Banking is one of those things which is so damn boring that no-one especially wants to think about it for more time than is absolutely necessary.
Your pay goes in, your buying goes out, and unless something goes horribly wrong with either of those elements then for the most part people are happy to ignore the issue.
And banks know this.
They know that you don’t want to go through and change all your automatic payments. They know that you don’t want to have to remember another PIN or access code. They know what you don’t want to have to learn another institution’s netbanking layout.
And they’ve done tricky emotional things to you too that make you less likely to change banks, like sign you up when you were a kid so you associate the bank with bouncy cartoon characters and cool money boxes rather than eye-gouging fees.
Here’s the thing that we all learned in the Royal Commission into the Financial Sector, though: wow, banks just hate your guts.
Once you’re a customer the aim is to shake you down for fees and charges, often opaque ones that you’d never notice, and assume that you won’t go “wait a second, I’m paying literally hundreds of dollars a year for the privilege of accessing my own money!”
And while the Royal Commission was very big on large corporations blaming “bad apples” within their banking culture and making showy apologies, there’s zero sign that they’ve decided to do right by the people who’ve been parking their money with them for years.
So: it’s time to do some searching around.
One big development in recent times is the emergence of online banks. The downside is that they don’t have shopfronts that you can go into in order to do things like deposit cheques not via post, for example, or discuss things face to face with a human.
However, if the lions share of your banking is pretty much done digitally – as is the case with most people – then it’s worth looking at them, since that’s where the lowest fees are. Often in the form of no fees at all – including at ATMs, or using your card overseas. That’s cash in your hand, right there.
And don’t panic about going with a smaller bank: all Australian deposits are guaranteed by the government up to $250,000. And if you have more than that… um, why are you leaving it in a bank account? Don’t you have investments to leverage or something, Wealtho McMoneybags?
At the very least it’s worth doing a search and check what the likes of UBank or ING are offering their customers and then giving your current bank a call and saying “so, what will you offer me in order to keep me as a customer?” And don’t hang up until you have some fees waived.
Because they’re not going to offer it just out of the goodness of their record year on year profits (and misleading claims about where said profits end up), that’s for sure.