Basics of banking in New Zealand


Opening a Bank Account in New Zealand

You may open an account with a bank through correspondence even before coming to New Zealand. Documentation requirements depend on the policies of individual banks. Usually at least two forms of identification are required; your IRD number and statements from your current or previous bank. If you don't have an IRD number when you open an account then resident withholding tax (RWT) at 39% will be imposed. If at any point of time you wish to apply for an overdraft, loan or mortgage in New Zealand you should obtain a reference from your overseas bank manager to the effect that your account has been maintained in good order.

The normal accounts for day-to-day transactions in New Zealand are known as current or cheque accounts. You can also open a savings (or deposit) account with any registered or savings bank. Banks in New Zealand charge for most transactions. Most of them charge a monthly base fee of at least $5 unless you meet certain conditions, such as maintaining a minimum monthly balance. Electronic transactions and cheque fees are around 50¢ and staff-assisted transactions cost around $2.50 with a charge of around $1.50 for the use of another bank's ATM.

All banks in the country are efficient and highly automated and are working towards increasingly cashless banking. Normal banking hours are from 8:30 or 9am until 4:30pm (Mondays to Fridays) with some banks staying open for half an hour later one evening a week. Banks are closed on weekends and public holidays, however bureaux de change work longer hours on weekends.

Debit & Credit Cards in New Zealand

The use of debit cards is widespread in the country. When you open a bank account request for the issue of an ‘electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) card, also known as a debit card, and use it to pay for goods and services, with payments debited from your account, usually on the same day. You may use this card to withdraw cash from ATMs throughout the country and overseas. The Mondex system (a recent introduction in New Zealand) is a kind of debit card that is ‘topped up' with a sum of money, which is used to purchase goods and services.

Credit and charge cards issued by MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and the local Bankcard are widely accepted in New Zealand. Most banks in the country issue credit and charge cards which are accepted almost anywhere and can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs or over the counter at banks (at a cost of from $1.50 to $4 and interest being charged from the day of the withdrawal). Annual fees are between around $20 and $100. Credit card fraud is a huge problem in the country.



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Banking Guide