Bank account review in Papua New Guinea

December 2018 update: I moved from Westpac to Kina Bank to BSP Kundu Package and will stay with BSP for now.

Here is a banking comparison for the main banks in PNG. Since some of the information on their websites dates back to 2009 (looking at you Westpac), take this info with a pinch of salt. I have only looked at features that I regularly use as an expat so you may need to dig deeper if you are writing cheques or need to overdraw. All banks charge K2.50 for you to use another bank’s ATM; the ATM fee below is for using their own ATMs.

Fee summaries

 Monthly feeEFTPOS feeATM feeInternet transferInternational TTVisa Debit
ANZ Access EverydayFreeK0.75K0.75FreeK50K100 + K8/m
ANZ Access PremiumK10FreeFreeFreeK50K100 + K8/m
       
BSP Kundu StandardFreeK0.50K0.50K1.50K40Free
BSP Kundu PackageK9.50FreeFreeFreeK40Free
       
Westpac All-in-OneK7.50K0.60K0.60K0.60K50K100 per year
Westpac Choice BasicFreeK1.50K1.50K1.50K50NA
       
Kina SavingsFree*FreeFreeFreeK50NA

*Minimum balance of K500 needed at all times

Source: ANZ, BSP, Westpac, Kina

Recommendation

If you want an account with no fees, Kina Savings is the way to go; just keep a decent amount of cash in there. I switched to Kina briefly and overall had a good experience. The Kina branch in Vision City was very helpful over the weekend with lodging all the paperwork. Unfortunately, I had to leave Kina as their online banking system does not show transaction descriptions which is essential for our budgeting; see image below. I also had issues setting up 2FA with a Telikom PNG mobile number, had to use Digicel, and they don’t have a Debit card yet.
Note: Kina has recently acquired ANZ’s commercial, retail and SME businesses in Papua New Guinea and I have been told are investing in “digital banking” in a big way. 2019 will be a big year for Kina and some decent competition for BSP will be welcomed.

POS PURCHASE and CASH BACK are both EFTPOS transactions. Kina told me “they have plans” to show the business name and location soon.

If you want a Visa Debit card, BSP Kundu Package is the way to go. They also have decent online banking and the most ATMs in PNG.

I now use the Kundu Package and and saving way more on fees as we use our cards everyday, regularly use internet transfers and have a scheduled payment set up for our Haus Meri. Basically, you need to decide if you are going to use your account enough to chalk up more than the monthly fee in various transaction fees. If you are, then pay the monthly fee with the Package and transact away.

Debit cards have become commonplace since I originally wrote this article in 2016. Some retailers even have tap/wave facilities on their EFTPOS machines now.

Small mention goes to MiBank (Nationwide Microbank) as they are another bank in PNG however their high fees and lack of internet banking mean they miss the mark when it comes to expat banking options.

Foreign currency exchange

Telegraphic Transfer, or TT, is an antiquated way of describing the transfer money overseas. All the big PNG banks offer it and charge, on average, K50 to do it. There is another option if you don’t want to use a bank though…

MoniPlusFX is a dedicated foreign exchange company that you can use to get kina out of PNG. I haven’t used it so can’t speak for their exchange rates but K25 per transfer is far cheaper than the banks. MoniPlusFX arrange an exchange rate and you tell them how much you want to move. You transfer from your PNG account into their PNG account and then they transfer from their Australian account to your Australian account.

Australian cards to use in PNG

While I have your attention, I’ll recommend a couple of Australian cards for your expat/travel life.

Citibank Plus – Fee free Mastercard Debit card that has no international transaction fees and is usually on point with market exchange rates; perfect for international ATM use.
I know at least one expat who gets paid in AUD that does not use a PNG bank account as this is a reasonable way to use AUD in PNG.
Also check out Macquarie Bank Transaction Account for another decent fee free option (Visa Debit).

ANZ Travel Adventures – Visa credit card that also has no international fees but has a bunch of Virgin Velocity perks and an annual fee. Check out referral sites like pointhacks.com.au for Velocity point bonuses if you are going to sign up. Perfect for online shopping in a foreign currency or general use outside of Australia.

OzBargain has a bunch more recommendations.

6 responses so far.

  1. You left off Nationwide Microbank, which is cheaper than the banks and has a debit card. There is also an alternative for sending money overseas – MoniPlusFX, fee is only K25 and there is no deduction at the other end in AUD or NZD!

    • Simon says:

      I added those two institutions Mal.

      From their website, MiBank is more expensive when it comes to fees. If they update their website with a more competitive fee schedule, I will include them in the comparison table.

      MoniPlusFX looks like a great alternative to the banks, thanks.

  2. Annie says:

    For BSP the TT cost only K40 instead of the written K50. What we heard is.. Kina bank does not have TT licensing. For an expat, if required to transfer $$, best stick to BSP as usually ANZ have some failure in sending $$ out due to limitation of foreign currency.

  3. herbie says:

    BSP is just K40 for internet transfers and i have transferred at 5am and the money was in my NAB by midday same day. Other times i have transferred in the afternoon (pre 3pm) and the money is there the next morning.

  4. Rohan says:

    As always your site is a great source of information. I applied for a Citibank fee free visa debit card and received a MasterCard instead. A trick for young players the Citibank site is careful to only talk about your debit card omitting to declare that they have changed to using Mastercard instead of Visa cards for this account on the main page. This may not impact PNG but some countries ie Cuba (in 2016) will not accept Mastercard at all. I have stood in a Cuban bank and chatted with tourists who have been declined service with a Mastercard.
    From the Citibank Site (after a site search):
    “Why am I receiving a Mastercard? You’re receiving a new Citi Debit Mastercard because we are no longer issuing Visa Debit cards.”
    See link below for confirmation:
    https://www.citibank.com.au/mcdebit/#Citibank
    However Citibank was prompt in accepting my application and processing and I intend to test the Mastercard overseas in the near future and then in PNG.
    Thanks Simon for a very informative site on PNG.

    • Simon says:

      Thanks for the feedback Rohan, I will update the post.
      We were switched to MasterCard when our cards expired last and have noticed no change in how we can use it overseas, PNG included.

      When we were in Cuba we had the then Citibank Visa rejected as Citibank was American. Had to use the ING card to get cash out which was fine as it is a European bank.

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