Ask LH: What’s A Good Debit Card For A Student?

Ask LH: What’s A Good Debit Card For A Student?
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Hi Lifehacker, I am turning 16 in less than a month and I am on the lookout for a debit card for a student that can do purchases online, offers online banking and gives me the ability to bank money at the local Australia Post. Any suggestions? Thanks, The$Card

Debit card picture from Shutterstock

Dear The$Card,

All major banks in Australia provide debit card options for customers in your age bracket. Presumably, you won’t be dealing with huge sums of money as a 16 year old, so the bank and account type you plump for won’t make much difference to your earnings.

That said, it can’t hurt to take a look at the various incentives each bank offers. Spend an afternoon reviewing the under 18 account options on each bank’s website — they’ll have tables which makes it easier to compare and contrast features. You can also use financial comparison sites such as Mozo which offer useful lists of savings accounts to help you narrow down your choices.

In your case, the main things to look out for are unlimited transactions and ATM withdrawals as well as the type of rewards that are offered for making regular deposits.

If you plan to bank online, make sure the financial institution has an application that supports your phone’s operating system. Also be aware that some banks only provide a mobile browser version of their website while others have put a lot of time and effort into a proper app optimised for phones and tablets. CBA’s KaChing app is one of the better options on the market so use that as your measuring stick.

Finding a bank that allows you to make money transactions with Australia Post won’t be an issue — its [email protected] service is supported by around 70 financial institutions. (You can see a list of participating banks at the Australia Post website.)

If any readers want to nominate a specific financial institution, let The$Card know why you rate it in the comments section below.

See also: How To Get Cash When You Lose Your ATM Card | Planhacker: Be Careful With Direct Debit Payments | Aussies Pay $600 Million In ATM Fees Annually


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  • I’m a student and have a bank account with NAB. I opted to go with them because they don’t charge account keeping fees, have the option of a Visa Debit card in place of a regular ATM card, and I can use RediATMs for free. I also like that I was able to open a savings account at the same time that I opened my transactions account (NAB iSaver), which has made it far easier to save up money for any major expenses I might have. I also earn interest on my savings. They have a fantastic phone app that works on Android and iOS, which was a key deciding factor. Their iPad app is also excellent.

    All of this being said, however, while I am a student I’m also well into my twenties, so my positive experience may not be the same for someone younger than I am. But it has been positive nevertheless, so I will happily recommend NAB to anyone who is seeking a new bank to do business with.

  • I am with CBA and they do have a decent support of Apps on all three major OS’s. Some better than others though. There’s no fee for students and if you live in a major city that has 7/11’s then you will get no account processing fee (or whatever they are called) using their ATMs as well as the banks ATMs.

  • I’m with the Bank of Queensland with a day 2 day account, there’s no account keeping fees and it comes standard with a Visa debit card. Also free transactions at just about any Redi ATM which is rather handy. Most credit unions use Redi ATM so usually you can use those for free.

    One of the downsides is they charge you if you withdraw money at the post office. (3 bucks) and their mobile app is simply a redirect to their mobile site, sadly.

    Not sure if the account is available to someone under the age of 18 though..

  • I am have a NAB Easy account, it has no monthly fees, no ATM fees (other then the ones other ATM’s charge) and comes with a Visa debit card with PayWave but the best part is that there isn’t any eligibility criteria.

    I have been with NAB for three years and i have never had an issue with them.

  • Our campus has an ANZ on site, so pretty much every student goes with them. Everyone else usually just goes with the same bank as their family.

  • UBank (NAB) to save money with great interest rate.

    To get the extra 0.9% interest transfer the $200 needed from UBank into an account with another bank each month and let UBank suck it back.

    Citibank for a debit card.

    * No annual fees

    * Has bank account number so you can transfer money directly from UBank to card rather than having to transfer to intermediate account first as with other cards such as 28 Degrees with associated time delays of up to 3 days per transaction.

    * No foreign currency transaction (FCT) fees for web purchases or FCT or ATM cash advance fees when travelling overseas.

    * Works on MS US site and possibly other US sites.

    * Works on UK sites such as Dover Calais ferry that charge GBP3 transaction fee for credit cards and no charge for debit cards.

    * Unfortunately, like all of the credit and debit cards I have, the PIN doesn’t work in UK or France though it does in Germany (I think), Spain, Portugal and former Yugoslavia countries. You have to sign.

    A real pain when you arrive from UK with no fuel in tank (because UK is hideously expensive compared to France GBP1.35 = AUD2.24/L) and find that today (15 July) is a public holiday (Bastille Day) and that payment kiosks at supermarches (much cheaper than gas stations) are closed and only option is to use PIN card at bowser which I don’t have. Fortunately, I found that the hypermarches were open so I could buy “cheap” diesel for EUR1.32 = AUD 1.90/L compared to EUR1.45 = AUD2.08/L at gas stations.

  • I recommend Citibank Plus. It is the ONLY account in Australia that is truly fee-free, including overseas use. You won’t pay anything to withdraw money at ATMs overseas and it comes with a free Visa debit card that allows you to also make purchases in-store and online anywhere in the world and not pay the 2-4% currency conversion fee most other debit and credit cards in Australia slug you with.
    In Australia, you can withdraw cash from any Citibank, Westpac, St. George, Bank of Melbourne and Bank SA ATM and not pay any operator fees as well. Alternatively, you can also withdraw cash at any Australia Post, Woolies or Coles outlet (no purchase required) and pay no fees.
    Based on our very extensive research, it is currently the BEST transaction account in Australia.

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