Cash – New Zealand has a decimal currency system, with money broken down into a mix of coins and notes. The smallest denomination coin is 10c, followed by 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins. Bank notes are issued in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Of these, the smaller notes are more commonly used.
Rounding – Many items are priced by retailers to a figure other than the nearest 5 cents. This can also happen when GST (Goods and Services Tax) is added to or removed from a sale price. If you pay cash for something with an odd (i.e. not 5 cents ending) price, the amount will be rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents. However if you pay by cheque, EFTPOS or credit card, then the amount you pay is the amount on the price tag.
Other payment methods – The usual international credit cards, VISA, Mastercard, AMEX and Diners, are available and are offered through local trading banks. Debit, or EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer Point Of Sale) cards, usually just called a ‘Cashcard’, are very popular and widely used. New Zealand was the first country to introduce this payment system, in 1986. When you open a New Zealand Bank account you will be offered a cashcard.
Credit – The usual credit options exist; Bank loans, credit cards, and some short-term credit suppliers. Hire Purchase is offered by many retailers on higher value items. When entering into any credit or hire purchase agreement it is very important to read and understand the terms of the contract, in particular if your English is less than reliable! If you need someone to help you understand a contract, contact your nearest SSNZ or C.A.B. Office.
Pricing – Prices tend not to vary greatly between regions, but short-term discounting is common and it may be worthwhile getting several prices from different suppliers before making any large purchase.
GST (Goods and Services Tax) – GST of 15% applies to all retail transactions. If you are in business, maintaining your GST account with the tax authorities (The Department of Inland revenue) is very important as there can be substantial penalties for missed or otherwise incorrect payments.
Debt Collectors – Creditors who have not been repaid may engage the services of a Debt Collector. However, even if you cannot pay a sum that is due you still have rights. A good short summary of these rights is available from www.consumer.org.nz
Consumer Rights – New Zealand has a very active and successful consumer advocacy organisation. Consumer NZ is an independent, non-profit organisation established in 1959 with the sole aim of getting New Zealand consumers a fairer deal.
A good level of information is available from their website free of charge, with more detailed report available to annual subscribers.
Banks – New Zealand has one of the most open and competitive banking systems in the world. This means there are several options with different costs and benefits.
If you have not already done so one of the first things you will need to do is open a bank account. This is a relatively easy task and most banks will have an account operating for you within ten days, and often much sooner. If you have no preferences finding a bank is as easy as looking in the Yellow Pages (www.yellowpages.co.nz) or having a look at the advertising in the local newspapers. In fact, all of New Zealand’s banks are online – so you can check them out well before you arrive.
History shows very few people change banks once they begin a banking relationship, so moving to a new country presents a rare opportunity – we recommend some research before you make this commitment.
When opening any bank account you will need to give the bank a permanent address, either residential or a post office box or private bag. A hotel or motel address is not acceptable.
If you want to open a cheque account, the bank will need identification, such as your passport or driver license and a deposit – usually about $200. When paying by cheque, it is normal to show identification such as a driver’s license, credit card or passport.
If you earn income, you will need to give the bank an IRD number. To get an IRD number, contact Inland Revenue (IRD), Freephone: 0800 227 774 or visit www.ird.govt.nz
Banking hours – Banks are normally open from 9:00am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) operate 24 hours a day.
Branches of Kiwibank, which is a crown owned entity operated through the postal provider New Zealand Post, are also open on Saturday mornings when the Post Shop is open.
Services – In addition to cheque and savings accounts and foreign exchange services, banks offer a full range of services including personal loans, home loans (Mortgages), business finance, insurance, investments, safe deposit, credit cards, internet and phone banking.
EFTPOS Cards – New Zealand has the world’s highest rate of use of EFTPOS Cards.
EFTPOS stands for “Electronic Funds Transfer – Point Of Sale”. A card is issued linked to your day to day transaction account. This is now the single most common method of payment for goods and services in New Zealand. When you open a bank account in New Zealand you can expect to be offered an EFTPOS card.
Bank fees – Banks charge a fee for transactions, including ATM transactions, cheques and savings withdrawals. Fees can vary between banks and the type of bank account. However, since 2008 many banks have begun reviewing and reducing fees or removing them altogether. It is worth checking fee structures before deciding on a banking service provider.
Migrant banking services – Some major banks offer special services for new migrants, and have multilingual staff who can help with advice and information.
Safe custody – Deposit boxes for the secure storage of personal valuables, such as jewellery and financial and legal papers, are available at most banks for a modest fee.
In addition all banks must operate within the rules of the New Zealand banking system which are monitored by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ). The RBNZ has a full list of registered banks and provides access to the regulations from its New Zealand banks webpage (www.rbnz.govt.nz/nzbanks). The RBNZ also has a full set of resources about the NZ monetary and banking system.