International student bank accounts in Australia. All you need to know

Roberto Efflandrin

As an international student, there's a few things you need to do before you make your way downunder to begin your studies. This includes applying for your student visa, booking your flight, and finding accommodation.

On top of these, you should also consider opening a local bank account. This article will take you through all you need to know about opening a bank account in Australia as an international student.

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Why you should have a local bank account as an international student

Fortunately, in Australia, you can open a local bank account in two ways, before you arrive, or after you settle in. However, to relieve some of the stress that comes with moving abroad, opening your local account before you arrive can save you time and money.

Regardless of when you choose to open an account, some practical reasons for why you should open a local bank account include:

  • Send and receive money from home
  • Receive a local salary if you choose to work
  • Pay bills and manage your finances like a local

Opening a local bank account can be simple as there are a few banks that cater accounts to expats and international students. Let’s get you acquainted with some of the local banking options.

Here are the biggest banks in Australia

Before we go through what banks there are, here's a tip - many banks are commonly referred to by their abbreviated form. We’ll list both names below to save you any confusion after you arrive. In terms of options, there are 4 major banks in Australia. These are:

  • National Australia Bank or NAB
  • Commonwealth Bank or Commbank
  • Australia and New Zealand Bank or ANZ
  • Westpac

You'll also find other banks that have their own large customer base. These are:

  • ING Bank
  • Macquarie Bank
  • St George Bank

This is just a quick glimpse into some of the banking institutions operating in Australia. Once you arrive you’ll notice there are plenty of other banks local to your region, that you might want to check out to open an account with.

Which accounts are offered by the big 4 to international students

Searching for a local bank account when abroad can be tricky. We’ve done the hard work for you and collated some of the bank accounts on offer by the big 4 banks to international students.


1. CommBank’s Everyday Smart Access account

The Everyday Smart Access account can be opened by international students up to 3 months before arriving in Australia. Some features that come with this account include¹:

  • Access to exclusive student discounts and benefits
  • No account keeping fee for the first 12 months if applied via the CommBank website
  • Access to the CommBank App
  • Cardless ATM withdrawals at certain ATMS with Australia

To check out more detailed information and benefits of this account, you can visit the Commbank website here.

2.NAB Classic Banking account

International students with a valid student visa can apply for NAB’s Classic Banking everyday account up to 12 months before arriving in Australia. Some features that come standard with this account include²:

  • No account keeping, withdrawal or overdraft fees
  • The ability to add a NAB iSaver account once opened
  • Access to NAB online banking and mobile app
  • Can deposit money before you arrive

To sign up to this account, you can easily apply online from overseas on the NAB website here.

3.ANZ Student Access Advantage

ANZ allows international students to open its Access Advantage account before they plan to arrive in Australia. Some features you’ll get with this account include³:

  • Ability to transfer money before you arrive
  • A linked ANZ Access Visa Debit card
  • No account keeping fees for the first 12 months
  • Round the clock fraud monitoring
  • Free withdrawals from ATMS in the ANZ network

Although you can transfer money to this account before you arrive, to be able to use the money, you’ll need to activate the account in a branch. You can find more information on the Access Advantage account here.

4. Westpac Choice account

The Westpac choice account is an everyday transaction account that can be opened after you arrive in Australia. Some of the features that come with this account include⁴:

  • No account keeping fees for anyone studying full time
  • Access to digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • No ATM withdrawal fees on domestic withdrawals or with one of the 50,000 global alliance ATMS abroad
  • Cardless ATM withdrawals at certain ATMS within Australia
  • Included Westpac Debit Mastercard
  • Security features including instant card lock and fraud protection guarantees

If you want to learn more about this account or sign up, you can click here.

What procedure and documents are usually required to open a student account?

As each bank has different procedures and documents required to open a local Australian bank account, let’s go through some things to expect in these areas.


The procedure to open a local bank account as an international student will come down to if the bank allows you to open the account online from overseas, or requires you to come into a branch. Generally, the process will involve:

  1. Filling out an application form either online or in branch
  2. Provide other supporting documentation (see next section)
  3. Confirm all your details are correct and accurate
  4. Make a minimum deposit (if applicable)
  5. Wait for the bank to approve your account and send your new account details

Required Documents

In terms of documentation, there are a few things you’ll need to have ready - your tax residency status, that you hold a valid student visa, to verify your identity and proof of address.

Tax Residency

If you are able to apply outside Australia, you’ll need to state your tax residency status, where it is and supply your tax number even if it's from your native country. If applying from within Australia and consider yourself an Australian tax resident, you’ll need to have your Australian Tax File Number (TFN) handy.

Student Visa

In most cases, you’ll be asked to provide proof of your impending trip to Australia including arrival dates and proof of your student visa application.

Identity Verification

Australia uses a weighted points system known as the Australian ID points system to verify identity documents. Each document is worth a different amount of points. When opening a bank account, you’ll need to provide 100 points of ID, which is made up of a combination of primary and secondary documents. Some primary documents include:

  • Foreign or Australia Passport
  • Drivers Licence
  • Birth Certificate

Any foreign documents not in English must be accompanied with a valid translated copy. In some cases, banks will not activate your account until you verify your identity in one of the local branches upon your arrival.

Proof of Address

Some banks will require you to bring a rental agreement or to have your address ready to send your new bank card to.

What to look for in a student bank account?

Each bank will offer different features and benefits. As an international student, here are some things you should look for when searching for a local bank account.

  • Low or no account keeping fees
  • No transaction fees on domestic transfers
  • Free ATM withdrawals
  • The ability to send and receive international transfers
  • A good foreign exchange rate
  • Access to an online banking portal and/or mobile app
  • Fraud protection and other security features
  • Ability to open the account from abroad and deposit money before you arrive
  • Included bank card
  • Access to other discounts and student offers

Of course it’s up to you what you value in a bank account, and you will find some banks offer some other great features that aren’t listed here.

What happens to my student account once I graduate or I’m done with studies?

Once you graduate, your ability to keep your bank account open will depend on if you are going to choose to remain in Australia on another valid visa. Some banks might request you change account types or automatically disqualify features that are only allocated for students. If you choose to return home after your studies, you will need to close your bank account.

Wise Multi-currency account

Finding a student bank account in Australia will be a breeze, as long as you know where to search and the need-to-knows. It can be even easier if you open your very own Wise multi-currency account.

The Wise multi-currency provides you your own local AUD account details (with other popular currency account details too), while making 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. See for yourself how 12 million other users are saving money with Wise.

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  1. CommBank Everyday Smart Access account
  2. NAB Classic Banking account
  3. ANZ moving to Australia
  4. Westpac Smart Choice account

Sources confirmed on: 01 July 2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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