Australians generally recognise St.George for its big enough, small enough marketing stance. As the fifth largest bank in Australia, it’s just outside the major league of the Big Four: Commonwealth, NAB, ANZ, and Westpac (with whom it merged in 2008). But its 74-year history is one that moves around community service and consumer friendliness, an image it has kept up to this day.
Building society beginnings
Like most Australian banks, St.George began as a co-operative building society. In May 1937, at a meeting in Hurstville, a suburb south of Sydney, the St.George Co-operative Building Society appointed its first Chairman of the Board, George Cross. Its ties to St.George, a region in South Sydney, inspired the group’s name. St.George continues to provide support to the community, sponsoring its rugby league team and playing a key role in the town’s identity.
In 1945, St.George merged with an older group, the Cronulla District Co-operative Building Society. The merger kick-started the former’s growth, adding 38 branches to its repertoire by 1955. St.George rode the post-World War II housing boom, as servicemen returning to their families and set out to build new homes. Before long, it was established as a Permanent Building Society, a status that allowed it to extend larger loans on shorter terms.
St.George Credit Card
The St.George Vertigo Visa is the perfect credit card for shopping and making purchases with a low ongoing rate on balance transfer with a low annual fee.
- $55 p.a. annual fee
- 1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) on purchases
- 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers
- Cash Advance Rate of 21.49% p.a.
- Up to 55 days interest free
Over the next 40 years, St.George rose to become Australia’s leading building society, although activity grew the most in New South Wales. It opened its first Sydney office in 1961, and the first city branch two years later. This decade also saw its services expand from home loans to investment products and financial counselling.
Progress and service
St.George was the first building society in the country to go online, introducing an IBM mainframe computer in 1972 with 30 terminals hooked up to it. Later, it also became one of the first to use the black light method to verify passbooks, a fraud detection technology that is still in use today. In 1994, it again set the trend for electronic banking, first serving business customers.
Strengthening its thrust toward community service, the group launched the St.George Foundation in 1989 as a registered charity. Its goal was to offer an improved quality of life for Australian children through various projects and donations to other charities. It has since provided more than $15 million worth of support to child-welfare groups around the country.
Acquisitions and mergers
St.George acquired its banking licence in 1992, giving it full banking status. It began offering full services as a bank just two years later, after taking over commercial banking at Barclays. In 1997 it merged with its current holding bank, Advance Bank/BankSA, and followed this with the purchase of SEALCORP and KPMG Financial Services in 1998 and 1999. This made them the fifth largest bank in Australia.
The acquisition spree continued through the next millennium with mergers with the Scottish Pacific Business Finance Group in 2000, the Australian margin lending branch of Deutsche Bank in 2001, and the New Zealand supermarket chain Foodstuffs in 2002. In 2006 it reported record-breaking profits of more than $1 billion, and assets valued at over $100 billion.
St.George merged with Westpac, one of the Big Four banks, in December 2008. It now accounts for 30% of the new merged entity and is the leading financial service institution in Australia with an AA credit rating. Today, St.George is a major operating division of Westpac, serving more than 2.6 million customers in the consumer, business, and corporate markets.
How to apply
If you think a St.George Platinum financial product is suitable for you, click ‘Go to site’ to be safely redirected to the St.George Credit Card application page. You may need to provide the following details to be eligible;
- Existing credit card details
- Personal details (drivers license)
- Contact details
- Employment details (weekly income after tax)
- Financial details (details of assets, savings or investments)
If you are a self-employed, you will need to provide recent tax information.