How to Open an Australian Bank Account Online (Non-Residents and New Arrivals)

About Author: Hi, I’m Quinn Askeland. In 2014, I started Transumo after experiencing expensive, slow, and frustrating international money transfers and payments through banks. Once I discovered how to manage my own international currencies much better, I became driven to help others improve their transfers and payments. Fortunately, today, there are many excellent options. See My Full Bio.

Are you a non-resident or new arrival to Australia?

The challenge is you can’t do anything in Australia without a Bank Account.

The good news is it is relatively easy to open an account online – some even while you are overseas.

But they are all quite different.

The key is to match you personal circumstances with right one, because they all have strengths and weaknesses.

There are also neobanks which can be a great option over traditional banks. And you don’t need to be in the county at any point.

First we will explain the big four traditional high street bank accounts followed by the digital (or neo) banking alternatives.

We will also will discuss the documentation needed for the different options and the pros and cons of each option.

Let’s dive in.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and savings on transfers if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.

1. Opening an account with a traditional Australian bank

The most overseas friendly banks in Australia are the big boys in town including Commonwealth Bank (or “CommBank”), Australia and New Zealand bank (“ANZ”), National Australia Bank (“Nab”), and Westpac.

Of these, Commonwealth Bank is the only one that lets you open an account before arriving (more on that below). However you still need to verify your ID at a branch before you can start using the account to withdraw cash or apply for a debit card.

These banks offer a mix of paid and free options (conditions applied like free for a specific period or if users deposit a certain amount), and most have easy-to-use mobile apps that you can use to manage your money. You can also use Apple Pay or Google Pay with your bank account in Australia.

Australia also has community-owned financial institutions called “building societies” which offer savings bank accounts, lending for mortgages and loans. Although due to their size they tend to be more focused on serving Aussies but that does not mean they are not great if you plan on living in Aus.

1.1 Types of bank accounts in Australia

To save you a lot of confusion it is helpful to know the most common types of bank accounts in Australia which include:

Transaction or “Every day” Account
This is most important account most people need and is the equivalent of the current account (UK/US/Canada/Europe) or checking account (UK/US/Canada/NZ) – that is, the account you use to pay for rent, grocery shopping, utility bills etc. You can receive your salary or wages into this account as well. These accounts typically have monthly fees and overdraft facilities are not automatic (but they’re available and may be a paid feature). They also don’t generate interest on amounts you hold. However they do come with a debit card (including contactless payments), internet banking, and mobile banking facilities.

Savings Account
As the name suggests, these accounts are ideal when you want to keep money aside and grow it based on interest received. The interest you earn depends on the amount and there may be a minimum balance requirement for this type of account. Typically, high interest rates are paid if no withdrawals are made over a period of time.

These accounts can also be used just like Everyday Accounts – but the key difference is the minimum balance requirement and the fact that you can earn interest on the amount you hold.

You can also open a joint Savings account with a partner or family member in Australia.

Term Deposit Account
Think of these as “fixed rate” savings bank accounts. Usually, you need a minimum balance to open a term deposit account, and the interest rate is determined for a fixed period of time – that is, the “term.” If no money is withdrawn, then that interest is paid out at the end of the term. Term Deposit Accounts offer higher interest rates than Savings Accounts.

1.2 Documents needed

Document requirements to apply for a bank account online before arriving in Australia and opening an account after arrival are different.

To apply for a bank account online you need:

  • Your passport
  • Australian Visa
  • Tax details in your country
  • Letter of acceptance from an educational institution (students)

When you’re applying for a bank account at a branch after arriving, Australian banks usually employ the “100 points” system where they ask you to share a combination of documents that have different “points” or weightage.

Documents required to open an bank account after arriving:

  • Your passport
  • Australian Visa
  • Letter of acceptance from an educational institution (students)
  • Rental receipt/Tenancy agreement
  • Australian driving license
  • Utility bills
  • Car registration document
  • Medicare card

Note: The documents you need to provide depend on the bank you’re signing up with. And if they’re not in English, they’ll need to be translated by an accredited translator.

1.3 Australian bank account options

1.3.1 Commonwealth Bank or Commbank

Account type:
Everyday bank account (with student option)

Who is it for?
Anyone who will arrive in Australia within 14 days or has arrived in the past 3 months | Must be 14+

Account Fees:
Usually $4 per month; No fees for 12 months for new arrivals | no fees ever for full-time students or under 30

Apply before moving?
Yes – 14 days before arrival.

Need Australian residential proof?
No but need tax details in home country

1.3.2 The Australian and New Zealand Bank (ANZ)

Account type:
ANZ Access Advantage everyday bank account and online-only savings account

Who is it for?
Anyone planning to live, work, or study in Australia

Account Fees:
$5 per month | Fees waived for first 12 months | Waiver continued if under 25 or deposit at least $2000 AUD per month

Apply before moving?
Apply on arrival

Need Australian residential proof?
Yes – but can also apply online with tax identification number in home country

1.3.3 National Australian Bank (NAB)

Account type:
NAB Classic Everyday Bank account

Who is it for?
Anyone who has arrived in Australia in the past 3-12 months

Account Fees:

Apply before moving?

Need Australian residential proof?

1.3.4 Westpac

Account type:
Everyday bank account

Who is it for?
Those who have arrived in Australia in the past 12 months | Must be 14+

Account Fees:
Usually $5; No Account-Keeping fees for 12 months for new arrivals | no fees ever for full-time students or under 30

Apply before moving?

Need Australian residential proof?

1.4 Steps to open an Australian bank account online

Commonwealth Bank lets you open an account before moving to Australia 14 days in advance.

Check out the challenger or neo banks below, for more flexible options

Here’s what the process looks like:

  1. Go to the bank of your preference and start the application process
  2. Upload the necessary documents
  3. The bank confirms that the account is open but limits usage
  4. Confirm your identity at a branch after arriving in Australia and start using your account

Yes – it’s as easy as that!

1.5 How to choose the best bank account for you in Australia

Consider the following when opening a bank account in Australia:

Your future in the country: Are you here as a Working Holiday Maker for 12 months or as an expat who moved here with a job and their family? Or are you a frequent traveler or digital nomad who’s just passing through? Typically, Working Holiday Makers opt for Transaction Accounts, while expats start with a Transaction Account and add in a Savings Account after spending 6 months to a year in Australia.

Online application allowed? If your needs of opening a bank account are immediate, go for a bank that lets you open an account while overseas. Apart from traditional Australian banks, there are alternatives that we’ll discuss below.

Costs and fees: While most Australian banks waive the fee for new arrivals and students for at least a year, there will be charges going forward. Dig deeper into what you’ll pay after the fee-free period is over (overdraft fee, ATM withdrawal fees, minimum deposit per month, etc.) before opening your bank account.

2. Opening an account with a challenger or neo bank in Australia

Apart from traditional high street banks, you can also open an account with Australia-based challenger bank UP bank or UK-based Revolut or Wise.

Revolut has a banking license in the UK while Wise is a licensed financial services provider in the UK and Australia (as well as other countries) – and both allow you to open an account fee-free without Australian proof of residence.

2.1 UP bank account – Best small savings bank for Australian new arrivals

UP bank (backed by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank) provides both savings and transactional accounts that are online-only and protected by the Financial Claims scheme (up to $250,000 per person). These accounts can be opened and operated entirely through a mobile app on your phone.

With UP, it’s easy to receive money, set up direct debits, and withdraw money fee-free at most ATMs.

They’re ideal for you if you have some small savings goals and you are not yet ready to open a Savings account with a traditional Australian bank (minimum balance requirement or other reasons).

Account Fees:
Free to open and hold an account (other fees applicable)

Interest on savings: 3.85% p.a.

International transfers: Yes – via Wise (who might be a better option – see next)

2.2 Wise – Best multi-currency account for Working Holiday Makers, frequent travelers, and digital nomads (no Australian proof of address required)

If you’re a Working Holiday Maker or a digital nomad passing through the country, Wise should be top of your list not just for while you are in Australia but for returning home or travel somewhere else.

Wise offers multi-currency accounts that let you hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies – while also letting you hold a local AUD account to spend and receive money like a local.

You also get a MasterCard debit card link with your multi-currency account that you can use for online purchases, in-store purchases, ATM withdrawals, and contactless payments.

While Wise is technically not a licensed bank and you don’t earn interest on the money you hold, they can make your life easier if you’re staying for a short period of time in Australia. Not to mention, you can sign up for an account from your home country without providing an Australian proof of address.

Account Fees:
Free to open and hold an account (other fees applicable)

Interest on savings: No

International transfers: Yes in 70+ currencies

Learn more about the Wise Multi-currency Account in our detailed review or see the latest Wise offers and fees here.

2.3 Revolut Australia – Easy Money Management for Expats, Working Holiday Makers, and Digital nomads (no Australian proof of address required)

Revolut has a banking license in Europe and in Australia they function as a licensed financial services provider offering both free and paid accounts.

We recommend getting a Revolut account to make day to day money management easier as an expat or a Working Holiday Maker – easy bill splitting, budget analytics, online and offline card payments, ATM withdrawals with the Revolut debit card, saving up for small goals with their Vaults. You can also invest in stocks and Crypto through Revolut.

Account Fees:
Revolut Standard: $0 AUD
Revolut Premium: $10.99 AUD per month
Revolut Metal: $24.99 per month

Interest on savings: No

International transfers: Yes – in 30+ currencies

Learn more about Revolut in our in-depth review or see the latest Revolut offers and fees here.

3. FAQs

What is the difference between opening a real bank account and a neobank (Australia)?

Generally neobanks are online only and have low fee banking options. Neobanks can also be easier to open and they have a great user experience but more limited services to traditional banks.

Should I open a neobank over a traditional?

In our opinion, the absolute best thing to do is have one of both. The neobanks can be opened more easily however having a traditional bank account can be really useful. Banking can be less expensive, easier and even pay some good interest when you have both.

Bottom line

Unlike the UK, US, or Europe, opening a bank account in Australia online and even before you arrive is quite easy – you can either go with a traditional high street bank like Commonwealth Bank (14 days before arrival) or financial institutions like Revolut or Wise.

ANZ, Westpac and NAB (three other high street banks in Australia) also offer expat friendly accounts – but you need to be in the country to open an account.

While Wise and Revolut do offer their services in Australia, they’re not as powerful as their UK counterparts. Revolut and Wise don’t have a banking licenses in Australia. That’s why we recommend these services as a temporary solution for Working Holiday Makers, Students, Expats or Digital-nomads who plan to stay in Australia for a limited time and hold small amounts of money.

Thankfully you can open an account with Wise or Revolut immediately and the open an account with one of the traditional banks when you arrive. In this way you can use the Wise or Revolut account to exchange currencies inexpensively and even start paying for things immediately. Then either set up an account 14 days before arrival with Commonwealth Bank or one of the other major banks when you arrive. This way you can get access to some of the things Wise and Revolut don’t have like the ability to get paid from employers with a BSB and Account Number.

Using a bank like UP can also be awesome it you ending staying for a while longer in Australia.

Happy Banking!

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