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.
|Monthly fee||EFTPOS fee||ATM fee||Internet transfer||International TT||Visa Debit|
|ANZ Access Everyday||Free||K0.75||K0.75||Free||K50||K100 + K8/m|
|ANZ Access Premium||K10||Free||Free||Free||K50||K100 + K8/m|
|BSP Kundu Standard||Free||K0.50||K0.50||K1.50||K40||Free|
|BSP Kundu Package||K9.50||Free||Free||Free||K40||Free|
|Westpac All-in-One||K7.50||K0.60||K0.60||K0.60||K50||K100 per year|
|Westpac Choice Basic||Free||K1.50||K1.50||K1.50||K50||NA|
*Minimum balance of K500 needed at all times
If you want an account with no fees, Kina Savings is the way to go. 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.
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 compared to Westpac 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.
2019 update: 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.