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What's the difference between a transaction and a savings account?

What's the difference between a transaction and a savings account?

You’re looking for a bank account but aren’t sure whether to get an everyday (transaction) or a savings account, or both.

Here’s an overview of each to help you figure out which might best suit your needs and what to look out for.

What’s a transaction account?

A transaction account is traditionally used for day-to-day expenses and often comes with a debit card or Keycard so that you can withdraw cash or pay for things. Most people get their salary paid straight into their transaction account then use that to pay bills or automatically transfer money into a savings account.

What to look for:

  • Before you decide on a transaction account, it’s worth checking how convenient it is to withdraw, deposit (cash and cheques) and pay for things.
  • Think about how you like to bank. If you need convenience, you may find that mobile banking either via an app or on your computer is a good option. Check out what mobile banking features are available. But don’t overlook the importance of in-branch (and phone) banking when you’re weighing up the options.
  • Check fees and waivers. Unless you’re opening a child's bank account, it’s likely you’ll pay fees for having a transaction account.  So what could you be charged for?
    • Account fees (usually monthly) – to keep your account ticking along
    • ATM withdrawal fee – for using an ATM not affiliated with your bank
    • Branch withdrawal fee – going to a teller to take money out in branch
    • Cheque deposit fee – for getting your bank to write cheque on your behalf (if you haven’t got a cheque account)
    • Paper statements – online statements tend to be free.

About our transaction accounts

  • If you're under 21 or a full time student or deposit at least $200 per month we'll waive the monthly account fee1.
  • We don’t charge an ATM withdrawal fee for using CommBank and Bankwest ATMs in Australia2. Plus we have the largest ATM network in Australia. 
  • You can arrange to pay bills now, later or automatically so you never miss a payment.
  • Get cash out without a card, deposit or withdraw or transfer money instantly with our CommBank ATMs.

What's a savings account?

Savings accounts don’t usually come with a keycard and intended to grow your bank balance. They tend to offer more favourable interest rates compared to transaction accounts, encouraging you to set money aside and benefit from bonus interest (if it’s offered) for being a regular saver.

You might not be able to withdraw cash from your savings account – you may first need to link it to a transaction account.

What to look for:

  • The interest rate and how it’s paid. The higher the rate, the better off for your savings. The key with any savings account is to withdraw your money sparingly - by leaving your money to grow you may benefit from compound interest. It’s when interest is paid on the amount you first started your savings account with and on interest you’ve earned on that initial sum. This differs from simple interest which is only paid on the amount you first set your savings account up with.
  • Fees. You might be charged for:
    • Account fee (usually monthly) – to keep your account ticking along
    • Charges for withdrawing money from your linked transaction account
    • Paper statements – online statements tend to be free.

If you can resist the temptation to have ready access to your money by locking your money away for a fixed amount of time, you might want to consider a Term Deposit

About our savings accounts:

  • There’s no monthly account fee for using a NetBank Saver (fees may apply to a linked transaction account though)
  • There's no minimum balance to open a NetBank Saver or a GoalSaver
  • You can earn bonus interest rate on a GoalSaver when you grow your balance by at least $200 by the end of the calendar month and make no withdrawals in that month
  • If you’re looking to avoid the temptation to splurge (and miss out on bonus interest) set up a regular transfer from your transaction account into your savings account
  • Set up a savings goal – it’s a great way to stay motivated to save for something special or build up savings for a rainy day. 

 

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 (PDF 68KB). Full terms and conditions for the transaction and savings accounts (PDF | 660KB) mentioned and Electronic Banking are available here or from any branch of the Commonwealth Bank. 1 Monthly account fee waived for accounts opened after 1 June 2010 with at least $2,000 deposited each calendar month and from 17 October 2011, if you are 21 to 24 years old you will be exempt from monthly account fees if you deposit at least $1000 into the account each calendar month (excludes Bank initiated transactions). A monthly account fee waiver will also apply if you’re under 21 years of age, or you’re a full-time or part-time tertiary student at an Australian educational institution or undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship on Student Options. You may also be eligible for a different monthly account fee exemption if you have an aged disability or war veterans pension deposited in your account, have a balance of $50,000 or more in eligible contributing accounts, are reliant on over the counter services because of a disability or have an eligible home loan. Find out more about rates and fees. Term deposits have no set up or establishment fee, but if you seek prepayment of your term deposit prior to its maturity date, you must give 31 days’ notice and may incur an interest adjustment and be charged an administration fee . 2 ATM access fees will continue to apply on all overseas ATMs, including the ATMs of ASB Bank in New Zealand and Commonwealth Bank in Indonesia and Vietnam. Standard withdrawal fees may also apply. Fees will also continue to apply cash advances made on Commonwealth Bank credit cards. The owner of another ATM may apply an ATM owner’s fee at the time of the transaction. Excludes EFTPOS transactions overseas (or purchases involving currency conversion), transfer group payments to third parties, International Money Transfers and separate services such as bank cheques, periodic payments and transfers/deposits to other banks. Electronic transactions can be made via Commonwealth Bank ATMs and Bankwest ATMs, online with NetBank, via telephone banking or EFTPOS in Australia.