Banking in New Zealand

Student using bank atm

Using bank services

New Zealand has a safe and efficient banking system with a full range of accounts and banking services available. We highly recommend that you open a New Zealand bank account to make sure that your money is kept safely and easily accessible. To open a bank account, you need to have a student visa that is valid for six months, or longer. 

Using cash is not the most common way to make purchases in New Zealand, and in fact UC (University of Canterbury) is a cashless campus. Education NZ has great resource page on banking in New Zealand here.

When to open an account

You can open an account either before or after your arrival in New Zealand, but we strongly recommend that you start the process in advance of arriving to find a suitable bank and open your account so all you need to do when you arrive is attend the in-person appointment to active and use your account.

In New Zealand it is taking a longer period to open a bank account than previous years. If you wait till you arrive in person, and then go to a bank to sign up in person, please plan for around a three to four week wait period to open an account and have an alternative arrangement for accessing your funds, such as a debit card, international transfer, or global currency card so you always have access to funds 

For safety reasons, and New Zealand custom regulations we recommend that you do not travel with or carry a large amount of cash. Instead you might like to transfer your funds electronically directly into your New Zealand bank account. 

Banks to choose from

There are a wide range of banks to choose from and most offer international student packages. See here for the main banks that operate in Christcurch, New Zealand.

To activate your account upon arrival or to open a student account, you will usually need to visit the bank in person with:

  1. photo ID
  2. proof of address, and
  3. proof of enrolment or student visa (for example, your Canterbury Card or your offer of place document).

There are several banks near the University located in the Westfield Riccarton area, Bush Inn, and in the city centre. 

Banks are normally open from 9.00am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday, but most banks offer internet and phone banking with 24-hour access. 

EFTPOS cards (debit cards) are common in New Zealand and can be used in most shops to make small (e.g., candy bar) to large (e.g., mobile phone) purchases. 


For more information