This is it! You have decided to live in New Zealand for a couple of months, or perhaps longer. If you’re coming to study or to work, you will quickly need to open a bank account if you want to avoid paying a lot of fees.
Don’t panic, opening a bank account in New Zealand is quite easy. You just need to provide the correct documents. We’ve been shopping around and have compared for you the most important Kiwi banks. Follow the guide below to ensure that you know what you’re doing when it comes to opening a bank account in New Zealand.
Which documents are required?
As mentioned above, it is easy to open a bank account in New Zealand. Here is what you’ll need:
- Your passport
- A document stating your personal address in New Zealand
The latter document might present a problem for some of you. Indeed, you might not have an address upon arrival in New Zealand. Or perhaps your plan is to travel the country in a vehicle. A couple of years back, banks accepted letters from hostels in order to open a bank account, but it seems that it is no longer the case.
Please also note that all banks accept the same documentation when it comes to proving your address. Here is a recap of what documentation you can bring depending on the bank you’ve chosen:
Open your bank account before arriving
It is good to know that most Kiwi banks enable you to open your bank account in advance of your arrival in the country. You simply have to navigate to the website belonging to the bank you’ve chosen. Once in New Zealand, you’ll just have to go a branch with the required documentation in order to activate your account and get your card.
Opening your bank account in advance enables you to wait for a good exchange rate in order to make a deposit. You’d be better off doing it when the exchange rate is in your favor. Make sure you use Neomy to get alerts about the exchange rate.
There are four major banks in the country: Kiwibank, Westpac, BNZ and ANZ. Let’s see what each of them has to offer for newcomers.
Kiwibank is linked to the New Zealand post. It means that each post office is also a branch of Kiwibank. The Free up account is probably the best one on the market, as it comes with no fees and a free Visa debit card during the first year (rising to $10 per year). Withdrawals are also free in any Kiwibank ATMs.
The only disadvantage with Kiwibank is that if you need to go to a branch, you’ll have to queue with the same people that are queueing for the post office, but, in theory, this should only happen once, at the opening of your account.
It’s one of the biggest banks in the country. You’ll also find it in Australia, so this would be a good choice if you plan to travel to both countries. The Electronic account is great if you are used to managing your accounts online. You will not pay any fees, provided that you declare that you do not want to receive your bank statements by mail. Otherwise, it will cost you $3.50 per month! You’ll get an EFTPOS card but can ask for a Visa if you prefer.
As a foreign student, you’ll get special discount on the Access account: you will not pay the $9.99 monthly fees for example.
The Go Account is perfect as a basic account, as there are no fees nor ebanking. The EFTPOS is free but if you prefer a Visa, you’ll have to pay $10 per year.
New Zealand’s biggest bank. You’ll easily find BNZ ATMs across the country. The basic account is called YouMoney and comes with a Visa debit card that is free during the first 12 months (rising to $10 per year afterwards). However, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $5.
The costs you should be aware of
Depending on the account you choose, you will not have to pay the same fees. Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before opting for one bank over another. Here are the fees you are most likely to be confronted with:
As we saw, in most cases, you will not pay any fees during the first 12 months.
You’ll typically be limited to 30 free transactions per month (withdrawals + payments). As in Australia or Canada, it is common to ask for cash-back whilst shopping. For example, at the supermarket, you may pay an extra $50 dollars with your card, and receive $50 back in cash.
You’ll be charged $1 for each withdrawal made at another bank’s ATM.
Transfer funds to your Kiwi account
The next step after opening your bank account in New Zealand will be to send money from your home country. You might be tempted to do a simple wire from your local bank to your new Kiwi bank. Be careful! This is probably the worst way to send money internationally. Indeed, banks are notorious for charging their clients with outrageous fees to carry out such transfers. What’s more, they use poor exchange rates for your transaction, so they can make even more money.
This is the reason why you should consider using money transfer operators for your transfers. They can be much cheaper than banks and just as safe. Using this tool can help you find the one that offers the best exchange rate.
You are now all set to open a bank account in New Zealand. I hope this article has been useful!