Many OzTREKK students recommend you open a bank account before you leave for Australia as securing accommodation is often much easier when you have an Australian bank account!
Some Australian banks allow international students open an account online from overseas up to three months before you arrive—and many OzTREKK students recommend doing this. When you arrive in Australia, the bank will require you to show proof of identification in person at a bank branch.
- Your letter from the bank after you’ve opened the account
- Your passport
- Your student ID or proof of enrollment
- Australian cell phone number if you have one
Australia’s major national banks:
#OzTREKKTip: Find out which bank has a branch on your university campus!
OzTREKK also recommends that you have a Canadian credit card with a reasonable maximum limit to take with you to Australia. It is not the best option for exchanging money from CAD to AUD and paying for things in Australia, but it may be helpful for emergencies and when you first arrive in Australia while you are setting up an Australian bank account.
Debit & Credit Cards
ATMs and EFTPOS in Australia
When you open an Australian bank account, you will also receive a bank card (EFTPOS) for your account. Often, a bank will not give you the debit card at the same time as you open the account. You will normally be mailed your debit card, or you will be asked to pick up your debit card at your local branch about five to ten days later. It’s a good idea to have a credit card handy should you need money in an emergency.
In Australia, Interac is referred to as EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale). EFTPOS (pronounced eft-poss) is available at most stores, restaurants and hotels, and the actual machines are basically the same as those in Canada. This reduces the need to carry a large amount of money, but remember that there is usually a daily withdrawal limit. Please note that Australian EFTPOS machines will not accept your Canadian debit (Interac) card.
Check with your bank to see if fees apply for using EFTPOS.
Canadian Bank (Debit) Cards in Australia
You can take your Canadian debit card with you and access money through most ATMs in Australia, if your Canadian bank card is accessible via the Plus or Maestro systems (check the symbols on the bank of your debit card).
This is one way to access money from overseas when you are in Australia. However, when you withdraw money in this way, the currency exchange rate of your Canadian bank applies to the transaction, plus a fee for the international withdrawal, which will be deducted from your Canadian bank account. As well, you will be able to withdraw only a certain maximum amount per day (usually $500 or $1,000), depending on the maximum limit set for your Canadian bank account. This is not a great way to have your money exchanged (in terms of getting the best exchange rate and paying bank fees), but can be convenient and helpful.
Credit Cards in Australia
OzTREKK recommends that you have a Canadian credit card, with a reasonable maximum limit, to take with you to Australia. It is not the best option for exchanging money from CAD to AUD, and paying for things in Australia, but it may be helpful for emergencies and when you first arrive in Australia while you are setting up an Australian bank account.
Before you leave Canada, please notify your credit card company that you will be away for a period of time overseas, and that you have designated a family member to have power of attorney to act on your behalf. This will allow your family member to act on your behalf for any matters that arise regarding your credit card while you are overseas. You can also link your credit card to your family member’s bank account, or link it to your Canadian bank account and make payments from Australia via internet banking.
Remember that you can apply for a credit card in Australia as well. It can be beneficial to keep track of your finances in one currency (AUD), while tracking for a better exchange rate, so as not to “lose” money through frequent currency exchanges/transfers between Canada and Australia. For example, you don’t want to be using your Canadian credit card in Australia all year long, if you have already transferred a considerable amount of your money to Australia. Otherwise, you would be losing money on the credit card company’s exchange rate, plus the fees charged for a foreign purchase (usually 2.5% to 3% per transaction). And you still have to figure out how to pay off the Canadian credit card back in Canada!
Read some tips about how to save money while studying in Australia!