Credit Cards In New Zealand 101: 15 Frequently Asked Questions

Jan 21, 2021
credit cards
By Staff writer

Credit cards should be straightforward, right? You apply for a card and enjoy the convenience of cashless payments. Then, you pay the borrowed amount on time so you don't incur interest and penalties. How hard can it be, right?

While it may seem like a simple process, owning a credit card is a challenge. You have to deal with credit limits, rewards, interest rates, maintenance fees, among others. Plus, you have to select the right one from a pool of credit card deals, such as no annual fees, transfer balance, low-interest rates, and more.

To get started, let's get you asking the right questions. Check out these 15 most commonly asked questions about credit cards in New Zealand, and start from there.

1. What is a credit card?

A credit card lets you borrow money from a card issuer — usually a bank. They let you borrow money, granted that you agree to pay the amount plus the additional interest at an agreed time — usually at the end of each billing cycle. Other terms and conditions apply, that's why it's important to always read the fine print, and read reviews about a particular card you're eyeing.

Basically, the bank lends you a line of credit to finance your purchases and you pay the amount due on your billing statement. If you miss the due date or fail to pay the full amount, you'll have to pay the set interest and charges.

2. How is a credit card any different from a debit card?

Unlike a credit card, a debit card charges money directly from your account. This means you don’t acquire debt in your purchases as well as penalties, as you're spending your own money.

And because you're using your money for purchases, this is a good choice for people who are budget constrained. You can see the deductions in your account real-time. Not going over budget is easy, if you're more mindful of your spending. 

3. What is a credit score?

A credit score is the rating that creditors give you to show how creditworthy you are. It indicates that banks and other financial institutions can trust you with their money and that you can pay for your debt, including the interest, on or before the agreed time.

Credit score in New Zealand is rated from 0-1000, and the higher the number, the better the score. Most New Zealanders score anywhere between 300 and 850. Most banks consider anywhere above 500 to be a good credit score. 

While you can still snag good deals if your credit score is below 500, there are usually reservations to the amount, interest rate, and billing period depending on your score.

4. What’s the minimum age to apply for a credit card?

To apply for a personal credit card in New Zealand, you have to be at least 18 years old. Aside from being an adult, you also have to be a citizen or permanent resident in the country. Of course, your employment details and income also come into play.

While you can still get a credit card even if you’re under 18, it’s not under your name. You can only be an additional cardholder from your parents’ account. Some banks offer this feature as early as 14 years old, but it may still vary per lender.

5. How does the bank charge interest on my credit card?

Banks usually charge your interest daily and bill them monthly. For example, you made a purchase of $5,000 with a 12.9% interest rate. If you pay it off within a month, you’ll have to pay $53.75 interest on top of the $5,000 credit.

As interest is calculated per day, it’s recommended that you settle your credit as soon as possible. This is to not incur higher interest charges by the end of the month. Of course, the calculation of your interest varies per bank and type of account.

6. Can I get a credit card with no interest fees?

You can! Here are some options you can take advantage of.

  • Getting a credit card with interest-free days, usually 44 or 55 days. This is valid as long as you settle all credit in your account every month.
  • Benefitting from introductory purchase rate and balance transfer rates from banks. All purchases made within this period won’t incur interest.

If your credit card doesn’t fall within these categories, then you’ll pay the interest charges even when you don't pay for the full amount within the agreed date.

7. Where can I use my credit card as payment?

You can use it to pay for almost everything, including your rent! However, for finances considered as debt like mortgage, loans, among others, it may not be your best choice. It may lead to more financial hardships for you later on.

For everything else like groceries, maintenance fees, subscriptions, utilities, and more, you can pay using your credit card without worries.

8. Can I pay for my credit card using another credit card?

Technically, you can, but it’s not recommended. It’s like paying off your debt with another debt. Plus, some banks don’t accept credit card payments using a credit card because it creates an infinite loop of debt.

If you really want to consolidate your credit card debt and are ready to see it through, you can do it through a balance transfer credit card.

Read: How To Find The Best Balance Transfer Credit Card in New Zealand

9. Will it hurt your credit score if you don’t use your credit card?

Yes, an inactive credit card may affect your credit score. Although it varies per bank and account type, payment history makes up to 35% of your credit score. The second most important factor is credit utilisation, totalling up to 30%.

If you don’t make any payments or don’t use your credit limit to its full potential, then your score will be zero. Sure, it doesn’t have negative effects on your credit score, but it doesn’t return positive results, either. 

You can still make up for another 15% if you have good credit history. However, it’s not enough to increase your credit score.

10. Can I get more than one credit card?

Of course — but the question is, will it have any positive effect for you? Instead of getting more credit cards under your name, you may be better off utilising what you already have. If you have plenty of credit cards but are not using them actively, they won’t benefit your credit score.

As mentioned, it’s more important to have good payment history, credit utilisation, and credit history. It's best to focus on maintaining these, before getting more credit cards under your name.

But if you're really up for getting more than one credit card, there’s no stopping you! You can even get another credit card from a different bank!

11. What is a credit limit?

Credit limit is the maximum amount your bank can put on your credit line. It’s directly tied to your credit score. The higher your credit score, the higher your credit limit. Consequently, the lower your credit score, the lower your credit limit.

The great thing about lower credit limits is, you can easily utilise it fully. As you have a smaller amount of credit to work with every month, you can easily reach 30% criteria for your credit score. On the other hand, a higher credit limit can work to your advantage if you are a big spender and can pay within the agreed date.

12. What kind of credit cards should I get?

There are different types of credit cards such as no annual fees, low-interest rate, balance transfer, reward, credit builder, purchase, travel credit, money transfer, and the list goes on.

In a glimpse, here are the functions of the different credit card types in New Zealand.

  • No annual fee credit cards - As the name suggests, these cards have no yearly maintenance fees. With no annual fees, the standard purchase rate increases.
  • Balance transfers - It’s transferring the balance from your old credit card to your new lender. It usually comes with a fee, but some banks waive it for an introductory period.
  • Reward credit cards - It offers you travel miles, cashback, and discounts whenever you use them for your purchases. You need a good credit score to get approved for this.
  • Credit builder credit cards - This card type helps you increase your credit score as it helps you build your credit history. 
  • Purchase credit cards - Want to lessen the burden of your big purchases? Purchase credit cards often come with interest-free periods to keep costs low.
  • Travel credit cards - Do you often travel overseas? It can be expensive to pay for hotels and accommodations but a travel credit card can help.
  • Money transfer credit cards - This card type offers 0% rate period, but you may need to have a good credit score to get approved for this.

13. Can I get a good credit score without a credit card?

Yes, you can have a good credit score without a credit card. This is possible through loans and mortgages. Reporting rental payments as well as paying for your utilities on time can help you increase your credit score. Having a consistent job can affect your credit score too.

Although, paying using your credit card is still the best option to build a good credit score. It’s also the easiest way as you can use it for your every purchase — whether small or big.

14. What are the ways to pay for your credit card bill?

There are several methods to pay for your credit card bill. Here are the quickest and easiest ways to do it.

  • Set up an automatic transfer from your checking or savings account through internet and mobile banking
  • Set up a direct debit where you can select the amount to pay off monthly. You can either do this for instalment payments or full balance.

15. How can I avoid accumulating credit card debt?

Make sure you pay for your current debt first before borrowing from the bank again. It may be a simple hack, but it’s easier said than done. You have to be more disciplined with your spending habits.

Most of all, it’s important that you have the right credit card for you. To get the best credit card type for your lifestyle, use glimp’s comparison tool. We compare the best deals from the leading banks in NZ, and give you tailored results in just a few clicks.

Get the best deal today, right here at glimp!

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