-to-long-term savings accounts are generally better for goals you’ll be working towards for a longer period of time – like travel, a home, or a rainy day fund. You may earn bonus interest for meeting certain criteria, such as making regular contributions.

What are the different types of interest rates?

1. Introductory rate

The introductory rate is a one-off interest rate offered when you open a savings account, making it great for meeting those short-term needs like parking cash between bigger purchases. It only lasts for a set period of time (generally a few months), but lets you make as many withdrawals as you like during this time without the introductory rate being affected. Keep in mind that the introductory rate is generally only offered to new customers, so you’ll only be able to take advantage of it once.

2. Standard variable base rate

A ‘base rate’ is the guaranteed interest you’ll earn so long as that account is open. Look for an account that still pays a decent base rate for those months when you may not be able to meet the bonus interest criteria.

3. Variable bonus rate

The bonus rate is the additional interest you earn when you meet certain criteria, like growing your balance by a minimum amount on a monthly basis. Think of it a reward rate for regular savings habits (and consider setting up automatic transfers so you don’t miss out!).

The Westpac Life savings account has a competitive base rate and lets you earn a sweet bonus just for growing your balance by any amount – yes, even by $0.01 – each month. This means you’re basically making extra money for little effort.

4. Variable interest rate

A variable interest rate is a fluctuating rate indexed on an underlying market rate.

How many savings goals should I have, exactly?  

We all have different savings goals. Some may be as small as a weekend getaway while others might be as big as a home deposit. Whatever your goals, it helps to separate them into long-term and short-term buckets. Not only does this organise your savings in a more effective, visual way, it allows you to gain a better understanding of how much cash you need to put aside to reach them.

To make it even easier, look for a savings account that comes with the ability to set and save multiple goals within the one account – not only can you save yourself the hassle of managing several different savings accounts, it’ll also be easier to meet the bonus interest criteria on just the one  account. The Westpac Life account allows for up to six goals with just the one account. You can name each goal and even set the amount you’d like to save for, and you can do it all in the one account.

So, what does that all mean?

The key is to find a savings account that gives you a competitive interest rate and eligibility criteria that’s achievable for you. If you’re aged 18-29, the Westpac Life savings account offers a 5.2% p.a. variable interest rate on savings up to $30k*.

You can reap the benefits of that interest rate by growing your balance by as little as $0.01 per month and spending just five times per month on your debit card linked to your Westpac Choice account.

You may find these useful

Everything you ever wanted to know about savings goals

Let’s be real: most of us find it tricky to save. If you don’t know where to start or if you want to take your savings game to the next level, you’re not alone.

Questions to ask when saving for your first home

It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make and one that will change your life. So it’s normal to have a few questions about how everything works.

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Before making a decision about any of our products or services, please read all the terms and conditions and consider whether the product or service is right for you. Fees and charges apply and may change.


Fees and charges apply. Read the product Terms and Conditions and consider whether the product is right for you. This information is general in nature and does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account.


* Total variable interest: total variable interest consists of two parts: Westpac Life variable interest and Spend&Save bonus variable interest. To earn the total variable interest, you must meet the criteria for both parts.


* Westpac Life variable interest: includes a standard variable base rate plus a variable bonus rate. To earn the variable bonus interest you must make a deposit to your Westpac Life account, ensure the account balance is higher at the end than the beginning of the month and keep the account balance above $0. Interest is calculated on the daily balance of your Westpac Life account and paid on the last business day of the month.  


Spend&Save bonus variable interest:
  • You must be aged 18-29 with a Westpac Life and a Westpac Choice account – both in the same name. Joint accounts are not eligible.
  • If you have multiple Westpac Life or Choice accounts, only the earliest opened account is eligible.
  • You must make 5 eligible purchases with the debit card linked to your Westpac Choice account and have these settled (not pending) within a calendar month. The following transactions are ineligible: ATM transactions, PayID, BPAY, EFTPOS cash-out only transactions, direct debits and paying off a credit card account.
  • For bonus interest qualification, a month is the period from close of business on the last business day of the prior month to close of business on the last business day of the current month. Bonus interest is calculated on the daily balance of your eligible Westpac Life account up to $30,000, and paid to your eligible Westpac Life account by the 20th day of the following month.
  • If your eligible Westpac Life account is closed before 21st day of the following month, the bonus interest will not be paid.
  • Only one Spend&Save bonus interest offer per customer.
  • Offer may be varied or withdrawn at any time in accordance with the Deposit accounts for Personal customers Terms and Conditions. (PDF 621KB)