Most major banks in New Zealand let you apply for a credit card when you are a temporary resident. But the types of cards available and the requirements you need to meet before you can apply may vary based on the type of visa you hold, your income and other individual details.
You can use this guide to compare your credit card options and find out what you need to do to successfully apply for a credit card when you’re living in New Zealand.
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American Express Airpoints Card
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Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
American Express Airpoints Card
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Compare cards that accept applications from temporary residents
What are the eligibility requirements for getting a credit card as a temporary resident?
The eligibility requirements may vary, but the following might be used as a general guide, and examples of some of the eligibility requirements you may need to meet.
Age. You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card in New Zealand.
Employment. You must have employment in New Zealand or proof of upcoming employment in New Zealand at the time of your application. You may also have to supply details of your most recent previous employer/s. It is recommended that you get official, written confirmation of your employment contract, including details of your salary to verify these details.
Income and assets. You must have a regular, New Zealand taxable income to apply for a credit card. Minimum income conditions also apply for some cards. You may also be required to have a specific amount of New Zealand dollars in a New Zealand bank account.
Monthly expenses. You will be asked to provide details of your monthly expenses, including rent and boarding costs. You may also be asked to supply written documents to support this information.
Passport. You will have to supply your passport number and/or a certified copy of your passport for the application.
Visa status. You must have a valid, eligible visa. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may need to have a minimum amount of time left on the visa to apply (e.g. two years before expiry).
Address. You must have a residential address in New Zealand to apply for a credit card.
New Zealand bank account. You must have applied or opened a New Zealand bank account to get a credit card.
It’s important to remember that eligibility requirements depend on the issuer and the credit card you apply for. But being prepared with all of these details will help you speed up the application process.
What else do I need to know before I apply for a credit card in New Zealand?
Credit card issuers may consider individuals with no permanent ties to New Zealand as a risk for any type of credit product. So, make sure you consider the following when choosing a bank and credit card to apply for:
Unexplained denials. New Zealand credit card issuers that offer credit cards to temporary residents reserve the right to decline applications without giving you a reason.
Reference checks. You may be asked to supply names and contact information for New Zealand residents who can confirm the details you provide on your application. This could include the person who you rent your home from, your employer or any other individual that you have financial obligations with.
Utility bills. Your New Zealand payment history with utility companies (such as phone or electricity companies) may also be reviewed to check for late payments or defaults. If you want to qualify for a credit card in New Zealand as a temporary resident, you should ensure that you have excellent financial history while you are here.
Low credit limits. As a temporary resident, you may be granted a credit card with a lower credit limit than you would normally expect. If you use the card regularly and make your repayments on time, you may be able to apply for a credit limit increase at a later date.
Card costs. Many credit cards in New Zealand charge an annual fee, and credit card interest rates can also be very high if you don’t completely pay your account off by the due date on your statement. Remember to consider these costs before you choose a card so you can find one that suits your budget.
The credit card application requirements that you must meet as a temporary resident differ between different banks and providers. So, it’s a good idea to discuss your individual circumstances with your chosen provider before you apply for a card. Taking this step will give you the most accurate information possible and increase your chances of approval for your chosen card.
Advantages and disadvantages of getting a credit card as a temporary resident
Build your credit. If you plan to become a permanent resident, getting a credit card as a temporary resident may help you build your New Zealand credit history.
Flexible payments. A New Zealand credit card will allow you to make purchases in local stores using credit, which you can then pay off in full or over time.
Increased borrowing power. It may be easier to get approval for personal loans, including car loans, if you already have a credit card issued by a New Zealand bank.
Other types of credit. Once you have a New Zealand credit card, it could be easier to enter into other financial contracts, such as a mobile phone plan, or utilities for your residence.
Limited availability. Not all financial institutions offer credit cards to temporary residents, and those that do may not offer all of their products to you.
High rates and fees. To compensate for your residency status, you may find that you have to pay higher rates or fees for the privilege of having a credit card.
Income requirements. With no credit file to refer to, many banks have strict income requirements to help offset the risk of lending to you.
Credit history. If your application for a New Zealand credit card is declined, it may negatively affect your credit history here.
When you’re looking at getting a credit card for temporary residents in New Zealand, remember that the application requirements and eligibility could be different to what’s listed for permanent residents and New Zealand citizens. Make sure you compare cards based on their features and fees so that you can find one that suits your budget and needs while you’re living in New Zealand.
Frequently asked questions
Banks look at the length of time remaining on the visa to ensure that you will be in New Zealand long enough to repay any debt accrued on the credit card.
No. Balance transfer offers are only valid on balances held by another New Zealand financial institution.
Collections proceedings will begin against you and will remain in place if you ever decide to return to New Zealand.
It depends on the circumstances. The Department of Immigration will be able to provide you with more information about your previous credit history in New Zealand in relation to your application. Remember that credit card debt will also affect any applications of enquiries for other credit products that you make in the future.
You might like to get in touch with the credit card issuer directly to discuss your eligibility, financial history, income and ability to repay to discuss your chances of approval before applying for the card. Please note that rejected applications may have a further negative impact on your account, so it’s wise to discuss your options or work on improving your score before you apply for a new card.
There are a few providers that offer credit cards to temporary residents, each with their own specific requirements and considerations. If you want to apply and can’t see details of your visa listed, you can contact a provider directly to find out more based on your circumstances.
Amy Bradney-George is the acting editor for Finder X and a senior writer for credit cards and Finder Green. She has more than 13 years' experience as a journalist and writer, with bylines in publications including The Equity Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News and produce industry website FreshPlaza. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Drama from Griffith University, and when she’s not putting (virtual) pen to paper, she spends her time as an actress.
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