Credit Cards

Credit cards are little rectangles of plastic financial freedom you can slip into your pocket. Convenient and easily accessible, credit cards make for a great back-up, or a way to cover expenses until your next pay cheque.

But what’s the best NZ credit card? Which credit card suits your needs? And what do you need to know about how New Zealand credit cards work?

Here at Compinero we’ve got the inside scoop on the best NZ credit cards for 2020, including interest rates and fees charged by all the major lenders. Credit cards can be a great choice, but take the time to look around the site and see which type of credit is most suitable to you. Pick the right option and you could save yourself thousands.

Credit cards often come with high interest rates on purchases and similarly high fees, so make sure you’re aware of the total cost of your card before slipping it into your wallet.

NZ Credit Card Comparisons

There are plenty of great credit card deals doing the rounds in New Zealand right now. From 0% interest balance transfer cards to high-earning Airpoints cards and cashback credit cards, by shopping around and picking the right card for your circumstances, you could find yourself benefiting nicely, rather than simply adding a new debt to your life.

On this page we offer some hot tips for choosing your new credit card, managing your purchases and payments, and paying off your credit card balance.

What is a Credit Card?

Credit card by name, credit card by nature. Credit cards let you pay for purchases by taking advantage of a line of credit with each transaction you make.

All major New Zealand banks offer a number of credit card options, from those with low interest rates to rewards cards that allow you to redeem points for travel or other benefits.

Credit cards generally have a relatively low limit – from $500 to $5000, although some lenders may offer higher limits to those with greater incomes.

Credit cards are convenient ways of covering expenses if you’re short on disposable cash. Accepted most places that take debit cards, credit cards can also feel like a safety blanket for those times you’re caught short before pay day.

How to Use a Credit Card

Using a credit card – it’s just a matter of swiping and paying right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that, and plenty of ways you can use your credit card that will make the whole process cheaper and better for you.

So many people simply use their credit card, when a little bit of strategy could save them thousands over their lifetime. Here’s a few top tips for being smart with your credit card and using it to your advantage, rather than disadvantage:

·       Always make your payments on time. If you don’t, you’re likely to be charged late fees, and the late payment will negatively impact your credit score. The more you make late payments, the worse your credit history will look.

·       If you’re spending more than you can afford to repay, you’re doing it wrong. Credit cards can be a trap for big spenders. If you’re racking up bigger bills than you can pay off, you’ll find yourself in a tricky spot. Budgeting is key, whether you have a credit card or not!

·       Stay as far below your credit limit as possible. Credit scores include a calculation based on something called a ‘credit utilisation ratio’ – this is the ratio between your balance and the limit of your card. If you often find yourself close to your credit card limit, your credit score will start to suffer.

·       Pay off your credit card in full as often as possible. By doing this, you’ll avoid high interest charges, and free the money up again for other purchases.

How to Pay Off a Credit Card

It’s all very well for us to tell you to pay off your card as often as possible … but how?!

One of the best ways to get your balance down and that debt paid off is to leave your card at home as often as possible. Temptation is nothing without the means to succumb to it!

Be wary of accepting a higher credit limit if your bank offers it. Even with the best intentions, that new $5000 limit will be a huge temptation, and will keep you that much further away from paying the whole card off.

Start by aiming to pay off your new purchases in full as soon as you make them, then work your way up to paying off the whole card. Try setting up an automatic payment from your cheque account after payday to regularly clear chunks of the credit debt. You’ll get there before you know it!

How Does Credit Card Interest Work?

Credit card interest rates in New Zealand range from around 12% to over 20%. Often lower-interest cards can come with higher fees, so always check the fine print. Rewards and Airpoints cards also tend to have higher interest rates.

Here’s how interest on purchased goods and services works:

  • If you fail to pay the full amount owing on your credit card by the due date, then you’ll get charged interest on that outstanding balance. Interest is often calculated on the last day of the month, and charged the following one.

Here’s how interest on cash advances works:

  • There’s usually a special, higher interest rate for cash advances, which is the term given to the transaction you make when taking money out of your credit card at the cash machine.
  • Taking money from your credit card at the cash machine will see you charged at the cash advance interest rate on a daily basis.
  • Credit card balances roll over each month and continue to attract interest until they are paid off. Interest is typically charged on the last day of your statement period.
  • After you pay off your balance, you’ll see an interest charge the following month which reflects the period when you still had an amount owing on your card.

What is the Best Credit Card?

There are plenty of options out there for those looking for a New Zealand credit card – but which one is best? We can’t tell you which credit card to choose for yourself, but we can give you some tips about what to look for when scrolling through the comparisons at the top of this page!

Which NZ Credit Card has the Lowest Interest Rate?

Kiwibank often has great deals on credit cards, with interest rates as low as 9.95%. Other card lenders’ interest rates vary – anywhere from 13 – 21%. If you think you can pay off your debt quickly, look into a 0% interest balance transfer credit card, like the one currently offered by BNZ. Balance transfer credit cards often give you a short term to pay off your loan at the 0% interest rate, after which the rate reverts to standard interest charges.

Which Credit Card has the Least or Lowest Fees?

Often there’s only a few dollars in it, but it pays to check how much your chosen credit card provider will charge you in fees. Most lenders charge an annual fee, and others add on a fairly hefty establishment fee too. 

Which NZ Credit Card has the Best Rewards?

Rewards are one of the benefits of having a credit card, and can come in a number of forms – from Airpoints to Flybuys, vouchers and more – it can be exciting to see your rewards creep up as you spend. Bear in mind though that reward cards work better for big credit card spenders, and can actually cost you money in the long term as you’ll tend to spend more by trying to rack up rewards.

High reward cards generally come with high annual fees, meaning you’ll actually need to spend many thousands of dollars to cover that annual fee and then start earning points. Worth it? That’s your call.

NZ Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Balance transfer cards can be a great way to start afresh with credit cards if you have an existing loan or credit debt. Some banks offer 0% interest for a 12 month term, meaning if you’re smart and pay the balance of your card off within the year, you’ll save yourself thousands in interest fees. Cancel and cut up the old card to avoid the temptation of using it again!

NZ Cashback Credit Cards

Cashback credit cards are a type of reward credit card, but instead of dishing out Airpoints or Flybuys, they literally give you cash back on your card spending. Just like with other rewards cards, you’ll have to meet spending criteria, and not all purchases will be eligible for cash returns. Like other types of reward cards, cashback credit cards are best suited to those who spend significant amounts per year on their credit card, and who pay it off quickly to avoid interest charges.

NZ Student Credit Cards

Because you can typically only apply for a credit card when you have an income, students are not usually eligible to apply. There are occasionally exceptions to this rule – for example if your application is countersigned by an adult with a secure income.

If you are a student and are unable to access a regular credit card, a number of banks offer Tertiary debit cards. These are largely the same as a credit card, but have lower limits – usually only up to one to two thousand dollars.

Tertiary debits cards often come with some bonus benefits, such as low or zero percent interest, no transaction fees, and no annual fee.

What Alternatives Are There to Credit Cards in New Zealand?

Credit cards can be a useful tool to have in your financial bag of tricks, but they are high interest, and there are other options out there if you’re not convinced they’re right for you.

Debit cards are one alternative to credit cards, and have many of the same features – with the exception that it’s always your money you’re using with a debit card, and never borrowed money. Debit cards and credit cards both allow you to make purchases online, unlike simple Eftpos cards which are generally only used for in-store purchases and ATM withdrawals.

A personal loan with your bank is another option if you need a little money for a short period of time. Personal loan interest rates range from 11 to 22% and because you’re dealing with a reputable lender, you can rest assured that they’ll only lend you what’s affordable and manageable.

If you don’t have any joy with your bank, a credit union may be able to help, and is a safer bet than a payday lender.

If you have an existing loan or credit card, you may be able to move that debt to a zero interest Balance Transfer credit card. 

If you’re looking for a loan to cover an impending bill or other fee, consider approaching your service provider to see if they can help you out with a payment plan to get your through the rough patch.

The Mighty Credit Card: Credit where Credit’s Due

Wondering how to get an NZ credit card? Simply compare your options in the table above, click through to your preferred lender’s secure website, and complete your application for a card. Easy!

It’s jokingly been called “Daddy’s Plastic” – that little card that gives, gives, gives, and only becomes your problem later in the month. But jokes aside, credit cards can be useful things – just take care not to borrow more than you can manage.

Picking a credit card that offers a good interest rate and great rewards can actually improve your financial situation – especially if you can afford to pay it off after each purchase and simply use it to get cashback or rewards.

FAQs

How Many Credit Cards Can You Have at Once in New Zealand?

There’s no hard and fast limit to how many credit cards you can have in New Zealand, but it’s likely that once you have more than one, new lenders will be wary of giving you more. Your access to credit cards depends largely on your income and credit score. You should also ask yourself why you’d want multiple credit cards, and how you’d plan to manage them.

Which NZ Banks Offer Credit Cards?

All New Zealand banks offer credit cards. You can check out the different deals in the comparison list  above and, when you’ve found one that’s right for you, just click through to that lender and apply through their website.

What is CVV on a Credit Card?

A question we often get asked is “what is CVV on a credit card”? CVV stands for “Card Verification Value” and it acts as an additional security feature when you’re making credit card payments online or over the phone. You can find your CVV on the back of your card to the right of the signature panel.

Industry standards prevent businesses from storing your CVV after you’ve made an online transaction. So although your card details may be saved on your favourite online marketplaces, you’ll typically need to type in your CVV every time you pay for something new.

Do I Need a Credit Check to get a Credit Card?

Yes, it’s likely you will need a credit check to get an NZ credit card.

Can Beneficiaries Get Credit Cards in New Zealand?

It depends. A lot of lenders refuse to lend to beneficiaries because they demand that a certain percentage of repayment money does not come from government sources. Credit card applications are also judged on income and an applicant’s ability to make repayments. 

Am I Eligible to get a Credit Card?

Different lenders have different eligibility criteria. Generally speaking, you’ll have to meet these requirements to be eligible for a payday loan:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be resident in New Zealand
  • Receive more than $400 per week, after tax
  • Be in permanent employment
  • Have proof of your address (usually a bank statement or utility bill)
  • Have a mobile phone number and/or email address
  • Have a satisfactory credit history  

What if I Can’t Repay My Credit Card?

If you’re experiencing financial hardship and don’t feel that you can make your repayments, first try speaking with your credit card provider to see if there is any way you can work out a payment plan that relieves the financial squeeze. 

If you are struggling and would like free financial counselling, you can call 0800 345 123, the MoneyTalks helpline operated by FinCap.