About to make your way to Australia to study? Opening a bank account before you arrive means you can hit the ground running almost as soon as you step off the plane.

As an international student in Australia, you can expect to live and learn in a multicultural, vibrant country full of opportunities. If you successfully complete your degree, you should be well set up to compete in the job market.

1. Budget ahead for your course fees

Studying in Australia can be expensive, depending on where you study and which subjects you choose. The key to success is to budget ahead of time and make sure you're aware of any costs associated with your course. Your family might be able to give you a helping hand with finances, but some international organisations, international scholarships, international student loans, and private Australian organisations can also be a way of financing your studies.

2. Look for part-time jobs to help with the cost of living in Australia

The cost of living in Australia can be high, especially in cities. Depending on your visa requirements, you may be able to work part-time while you study – which means you can earn money for your day-to-day living costs, gain valuable experience in the working world, and improve your spoken English.

3. Be prepared for the weather in Australia

For some international students, the climate in Australia may take some getting used to, as the Australian seasons are opposite to those in Europe, North America and East Asia. The climate in Australia varies widely depending on the state and area, as Australia consists of a variety of environments – from beaches to rainforests, and from snowcapped mountains to dry desert.

4. Choose the right student accommodation

Where you decide to live while you study will have a huge impact on your time in Australia. Some international students live off-campus, either through homestay programs, hostels, or rental properties. However, some Australian universities provide their students with housing options, which gives international students a great opportunity to socialise with Australian students during their studies.

5. Look into transport options for getting around

Australia is an extremely large country, making transportation very important. Flying is often a good option for travelling long distances, with frequent services between major cities. It’s often possible to pick up a good deal online, especially if you’re flexible with dates and times.

Driving can be a cheaper option if you have access to a car. If you don’t, there are car share options in most major cities. In Australia, road rules and licensing laws are set by each state. Depending on where you live, you may be able to drive with an overseas or international driver's licence when you first arrive, but you’ll need to check how much time you have before you need to switch to an Australian licence.

Within the major cities, the cheapest way to get around can often be by bus, train, ferry or tram. Each state has its own tap on, tap off ticketing system, which you can preload with money or link to your bank account.

6. Open a student bank account before you leave

CommBank lets you open a bank account up to 3 months before you arrive. You can open an Everyday Account with Student Options online in around 5 minutes, and get your bank details straight away.

That means you can:

  • Transfer money into your new account immediately (a fee may apply)
  • Check your balance online
  • Benefit from no monthly account fees while you study1

Although you can transfer money into your account before you arrive, until you visit a branch to get an ID check, you won't be able to withdraw money from the account. Keep this in mind when you're organising things such as the bond for your new accommodation, or paying your University fees.

7. Visit a CommBank branch when you arrive

Visit a CommBank branch as soon as possible after you arrive to get an ID check and order your debit Mastercard®, which you can use in-store and online. Your debit Mastercard will be sent to the Australian address that you give us.

What should you bring to your local branch?

  • Your passport
  • Your student ID or proof of enrolment (including start and end dates for your course)
  • Your Tax Identification Number (TIN) for each country of foreign tax residency
  • A copy of your welcome letter

Once you’ve been identified in-branch, you’ll have secure online banking through NetBank and Australia’s #1 banking app2Find out more about all the ways you can bank with CommBank.

While you wait for your card to be delivered to your new address, you’ll be able to get cash out immediately using Cardless Cash.

8. Keep an eye on the exchange rate

If you’re going to be transferring money from another currency, keep an eye on the exchange rate in the months before your trip so that you know when may be a good time to transfer your money. You can track exchange rates with our foreign exchange calculator and also exchange any currency you have at a CommBank branch when you arrive.

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Things you should know

1 Student discounts apply if you are a tertiary student at an educational institution located in Australia or are undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship.Monthly account fee waived once you show us suitable student identification or confirmation or enrolment in branch. The waiver will be applied based on the expiry date listed on your Student ID. If your studies exceed 5 years, you will need to visit a branch and present your student ID again after 5 years to continue receiving the waiver.

2 The Forrester Banking Wave TM: Australian Mobile Apps, Q2 2019. The advice on this website has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of that, you should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Please view our Financial Services Guide. Full terms and conditions for the transaction and savings accounts mentioned and Electronic Banking are available here. Mastercard and the Mastercard brand mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before acting on this, consider the appropriateness to your circumstances.