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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

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Since the Lord of the Rings, the land of the long white cloud has been growing in popularity as a destination for tourists. But, whether you’re heading across the Tasman to see the Redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest or to hit the slopes near Queenstown, you should know the best way to access New Zealand dollars — called the kiwi — when you’re there.

Our picks for traveling to New Zealand

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5
Transferwise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Transferwise Multi-currency

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

★★★★★
Finder rating: 4.6/5

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, however, 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 and has interest-free days when you pay your balance in full before the end of statement period. Some credit cards even also offer complimentary travel insurance, which could save you the time and money.

Don’t use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM as it is considered a cash advance and will usually incur high interest and a fee.

Pros
  • Protected by PIN & 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

Using a debit card

A debit card is a great travel money choice for NewZealand. 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.

  • 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 & 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, there are currently 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 & 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 of needing ID to be cashed
  • 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

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points) and 3x points on directly-booked flights
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries.
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on up to $1,000 on groceries until April 30, 2021, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $750 plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries with this popular travel card.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
75,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 5x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
$550
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Buying currency in the US

If you want to get your money changed, 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$ 1.3547

Refreshing in: 60s | Thu, Feb 25, 07:01PM 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
  • Kiwibank
  • Co-operative Bank
  • Rabobank New Zealand
  • SBS Bank
  • TSB Bank
  • Westpac New Zealand
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (New Zealand) Limited

ATMs in New Zealand

Cash pickup services in New Zealand

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 1.348 NZD 1,343 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 1.321 NZD 1,294 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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.

Find out more about travel insurance for New Zealand

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