Age-based discrimination in savings accounts

Looking for a high-interest savings account, I came across the ‘Future Saver Account’ from BOQ. However it says it’s only available for customers aged 14-35 years. Is this legal? Can someone 36 or older really be prevented from opening one of these accounts?


Possibly contravenes the age discrimination act, at least in spirit.
A query to the Australian Human Rights Commission may answer that.

But there are many examples of special deals available based on age, either under a certain age, or over a certain age, or in an age range, so I doubt it would be illegal per se.


Yes, there are special deals with the banks etc for over 55’s, or seniors or even at MacDonalds and others on pension day or free ….

I suspect when one looks at all the deals there is no clear cut answer. Interestingly,

But also note,

Age discrimination | Australian Human Rights Commission

Hopefully there is another source that clarifies the apparent conflict to us average consumers?


It won’t be discrimination. If it was, then concession prices for children, school students, under 12s etc would automatically fall foul of the legislation. Other examples includes increased insurance premiums with age, higher car insurance with young drivers or competitions restricted to particular age groups.

BoQ aren’t denying the services they offer, just marketing an account to 14-35s to make it attractive for them to open or retain an existing account with them. Once that age group is captured, they are likely to be customers for life. This is something BoQ and other bank know is the case.

It is worth noting the base interest rate for the 14-35s and their smart saver accounts are the same, 0.05%. It is only the conditional bonus which have different rates. These bonus rates also change depending on account balances.

There are also special BoQ accounts for minors which have lower interest rates than that offered to other age groups.

One could argue that slightly higher interest rates encourages the 14-35 age group to save, which is a positive habit to get into.


You may be able to negotiate with the bank. Years ago, my partner didn’t like the fact that she was being charged a monthly fee on her CommBank savings account. When she complained in-branch and threatened to move to a different bank, they opened a fee-free ‘Pensioner’ account for her, even though she was about 20 years away from being eligible. She still has that account.


There are Seniors’ savings bank accounts available only to over 55’s or if on the pension. Good idea if you qualify and if you’re not offended that they are being presented as: Simple and Easy to Use…
Glad I’m not on a pension and still able to use a ‘complicated’ bank account


Best to go to the source:

Positive discrimination

This Part does not make it unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person, on the ground of the other person's age, by an act that is consistent with the purposes of this Act, if:

(a)  the act provides a bona fide benefit to persons of a particular age; or

(b)  the act is intended to meet a need that arises out of the age of persons of a particular age; or

(c)  the act is intended to reduce a disadvantage experienced by people of a particular age.

Does that make it clearer? Probably not. :wink:

I believe that positive discrimination is an oxymoron (however self-evidently that is the term actually used by the relevant Act).

The claim that they aren’t denying the service to a 36-year-old may or may not be correct. That would have to be tested in more detail. I had a look at BoQ’s web site (linked in the OP) and it is not crystal clear - whether it is a condition to operate the account or it is indeed “just marketing”. On the face of it, I would have to agree with you that it is just marketing because no such condition is listed later on but there may be a more comprehensive listing of the Ts and Cs somewhere else.

Even if it is just marketing, I can easily see legal problems. Let’s say that I have a job that I need to fill. Do you think I would get away with advertising the job as “whites only” even if in fact that condition will not be enforced and it is not officially part of the description of the job (because clearly it would be unlawful to enforce it)?

Reading the conditions on the BoQ web site, it actually does say

You will need to be aged over 14

so there is some discrimination based on age, even if not what the OP was asking.

As you say, there are almost too many exceptions to the general idea of not discriminating on the basis of age to list. How about: young people can’t vote, drive, drink or have sex? you need to be a certain age to get the aged pension or draw your super?

s37 covers insurance and super e.g.

based upon actuarial or statistical data

(somewhat truncated by me)


It is a condition, their website (link in previous post) states:

  • The Future Saver Account will automatically convert to a Smart Saver Account on your 36th birthday

It is marketing.

I forgot to mention, as @ScottOKeefe indicated, that BoQ may give the same interest rate for others outside the age group. We have found that in the past our own bank has matched their competitors interest rates on similar account types (cash management, savings, term) when requested. We haven’t tried it for interest rates in other accounts they have as it is easy enough to open another one up and transfer funds into it. Age conditional is a bit different as opening up a new account us subject to one’s age.

Like any negotiations, unless you ask you don’t know and the worst response one can get is a no.

I agree. Maybe the opposite of discrimination is dropping the ‘dis’ whereby it becomes ‘crimination’? Hence the use of ‘positive’ or use of ‘anti’ prefix.


Right you are. I didn’t click to see “more FAQs”.

But then isn’t that contradicted? If the account, as stated, converts to a different account at a certain age, with different (potentially less favourable) conditions, isn’t that age discrimination?

It specifically says that the interest rate will change. (Whether the interest rate does actually change is unknown since interest rates change all the time and noone can really say what the two rates will be 22 years in the future, assuming that you signed up on your 14th birthday.)

Indeed. Can’t hurt to ask.


It would be positive discrimination under S33 (a). The positive discrimination is that BoQ pays you a slightly higher rate of interest. ‘Bona fide benefit’ would mean to provide a benefit without intention to deceive.

While it is a condition, it is still marketing. A bit like those 2 for 1 offers. Conditional that you buy one to the get second free. Conditional but clever marketing to encourage consumers to buy more.


I was once lawfully discriminated against on grounds of my sex. As a male I am unable to access the benefits of BreastScreen Qld as they are allowed to positively discriminate in favour of females.

I complained to the Federal Discrimination Commisioner and was advised my complaint was unsuccessful due to that allowance as it’s (BSQ)benefit and funding was for females and this was allowed as they had a much larger/disproportionate risk of Breast Cancer. Age in regards to positive discrimination is equally allowed when a benefit to a part of the population is based on a negative burden they face due to age.

Much like the principle of Equal Employment Opportunities exist to overcome barriers of English as a second Language, being female, being ATSI, and people with disabilities.


I did this with the CBA too, & was, I think, about 30 at the time.

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I would probably need to be an existing customer of the bank for this to work

Not being and existing account holder may be an advantage. They might try harder to get you as a new customer.


The same age discrimination applies to the Government sending out free bowl test kits only to people up to 74. The government are the people who make these discrimination rules and then break them.

The choice of people who receive additional medical support is determined by cost effectiveness. This applies to bowel cancer tests, pap tests, vaccinations etc.

Well yes they are required to be discriminating. We ask them to manage public health and the billions that it costs to run efficiently, that requires making decisions about where money will best be spent. This has nothing at all to do with the narrow sense of the word ‘discrimination’ where a subgroup is unfairly treated for no justified reason. There is a good reason why bowel tests are subsidised for some and not others.

Perhaps the young and healthy should feel they are being discriminated against because public funding for the health of the aged per head is several times that of their own cohort.

This is all quite irrelevant to the topic at hand.



Free bowel screening test is for people 50 to 74 because this group is at the highest risk of bowel cancer…
over the age of 74 the likelihood of complications from colonoscopies exceeds the benefits of detecting bowel cancer through the program…


I think that we are all in agreement that there are too many exceptions to list.

There are times when discrimination makes sense and is justified.

s42 in the Age Discrimination Act specifically deals with “Health” and more specifically with “Exempted Health Programs”.

You may have noticed that we recently had a pandemic. Large parts of the vaccine rollout and some other regulations intentionally introduced direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of age.

Government doesn’t always get it right but the decisions at the time seemed reasonable to me and I don’t lose any sleep over all that rampant age discrimination.

In some situations it is also the case that a medical condition is so slow-developing that there is no point worrying about it in someone aged, say, 80, because the person is far more likely to die of something else before the medical condition could ever impact the person.

What if you have a sister, mother or relatives over 74 who has been treated for two years for a cough, and it ended up being bowel cancer.

@Gaby was quoting the Federal government, so I suppose that if you want to disagree then you should take that up with the Federal government i.e. your local MP.

The Federal government in turn would be quoting medical experts (my guess). The medical experts would be saying: Our research indicates that, over the age of 74, we will kill more people with testing and treatment etc. than will die from bowel cancer if we just don’t test.

So, statistically speaking, it is better not to test, over the age of 74.

Is it possible that hiding within those statistics are individual cases who died from bowel cancer where, given infinite knowledge, they could have been selected for testing and would have been successfully treated? Yes.

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