NAB international student account. What you need to know.

Roberto Efflandrin

Anyone embarking on a journey to Australia will face several challenges. For international students, processes like organising a visa, communicating with the university, finding accommodation, and all that's involved with getting settled in, can be really difficult.

One thing that can make the transition easier is learning how to open a local bank account. National Australia Bank or NAB, is one financial provider that allows students to open an account after they arrive.¹

Through this article, you’ll get to know what accounts are available with NAB, the steps to open an account and learn about Wise, an alternative option to send, receive and spend your cash like a local in Australia.

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

Learn more about the
Wise Account

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

Although you may be thinking that just using your local bank account from your home country may be easier, here are some good reasons for opening a local Australian bank account.

  1. Managing daily expenses is more convenient
  2. Pay local tuition fees with little to no delays
  3. Avoid hefty international transaction and conversion fees from international banks
  4. Being able to get paid locally if working while studying.
  5. You can organise and create a clear financial history for your stay in Australia

You can probably gather from our list of reasons that opening a local bank account just makes your life easier in Australia. With this in mind, let’s get to know what accounts NAB offers to international students.

NAB international student account

Those moving to Australia are able to open a NAB Classic Banking account. This is only possible to do after they arrive in Australia. Unlike some other banks, NAB has stopped allowing individuals to open an account before they arrive in Australia.¹

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

The NAB Classic Account comes with a range of features including²:

  • No monthly account fees
  • No ATM fees at over 7000 Australian ATMs
  • Easy account management through the NAB app or NAB online banking portal
  • A NAB Visa Debit card
  • Shopping protection with NAB defence and Visa Zero Liability
  • Access to Visa Entertainment rewards

It is possible to upgrade your card to a NAB Platinum Visa Debit card for $10 AUD a month when applying for the account. By choosing the NAB Premium Visa Debit card, you’ll get all the standard features that come with the classic NAB Visa Debit but also²:

  • A 0% transaction fee on international purchases
  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases
  • Access to 24/7 NAB concierge
  • Various insurances and purchase protections

Applicants can also choose to open a NAB iSaver or a NAB Rewards Saver account to help manage their savings during their initial application or later down the line through the online banking portal or through the NAB App.²

Running cost, fees that come with this account

One of the challenges that international students face is being able to use their local account to send money to and from their home country.

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* NAB Classic - Student Account² Wise Account
Account monthly fees No monthly account fees with NAB Visa Debit card

$10 AUD per month with NAB Platinum Visa Debit card

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) To send an international transfer³

For transfers in foreign currency = $0 AUD fee


Potential overseas bank charges being deducted from the sent amount


NAB indicative currency conversion rate with margin⁴

Receiving international transfer into NAB account: up to $15 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.
ATM withdrawals in Australia and abroad ATMs within Australia: No ATM fees

ATMs Abroad: $5 AUD per withdrawal + 3% of amount withdrawn³

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 8th 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: NAB international transfers. All you need to know

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

As mentioned, this account cannot be opened until after you arrive in Australia. This doesn’t mean you can’t get things organised though.

We’ll go through the requirements, documents needed and other information you need to know about opening a NAB classic account below.

Read more: International student bank accounts in Australia

How to open a NAB international student account

To open a NAB Classic account, you must meet some standard eligibility requirements. These include⁵:

  • Be over the age of 14
  • Hold a valid identification document

If are not a registered tax resident of Australia, you must visit a NAB branch with some required documents to set up and activate the account.⁶

Which documents do I need to open an account?

When you visit a NAB branch, you should have these documents ready.⁵

  • Foreign Passport
  • Drivers licence

NAB may ask for further documentation such as a residential address to get your new debit card sent to.

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

There is no requirement to deposit any money to open and use a NAB Classic account.²

What else do I need to know?

It is possible to add either NAB Visa Debit cards to a digital wallet on your phone device and start spending prior to receiving the physical card.²

Read more: International student working hours in Australia

You can find out more by contacting NAB here.

If you need to contact NAB for any reason, you can:

  • Call from Within Australia: 13 22 65
  • Cal from Overseas: +61 3 8641 9083

Phone lines are open 7 days, from 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. These times are AEST/AEDT timezone.

Alternatives to NAB

NAB is one of the four big banks in Australia. If NAB does not offer an account that suits your needs as an international student, you can try one of the other big banks including Westpac, CommBank and ANZ.

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.

Join over 13 million customers currently using Wise. It’ll only take a few minutes to register and see what’s inside.

Register your Wise account
in minutes

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


  1. NAB Change of process
  2. NAB classic account
  3. NAB account fees
  4. NAB FX Margin
  5. NAB application
  6. NAB eligibility

Sources checked on: 09 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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