Student bank account fees & features

With so many banks around, and so many more features, offers and conditions, it's easy enough to feel like a kid in an accountancy store. Here's Mozo's checklist of sweets (and sours!) on offer...

Your student bank account should arrive with:

  • no monthly fees
  • unlimited free online, phone and branch transactions
  • free EFTPOS and BPPAY

But among these jubes, you may find such exotic lollies as:

  • account interest
  • Bank@Post
  • cheque accounts
  • bank cards
  • cash cards
  • debit cards
  • ATM fees & overseas ATMs
  • overdraw charges

Bank account interest — do we care?

Most transaction accounts offer the grand interest rate of 0.01% on your monthly balance (or sometimes nothing at all). Which means you're more likely to find savings in your armpit than in an Australian student bank account.

  • STUDENT BANK ACCOUNT TIP 1: Keep your cash in a linked student savings account with instant transfers.
    (Let's see some sweet high interest accounts, then.)

Bank@Post — has the branch fallen off its perch?

Australia Post now provides various banking services for most major banks and financial institutions, so if your nearest branch is miles away, or you're allergic to bank clerks, Bank@Post could be your answer for depositing cheques, paying bills, etc.

Checking accounts — banking from yesteryear

There's nothing like signing your name with a flourish, ripping out a cheque, perhaps waving it a little in front of the payee before handing it over. Classy.

You can forget the separate cheque account nowadays. However, some student accounts offer checking facilities.

  • STUDENT BANK ACCOUNT TIP 2: Chequebooks can come with added fees — so don't bother unless you're in regular need of them (or are happy to pay for the pose).

Bank cards, cash cards, debit cards — what is this, a Hallmark convention?

  • Bank cards are your ATM/EFTPOS thingumijigs that should come standard with any transaction account.
  • Cash cards are a snazzier way of saying 'bankcard'.
  • Debit cards are a different beast entirely — they function like credit cards, but spend your savings rather than racking up debt. In fact, you can use debit cards to spend your transaction account balance.
  • Many student bank accounts will offer a linked debit card for free, to facilitate your spending needs.

ATM fees & overseas ATMs

Most student transaction accounts charge for foreign ATM withdrawals, and while they brag about their large networks and you always plan to use only the free machines, there will inevitably come a time - or many times - when you simply need to use the nearest machine. And that's when you'll get charged upwards of $2 for the privilege.

Note that some student bank accounts have wider fee-free networks than others, and handy ATM-finder devices.

As for overseas ATMs, you're always going to get slugged — but it's worth asking how much.

Overdraw charges

The subject of increasing debate, steep penalties of $30 or more are incurred when you run your student money account out of moolah.

  • STUDENT BANK ACCOUNT TIP 3: Keep a record of direct debits expected for each month: credit cards, utilities, etc. Set up an electronic reminder ahead of the debit.

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