New Zealanders do not carry large amounts of cash or keep it at home because it's considered unsafe (by large amounts we mean more than $300). Large amounts of money are kept in bank accounts. Bank accounts and your banking details are kept very private in New Zealand. Only you or an authorised user can access your bank account and banking details.
To make managing your money easier, it is recommended that your education fees are paid directly to the education provider where you are studying and your living money is sent to you monthly from China.
Don’t tell people about your financial situation. Personal finances are a private matter and not discussed in New Zealand, even amongst friends. If you are running out of money you should talk to the student welfare officer or department at your school or institution. They may be able to provide you with advice on what you can do. You should also talk to your family.
New Zealand Currency
The New Zealand dollar is the currency used in New Zealand. Dollars are divided into cents; 100 cents = 1 dollar. Symbols: $ = dollar, c = cents. The following notes and coins are in circulation: notes - $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, coins – 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2.
Opening a bank account
Nearly all the major banks have international student packages and provide information about their services in Chinese. Many also have a Mandarin speaking international student advisor. Most banks will want to know that you or your family has a “banking history” in your own country. You should take a letter from your bank, some proof of your account, such as a copy of a statement, your passport and proof of your enrolment in a New Zealand education provider with you. Your education provider may already have an arrangement with a particular bank, which may make things easier for you.
Being careful with your spending
Be careful how much money you spend in your first two months until you understand a little more about the costs you will face in the coming months. This is to make sure you have enough money left until the end of your studies.
If you need help managing your money, talk to the student welfare officer or department at your education provider, for budgeting advice.
Lending – do not lend money to anyone
Banks charge fees to their customers for providing banking services (e.g. account maintenance fees and transaction fees). Banks are usually open from 9:00am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday but customers are able to access their accounts 24 hours using Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs see below). Banks are not open on Saturday and Sunday, or on public holidays.
The following are the main services and accounts banks in New Zealand offer:
A bank account for every day use. EFTPOS (see below) cards are usually attached to a current account and bills are also paid from this account.
A bank account for saving money. Banks pay small amounts of interest on savings accounts.
A sum of money is deposited for a fixed period of time at a higher level of interest than is normally available from savings accounts. You cannot usually withdraw money during the fixed period of time, without incurring a penalty. Banks require minimum amounts (e.g. NZ$1000) to open a term deposit/investment. Deposit/investment periods range from 30 days to 5 years.
Bankcards allow you to access your accounts, through ATMs and use EFTPOS, without going into the bank. When you open a bank account you’ll receive information about your bankcard and how to use it. You’ll be asked to select your own 4-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) which must be keyed in every time you use your card. You should never tell anyone else your PIN number, even a bank teller!
Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards for payment. The most common are Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express (also refer p. 9). For a credit card your signature on the back will be matched as you sign for the goods or services you are buying. You can also choose a PIN for your credit card, to use instead of your signature. Banks have specific requirements for issuing credit cards. You must be 18 or over and have previous bank statements and proof of income. For this reason, most New Zealand students do not usually have credit cards.
Keeping your bankcards and credit cards safe
Make sure you keep your bankcards and credit cards safe at all times. If you lose them make sure you contact the bank immediately to cancel them. Also let the Police know - sometimes lost property is handed in. See your local phone book for the contact details of your nearest Police station).
ATMs - Automatic Teller Machines
ATMs allow you to withdraw and deposit money without going to the bank. To use an ATM, insert your bankcard and enter your PIN. You can withdraw money, check your account balances, transfer funds between your accounts, and more. There is a limit to the amount of cash you can take out using an ATM, this is usually NZ$500 per day, so if you want to pay a big bill in cash, you'll need to go to the branch, to withdraw the full amount.
EFTPOS - Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale
EFTPOS allows you to pay for purchases without carrying cash. EFTPOS is very popular with New Zealanders and is available in most shops, restaurants and businesses. To use EFTPOS, the bankcard is swiped in a special machine which reads the magnetic strip on it. You select the account you want to pay from, then enter your PIN. Money is automatically transferred from the account you selected to the shop's account. You can often use EFTPOS to get cash out too.
Using a touch-tone phone, you can dial a free number for your bank and have access to your accounts over the phone, at anytime.
You can also do your banking from a computer on the internet anytime. Banks provide secure access for this. Bank staff can set online banking up for you when you open your account.
Paying by cheque
Payments can also be made by writing a personal cheque using a cheque book from your bank. If you are paying in person (rather than by mail), identification with your signature is required to make a payment using a cheque. You usually have to be 18 to have a cheque book. Cheques are not used as often as EFTPOS.