While it’s true that New Zealand is just “a hop across the pond” from Australia, going there on vacation or for business still comes with a few complications, one of which involves how you plan to store or keep your travel allowance.
Personally, I’ve never been abroad for longer than two weeks, so I have never felt the need to open a bank account outside the Philippines. However, I would imagine that a hotel room safe or a plain old wallet won’t do if you’ll be staying in a different country for months at a time.
If you’ll be traveling to New Zealand and lingering there for quite a while, one option is to open a temporary NZ bank account. This is much safer and more convenient as it eliminates the need to carry around a large amount of cash as you travel, plus your money can earn a bit of interest on the side too.
So, how do you go about it? Read on and find out:
1. Check if your local bank has branches in New Zealand.
Because of the proximity between the two countries, a handful of the financial institutions operating in Australia tend to have outposts in New Zealand. ANZ, which stands for Australia and New Zealand, is one example (duh), as is Westpac.
ANZ has two kinds of accounts for travelers who need to set up funds in New Zealand, namely the Go Account and the Online Account. There are no fees required for opening either of them and the online account accrues 1.9% interest in addition. Depositing money from your Australian branch to your NZ bank account incurs about NZ$15 per transaction, but once you get to New Zealand, transferring funds within the country is free of charge.
Westpac, on the other hand, has about three options:
a.) Electronic Account.
This paperless account exists purely online, but it also doesn’t incur fees unless you’ll also use it to deposit and credit cheques (save for accounts with NZ$20,000 or more). You can also avail of a Mastercard debit card linked to this account for a one-time fee of NZ$10.
b.) Online Saver.
Apart from a 2.2% interest per annum, this account also allows for unlimited withdrawals and deposits.
c.) Online Bonus Saver.
This is like the Online Saver, except that it has a 3.3% interest rate.
2. Set up your bank account in New Zealand before leaving Australia.
Once you’ve ascertained that your local bank has operations in New Zealand, you can actually set up your NZ account before you leave the country.
Simply fill out an online application form on your bank’s official website, and then allot about ten (10) working days for the processing time. It’s best that you accomplish this as soon as possible so that you have enough time to transfer money to this account. (Bear in mind that since a currency exchange is likely to occur, there will be additional fees for such a procedure.)
You won’t have access to the money in your NZ account until you get to New Zealand, so plan your finances around that too.
3. Activate your bank account upon arriving in New Zealand.
After your application has been approved and your account has been funded, you can book an appointment with the NZ bank upon arriving. To open and access your account, you need to bring the following to the appointment:
a.) Proof of address – only a New Zealand address can be used, but hostel or hotel addresses are acceptable. Do check with your hotel or hostel first before you put theirs forward.
b.) Proof of identification – also known as a valid, government-issued ID. Your passport ought to do for this one.
c.) Copy of your visa – Some banks may require this, so have a photocopy ready just in case.
Lastly, don’t forget to close your NZ bank account before you go back to Australia. It will still be charged with bank fees even if you’re no longer using it, and closing it from abroad can take a painfully long time.
Anyhow, it’s quite easy to do this. Simply set an appointment with the bank to close your account, and then bring your passport and bank cards along. The entire process takes all of 20 minutes, tops.