Which bank to choose?

After doing a little research there are four main banks in Australia. They are:

  1. National Australia Bank (NAB)
  2. Commonwealth Bank (CBA)
  3. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
  4. Westpac (WBC)

Before I came to Australia I did my research and it seemed that the Commonwealth Bank was the most popular amongst backpackers as they have the most accessible ATMs across the country. The following link will direct you to information about how Commonwealth Bank support backpackers.


I set my self up with Commonwealth Bank – so I can only speak for this one. Also, I highly recommend internet banking. It’s ideal for when you’re on “the move” as  you can easily access your accounts where ever you are in the world.

Set up before or after arrival?

Once you have decided on a bank and done your research; you’ll have to decide whether you want to set it up before or after you arrive in Australia. I decided to do it before, just so I could get myself organised as much as I could before I arrived.

Setting up an account (online)

Setting up an account before arrival is really easy. Just go to the official bank’s website and register online. Follow the step-by-step instructions which will require your personal details.

You will require a billing address – if you’re staying in a hostel or a hotel I would ask a manager there if you can use their address for the setting up of your account. You will be able to change this if you set up a P.O Box once you have arrived.

You will also have to select a bank in which will be your personal branch. I suggest selecting a branch that will be closest to your very first accommodation. Then once you have arrived you can easily get to that bank to complete setting it up.

Once you have completed setting up your account, Commonwealth Bank will email you with an introduction letter which you will need a copy of (I suggest printing a paper copy). This letter contains the basics of your account details; have these details with you when you set up a transfer between your home bank to your new Australian bank account.

Now – if you’re British and you’re trying to set up this transfer and if (like me) you don’t understand how to do it just take a visit to your bank and they will set up the transfer for you.

The transfer will cost you around £10.00 per transfer no matter what amount you send; I recommend that you send all the money you need in one transfer to save yourself money. Once transferred, you just have to wait until your arrival to complete the account set up.

Completing your account set up

Once you have arrived and found your bearings, take a visit to your branch. Take with you your introduction letter and passport. You will then be assisted with completing your bank set up.

It takes roughly 3-5 business days for your card to arrive by post. You could ask for it to be delivered to your accommodation or to collect it from the branch.