Aussies spend $364 in bank fees each year, here’s how to avoid them

Aussies paid $3.56 billion in personal bank fees last financial year, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

This is around $364 per household every year spent on fees. The good news is that fees have dropped $404 million that the year before.

But if you want to bring down those fees more, here are some helpful tips to get your started.

Check which cards you need

Perhaps you have a credit card, a savings account and a joint account with your partner – do you really need all three?

A good place to start is by assessing how you manage your finances and if you can close an account, you probably should.

ANZ said you should also consider what the minimum balance for each account is to make sure you’re not incurring extra service fees.

“You could also consider looking for accounts with lower or no fees. Sometimes when changing banks or changing how you use your accounts, you may find that you have unused accounts that you forgot to close that may still be incurring fees,” ANZ said.

“This is a good opportunity to do some housekeeping and close any accounts that you no longer use or need.”

Expect the unexpected

CBA suggests making sure you have enough in your transaction account to cover your everyday expenses plus some extra money to pay for unexpected expenses so you don’t fall below zero.

“Work out how much you need as a buffer to make sure you are not missing out on interest you could earn if you had it in a savings account,” CBA said.

“When you set your budget, make sure you allow for your annual, monthly and quarterly bills so large bills don’t come as an unexpected shock.”

Remember to factor in your annual car registration and services, visits to the dentist as well as events such as weddings and birthdays.

Don’t be scared to ask for a refund

If you have been charged fees you don’t think are reasonable or were due to circumstances out of your control, call your bank and request a refund.

The credit card refund process can vary, but according to, it will generally follow these four steps:

  1. Contact the merchant. Get in touch with the merchant involved in the transaction and let them know you want a refund. Make sure you explain the reason for the refund and ask if there are any specific details they will require.
  2. Organise your required documents or items. If you are returning an item for a refund, follow the requirements outlined for a postage or in-store return. If you are requesting a refund for some other reason, provide the merchant with supporting documents. For example, you may need the original receipt or credit card statement details that show you have been incorrectly charged.
  3. Provide your credit card details. Present the credit card that you have used for the transaction, or securely give the merchant details of the card (if over the phone or online) so that they can process the refund.
  4. Sign any required documents. Carefully read and fill out any return or refund documents as requested by the merchant. This is for their records and helps them verify the refund.

Shop around

If you don’t think the credit card you have now is well-suited to your lifestyle or needs then you can and should switch.

You can transfer your balance to a new card, which will often come with incentives like an interest-free period to make it easier to pay the card off.

A good way to figure out which card is right for you is to visit the MoneySmart website and use its credit card comparison tool.

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