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Compare interest rates, fees and rewards programmes in our database of more than 40 credit cards.
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Find the right credit card and work out whether expensive rewards schemes are worth their cost. Use our interactive database to compare cards, and try our rewards calculator to work out the net value of flight, shopping or cashback rewards.
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Find the right credit card and work out whether expensive rewards schemes are worth their cost. Use our interactive database to compare cards, and try our rewards calculator to work out the net value of flight, shopping or cashback rewards. Join Consumer and use our expert test results and recommendations to find the model that's right for you.
Work out whether you're a carefree or savvy consumer personality and you can get the best credit-card deal to suit your spending patterns.
Carefree cardholders maintain a constant cycle of debt through regular overspending or episodes of binge spending. Repayment over an extended time period means interest is always being paid. Because the card is never paid off, so-called "free" rewards come at a cost.
If you don't pay off your card in full each month you're throwing away money in interest and fees. Minimum payments are designed to benefit the bank – not you. A $4000 debt on a card charging 19.95 percent could cost you $19,400 in interest and annual card fees to repay if you’re only making minimum payments. It’ll take you 60 years to pay off this debt. Interest.co.nz provides a useful calculator to show how long it takes to repay credit card debt at the minimum payment amount.
Savvy card users never spend more than they can afford and pay off the card balance in full every month. This ensures they never pay interest. Using credit cards as an alternative to eftpos, cash and cheque payments means the savvy have large numbers of transactions - but no transaction fees. They also have a relatively high monthly spend so rewards schemes may be worthwhile.
If you’re a careful spender and always pay off your bill each month, interest rates won't matter and you have a wide choice of cards and rewards programmes. Check our Rewards calculator for the rewards programme to suit your level of spending.
Not interested in reward schemes? Go for a card with no or low annual fees.
All rewards schemes are designed to encourage spending. So unless you spend heaps on your card – usually more than $25,000 over 2 years – and fully pay off your card at the end of each month, most schemes won’t be worth it. Check our Rewards calculator to find the net value of rewards available for your level of spending.
A high rewards rate almost always means a high annual fee, plus an extra fee for being a part of the rewards scheme. Because of this, most of these schemes require spending of more than $12,000 a year to cover their annual fee much less get into positive points territory.
If you’re an average or below-average spender, it's best to avoid reward schemes altogether and go for low-interest, low-fee non-rewards cards that can be more easily managed on a monthly basis.
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Avoid cash advances: Use a credit card to buy something and you'll get up to 44 or 55 days' free credit (depending on the card). But use it to withdraw money and you'll be paying interest from that same day. It's a very expensive way to get cash. If you want access to cash on the card for an overseas trip, deposit money on the card, and use another card for purchases. (Even if your card is in credit you'll probably be charged an overseas ATM fee. Check our Credit card comparison for fee details.)
Report lost cards immediately: If you lose your card or something odd appears on your statement, contact the lost card centre immediately. Keeping an eye on card security is another good idea. Don't leave your card lying around at home or work. See Bank card security for more information.
Lodging security: Make reservations for some overseas hotels and the sum may be charged on your card immediately even if the stay is still months away. Hire a car, and the company may ask your card issuer to reserve an amount of credit to secure its payment. This can cause embarrassment if you don't realise it's happened. If you're likely to have a big bill with a hotel or car hire firm and you give them your credit card details as security, ask if they will be putting a hold on some of your credit, and if so, how much.
Credit creep: "Dear Mr/Mrs Smith," the letter begins. "We have arranged to automatically increase your credit limit. If you do not want us to add $500 to your credit limit it is important you let us know right away..." The temptation for many people will be to use the extra money and, if they can't pay it all back within the month, pay the bank more in interest. It's a nasty form of inertia selling by the banks.
Our recommendation? Don't let your bank raise your limit beyond an amount you can repay without incurring interest.
Chip technology: Chip technology is fast becoming the global standard for card security. A microchip stores your account information in a coded format, rather than on the old magnetic strip on the back of the card. The chips make it harder for someone to fraudulently copy (“skim”) your card details, but it also takes a little longer to pay for your purchases.
Tap and go: “Tap and go” has reached our shores. Its attraction is the transaction speed – 2 seconds from the moment the card touches against the terminal. There’s no need for card-swiping, entering pin numbers or signing your name for payments of less than a set amount. See our Contactless credit cards article for more information.
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