'Debt vultures' are generally defined as debt management services that often target people in financial hardship with poor quality debt advice and services, and may even offer conflicting advice, charge high hidden fees and leave people worse off than they were before. 

Need somewhere to store cash and earn interest? The table below features savings accounts with some of the highest interest rates on the market.

Provider

4000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
  • Bonus rate for the first 4 months from account opening
  • No account keeping fees
  • No minimum balance

High Interest Savings Account (< $250k)

  • Bonus rate for the first 4 months from account opening
  • No account keeping fees
  • No minimum balance
010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

Savings Maximiser (<$100k)

    010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
    • Earn up to 5.40% pa by depositing $1,000 in the previous month
    • No account fees
    • Easy access to your money

    Saver Account (<$250k)

    • Earn up to 5.40% pa by depositing $1,000 in the previous month
    • No account fees
    • Easy access to your money
    4000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
    • A high-interest online savings account with no monthly fees, easy withdrawals and award-winning digital banking

    Savings Account (Amounts < $250k)

    • A high-interest online savings account with no monthly fees, easy withdrawals and award-winning digital banking
    05001$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
    • Maximum Age - 24

    Goal Saver

    • Maximum Age - 24
    02000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
    No monthly fees
    • Download the App to open your account
    • Get better visibility of your spending within App!
    • Deposit $200 per month to activate bonus interest
    No monthly fees

    Save Account

    • Download the App to open your account
    • Get better visibility of your spending within App!
    • Deposit $200 per month to activate bonus interest
    0200$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
    • No fees or penalties for withdrawing money
    • Savings guaranteed up to $250,000
    • Maximise your savings and reach your goals faster with Auto-Savings

    Bonus Saver Account (Amounts < $250k)

    • No fees or penalties for withdrawing money
    • Savings guaranteed up to $250,000
    • Maximise your savings and reach your goals faster with Auto-Savings
    010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details
    For customers aged 14-35 years
    For customers aged 14-35 years

    Future Saver Account ( < $50k)

      010000$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]$product[$field["value"]]More details

      Boost Saver

        Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

        All products with a link to a product provider’s website have a commercial marketing relationship between us and these providers. These products may appear prominently and first within the search tables regardless of their attributes and may include products marked as promoted, featured or sponsored. The link to a product provider’s website will allow you to get more information or apply for the product. By de-selecting “Show online partners only” additional non-commercialised products may be displayed and re-sorted at the top of the table. For more information on how we’ve selected these “Sponsored”, “Featured” and “Promoted” products, the products we compare, how we make money, and other important information about our service, please click here. Rates correct as of February 28, 2024. View disclaimer.

        According to Consumer Action Law Centre, approximately 1.4 to 1.9 million Australians have paid for debt management or credit repair services in the last 12 months.

        These firms, almost entirely unregulated, have attracted plenty of attention during COVID, as more people flocked to them to escape their financial woes. 

        For example, NAB in July said it would no longer deal with unlicensed debt operators, after finding out one in 10 of its customers in financial hardship had engaged with one. 

        Consumer Action's research found almost one in five (17%) people reported an increased likelihood of using such services during the pandemic, and more than half (55%) have seen or heard advertising from them in the past year.

        Consumer Action CEO Gerard Brody said debt vultures and a population struggling with bills was a "dangerous mix". 

        “People are genuinely shocked when they discover the lack of rules and obligations on firms offering debt advice, debt negotiation, credit repair and money management services," Mr Brody said. 

        The community expects the Government to introduce strong protections—that’s why 92% of Australians want the same protections against debt vultures as in the UK, where debt advice must be in your best interests and tailored to your individual circumstances."

        The government did recently announce some legislation changes in this area, with debt management firms required to hold Australian credit licenses from April onwards. 

        However, this will not cover debts related to energy, telcos, or other debts that are not credit products.

        “The Morrison government is implementing the most significant reforms to Australia’s credit framework in a decade to increase the flow of credit to households and businesses, reduce red tape and strengthen protections for vulnerable consumers," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

        Mr Brody says more needs to be done. 

        “The Federal Treasurer has taken a good first step in committing to licensing part of the industry, but this report shows reform must go further by banning upfront fees, introducing a best interests’ duty and covering the whole industry," he said. 

        "Anything less would leave gaping holes and undermine the effectiveness of the reform."

        Consumer Action's recommended debt vulture framework includes: 

        1. A high bar for entry by ASIC or another licensing organisation
        2. Ban upfront fees to stop rip-offs, as well as fees for no service 
        3. Make debt management firms members of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
        4. Have a duty to act in a client's best interests 
        5. Ban unsolicited selling to overcome high-pressure sales tactics 
        6. Require firms to inform people of free options (seen below). 

        ASIC’s MoneySmart lists many helpful, free resources you can use such as:

        • The National Debt Helpline for help with food and bills (1800 007 007);

        • The Salvation Army (13 72 58) or St Vincent de Paul Society (13 18 12) for help with food and bills;

        • Household Relief Loans, which give interest-free loans for up to $3,000;

        • Centrelink crisis payments or advanced payments;

        • Temporary housing (see ASIC for a state-by-state list); and

        • Free financial counsellors in your area

        Being debt-free the top priority 

        According to Quantum Market Research, which conducted the research on behalf of Consumer Action, being ''debt-free' is the top symbol of success in 2020, the first time it has been so. 

        This might partly explain why many Australians are flocking to debt management firms. 

        According to the Reserve Bank, credit card debt, which is some of the most expensive debt in terms of interest rates, fell by 24% from March to September in 2020

        At $21.2 billion our level of credit card debt is at a 16-year low, and is down almost 30% year-on-year. 

        Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash