Low-fee transaction account reviews

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Bankwest transaction accounts

BankwestTwo accounts are worth a mention.

Bankwest Hero: customers need to deposit at least $2000 per month to be eligible for this account, which has no monthly fee and no fees for most transactions. It pays 4% interest for balances up to $5000, but no interest after that. Bankwest has a penalty fee “safety limit” – no penalty fees are charged for overdrawn accounts and dishonours unless the amount exceeds $100, in which case the fees are $15.

Bankwest Zero: This account has most of the same features as Hero, except instead of paying interest, it rebates ATM fees charged when customers withdraw from machines belonging to ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, St George and Westpac.

The mutual alternative

Some of the building societies and credit unions we’ve analysed (known collectively as mutual societies) charge fees for transactions and then provide rebates based on the value of the member’s relationship. Credit unions can offer low costs for those prepared to bundle several financial products with the same institution. For example, mecu rebates up to $25 per month depending on the value of your ‘membership support level’ – the sum of your deposits, plus borrowings, less overdrawn accounts. Similarly, Credit Union of Australia (CUA) offers up to 15 free transactions per month depending on the dollar value of your relationship with the credit union. Newcastle Permanent Building Society claims that after rebates, few of its members pay fees.

big1The ‘X factor’ of mutual societies is the high levels of customer satisfaction  they generate. When we last surveyed our members on their levels of everyday banking satisfaction, mutuals collectively recorded an average satisfaction score of 83% for everyday banking, with CUA and Teachers Credit Union the highest individual institutions (both 84%). The average score for banks was 66%.

You can find details about your local mutual society at the Abacus website. Their branch network is generally far smaller than the banks’, but many mutuals are members of the rediATM scheme, which recently merged with NAB to create one of the country’s largest ATM networks. This means many mutual society members can use both rediATM and NAB machines and avoid paying foreign (third party) ATM fees.

Earning interest

Most of the accounts in this low-fee comparison do not pay interest, so they’re unsuitable for extra savings – you may need a separate or linked savings account for that purpose. However, some transaction accounts pay interest too, for example:

  • AMP First: 4.65% pa
  • Arab Bank Australia Online Savings Account: 5.3% pa
  • Bankwest Hero: 4% pa on amounts up to $5000

For more details on these and other accounts' fees and features, see the interactive table.


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