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Westpac announces move to help Centrelink customers battling cost of living

The proactive decision hopes to save these account holders from being hit with a monthly fee.

Westpac has announced a move to help its customers who receive an Australian government benefit payment like Centrelink save a bit of money.

The country’s most vulnerable and lowest-paid workers have been holding onto every dollar they can during the cost-of-living crisis. Relatively small fees or charges can put a dent in their savings and that’s why one of Australia’s biggest banks has stepped in.

Westpac has revealed it will be moving nearly all customers who receive government financial assistance to an account with no account-keeping fees.

Westpac building with insert of Westpac customer at ATM
The move will save loads of Westpac customers from being charged a monthly fee. (Source: Getty)

Do you have a story? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

A Westpac Choice account, for example, can incur a $5 account-keeping fee unless a minimum deposit is made every month, if the account holder is under 30 or a student. Some concession customers might have been using accounts like these without realising they could have that monthly fee waived.

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But it’s hoped the bank’s proactive move will help those who might be struggling.

“This account gives customers access to the Westpac app and a range of other features including a dynamic CVC for added security,” a spokesperson for the bank said.

“Customers have the choice to continue to keep their existing account if they wish. The majority of concession customers already use a low-cost bank account, however, under these changes, more customers will be moved to this option.

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“Westpac has also refunded account-keeping, debit-interest and overdrawn fees dating back to July 2019 for customers in ASIC’s Better Banking for Indigenous Consumers Project pilot postcodes and those receiving ABSTUDY.”

Consumer group CHOICE found Australia's Big Four banks had “limited” options for customers wanting to open a no-fee transaction account.

It discovered NAB's Classic Banking Account had the least amount of restrictions and only charged monthly fees if the customer opted for a platinum debit card instead of the bank's regular Visa offering.

ANZ’s Access Advantage is similar to Westpac’s Choice account, where customers will have to fork out $5 every month if they don’t deposit up to $2,000 per month. ANZ’s rules require you to be a student, under 25 or over 60, or receiving government support payments to avoid that charge.

Commonwealth Bank’s Everyday Account Smart Access has a $4 monthly account-keeping fee if you don’t deposit the same amount, are over 30, aren’t a student or apprentice or on certain pension payments.

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