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When coming to New Zealand from overseas, the first thing most people tend to notice is the prevalence of electronic transactions. New Zealanders are big fans of EFTPOS debit cards and credit cards (75 percent of all transactions are paid for by one of these methods), and very few people use cash for everything. For paying bills, direct transfers using internet banking has largely put cheques out to pasture.
If you are in New Zealand for a long period of time - 3 months or more - the following will be handy to know. Please use this, as some overseas banks do charge excessive fees for using overseas ATMs and for using your credit card overseas.
If you want to open a bank account in New Zealand, you can do so provided you have the following:
Identification - Rules differ between banks on how much identification you need. You will need at least one form of photo ID, such as a passport (NZ or Overseas) or a NZ-issued driver's licence.
Place of residence (in New Zealand) for mail to get sent to - This isn't a big issue currently, but it is starting to be taken by banks for ID purposes.
IRD Number - the eight or nine digit number issued to you by Inland Revenue. If you have one, you will need to supply it for tax purposes, especially if you open an interest-accuring account. This isn't needed to set up accounts but your tax rate will default to the highest rate of 33%
Opening Balance - This varies from bank to bank. ASB Bank and ANZ have a $500 minimum opening balance required, Westpac a $250, BNZ is only $10
You need to be 13 years or over to operate your own bank account and receive an EFTPOS card.
Most banks will issue you with an EFTPOS card on the spot. It will be plain and won't have your name embossed on it, but you can use it straight away. All banks offer Visa Debit cards to customers 18 and over if they wish, which allows the card to be used online and overseas (normal EFTPOS cards can only be used in brick-and-mortar stores in New Zealand), and these will be sent to you in the post in the coming days.
When issued with an EFTPOS card, you will need to choose a four-digit PIN. Normal rules apply - don't choose 1111 or 1234, any sequential number sequence, your birthday or the last four digits of your card number. In most cases this will need to loaded in the bank branch.
NZ banks don't issue credit cards to non-residents, so don't bother trying to apply for one of these, unless you fit into one or more of the following categories:
You are buying a house in NZ - A credit card can be issued by the bank, provided you take out the home loan with them
You have $5000 minimum to place in escrow - the funds will be placed into a high interest bearing account in your name, but you won't be able to access them until the credit card is paid in full and closed. The bank will hold the $5000 as security against the credit card.
The current interest rates for NZ Credit Cards do vary from 12.95% to 22%. The average interest rate is 16.54% with the average yearly fee being $32.
Are possible on bank accounts, however going overdrawn on your account without having an "authorised" overdraft facility will incur a fee at the end of the month. The amount varies from Bank to Bank.
If you are working, and have wages going into the account, then NZ Banks will look at providing you with an overdraft facility if you request one and meet there criteria.
New Zealand is a user pays society. There are fee free accounts available, however most do come with restrictions.
Westpac Encore: All transactions must be done electronically - internet banking, eftpos or telephone/ATM banking.
ASB streamline: As with Westpac encore, must be electronic.
BNZ SmartMoney: Available only to people under 30, and allows 30 free transactions per month.
All banks operate between the hours of 9am- 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Alot of the banks have branches open in the weekends. It is best to refer to there bank websites for locations and opening times