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Travel money guide: New Zealand

Our guide will empower you to have the best combination of travel money when heading to New Zealand

Since the Lord of the Rings, the land of the long white cloud has been growing in popularity as a destination for tourists. But you should know the best way to access New Zealand dollars — called the kiwi — when you’re there. Credit cards, debit cards, and cash are all accepted without issue.

A credit card will serve you best during your Tasman travels, particularly one that doesn’t come with foreign transaction fees. But debit cards and cash can still work perfectly well.

Our picks for traveling to New Zealand

40+ currencies supported

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  • 4.85% APY on USD balances
  • $0 monthly fees
  • Up to $100 free ATMs withdrawals worldwide
  • Hold and convert 40+ currencies

Up to $300 cash bonus

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on SoFi's secure site
  • 0.50% APY on checking balance
  • Up to 4.60% APY on savings
  • $0 account or overdraft fees
  • Get a $300 bonus with direct deposits of $5,000 or more

Free ATM transactions

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  • $50 waivable monthly fee
  • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • Securely move money domestically and globally
  • 5 monthly out-of-network ATM reimbursements
  • Free international HSBC ATM transactions

Travel card, credit card or debit cards?

Visa and Mastercard are accepted almost everywhere — nearly 75% of all transactions in New Zealand are done with cards. Get cash over the counter with your debit cards or find a ATM.

Whether you’re doing a quick business trip or taking a long vacation, it’s smart to have a couple of ways to access your money. Travel-friendly debit cards will let you spend in New Zealand dollars, but most travel cards apply an international ATM withdrawal fee.

A credit card gives you access to an emergency line of credit and can be used for interest free purchases, and some cards offer extras like insurance as well. Choose a mix that suits your needs.

These are your options for spending money in New Zealand

Using a credit card

Look for a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (Terms apply, see rates & fees). Some credit cards also offer complimentary travel insurance as well as other travel benefits, including the ability to earn miles on purchases.

Finding the best card for your travel habits can save you a lot of money in the long run, so compare travel cards carefully before making your final decision.

Pros
  • Protected by PIN and chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Some offer complimentary travel insurance
  • Interest-free purchases when account is paid in full
  • Emergency card replacement
Cons
  • Cash advances can charge high interests and fees
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
  • Attracts an annual fee

Compare travel credit cards

Explore top debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and travel credit cards by using the tabs to narrow down your options. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.

1 - 5 of 9
Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
SoFi Checking and Savings
Finder Score: 4.5 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
SoFi Checking and Savings
$0 per month
$0
4.60% on balances of $0+
0.50% on balances of $0+
1.20% on balances of $0+
Get up to $300 cash bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Terms apply. This offer is available until December 31, 2024.
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
Finder Score: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Chime® Checking Account
Finder Score: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Chime® Checking Account
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Refer a friend to Chime using your referral link, and if they complete a $200 direct deposit within 45 days of opening their new account, you both get $100.
HSBC Premier Checking
Finder Score: 3.5 / 5: ★★★★★
HSBC Premier Checking
$50 per month
(can be waived)
$0
0.01% on balances of $5+
Acorns Checking
Finder Score: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Acorns Checking
From $3 per month
$0
N/A
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1 - 5 of 21
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Up to 5x miles
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. See rates & fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
Up to 5x miles
$95
Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening. See rates & fees
Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Bilt does not have a welcome offer. However, they have a unique bonus offer of double points on the first of each month – that’s 6x points on dining, 4x points on travel, and 2x points on other purchases (except rent). Use the card 5 times each statement period to earn points.
Up to 3x points
$0
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
$200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Up to 1.5% cash back
$0
More than an unlimited 1.5% cash back card: you'll also earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel (terms apply). See rates & fees
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
N/A
Up to 5x miles
$0
The same rewards and $0 annual fee as the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, but for those with good credit. See rates & fees
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Using a debit card

A debit card is a great travel money choice for New Zealand. You’ll have access to cash each time you come across an ATM, without carrying lots of cash on you all at once. Because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges. Find a card that waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee, like the kind offered by Betterment Checking.

  • Tip: A debit card can be used to shop over the counter, online and for ATM withdrawals in New Zealand.
Pros
  • Access to money at ATMs
  • Protected by PIN and chip
  • Debit cards will not incur an interest rate
Cons
  • International ATM withdrawal fees may apply
  • Currency conversion fees
  • No emergency funds

Using a prepaid travel card

**Unfortunately, right now there are no travel cards in the US that allow you to load NZY.

Travel cards can lock in conversion rates once you load USD. Use it for purchases without worrying about rates each time you spend — debit and credit cards often charge 3% for each transaction.

Pros
  • Ability to lock in the exchange rate
  • Secured by PIN and chip technology
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Easily reloadable via a secure online platform
Cons
  • International ATM withdrawal fees, card issue fees and initial load fees may apply
  • Reload fees could be high
  • Some charge for inactivity fee

Paying with cash in New Zealand

Currency exchange offices charge a commission to do the exchange, and they also make money off a margin applied to the exchange rate.

You can always send your money to New Zealand ahead of time with a money transfer service and have it waiting to be picked up when you arrive.

Pros
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
Cons
  • Difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks have been replaced by debit, credit and travel money cards. A cheaper way to get cash in New Zealand is to make an ATM withdrawal, especially if your card provider has a relationship with the bank of the ATM you use.

The main advantage of traveler’s checks is they can be replaced if lost or stolen.

Pros
  • Security: You must present ID to cash them
  • Availability to cash at banks
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Money back guarantee if you’re a victim of card fraud
Cons
  • Cashing checks is subject to a commission
  • Currency exchange rate varies over time
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Buying currency in the US

If you want to exchange your currency, have a look at these companies that can sell you foreign cash. Travelex has outlets at major airports and you can make an order online and collect the New Zealand cash before you get on the plane.

You can bring the US dollar equivalent of $10,000 New Zealand dollars with you. If you take any more than this, you have to declare your cash when you pass through customs. You’ll get a better deal if you wait to get your money changed in New Zealand, even better if you make a withdrawal from an ATM rather than use a money exchange service.

Exchange rates using your card

When you use your credit card, debit card or travel card to make a purchase in New Zealand, the exchange rate set in place by your card applies to the transaction. When you use your card for over the counter purchases, you’ll get a rate which is a touch above the market rate. The same when you make a withdrawal from an ATM.

Live Rate

= NZ$ 1.6306

Refreshing in: 60s | Wed, Jun 19, 06:56AM GMT

Here are what some of the banknotes look like:

New Zealand 5-DollarsNew Zealand 10-DollarsNew Zealand 20-Dollars
New Zealand 50-DollarsNew Zealand 100-Dollars

The main banks in New Zealand are:

  • ANZ Bank New Zealand
  • ASB Bank
  • Bank of New Zealand
  • Co-operative Bank
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (New Zealand) Limited
  • Kiwibank
  • Rabobank New Zealand
  • SBS Bank
  • TSB Bank
  • Westpac New Zealand

ATMs in New Zealand

You should have little issue finding a convenient ATM location during your New Zealand travels. Remember to use a card that doesn’t charge foreign ATM fees, like a debit card from Betterment Checking.

What should I budget for my trip to New Zealand?

The opportunities for exploration and adventure opens up the possibility of blowing your budget. If you want to get around the country, you’ll need to rent a car — and it can be pricey. If you rely on busses or staying in one place, you can budget less than $50 a day. But for a more adventurous vacation, a realistic budget ranges from $130 to $350 a day. All prices are in US dollars.

AucklandBudgetMid-rangeExpensive
MealsVegan and vegetarian dinner
$8–$10
Dinner at a mid-range restaurant
$40 per person
High-end restaurant
$100 per person
ActivitiesEscape room games
$20 per person
Skydive from
16,500 ft. tour
$220
Waitomo Caves and
Rotorua Day Trip
$250
AccomodationHostel dorm
$20–$40 per night
2-star hotel
$25–$100 per night
5-star hotel
$100–$1000

Prices are for example purposes only.

Case study: Mike's experience

Mike profile photo
Mike

Mike goes skiing in Queenstown: The adventure capital of the world

Mike says Queenstown has the best skiing experience in New Zealand. The snow, the nightlife, the food and atmosphere are all top notch.

What are your travel money tips?

Mike says if you’re traveling by shuttle bus to the peaks, purchase the tickets in bulk. A single ticket costs $15, but there’s discounts for purchasing packs of 10 or 15 tickets at a time.

Find travel insurance for your trip to New Zealand

New Zealand offers travelers a wondrous land to explore, from ski fields to volcanic hot springs, there are plenty of things for the family to enjoy.

But with every journey comes and element of risk, which is why there is travel insurance to protects against far more than just health issues. Travel insurance covers the following:

  • Trip cancellation
  • Lost luggage
  • Personal liability
  • Lost travel documents

Don’t let your vacation turn into a nightmare, compare travel insurance policies today.

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