Do you want fries with that? What bank accounts are on offer for university students?

If you’re heading off to study at university or a polytechnic this year, it’s a good time to look at your banking options. There are some perks available to students opening an account, and they not all small fries!   

Student bank accounts are designed specifically for school leavers, and generally give you the essentials you need for the start of your financial independence. Features of tertiary accounts can include zero account fees, higher deposit interest rates for savings, free transactions and interest-free overdrafts. However, decisions around tertiary banking need to be considered carefully, to avoid any unnecessary financial stress later on in your studies.

What do you need to open a tertiary bank account?

To open a tertiary bank account in New Zealand, you’ll need to be studying with an approved NZQA education provider. The bank you open your account with will ask you to confirm and prove you’re over 17 and enrolled in studies. You’ll need a valid ID, for example a passport or driver’s licence, and your IRD number.

What’s an overdraft, how do they work?

An overdraft is a loan, and essentially lets you spend more money than you have in your bank account. The overdraft will have an agreed set limit that you can use any time and pay off at your own pace, provided you keep within the agreed limit. The majority of tertiary accounts in New Zealand offer interest-free overdrafts for the duration of your study. This is the banks encouraging your brand loyalty, in the hope you’ll stick with them post-studying. Interest-free overdrafts allow you to borrow up to a set amount without having to pay interest.

What’s on offer: ASB (& Macca’s!)

ASB was awarded Canstar’s Bank of the Year – Tertiary Banking in 2019. With an ASB Tertiary account you’ll be entitled to:

  • No transaction or base fees 
  • An ASB Visa Debit card with no card fee
  • Ability to apply for an ASB Visa Light credit card with no account fee and a credit limit of up to $1000
  • Zero-interest overdraft up to $2000

And want some post-O Week recovery fast food? With an ASB Tertiary Visa Debit card you’re entitled to free small fries daily at McDonald’s with any order.


A Westpac Tertiary Account will offer:

  • No monthly account maintenance fee, no electronic transaction fees, no annual fee on your debit card
  • Help with money management: Westpac’s CashNav app is free and tracks your day-to-day spending, purchases and bill payments and automatically groups spending into categories
  • An interest-free overdraft on your bank account for up to $2000

Cooperative Bank

Cooperative Bank’s Tertiary Pack includes:

  • No fees on an everyday account. While studying Cooperative Bank will waive the transaction fees on your current electronic account
  • Able to get a Debit Mastercard with no annual fee
  • ‘Dosh’ account for savings: offers a competitive savings interest rate for deposits up to $4000
  • Interest-free overdraft of up to $1000


With Kiwibank’s Tertiary Package:

  • No account management or transaction fee on your everyday accounts
  • Able to apply for a Low Rate Visa with a limit of up to $500. No annual account fee for the first year if you take up a Kiwibank Credit Card for the first time
  • A fee-free overdraft of up to $1000 in your first year and up to $2000 in your second and subsequent years
  • Can get a Visa Debit Card with the $10 account fee waived


With BNZ’s YouMoney Tertiary account:

  • No transaction fees
  • Interest-free overdraft up to $1000 for first year students, up to $1500 for second year students and $2000 for third and subsequent year students and graduates


Compare Tertiary Bank Accounts with Canstar


ANZ’s Jumpstart account for students and under 21s:

  • No monthly account or transaction fees
  • Visa Debit card with no annual card fee, plus customise your card for free with any photo
  • Interest-free overdraft of up to $2000


TSB’s Student First Package offers:

  • Everyday account with no monthly management fee
  • Visa Debit Card and Credit Card with no annual fee
  • Use of New Zealand bank-owned ATMs for free

Things to remember

  • Get a student bank account as soon as you can to have access to the benefits highlighted above. Don’t be afraid to go into a bank in person to talk to someone and figure out what your banking needs will be while studying.
  • Plan your finances with a realistic budget, this will help you avoid stress while studying.
  • If you know you have a tendency to overspend or have bad habits when it comes to money, ask your bank to set you a smaller overdraft. The less you borrow, the less chance you have of getting into debt.

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