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Showing superannuation funds based on investment performance of
and a super balance of
Past 5-year return
New

% p.a

FYTD return

3.07

% p.a

Company
Calc fees on 50k

$301

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
SuperRatings Platinum 2021 MyChoice Super10 Yr Platinum Performance 2011-2021
Go to site
More details
Past 5-year return
New

% p.a

FYTD return

4.08

% p.a

Company
Calc fees on 50k

$425

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
SuperRatings Gold 2021 MySuper
Go to site
More details
Past 5-year return
New

% p.a

FYTD return

-

% p.a

Company
Calc fees on 50k

$365

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
SuperRatings Silver 2021 MyChoice Super
Go to site

Vanguard Growth Index Fund

More details
Past 5-year return
8.66

% p.a

FYTD return

3.68

% p.a

Company
Calc fees on 50k

$458

Features
Advisory services
Death insurance
Income protection
Online access
Term deposits
Variety of options
SuperRatings awards
SuperRatings Platinum 2021 MySuper
Go to site

MySuper Balanced

More details

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What types of fees do super funds charge?

When shopping for a low fee super fund, it's important to pay attention to the types of super fees your fund charges, and how they compare to those of other funds.

Australian super funds charge a range of fees for different purposes, usually on a monthly basis or if you take an action - such as switching funds. The most common types of superannuation fees include:

  • Administration fees – General fees to cover the cost of managing and operating your super fund membership.
  • Advice fees – Fees for financial advice given about your super and investments.
  • Investment fees – Fees for investment management, which can differ depending on the fund and investment strategy.
  • Switching fees – Fees for changing your investment mix within the fund. Note that exit fees associated with closing or consolidating super accounts can no longer be charged, as of 1 July 2019.
  • Transaction fees – Fees payable when you make a transaction such as contributing to the fund or withdrawing money.
  • Insurance premiums – The cost of insurance coverage such as life insurance, income protection cover and/or total and permanent disability (TPD) cover.

Typically, these fees are deducted from your super balance any time you fulfil the criteria for being charged. In the case of admin fees, you’re usually charged each month that you’re a member of the fund.

What is a low fee for a superannuation fund?

One of the easiest ways to find out what a competitive super fund fee is in Australia is to compare funds against each other. But, you'll need to make sure you're comparing apples with apples in order to reach an accurate result.

RateCity's superannuation comparison tables can help you do this. Simply use the 'more filters' function and sort by 'calc fees on 50k'. Then, answer 'yes' to 'include all products'. This will sort your results from lowest to highest fees charged, based on an estimate of the fees on a $50,000 balance, invested in a fund's balanced option (check the disclaimer on the rate table for more specifics).

Keep in mind that the fees your fund may charge can differ based on your age, your super account balance and your investment option.

Do low-fee super funds equal better returns?

The short answer is that it depends. In some cases, choosing a fund with lower fees may be worthwhile because lower fees means more of your money can be reinvested and grow over time. For example, if your super balance is relatively low, you might choose a low-fee fund so that the fees don’t cut into your modest balance too significantly. 

Over the long term, however, lower fees don’t necessarily mean better returns for you. Your returns are based on a number of factors, including how you choose to invest your money, your particular super fund’s performance and the performance of the market.

Considering past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future performance, comparing fees should be an important factor of choosing a super fund that could play a part in growing your super over the long term.

Other factors to consider when choosing a super fund

Selecting an appropriate super fund isn’t just about choosing the fund with the lowest fees. Here are some of the other key considerations:

  • Performance This refers to the investment returns a super fund has seen over a specified period, expressed as a percentage. Keep in mind that super is a long-term investment and returns fluctuate regularly – so it may be best to look at a fund’s overall returns over a longer-term period, minus fees and tax. Past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance, but it's worth comparing your fund's investment performance over at least five years.
  • Investment options Most super funds offer different investment options ranging from stable (such as cash investment) to highly volatile (such as 100 per cent investment in shares and property), with balanced options in between. It's worth noting that funds with higher risk investment options may charge higher fees than more conservative funds, as it can cost more to invest in higher growth assets. Make sure that the fund you choose has a suitable investment option for your needs.
  • Extra benefits Some employers pay more than the minimum contributions through certain funds. Consider whether you have access to an employer- or industry-specific fund where you can take advantage of these benefits.
  • Insurance Most funds offer some level of life insurance cover for a fee. Check what coverage is available and the cost, to decide whether it's right for you.
  • Customer service Look for a fund that can offer support when you need it, and consider the fees charged for services like financial advice.

Which funds have the lowest superannuation fees?

There are a number of different types of super funds in Australia, each with different priorities and as a result, different fee structures.

When searching for low fee super funds, it's important to understand the different types of funds there are, and why they charge the fees that they do.

The five main types of super funds are:

  1. Retail super funds
  2. Industry super funds
  3. Corporate/company super funds
  4. Public sector super funds
  5. Self-managed super funds (SMSFs)

The cost of the fees charged by each of these funds can vary greatly. For example, industry super funds don’t pay commissions to brokers, which other funds (such as corporate funds) charge as indirect costs associated with managing your account.

Industry super funds are not-for-profit funds that are run to benefit members. They tend to charge their members low fees compared to other funds.

In contrast, retail super funds are typically run by banks or investment companies, and aim to keep some of the profit they make to distribute to shareholders. Often, retail funds come at a higher cost than other funds. However, many offer a lower cost MySuper product option that may be better suited to some.

While often restricted to state and federal government employees, public sector funds also tend to offer members lower fees.

SMSFs may offer the most flexibility when it comes to fees, as you control the investments, insurance, and take on the management yourself. But keep in mind, SMSFs do tend to come with a lot more work and often a higher level of risk, so it's important to weigh up the pros and cons before choosing this type of fund.

Can you manage your own super fund?

Yes, you can manage your own super fund. Self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) are a popular type of superannuation in Australia. 

An SMSF is your own personal super fund that gives you complete control over how your money is invested. SMSFs have similar benefits to professionally managed funds, such as concessional tax rates and the ability to accept contributions from your employer. But, they can also offer more flexibility and other other unique features.

Before you decide to look after your own superannuation with an SMSF, it's important to do your research. Consider speaking to a financial adviser to ensure you’re making an informed decision.

How to compare low-fee superannuation funds

You can find out how your current super fund’s fees and costs shape up by doing a super fund comparison. Look at other funds' fee structures and costs to weigh up whether the fees you’re paying are reasonable.

Remember that low fees aren’t the only yardstick for determining the best fund for your retirement savings. It’s worth also considering long-term performance, investment options, benefits and insurance to get a clearer picture of whether a super fund is right for your individual financial situation.

Super fund comparison tools, such as RateCity's superannuation comparison tables, allow you to compare all of these factors and more, including any SuperRatings awards received by individual funds.

Can I transfer money from overseas into my superannuation account?

Yes, you can transfer money from overseas into your superannuation account – under certain conditions. First, you must provide your tax file number to your fund. Second, if you are aged between 65 and 74, you must have worked at least 40 hours within 30 consecutive days in a financial year. (Australians under 65 aren’t subject to a work test; Australians aged 75 and over cannot receive contributions to their superannuation account.)

Money transferred from overseas will generally count to both your concessional contributions limit and your non-concessional contributions limit. You will have to pay income tax on the applicable fund earnings component of any money transferred from overseas. You might also be liable for excess contributions tax.

How can I withdraw my superannuation?

There are three different ways you can withdraw your superannuation:

  • Lump sum
  • Account-based pension
  • Part lump sum and part account-based pension

Two rules apply if you choose to receive an account-based pension (also known as an income stream):

  • You must receive payments at least once per year
  • You must withdraw a minimum amount per year
    • Age 55-64 = 4%
    • Age 65-74 = 5%
    • Age 75-79 = 6%
    • Age 80-84 = 7%
    • Age 85-89 = 9%
    • Age 90-94 = 11%
    • Age 95+ = 14%

If you want to work out how long your account-based pension might last, click here to access ASIC’s account-based pension calculator.

What happens if my employer falls behind on my superannuation payments?

The Australian Taxation Office will investigate if your employer falls behind on your superannuation payments or doesn’t pay at all. You can report your employer with this online tool.

How do you calculate superannuation from a total package?

Superannuation is calculated at the rate of 9.5 per cent of your ‘ordinary-time earnings’. (For most people, ordinary-time earnings are their gross annual salary or wages.) So if you had a salary of $50,000, your superannuation would be 9.5 per cent of that, or $4,750. This would be paid on top of your salary.

As the Australian Taxation Office explains, some items are excluded from ordinary-time earnings. They include:

  • Overtime work paid at overtime rates
  • Expense allowances that are fully expended
  • Expenses that are reimbursed
  • Unfair dismissal payments
  • Workers’ compensation payments
  • Parental leave
  • Jury duty
  • Defence reserve service
  • Unused annual leave when employment is terminated
  • Unused long service leave when employment is terminated
  • Unused sick leave when employment is terminated

Although the superannuation guarantee is currently at 9.5 per cent, it is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

What age can I withdraw my superannuation?

You can withdraw your superannuation (or at least some of it) when you reach ‘preservation age’. The preservation age is based on date of birth. Here are the six different categories:

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

When you reach preservation age, you can withdraw all your superannuation if you’re retired. If you’re still working, you can begin a ‘transition to retirement’, which allows you to withdraw 10 per cent of their superannuation each financial year.

You can also withdraw all your superannuation once you reach 65 years.

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.