Top of main content

International student guide to Australian banking

Having an Australian bank account makes managing daily expenses, bills, rent, and tuition much simpler, especially as cashless transactions become the norm.

This guide will help you understand what to expect when banking in Australia and provide helpful tips on how to open an account from overseas. 


  • There are 3 main types of accounts in Australia
  • Transaction accounts are used for daily banking
  • Many people now prefer cashless transactions
  • You can open an account online in Australia from overseas

Basics of the Australian banking system

In Australia, the official currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD), and it's what you'll be using for all your transactions. Banks typically operate from 9:30am to 4pm on weekdays, though some branches extend their hours and are also open on Saturdays. 

Cash payments are becoming less common, so embrace the digital trend when Down Under!

Types of bank accounts in Australia

There are 3 main types of accounts in Australia. It's important to research and choose the bank account that best suits your financial habits and goals.

Transaction accounts

Transaction accounts, also known as current or checking accounts, are used for daily purchases and expenses, including digital payments. They often come with debit cards for cash withdrawals, cashback, and online and contactless shopping. 

Savings accounts

A savings account helps you accrue interest over time. You wouldn't usually use this account for daily banking. The interest earned on a savings account is taxable.

Term deposit accounts

Term deposits are a type of savings account. With these, you agree to keep your money tucked away for a period of time. This is usually between 1 month and 5 years. These accounts offer a fixed interest rate and may require a minimum deposit. 

What you'll use your bank account for in Australia

Once you have a local Australian bank account, you'll typically use it to:

  • Pay your telco and utility bills
  • Shop online
  • Pay rent and other living expenses
  • Deposit your salary
  • Transfer money

In addition, many universities will only deposit your scholarship money into a local Australian account. 

Managing bills

Around 80% of Australian consumers prefer cashless transactions to pay bills. Half of those surveyed use their mobile banking app for bill payments. Other cashless methods include direct debit services, prepaid cards, and online transfer services such as BPAY. BPAY provides a seamless payment option accessible to anyone with an Australian bank account. 

Paying for tuition

It's common to pay fees directly through a payment portal on the university websites. You can also make a payment from your Australian bank account using BPAY.

If you're paying from an overseas bank account, the HSBC International Education Payment Service can simplify the process for you. Chinese students studying abroad can pay tuition fees in 5 primary education destinations: the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong. The system is applicable to all HSBC Premier and HSBC Advance customers who use the HSBC China Mobile Banking app and the HSBC China WeChat service account. 

How to transfer money

There are many ways to send and receive money, both within Australia and overseas.

Domestic transfers

To make domestic money transfers, you'll need both the recipient's Bank State Branch (BSB) and bank account number. BSB numbers are unique to Australia. They contain the bank code, branch and address information of any Australian financial institution. BSBs are the country's equivalent to a sort code in the UK, or Indian Financial System Codes (IFSCs).

Online and mobile banking allow you to move money easily. In many cases, the payments are instant.

International transfers

Australia uses the BIC (Bank Identifier Code) and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code system for incoming international money transfers. You can find the HSBC SWIFT code information and Australia branch listing on our Receiving money page.

How to make an international transfer

You can make transfers and payments in up to 60 currencies through the HSBC Australia Mobile Banking app.

The use of cash vs digital payments

According to the most recent FIS Global Payments Report[@fis-global-payment-report], Australia now ranks among the countries with the lowest usage of cash payments worldwide. While cash is still widely used, more and more people prefer the convenience of digital payments.


The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) monitors all of the country's payments, including cards, making it a safe and efficient system. Debit and credit cards are almost universally accepted throughout Australia.  With contactless payments, just wave your card, smartphone or watch for tap and go purchases. There's no need to input your PIN for smaller transactions – usually AUD100 or less.

Digital payments

Major banks in the country offer a wide range of services that can be accessed through online portals or mobile apps. This includes tracking spending, making payments to friends and merchants, and transferring funds between accounts. Apple Pay, Google Pay and mainland China's WeChat Pay are also popular digital payment platforms.

Applying for a credit card

You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia. You should also have a good credit rating. Salary and other requirements will depend on the type of card you're applying for. Alternatively, many credit card providers will issue supplementary cards free of charge. 

See which credit card might be right for you

Ready to open a bank account in Australia?

Whether you're a parent or student, we'll provide the banking support you need for studying in Australia.

With an HSBC bank account you can: 

  • Get your bank account before you arrive
  • Make easy international money transfers
  • Enjoy competitive foreign exchange rates

Get started

With the right information and guidance, banking in Australia doesn't have to be complicated for international students. 

You might also be interested in

See what apps students in Australia are using for chatting, banking and getting around.
Pay in the local currency and other tips to save on foreign currency fees.
Find out what should be first on your to-do list as an international student studying abroad.