The banking system in New Zealand

Banking in New Zealand
Updated 2023-02-12 11:14

Banking in New Zealand is almost always electronic, so it is important to have a bank account locally. This is how you will receive your salary, pay any bills and rent, and almost everywhere will accept EFTPOS (debit card) transactions. Unlike other countries, banking in New Zealand is pretty straightforward, and it is easy to open an account.

Setting up a bank account in New Zealand

Some banks in New Zealand will allow you to open accounts in advance, but it's always best to speak to someone directly, either in the bank or over the phone, for the best advice. If you open an account overseas, your account may not be fully active. You may still need to head to the bank once you have arrived to show your ID. Your home bank may be affiliated with a bank in New Zealand, so it is best to check with them first before you pick a bank. It may be easier to be banking with an affiliated bank.

Depending on the type of bank account you open, you may need to deposit a certain amount on opening. Your banker will be able to advise you of this.

Though it may differ slightly between banks, the process of opening a bank in New Zealand will usually involve the following steps:

  • Gather necessary documents: To open a bank account in New Zealand, you will need to provide certain documentation, such as proof of identity (e.g., passport) and proof of address (e.g., utility bill). It is a good idea to check with the bank you are interested in to find out exactly which documents are required.
  • Choose a bank: There are several banks operating in New Zealand, each with its own set of products and services. It is a good idea to research and compare different banks to find one that meets your needs.
  • Visit a branch: Once you have chosen a bank and gathered the necessary documents, you can visit a branch in person to open an account. During the process, you will be asked to fill out an application form and provide the required documents.
  • Activate your account: Once your account is open, you will typically need to activate it by making an initial deposit or setting up a direct debit. You may also need to set up online banking or other services, depending on the bank's requirements.
  • It is worth noting that some banks may have specific requirements for foreign customers, such as a minimum initial deposit or proof of income. It is a good idea to check with the bank to find out if there are any special requirements that apply to you.

New Zealand's main banking options

  • ANZ:

ANZ is one of the largest banks in New Zealand, with a network of branches and ATMs throughout the country. It offers a range of products and services, including personal banking, business banking, and investment options.

  • ASB:

ASB is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and is one of the largest banks in New Zealand. It offers a range of banking and financial services, including personal banking, business banking, and home loans.

  • BNZ:

BNZ is a major bank in New Zealand, with a network of branches and ATMs throughout the country. It offers a range of products and services, including personal banking, business banking, and investment options.

  • Kiwibank:

Kiwibank is a state-owned bank that was established in 2002. It offers a range of banking and financial services, including personal banking, business banking, and home loans.

  • Westpac:

Westpac is an international bank with a presence in New Zealand. It offers a range of banking and financial services, including personal banking, business banking, and investment options.

In general, all of these banks offer similar products and services, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and home loans. However, they may have different fees and charges, so it is a good idea to compare them and choose the one that best meets your needs.

Debit and credit cards in New Zealand

As a standard, all bank accounts come with an EFTPOS (debit) card. This is just a basic card that cannot be used overseas. You will then be able to ‘upgrade' your account depending on your spending habits/credit score to receive a VISA debit or even a credit card.

Any credit you have built up overseas will not be transferred over to New Zealand; you will be starting afresh. It may be worth discussing with your bank at home and seeing if you can continue to use your home card. Take into account the exchange rate and any fees your bank may have for you using your card overseas. A newly obtained credit card in New Zealand is likely not to have as high of a credit limit as you did back home.

Online banking in New Zealand

Online banking is a popular and convenient way to manage your financial affairs in New Zealand. Most banks in the country offer online banking services, which allow you to access your accounts, pay bills, transfer money, and perform other banking tasks using a computer or mobile device.

To use online banking, you will need to set up an account with your bank and create a username and password. You will then be able to log in to your account using a web browser or a mobile app and access your accounts and perform various transactions.

Online banking in New Zealand is generally considered to be safe and secure, as banks use various measures to protect your personal and financial information. These may include encryption, two-factor authentication, and secure servers.

Using online banking can be a convenient and efficient way to manage your finances, as it allows you to access your accounts and perform transactions from any location with an internet connection. However, it is important to be cautious when using online banking and to follow best practices for online security, such as using strong passwords and not sharing your login information with others.

Rather than using services like PayPal and Venmo, New Zealanders are very comfortable sharing bank account numbers and depositing money directly using online banking services. Giving out your full bank account number (for example, to receive payment for a Facebook Marketplace item) may be unusual in your country, but it is an accepted way of transferring money in New Zealand.

If you are with the same back as whoever is receiving your payment, the online banking transfer would be immediate. If the parties are with different banks, it generally takes overnight for a deposit to clear.

Foreign currency in New Zealand

If you have arrived in New Zealand with foreign currency, there are a few options for converting it to New Zealand dollars. Not all banks, especially those in smaller cities and towns, will be able to exchange foreign currency, which can make depositing the money into your new bank account difficult.

If you do need to exchange currency in New Zealand, you have a few options:

  • Some bank branches

Some banks in New Zealand offer currency exchange services. You can exchange cash or traveler's checks for the currency you need. Be sure to determine in advance if the bank provides this service.

  • Currency exchange offices

There are a number of currency exchange offices located in major airports, big cities and tourist areas. These can be a convenient option if you need to exchange a large amount of money.

Things to consider when banking in New Zealand

Before you choose your banking service provider in New Zealand, we recommend looking into their services, fees, and branch locations to ensure the bank you've chosen fits your needs. Things to look out for include:

  • Fees: Different banks charge different fees for their accounts, so it's worth comparing the fees of different banks to see which one offers the best value for you. Some banks may also offer fee-free accounts for a limited time when you first open the account.
  • Services: Consider what services you'll need from your bank account, such as online banking, mobile banking, and the ability to make international transactions. Different banks offer different levels of service, so it's worth checking what's available before deciding on a bank.
  • Location: If you're planning on moving around within New Zealand, it may be useful to choose a bank that has branches in multiple locations, so you can access your account easily no matter where you are.
  • Reputation: It's also a good idea to do some research on the reputation of the different banks in New Zealand to ensure that you choose a bank that is reliable and trustworthy. It may also be helpful to speak with other expats or locals to get their recommendations or experiences with different banks.
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