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A quick guide to banking in Australia

Australia’s banks are among the world’s most advanced and reliable, with all four of our major banks ranked among the top 20 safest globally.1 From instant ‘tap and go’ transactions to secure savings accounts, our banking system makes it easy for newcomers to Australia to save, spend and enjoy life in your new home.

To help you get started, here’s a quick guide to banking in Australia as well as some tips to help you get the most from your money.

Did you know Australia exports its advanced banknote technology around the world? Our polymer banknotes are not only colourful, they’re also highly secure—and they come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

To see what they look like and learn more about the pioneering Australians who feature on each note, the Reserve Bank has a quick guide.

For anything under $5, you’ll need a coin. Australia’s coins feature a selection of our unique wildlife, from kangaroos (on the $1 coin) to echidnas (5c), along with other iconic Australian symbols. They come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2.

One- and two-cent coins were taken out of circulation back in 1992. So when you go shopping with cash, the shopkeeper will round the total up or down to the nearest five cents. So $1.97 becomes $1.95, while $1.98 becomes $2.00.

You can open a CommBank account online up to three months before you move, then transfer money across so it’s waiting when you get here.

If you prefer, you can also open an account after you arrive by visiting any CommBank branch.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to bring some documents to the branch when you first visit, to formally prove your identity. We recommend you bring along originals and certified copies of your:

  • Visa
  • Current passport or national identity card, or
  • Two of the following: Driver's licence, birth certificate or citizenship certificate.

If any of your documents are in a foreign language you'll need to get them translated into English by a professional translator accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), or an equivalent accreditation.

While different banks and branches have different opening hours, most CommBank branches are open 9:30am – 4:00pm, Monday to Thursday, and until 5pm on Fridays. More than 75 CommBank branches are also open on Saturdays. 

But you don’t even need to wait until a branch is open to access your money. You can use an ATM, phone banking, NetBank or the CommBank app to manage your cash 24/7. There are many ways you can bank with us. 

Tell me more about how to access my money when I arrive >

Australian banks make it easy to manage day-to-day transactions—but we can also help you with longer-term goals and purchases while you’re living here. Here are just some of the ways we can help:

  • Transfer money overseas with fast, secure International Money Transfers to more than 200 countries and territories, using over 30 currencies
  • Build your savings - move money in or out with a flexible account, or choose one with bonus interest that rewards you for regular savings 
  • Buy a car with a personal loan that will put you on the road sooner
  • Buy a new home with a choice of flexible home loans that change as your needs change
  • Invest for the future with personalised advice from an experienced Commonwealth Financial Planner.

Fortunately, our Migrant Financial Services team are here for guidance. You can also open an Australian bank account online up to three months before you travel to Australia, so you can have funds ready and waiting for when you arrive.

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Everyday Account Smart Access

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Student Everyday Account Smart Access 

Suitable if you're intending to study in Australia.

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Things you should know

1 Global Finance, World’s 50 Safest Banks, November 2015.

The advice on this website has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the advice, please consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Please view our Financial Services Guide.