How much cash are you carrying right now?

New research has revealed New Zealanders’ love affair with cards hasn’t wiped out their connection with cash

New Zealanders are known for leading the world in taking up new payment technologies. We led with EFTPOS 35 years ago and cards are still the most popular way to pay, with card transactions increasing year-on-year. But Kiwis are still keeping some cash in their purses and wallets.

Bank of New Zealand’s new research, the BNZ Consumer Insight Special Report, shows just how much and why we still use cold, hard cash.

The amount of cash most New Zealanders like to have handy is $70.

paul carter2
Paul Carter, BNZ Chief Customer Officer Consumer & Wealth

“How much cash we carry, what we use it for, and how we use other payment technologies differs by age, gender, and interestingly where we live,” says BNZ Chief Customer Officer Consumer & Wealth, Paul Carter.

“This report shows us New Zealand is in line with global demographic trends. Around the world, studies show that young people are typically less dependent on cash and are more likely to have adopted electronic and cashless options than older people.

“Understanding the changing dynamics of our population and the ways they choose to engage with the world is crucial for all businesses of all sizes to succeed,” says Carter.

Some of the findings about how New Zealanders differ when it comes to carrying cash include:


  • Men carry more cash than women ($89 v. $52)


  • 39-49-year olds carry the most ($79)
  • Over 50s — $68
  • 18-29s — $61


  • Aucklanders carry the most ($101), well ahead of Wellington ($69) the next highest
  • People living in Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay carry the least ($32)


  • People with household incomes of $75-$100,000 carry the most ($130)
  • People either side of this bracket – $50-$75,000 and over $100,000 – both carry $62
  • People with household incomes of less than $35,000 carried the least ($53)

“The main reason Kiwis carry cash is for emergencies, with 40 per cent telling us that’s why they keep cash handy. They also keep some for small transactions and for those times when the kids are after a bit of spending money,” says Carter.

There’s also a clear relationship between the way we pay for things with cash and their cost.

“If you’re going to buy something like a cup of coffee, around 40 per cent of people say they’ll use cash for those small transactions under five dollars. But that quickly drops away – just 20 per cent use cash when spending up to $20. If you’re going to buy something big, only one per cent of us use cash for purchases over $500.

“We also asked people if they were offered $1000, how they’d want it. Nearly 70 per cent of people wanted to keep their options open and get it as a transfer into their bank account, with only about 20 per cent of us wanting it in cash,” says Carter.

Read the full BNZ Consumer Insight Special Report [PDF 374KB]