Super fees: Top 10 cheapest funds in Australia

Note: This article contains the latest available fee information. In this article you can find the cheapest super funds and the cheapest super pension funds. We update this article periodically with fee data issued by SuperRatings, and for pension funds, by SelectingSuper. Latest update was August 2016, using March 2016 SuperRatings data.

We are often asked which super fund is the cheapest super fund in Australia. As you would expect, SuperGuide’s preliminary response is: “It depends…”. How much your super fund may charge in fees can depend on many factors, including:

  • whether you join your super fund via your employer or independently
  • what type of investment option you choose (or whether you opt for the default investment option)
  • how much insurance cover you have (if any) within your super fund
  • whether you are taking a pension from your super fund

Ratings agency, SuperRatings, regularly publishes data on the cheapest super funds. While ratings agency, SelectingSuper, publishes data on the cheapest super funds and cheapest pension funds. In the 2 tables set out later in the article, you can discover:

  • Table 1: Cheapest super funds available for anyone to join (doesn’t include non-public offer funds)
  • Table 2: Cheapest pension funds

The fees listed relate to the default investment option of the particular super fund, typically a balanced or growth option. (For an explanation of balanced and growth options see the article Investment performance: We’re the best super fund. No, we’re the best…). The fee comparisons are based on a fund member who has $50,000 in their super fund’s default investment option.

Do cheaper fees mean better performance?

During 2015, ratings agency, SuperRatings conducted some handy research on the fees that super funds charge, and after studying 162 super funds over a 10-year performance history, SuperRatings CEO states: “In the majority of cases, the funds with the lowest fees do not necessarily provide a better retirement outcome or return for its members.” For more information on this study, see SuperGuide article Fees: Can cheaper super funds deliver bigger retirement balances?

Note: Although important, cost is not the only factor when selecting a superannuation product. High costs do eat into overall investment returns however so knowing what super funds charge in fees is important information for helping you determine the quality of your super fund or pension option. Assuming all other criteria are equal, a super fund that charges higher fees than another super fund, can mean the more expensive super fund delivers you a much smaller retirement balance.

Top 10 cheapest super funds available for anyone to join

The award for the cheapest super fund in Australia that anyone can join goes to ANZ Smart Choice Super according to SuperRatings.

The fee comparisons are based on a fund member who has $50,000 in their super fund’s default investment option.

Table 1: Top 10 lowest super fees as at 31 March 2016

RankFund nameFees based on $50,000 account balanceIn percentage terms (%)*
1ANZ Smart Choice$3050.61%
2Bendigo SmartStart Super$3130.63%
3Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme Super$3350.67%
4Local Government Super$3380.68%
5brightday Complete Super$3450.69%
7Club Plus Superannuation$3740.75%
8ING DIRECT Living Super$3750.75%
9AMIST Super$3780.76%

*Percentages are calculated by Trish Power. For example, $374 in fees on a $50,000 account balance is 0.748%, and rounded to 0.75%, likewise $338 in fees on a $50,000 account balance is 0.676%, and rounded to 0.68%

Source: SuperRatings.

Top 10 cheapest pension funds

Generally speaking, the information publicly available on pension funds is not as comprehensive as the information that exists for super accounts in accumulation phase. Fortunately, ratings agency, SelectingSuper has produced a table listing ten of the cheapest pension options.

According to SelectingSuper, the table below describes the fees payable on a pension account for a fund member with an initial deposit of $100,000 and who receives 12 monthly pension payments. The money is invested in the pension products default investment option (typically a balanced or growth option).

More than half of the cheapest pension funds are open to the general public, and all pension funds in Table 2 below charge under 0.75% of your account balance in fees, that is less than $750 on an account balance of $100,000. If you shop around you can expect to find a few pension offerings that charge the equivalent of around 1% of fund assets. If you want to invest your pension savings in non-standard investments (for example, emerging overseas markets or hedge fund investments) then you can expect to pay a lot more in fees.

Note: The fee data for cheapest pension funds is current as at June 2015.

Table 2: Best fee deals across all retirement (pension) funds based on $100,000 account

RankFund nameSegmentCan anyone join?Total Expense Ratio (TER)
1ANZ Staff Super Acc Based PensionCorporateNo0.51%$510
2ANZ Smart Choice PensionRetailYes0.55%$550
3MTAA Super PensionIndustryYes0.55%$550
4Meat Industry Employees’– PensionIndustry FundNo0.59% $590
5AUSCOAL Account-based PensionIndustry fundYes0.64%$640
6QSuper Income AccountGovernmentNo0.64%$640
7Club Plus PensionIndustryYes0.65%$650
8CBA Group Super Retirement AccessCorporateNo0.69%$690
9The Emerald Pension/WrapRetailYes0.70%$700
10AMIST PensionIndustryYes0.71%$710

Table source: SelectingSuper. According to SelectingSuper, the table represents the top 10 out of 222 retirement products covering all market segments. Table represents fees updated by SelectingSuper in June 2015.

Tip: SelectingSuper also provides a very useful explanation on how super funds charge fund members. For example, if your super fund charges 2% in fees rather than 1% in fees, that 1% difference in fees over more than 40 years can mean a final retirement balance that is 30% lower than if you had chosen a cheaper fund, assuming investment returns are the same for both super funds.


  1. Xandro Lombardi says:

    The Superannuation system is terrible. My 18 year old son doing his first year apprenticeship contributed a total $327 in the last financial year but paid $208 in fees with Rest Super. It’s a disgrace.That’s more than 50% in fees and charges.

    • Are you sure that he paid $208 in fees on a balance of $327? I would estimated that his fees would be more like $60. Are you sure you aren’t getting confused with tax on the contribution and the insurance your son may have. Your son may or may not need the insurance but more than likely does and probably needs more than what he has. Because in the event of an illness or injury YOU will most likely be paying his bills, possibly for a very long time.
      But then again if you are both happy with that risk, then cancel the insurance. Don’t just complain, get informed and make the correct decisions.

  2. For those of you considering rolling over small super fund accounts into one fund please consider the TPD and Life Insurances aspects. If you rollover you may lose these insurances, should you wish to retain the insurances from your outgoing fund check with the Fund accepting incoming accounts that you may reserve these insurances. Also, when paying out TPD from superannuation, tax is payable and part of the formula to calculate the taxation is based on the ‘eligible service date’, so if you rollover an older fund account to a new fund the date utilised will be the older fund date therefore increasing the amount of taxation payable on a TPD payout held by your superannuation fund, it is always best to have a short eligible service date if you are holding TPD in super, otherwise you may have to increase the TPD insured amount to factor in the taxation which could be tens of thousands.

  3. Hi,
    I want to roll several funds into one. I have a First State Super, Media Super, AMP and Sunsuper.
    Currently I am using Media Super for contributions. As I don’t have much in all of these funds it appears to be vital to do this, but which one? For me it appears to be either First State or Media Super.
    Best return was on First State Super and fees are less ($240/admin and insurance premium).
    Media Super fees: $140/tax and admin, $443/Death and TPD) The death benefit with Media Super is $500 000 and TPD $12 200, wheras First State Super gives $120 000 for both.
    I have never looked deeply into the matter and consider myself illiterate.
    Any suggestions are welcome.

  4. Help I have approx 70,000 in ioof, fees galore. I want income protection insurance and death as I will be working for the next 5 years Any suggestions? It’s all a maze!

  5. I have so many super funds and am trying to work out with one to roll into.. Recruitment super seems the best and the next ANZ.

    Any advise??

  6. Hi Please note that in one of your tables you have recruitment super and Australian Enterprise Super which has both been merged under Kinetic.
    Also, the MER for ANZ is 0.50% and is is not

    • Robert Barnes says:

      Hi Vish – Thanks for your comment. The table is information as at 31 March 2013 – we rely on SuperRatings for the data.
      Robert Barnes
      GM – SuperGuide

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