Fee-free bank accounts
A fee-free bank account can actually mean multiple things. For instance, it could refer to an everyday transaction account that comes with $0 monthly fee, or an account that waives its recurring charges as long as you deposit a certain amount each month, or one that does not charge extra money for ATM and over-the-counter transactions.
As there isn’t a standard fee-free bank account across all banks it’s important to understand exactly what fee-free offers are included in the account and if there are any conditions that you’ll need to fulfil to waive certain charges.
What are the different types of fee-free options available on bank accounts?
Here’s a quick look at the various types of bank charges that can be waived by signing up for a fee-free account.
No monthly account fee.
Many banks offer fee-free everyday transaction accounts that come with no fixed monthly account service fee whatsoever. There are other banks that offer to waive the account keeping fee if you deposit a certain amount (usually $2000) into the account every month. If you can make this your salary account then this is an easy condition to fulfil.
No ATM withdrawal fees.
Here in Australia, if you use an ATM which is not part of your bank’s network you generally will be required to pay an out-of-network withdrawal fee. This is usually $2.50 but can be as high as $5 or more. If you withdraw cash frequently via the ATM, it’s a good idea to look for a bank account that has a wide network of fee-free ATMs such as one of the Big Four banks or choose an account like the Orange Everyday account from ING that you can use at any ATM Australia-wide fee free.
No assisted banking fees.
If you prefer face to face banking over online banking, it makes sense to look for a bank account that does not charge any fee for accessing assisted banking services like over the counter withdrawals, deposits and telephone banking.
No foreign exchange fees.
With most bank accounts, you will be charged a foreign exchange fee for every international transaction or withdrawal. This fee is usually around 3% of the transaction amount. If you travel frequently or shop at online stores it is a good idea to find a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees like the Citibank Plus Transaction Account.
For more information on the different bank charges, how they can add up to your monthly expenses and how to avoid them, check out our detailed guide on bank charges.
Which banks offer fee-free accounts?
Like we mentioned above, most major banks have at least one fee-free bank account - while some have no fixed monthly fee at all, others offer to waive the additional charges under certain conditions. In fact, at the time of writing, of the 62 bank account providers in Mozo’s database, 90% offer at least one bank account with no monthly service fee. Here are examples of some of the fee-free bank accounts, both with and without conditions:
The big four:
NAB Classic Banking Account: Out of the big four banks, NAB is the only one that offers an account with no monthly fee at all
ANZ Access Advantage: Waives the $5 monthly fee if you deposit a minimum of $2000 every month
Commonwealth Bank - Smart Access: Waives $4 monthly fee if you deposit a minimum of $2000 every month
Westpac Choice: Waives $5 monthly fee if you deposit a minimum of $2000 every month
ING Direct Orange Everyday: No monthly fees plus free use of any ATM in Australia when you deposit your pay of $1,000+ each month and 2% cashback on Visa payWave purchases under $100 when you deposit $1,000 per month
ME Everyday Transaction Account: No monthly account fees plus free access at any ME or Westpac Group Australian ATMs or refunds on fees incurred at all other Australian ATMS within 30 days
How can I choose a good fee-free bank account?
While it’s an advantage to have an everyday transaction bank account that does not charge monthly account keeping fee, or have conditions for not paying a fee, you’ll need to look at the overall combination of services offered in order to determine whether the account is a good fit for you. For instance, a bank account that comes with no monthly fee, may have higher fee for overseas transactions. While this might work for some people who won’t use their card overseas, if you are a frequent traveller this could add up to a substantial sum over a year.
There are over 90 bank accounts in our database and we know that it can be difficult choosing between them. This is why each year, Mozo’s data experts crunch the numbers to find Australia's best transaction accounts for our Mozo’s Experts Choice Awards. We list accounts that come with no fees for everyday banking including, no monthly account fee, no EFTPOS transaction or online transfer fees, no ATM fees for in-network transactions and no minimum balance requirements and a fee free debit card.
What savings can I make with a fee-free bank account?
Generally, a fee-free bank account comes with no monthly account fee or waives the charges if you make bank deposits of a specified amount into the account every month. Given that monthly account fees are generally between $4-$6, you could make an annual saving of between $48-$72 with a fee-free account. Similarly, say you sign up with an account with no monthly fee and unlimited free ATM access, in addition to this saving you’d also avoid spending $2.50 withdrawal fee for using out of network ATMs.
What if I manage most of my banking online?
Doing your banking online is usually fee free, and you don’t need to worry about things like assisted or over the counter banking fees because you would not need to visit the branch and can access your money 24/7 on the go.
This means you can check your balance, transfer money across accounts, pay off your credit card bill and schedule monthly payments.
What are the other important features of a fee free bank account?
Just like with a regular bank account you'll want to ensure that the fee-free bank account comes with the following features:
- An EFTPOS/ATM card which lets you access your money at ATMs, EFTPOS machines and for making purchases at stores
- A linked Debit Card, which allows you make tap-and-go for purchases under $100 and is accepted online or overseas
- A wide network of ATMs that allows for fee-free withdrawals
- Online and mobile banking facilities
How can I apply for a fee-free bank account?
After you’ve had a careful look at the different fee-free bank accounts and compared the various bank charges and features for different accounts using Mozo’s comparison table, you simply need to click on the ‘Go to site’ button to reach the bank’s website directly. You can then kick off the application process, which is generally quite quick and straightforward. The online application form will ask you to enter some details such as your contact information, identity proofs and employment details to process your request.
*Bank fees and charges mentioned here are accurate at the time of writing