Low-fee transaction account reviews

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06.The evolution of consumer banking

The past six years have seen significant developments and improvements in banking for consumers. Here are some of the highlights, improvements and wins.


  • CHOICE launches the Flick Your Bank website to help people switch to the lowest cost accounts.
  • The Consumer Action Law Centre (now Consumer Action) publishes groundbreaking paper on the potentially unlawful nature of penalty fees.


  • The growth of so-called ‘all you can eat’ accounts, where banks offer certain transaction unlimited and fee-free for a $5-$6 monthly fee. 


  • NAB and ANZ cut some penalty fees on concession card accounts.


  • CHOICE and Consumer Action launch Fair Fees campaign against penalties.
  • ANZ’s CEO admits penalty fees are unsustainable, particularly for those who can least afford them.
  • 30% of bank accounts now offer specified unlimited transactions for a monthly fee.
  • NAB cuts penalties from $50 to $30.
  • Westpac is given a CHOICE Shonky Award for penalty fees of up to $50; Commonwealth Bank was also criticised for continuing to
    apply $35 penalties on concession accounts.
  • Dutch-owned Rabobank enters the market, increasing online saving account competition.


  • Adelaide Bank and HSBC awarded a Shonky Award for inward cheque dishonour fees — both subsequently remove these penalties.
  • Westpac removes penalties on basic bank account.
  • CHOICE calls on ANZ and Commonwealth Bank to stop gouging low-income customers with penalty fees on their concession accounts.
  • Bankwest launches the Hero account, paying 5% interest, charging no monthly fee and offering fee-free transactions. But the bank’s penalties remained among the highest – $50 for dishonours and $45 each time accounts are overdrawn, up to a maximum of $135 per day.
  • CHOICE provides penalty fee evidence to federal parliament.


  • Successful CHOICE campaign against banks charging consumers a fee to use other banks’ ATMs – this ‘double dipping’ fee is dropped by all banks.
  • The big banks get bigger, with the merger of Westpac and St George, and Commonwealth Bank’s takeover of Bankwest. CHOICE publicly opposes these mergers.
  • RBA data reveals for the first time the impact of penalty fees on households; $961 million in 2008, including $490 million in deposit account penalties.
  • Westpac and St George reduce penalties to $9 and Commonwealth reduces penalties to $5-$25. But we think these fee cuts could be better.
  • NAB scraps all penalty fees on transaction accounts.
  • ANZ cuts dishonour and overdrawn account fees to $6 per day.
  • Bankwest’s penalties are reduced to $15 and a safety limit is introduced. Bankwest also launches the Zero account, rebating foreign ATM fees from machines owned by the Big Four banks and St George.
  • CHOICE research finds mutuals societies win hands down for customer satisfaction.
  • ING Direct launches Orange Everyday, an account with no everyday fees or penalties, and innovative bonuses.
  • NAB cuts its $5 monthly fee for Classic Banking.
  • Citibank drops its $5 monthly account fee on its Plus Transaction account for all customers, not just those depositing $2000 per month.


Will the ‘perfect’ transaction account be launched – with no everyday or monthly fees, no penalties and paying reasonable interest?


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