Commonwealth bank international student account. What you need to know.

Roberto Efflandrin

Moving countries is a big deal, especially if you are an international student embarking on a journey to study in Australia. One way to make the transition easier is by getting acquainted with the local banking system and looking into opening an account.

The Commonwealth Bank, or CommBank as it is called locally, is one institution that allows those moving to Australia to open an account within 14 days of arriving, or up to 3 months after arrival.¹ This article will get to know what accounts are available at Commbank for international students and introduce an alternative option that also makes moving money internationally easy.

💸 Hold over 50 currencies in your account and spend at the mid-market rate with the Wise card while studying abroad.

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Why you need a local bank account in Australia as an international student

There are plenty of reasons why international students should consider opening a local bank account in Australia. Some reasons include:

  1. It is more convenient to manage daily expenses
  2. It can make paying tuition payments easier
  3. For those on a scholarship, funds can be paid into a local account without additional bank fees
  4. Being able to get paid locally if working while studying.
  5. Avoiding international transaction and conversion fees on purchases

These are just a few examples of how opening a local bank account can simplify life as an international student studying abroad in Australia.

CommBank international student account

CommBank offers international students the ability to open their SmartActive transaction account with student features.¹ Let’s have a look at what this account offers.

What are the features and benefits of this CommBank international student account

The **CommBank SmartActive transaction account **comes with a range of features and benefits that allow international students to manage their finances. These features include²:

  • Access and manage the account online and through the dedicated commbank banking app
  • Your own physical and virtual Debit Mastercard
  • Access to shopping rewards
  • Ability to shop online globally
  • ATM withdrawals worldwide
  • Cardless cash withdrawals from inside Australia
  • Send and receive money from abroad
  • A security guarantee with CommBank Safe
  • Real-time transaction notifications

The monthly account keeping fees associated with this account for students as long as they are under the age of 25, are undertaking full time study or an apprenticeship, or are over the age of 25 and deposit $2000 AUD into the account each month.²

Running cost, fees that come with this account

It is common for International students to require an account that can send and receive money from their home countries. Unfortunately, international transactions can incur extra fees.

Let’s now take the opportunity to compare how these accounts compare by going through some of the fees that you may run into. We’ll compare these fees with an alternative service called Wise, that specialises in international transfer services.

Fees* CommBank Smart Active Transaction Account³ Wise Account
Account monthly fees $0 if conditions are met

$4 AUD if conditions are not met

Free to hold up to $23,000 AUD per month. 0.00437% daily holding fee for any amount over $23,000 AUD
International transfer fee (for a sample amount of $1,000 AUD to GBP)⁴ Sent from Commbank app or NetBank portal = $6 AUD

Receiving funds into CommBan account in AUD = up to $11 AUD

Small payout fee + 0.45% variable conversion fee (e.g. for a transfer of $1,000 AUD to GBP paid by bank transfer to Wise, the total fee charged is $5.14 AUD). You can make a fee calculation here.
International transaction fee 3% of transaction value Variable fee as low as 0.41% depending on currency
ATM withdrawals in Australia and abroad Withdrawals at CommBank ATMs outside Australia or ASB ATMs New Zealand = $2 AUD

International ATMs = $5 AUD per withdrawal + 3% of the withdrawn amount

You can take out money for free twice a month — as long as the total amount is under $350 AUD. After that, there is a $1.50 AUD per transaction fixed fee. If you take out over $350 AUD in one month, there is a 1.75% on the amount exceeding that. See card fees here.

Note: Wise will not charge you for these withdrawals, but some additional charges may occur from independent ATM networks.

*As seen on 7th February 2023

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.
Read more: Commbank international transfers. All you need to know

What do I need to open an account? Requirements, documents and what to know.

There are some basic eligibility requirements that international students will need to meet to open an account. These requirements include¹:

  • Be over 14 years of age
  • Will arrive in Australia within the next 14 days
  • Have already arrived in Australia within the last 3 months
  • Have proof of undertaking tertiary, secondary education or an apprenticeship in Australia

For those who have been in Australia longer than 3 months already, you may be able to complete your application online.¹

Read more: International student bank accounts in Australia

How to open a CommBank international student account

Here are the steps to open a CommBank account as an international student.¹

  1. Complete the short online form through the CommBank website
  2. Visit a local branch to confirm your tax residencies, identification and student ID
  3. Download the CommBank App or log into NetBank portal
  4. Start banking with your new account

It is important to note that the account will not be activated until you have visited a local branch with all the required documents.

Which documents do I need to open an account?

There are a few important documents that you will need to come in handy for steps one and two of the application process. These documents include¹:

  • A valid international passport
  • Your student ID or proof of enrolment
  • A document that specifies your Australian residential address
  • Your Tax Identification Number (TIN) in each country you hold tax residencies
  • A copy of your visa details

You will have 20 days to confirm these documents in branch from your specified arrival date if applying from outside Australia.

Do I need to deposit money to open a CommBank student account?

You do not need to deposit any money into this account to open the account.

What else do I need to know?

If you arrive later than your specified arrival date and do not confirm your details in a branch, there is a chance that CommBank will close your account. You will be able to apply to a new account however, once you arrive in Australia by visiting a branch.¹

Read more: International student working hours in Australia

You can find out more by contacting CommBank here.

If anything is not clear or you have further questions for CommBank as an international student, you can contact Commbank by:

  • Calling 13 22 21 from within Australia
  • Calling +61 2 9999 3283 from overseas

Phone lines are open between 8am – 8pm (AEST) 7 days a week.

Alternatives to CommBank

If you are finding the account options offered by CommBank are not suitable to your needs, you can check out what account options are available to international students at the other major banks in Australia — like Westpac, ANZ Banking Group, and National Australia Bank (NAB) to find out more.

The Wise Account for students

The Wise Account is suitable for international students, especially if they need to make international transfers frequently to and from their home country.

You can use a Wise Account to easily pay tuition fees while saving money on currency conversions as Wise uses the mid-market rate, just like the one you see on Google.

With the Wise Account, you can get your own local AUD account details (with other popular currency account details too). This makes it easy to be sent money from home, or convert and send your money back home as well.

You can also order your own Wise debit card to be linked to your account, so you can spend your hard earned cash anywhere Visa is accepted.

Wise can also be used to send and be sent money internationally, at the mid-market rate and with low fees shown upfront.

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Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.


  1. CommBank moving to Australia
  2. CommBank Smart Active
  3. CommBank fees
  4. CommBank IMT fees

Sources checked on: 08 February 2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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