Planning a move to New Zealand? Get a head start on your finances with our guide to the best banks for expats, the services they offer, and how you can open a local account there.
June 4, 2021 — 10 min read
To hit the ground running upon moving to New Zealand, you’ll need to get your finances in order as soon as possible. So, the sooner you understand the banking system in the country, the better.
Banks in the country offer many account options for expats, but which one would be the most suitable for your needs?
Instead of getting your mind in a whirl, take a look through our in-depth guide, where we’ve outlined the best banks for expats in New Zealand, how you can open an account, what fees you can expect to pay, and how you can send money to the country from overseas.
New Zealand banks, as well as building societies and credit unions, offer adequate options aimed at expats.
If the options presented by national banks don’t suit your needs, you may want to explore foreign or international banks in the country, such as Deutsche Bank AG, Barclays, and Banque Nationale de Paris.
From all these institutions, we’ve stirred up three of the best ones for expats —Bank of New Zealand, Auckland Savings Bank, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
Set up back in 1861, BNZ is one of the oldest banks in the country. Their wealth management services and multi-currency accounts are targeted towards expats in New Zealand. Check these out:
The most basic savings account at BNZ for expats is the YouMoney account, offering unlimited transactions and withdrawals. You can set this account up for your kids, students, apprentices, or graduates.
In fact, the bank lets you open as many as 25 YouMoney accounts without any monthly account fee.
For making in-store and online payments, you can link your account to a Flexi Debit Visa, and use that with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Other savings accounts at BNZ offer an annual interest rate of 0.05%, with a few of these offering an annual bonus rate at 0.15%.
Bank of New Zealand offers a wide range of investment options for expats, such as managed funds accounts and term deposits.
You can lock your savings into a term deposit for a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 5 years, with an investment of at least $2,000 NZD ($1,455 USD).
With a BNZ YouWealth managed funds account, you’ll get to choose from 5 different funds: Growth Fund, Balanced Growth Fund, Balanced Fund, Conservative Fund, and Moderate Fund. The minimum investment time frame for these funds ranges from 3 years to 10 years, but the minimum investment requirement is $1,000 NZD ($727.79 USD).
Managed funds accounts are more flexible and provide better potential returns than term deposits, but at a cost. Term deposits, on the other hand, don’t have any setup or management fees.
BNZ offers home loans at not only fixed and floating rates, but also a mix of both.
For example, Classic home loan rates are fixed, but you need to have a certain amount of equity for availing this loan. The bank’s Standard home loan rates are a combination of fixed and floating rates, making the rates higher than those of Classic home loans.
Other home loan options include revolving credit and offsetting ones, so if you’re looking to buy a property after moving to New Zealand, you can get a head start now.
At Bank of New Zealand, you’ll find the following insurance options:
Contents insurance (covering for the loss of your valuables like jewelry, sports equipment, or cameras)
With more than 300 ATMs and 100 branches spread across the country, ASB is another well-known New Zealand bank catering to expats. Their offerings include:
ASB allows you to set up a Foreign Currency account, making it easier for you to handle your finances between New Zealand and another country, without any monthly account fees.
There’s a catch, though —you’ll need a minimum opening balance for this account. For example, if your Foreign Currency account is in the US dollar (USD), the minimum opening balance would be $5,000 USD.
At ASB, you’ll come across several different account packages specifically designed for students, graduates, apprentices, kids, and those aged 18-20 who are heading into their first job.
Some of these packages have benefits like zero transaction or base fees.
For expats, the best package would be the Streamline Introduction one, where you won’t have to pay any fees on a new Visa Debit card for the first six months.
The insurance products offered by ASB include:
Life, loan and income protection insurance
Contents and home insurance
ASB provides home loans, rural or business loans, and personal loans to expats.
The annual home loan interest rates are fixed at 2.25% for 12 months and 2.59% for 24 months, with a variable rate of 4.45%.
And if you want to start a business in New Zealand after moving there, ASB helps you calculate your business loan repayments.
For instance, if you borrow $200,000 NZD at a constant annual interest rate of 5.20%, and you’ve agreed to repay it in 10 years, your monthly repayments would amount to $2,141 NZD.
This is definitely the largest banking service provider in the country. Expats can use:
The ANZ Online Saver lets you access your savings online anytime and earn interest at an annual rate of 0.35%, so it’s quite flexible.
With the ANZ Progress Saver, you’ll get a higher interest rate of 0.40% if you can maintain minimum savings of $10 NZD ($7.28 USD) regularly, and not withdraw any money in a month.
From simple business savings accounts and business transaction accounts to specialist business accounts, ANZ has got a lot of business banking options up their sleeve if you’ve moved to New Zealand for business purposes.
The insurance products offered by ANZ are:
Contents and home insurance
And, of course, life insurance
Banks in Australia and New Zealand commonly offer an Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) card when opening your bank account. The EFTPOS card is pretty much like a debit card, as both cards use money from your existing bank account.
However, you can’t use an EFTPOS card outside New Zealand and Australia, and debit cards can be used almost anywhere. Additionally, you can pay online using some debit cards, but with an EFTPOS card, you can’t do so.
On the upside, EFTPOS cards are free of charge, whereas debit cards come at a cost (more on that below).
So, if you plan on keeping your banking transactions confined to Australia and New Zealand, and you’re sure you don’t need to make any online payments, you can select a bank account with an EFTPOS card.
If you haven’t moved to New Zealand yet, you can still open a bank account in the country, but without an address, of course. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll have to provide an address after shifting to the country, so that your account can be activated.
To open a bank account in New Zealand as a non-resident, you’ll need:
A valid passport or your New Zealand identity document
Proof of your permanent address in the country. You can provide your present address overseas, if you’re yet to make the move to New Zealand.
Proof of your residence visa, student visa, work visa, or any visa that lets you stay in New Zealand for some time.
Your New Zealand Inland Revenue (IRD) number. After applying for the IRD number online, you’ll receive it in 2-10 working days by text, post, or email. In case you haven’t received one yet, you can use your tax declaration from your home country instead.
Yes, you can. In fact, it would be better to set up your New Zealand bank account while you’re still in your home country.
Because this may cost you less to move your money from your overseas account to your new bank account, than if you had opened an account after moving to New Zealand.
Just keep in mind that the New Zealand bank will need at least 10 days to process your account request.
Once you’re in the new country, you’ll have to visit a bank branch and verify your permanent address as well as identity, to activate your account.
Of course, the requirements may vary from one bank to another, so be sure to check with your chosen bank whether you need to fill up a migrant banking application form, for example, or fulfil any other criteria.
Each banking product in New Zealand will have its own minimum deposit requirements, if any. These can range between $100 NZD and $1,000 NZD ($72.68 USD and $726.80 USD, respectively). Thankfully, most banking options in the country don’t have any minimum deposit.
As for banking fees in New Zealand, you can’t avoid:
Overseas fees for using EFTPOS cards and ATMs
Charges if your bank can’t process your electronic payments or checks
A one-time fee to have your range of banking services altered
A one-time cost of your debit or credit card at around $10 NZD ($7.27 USD)
After opening an account in New Zealand, you might want to send money from your bank account in your home country to your new account.
Sure, many New Zealand banks can help you initiate an international bank transfer—but they’ll also add on numerous transaction fees, and may not offer the most favourable exchange rates.
If you’re looking for a simpler, more convenient and cost-effective way of sending the money, consider Xe.
Here at Xe, we offer online international money transfer service to over 130 countries and over 98 global currencies. After checking the rates on our currency converter, you can quickly and easily move to the transfer process, where you can be sure you’ll get a competitive rate for your transfer, so you can be sure that more of your money makes it into your New Zealand bank account.
Sign up for a free Xe account, or sign in to your existing account.
Enter the amount you’d like to send to New Zealand and the currency you want to exchange to get a quote.
Add your name, New Zealand address, and your New Zealand bank account details. If you plan to send more transfers in the future, you can save yourself as a recipient for quick access later.
Select your payment method and enter your payment details. You can pay by bank transfer, card payment, or direct debit.
Double-check that you’re satisfied with the amount, rate, account details, and payment date, and confirm your transfer. We’ll take it from there.
If you’re sending money from the United States to New Zealand, you can send up to $535,000 USD at a time online. If you ever need to send more, you can contact Xe’s currency experts and arrange that by phone.
An overseas move is already stressful enough. So when it comes to international money transfers, just log in to your Xe account, provide the necessary information, and leave all the work to us. This way, you can finally focus on what’s more important to you - moving to New Zealand.
All currency conversions mentioned are based on the USD/NZD mid-market rate on May 31st, 2021.