During your time in Australia it is a good idea to open a bank account. If you are planning to work in Sydney you will need to open a bank account. Employers will pay wages into your bank account and will not pay wages in cash. To open a bank account, you must show your passport as proof of identity.
There are many banks around the UNSW area and most offer student bank accounts, especially designed for students. It is a good idea to compare bank charges and fees and how often you can withdraw money from cash machines (or Automatic Teller Machine(ATM)) each month. This is important as you do not want to carry large amounts of money around with you.
There are three financial institutions on campus:
With these institutions you can set up savings accounts, investment accounts, and/or cheque accounts. They also handle overseas transactions, such as drafts, travellers cheques and foreign currency exchange.
Australian banks are registered and regulated under government legislation in order to safeguard the funds of depositors. Bank cash-dispenser machines, known as Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are widespread, as is the use of Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) in shops and businesses.
Australia’s central bank is the Reserve Bank. The Reserve Bank regulates Australia’s commercial banks. There are four of these:
Australia has many other financial institutions - building societies and credit unions. These offer many of the same services as banks, but are subject to less strict, state-based regulations.
To open an account with a bank, building society or credit union, you need to show proof of your identity.
Cash dispensing machines, known as Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), are widespread. It costs nothing to use the ATMs that are operated by the bank with which you have an account. However, you may be charged a small fee to use ATMs operated by other banks. If, for example, you have an ANZ account and withdraw money from a NAB machine, you will incur a transfer fee of about $2.
The official currency is the Australian dollar. The currency consists of notes in denominations of $100, $50, $20 $10 and $5, and coins in denominations of $2.00, $1.00, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents. In 1991, one and two-cent coins were withdrawn from circulation. Cash transactions are now rounded to the nearest five cents.
Many shops and retail outlets have EFTPOS facilities (electronic funds transfer at point of sale). EFTPOS allows you to pay for items by using your credit card or Australian debit card.
Credit cards such as Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and JCB can all be used in Australia. Please note that repayments to most card accounts can only be made in the country in which the card is issued.
Credit cards are usually not issued to international students in Australia. Therefore, if you want to use a credit card you should make arrangements either to open your own account before you leave home, or to obtain a card on your parents' account.
Day-to-day living in Australia is comparable to other international study destinations, and can often be cheaper. A student living in Homestay accommodation would require approximately AUD$370 per week to live in reasonable comfort.
Some approximate costs include:
To make a currency calculation click here.
Australia has an advanced, deregulated, market economy. It is the 13th largest economy in the world and represents 1.7% of the world economy. The Australian dollar is the world’s fifth most traded currency and is internationally regarded as stable.
Demand for Australia’s exports, principally mining and agricultural products, has remained strong in recent times. This has insulated Australia from many of the economic problems experienced in Europe and America and elsewhere.
The Australian economy has experienced 18 consecutive years of growth since 1992, averaging an annual growth rate of 3.3%. The economy is forecast to continue growing. Unemployment is low, at around 5%.
Australia has 4 of the 8 triple A rated banks in the world. The financial sector is very strong and continues to be stable in the recent uncertain economic times.