A checking account is just like any everyday transaction account that lets you make bank deposits as well as withdrawals. The added feature with a checking account is that apart from managing your funds at the branch, at an ATM or online, you also have a cheque book, which enables you to make payments to businesses or people from your account.
In Australia, checking accounts are not as common as they are in places like the United States and in parts of Asia. Most bank accounts will not automatically include a cheque book, and those with cheque facilities will usually have fees. It is also less common for people to accept payments via personal cheques, as most payments are either made via EFTPOS, BPay, credit card or electronic funds transfer.
Read on as we’ll run you through everything you’ll want to know about getting an everyday bank account for your day to day checking account needs.
Features to look for in an everyday bank account
If you’re looking to set up an everyday bank account similar to a checking account, you should first understand the different features that’ll help you choose the best bank account for your needs. Here are some important specifications that you can keep in mind:
EFTPOS/ debit card.
All bank accounts will come with an EFTPOS or ATM card which enables you to access your money at ATMs and make purchases at stores around Australia.
Some bank accounts also include a Debit Card, which will be linked to the Visa or MasterCard network. With these cards you can make contactless payments for purchases under $100 and use the card wherever Visa or MasterCard is accepted. If you want to check out the best debit cards, take a look at Mozo’s debit card comparison table that lists the different options with their key features.
Extensive ATM network.
There are fees for using out of network ATMs in Australia. So if you use the ATM regularly, you should look for a bank that has a large ATM network or get a bank account that lets you use any ATM without any fee.
No account fees.
Many everyday transaction accounts do not have monthly account keeping fees but sometimes for no monthly account fee lenders impose certain conditions, such as, you may need to deposit a certain amount of money in the account every month.
Optional cheque book.
Many bank accounts will come with the option of having a personal cheque book, which is linked to your account. You may have to pay a fee for this feature and be sure that you allow between 3 - 5 business days for funds to clear from your account for any cheques you write.
While you can use your ATM card overseas, you’ll need to pay a higher fee for this. International ATM fees vary between $3 - $5 for overseas withdrawals. Apart from these charges, you’ll also pay a foreign exchange commission of about 2%- 3% of the transaction amount.
Unfortunately, Australian banks don’t pay any interest on everyday bank accounts. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a linked savings account.
Online banking gives you all the flexibility of a checking account without the need to write out cheques and keep paper ledgers of your income and expenses. All banks will have an Online banking option which you can use to transfer funds, pay your bills, check your balance and even lock a lost debit card. Also check if the account comes with a mobile banking app.
Where to get a bank account
Now that you’re up to speed on bank account terminology and know that instead of a checking account, here in Australia, you’ll be looking to open an everyday bank account you now need to find the best bank for you.
The good news is that you’ll be able to apply for an everyday bank account from most major banks in Australia online. Our site also makes finding the right bank account easy. For a better insight into the financial providers that you can choose from and their specific offers, take a look at Mozo’s detailed list of bank account providers or why not check out our Experts Choice Award winners. Each year our team of money experts review bank accounts in Australia and award the ones which offer the best value.
Another good source for unbiased opinions on different financial providers are bank account reviews from the Mozo community. Here, you’ll find reviews from real customers who’ve given the inside story on their bank, credit union or building society on everything from sneaky fees to customer service.