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Money & Banking

If you are moving to Australia to study, then you are probably looking to understand the currency system and looking into finding a bank. In this article, we’re going to explore several topics of interest that are related to money and banking. We hope that this information will be helpful to you as you become adjusted to living and studying in Australia.


The currency of Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD). The dollar is made up of 100 cents, much like the American dollar. There are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, and $2 coins that the government uses for smaller forms of currency. If you are looking at bills, there are $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 notes. There are other notes that may be used by the Treasury, but none of these notes are used by individuals.

One thing that you will notice when you move to Australia is that some items are marked for purchase with single cent values, even though they do not have a “one cent” coin available to consumers. If that happens, then you will notice that the item’s value is rounded to the nearest 5c value. For example, if you are purchasing an item that is $10.32, you will pay $10.30 for that item.


Opening a local bank account is quite simple as long as you do it within six weeks of arriving in Australia. If you do it during that period of time, you need to only provide your passport and a postal address and you will have a bank account. You can also apply for your bank account before you arrive in the country. Many Australian banks have websites that you can look at and apply from. Then, you’ll have everything set before you even step foot on Australian ground.

It’s recommended to take care of any banking services that you may need as soon as you can, to avoid any extra effort in obtaining an account. If you wait longer than the initial six weeks following your arrival to the country, you will have to go through other forms of protocol in order to be considered for a bank account. The bank or other financial institution that you are applying for an account with can give you the information that you need at that point.

You can also set it up that you can link your account (or the account of the person who is helping pay for your education) to your Australian bank account, even if the original account in question is from your home country. It’s a simple process, and it can help you have peace of mind about your finances while studying abroad in Australia.

Many banks will also offer monthly account keeping and withdrawal fee waivers for your transaction account if you provide the bank with proof that you are enrolled as a student at a university or vocational school. You can do this by bringing in a student ID, a schedule for the current semester, and/or a variety of other items related to enrollment. The bank you are applying at will give you all of the information you need regarding what you can do in order to get these waivers and any other applicable discounts.
If you are looking for a bank to bank with during your time in Australia, here are three options that have reputable options for international students.

  • The Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ)
  • The Commonwealth Bank
  • The National Australian Bank

Once you have a bank account, you will be able to use three different options when you are seeking to withdraw money from your account.

  • Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). These machines usually require a fee if you are using an ATM of another bank, but most nationwide banks will have ATMs all around the country.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer Point of Sale. Many stores, supermarkets, specialty shops, and restaurants have what are called Electronic Funds Transfer Point of Sale (EFTPOS) terminals. These terminals can help you to pay for your items and, in some cases, allow you to withdraw cash when you purchase your goods. The availability of cash is dependent on the merchant you are purchasing from.

As you can see, the Australian banking system is rather simple to navigate and many of them have options available if you are an international student. Check all of your options out within six weeks of your arrival in the country, and you’ll be ready to go in almost no time.

Goods and Services Tax

The last thing you need to understand before coming to Australia is what is called the Goods and Services Tax, or the GST. The GST is a flat 10% tax that is applied throughout the country on all goods and services (exceptions include basic foods – fruit, milk, bread, vegetables). If you have visited the United States before, it is similar to sales tax, but it is not based on the state – 10% is the flat tax throughout the country. This tax is levied so that the country can have consistent income for any national spending that may be necessary.

If you would like more information about the banking, GST, and/or currency in the country of Australia, check out the Australian Securities and Investments Commission webpage or any of the Australian Government websites about money and taxes. They will be able to answer any questions or concerns that you may have before arriving in the country. They can also help you learn your way around the Australian monetary system.

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