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How to cover your bills if you’re affected by the coronavirus

Credit and loan options that can help if the COVID-19 outbreak hurts your income.

A growing number of resources are available if you’re struggling to keep up with bills and expenses amid New Zealand’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Explore several credit options or banks reaching out to offer assistance. You might even find help from your employer or through government resources.

Four ways to cover your bills

If you’re thinking of borrowing, these types of credit might make the most sense. Generally, you still need to be employed for most of these options — or have another source of steady income.

1. New credit card

  • Best for covering groceries and other essentials, for those with good credit

Many new credit cards come with a 0% promotional APR that can last from 6 to 18 months — and sometimes as long as 21 months, which gives you time to rack up and pay off a balance before the interest adds up.

However, you need good credit to qualify and it won’t be as useful for costs you need to cover with cash. Plus, if you can’t pay off your balance before the introductory rate finishes, you are stuck with higher interest rates than you find with a loan.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Purchase Rate Interest Free Period Annual fee
LOW RATE
The Co-operative Bank Fair Rate Credit Card
12.95% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$20
0% p.a on balance transfers for 12 months if you apply by 11 July 2021. Plus benefit from a low rate of 12.95% on both purchases and cash advances.
AIRPOINTS
American Express Airpoints Card
0% for 6 months (reverts to 19.95% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$0
Be rewarded with 50 bonus Airpoints Dollars. Simply apply, be approved, and spend $750 on your new Card in the first 3 months of membership. This offer is available to new Card Members only.
AIRPOINTS
American Express Airpoints Platinum Card
19.95% p.a.
Up to 55 days on purchases
$195
Limited time offer: Be rewarded with 500 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you apply online by 27 September 2021 are approved, and spend $1,500 on your new Card within the first 3 months. This offer is available to new Card Members only. Ts&Cs apply. You will also earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 you spend on your card.
OFFER
American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
2.99% for 6 months (reverts to 19.95% p.a.)
Up to 55 days on purchases
$149
Enjoy a low rate on purchases and earn 20,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points if you apply, are approved and spend $750 in the first 3 months of Card membership. This offer is available to new Card Members only.
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Compare up to 4 providers

2. A personal line of credit

  • Best for paying rent and other bills

A line of credit personal loan gives you access to cash that you can draw from as needed. There’s a cap on how much you can borrow, and you can typically make repayments in instalments over a few years. Some lenders require a minimum monthly repayment. Interest rates generally start around 4% and can go as high as 30% APR, and once you apply you can access your credit line as soon as the next day in some cases.

A line of credit can be helpful if you think your work hours may be reduced or you may be temporarily laid off. Typically, you need to have a steady source of income to qualify, and you have the most options if you have good credit.

3. A local bank or credit union loan

  • Best for borrowing less than $1,000 in cash

Some local banks and credit unions offer small-dollar loans to borrowers with bad credit or low income. These are designed as a more affordable alternative to payday loans, though rates are higher than you find with a personal line of credit. It might take several days to receive your funds, and these loans aren’t available at all local banks.

Compare personal loans

Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Min. Loan Amount Max. Loan Amount Loan Term Monthly Service Fee Establishment Fee
100% ONLINE
The Lending People Personal Loan
6.95% - 26.95%
$2,000
$75,000
1 to 7 years
$0 - $10 depending on lender
$50 to $695 depending on lender
Eligibility: Be 18+, an NZ citizen or permanent resident, in employment and earning at least $500 per week.
Secured and unsecured loans of up to $75,000 from a variety of reputable lenders.
Harmoney Unsecured Personal Loan
6.99% - 19.99%
$2,000
$70,000
3 or 5 years
$0
$200-$350 depending on loan size
Eligibility: Be a NZ resident/citizen and have a good credit score.
Apply for an unsecured personal loan up to $70,000 with no early repayment fees.
FROM 6.99%
The Co-operative Bank Unsecured Personal Loan
6.99% - 19.99%
$3,000
$50,000
6 months to 5 years
$0
$200
Eligibility: Be 18+, an NZ citizen/permanent resident, or have a valid work visa.
Floating-rate, unsecured personal loans from $3,000.
Gem Secured Personal Loan
6.99% -18.99%
$2,000
$70,000
6 months to 7 years
$0
$240
Eligibility: Be 18+, a permanent NZ resident and earning a stable income.
Secured personal loans for those with an excellent credit history. Weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayment schedules and no fees for early repayment.
Lending Crowd Personal Loan
5.03% -19.30%
$2,000
$200,000
2, 3 or 5 years
$0
$200 - $1,450 depending on the amount borrowed
Eligibility: Be a NZ resident/citizen and have a good credit score.
Secured and unsecured personal loans from $2,000 to $200,000. 100% online with no paperwork or early repayment fees.
Nectar Unsecured Personal Loan
8.95% - 29.95%
$1,000
$25,000
6 months to 4 years
$0
$240
Eligibility: Must be 18+, an NZ citizen or permanent resident, have an income of $400 per week or more (after tax) and a stable credit history.
Unsecured loans from $1,000 with payouts made within one day of approval. Applications entirely online.
Save My Bacon Unsecured Flex Loan
49.95%
$1,000
$5,000
8 - 52 weeks
$10
$95
Eligibility: Be 18 or over, have an income of at least $400 per week and be a NZ citizen, permanent resident or have a valid work visa.
Medium-term unsecured loans from $1,000 to $5,000 with no hidden fees.
Max Loans Secured Personal Loan
6.99% - 29.95%
$1,000
$100,000
1 - 7 years
$0 to $10 depending on lender
$195 to $1,500 depending on lender
Eligibility: Be 18+, an NZ citizen/permanent resident, and have an income of least $400 per week.
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Compare up to 4 providers

4. Short-term loan

  • Best as a last resort — while you still have job security

Short-term loans, like payday or instalment loans, can help if you have bad credit, bills to pay and have exhausted all other options. You can borrow between $100 and $10,000, sometimes on the same day you apply. Most short-term lenders only require you to have a steady source of income.

However, APRs are high and there’s a high risk of becoming trapped in a cycle of debt. If you think you might lose your job, look elsewhere. This option could land you in a worse financial situation than when you started.

Consider your payday loan options

Banks that offer coronavirus financial aid

Taking out new types of credit isn’t much of an option if you’re out of a job indefinitely. However, New Zealand’s major financial institutions are helping customers ease the financial impact of the new coronavirus. Below is a list of banks offering financial assistance to customers.

Card issuerAssistance availableContact for help
KiwibankYes (Individual solutions based on your circumstance)Reach through Coronavirus financial support page
WestpacYes (Individual solutions based on your circumstance)Reach through Contact us page
ASBYes (Individual solutions based on your circumstance)Contact details on Covid-19 update page
BNZYes (Individual solutions based on your circumstance)Reach through Financial support page
ANZYes (Individual solutions based on your circumstance)Call number on Covid-19 customer support page

What is forbearance?

Forbearance is a hardship solution that allows you to pause your credit card or loan repayments without facing penalties or damage to your credit score. However, it should be used as a last resort, because interest continues to add up while you’re in forbearance.

Lenders typically add the interest that accumulates during forbearance to your balance, meaning you pay interest on interest. Also, you often don’t receive an extension on your term, resulting in higher monthly repayments.

Other financial aid resources

Consider the following resources if your job, child care or another aspect of your finances has taken a hit since the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Employer assistance. The government is also offering a Wage Subsidy to help employers pay staff.
  • Emergency financial assistance. If you’re struggling to support yourself or your family, WINZ may be able to help with costs.
  • Food banks. City Missions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as the Salvation Army, are putting emergency plans in place to cope with an increase in demand for services over the coming months.
  • Your creditors. Even if your creditors aren’t advertising financial assistance, they still might be willing to work with you if you think you might miss a payment or two.

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