Bank Accounts

A bank account is where you can store your money. You will need one to receive Centrelink benefits or wage payments, or just simply to keep your savings.

How do you open a bank account?

To open a bank account, you will need personal identification such as a birth certificate, student card, Medicare card, your driver’s licence or passport, or a combination of these. If you are under the age of 14, you may have to ask your parent or guardian to co-sign for the account. You should check with the bank what they require from you.

When you are opening a bank account, make sure you understand what fees you will need to pay for keeping the account. You should keep all the information concerning your bank account together in a safe place, including your monthly or quarterly statements.

What is a joint account?

A joint bank account is one that you have with someone else, usually your partner. This account is owned and can be accessed by both of you. If one of you dies, the remaining account owner owns the account.

If you and your partner have a joint account and you break up, you should close the account and ensure that your salary or Centrelink benefits are paid into your own personal account.

Bank account cards and PINs

You are normally issued with a bank account card and PIN so that you can access your money by withdrawing it from ATMs or using eftpos in shops. You should never write down your PIN anywhere near where you keep your card, or disclose your PIN number or provide your bankcard to another person. If you do, you risk them accessing your money without your permission or stealing it. The bank may not reimburse you for the stolen money if you have given the person permission to access your account by telling them the PIN.

If you lose your bankcard you should tell your bank immediately (dedicated lost card contact details are generally available on the bank’s website) and if you suspect it stolen, you should call the police immediately.

If you intend to travel overseas and use your bankcard you should notify your bank or financial institution in advance – they may suspect fraud if transactions appear from another country and you haven’t let them know you are travelling.

Tip: Emails that seem to be from your bank asking for your log in details are often scams. If you have any doubt at all, call your bank instead.