In financially stressful times like these, our minds quickly run to those piles of money in KiwiSaver. It’s natural to think about tapping into your KiwiSaver.

Can you withdraw money from KiwiSaver early?

Yes and no. KiwiSaver is there for long-term investing – to help you buy your first home or fund your retirement when you reach 65. It’s not for withdrawing it whenever you want. But there are circumstances where you can access the money, such as applying under the significant financial hardship option.

Withdrawing your KiwiSaver money has long-term effects

“I’m dealing with redundancy, I’ve got people depending on me, I’m just trying to meet personal expenses – that’s what hardship withdrawals are meant to be for, right?”

Definitely. But you want to make sure you exhaust all your other options first. It needs to be a last resort.

Withdrawing now is a big deal, because you miss out on the money that would be yours if you stayed in KiwiSaver. Tens of thousands of dollars could be at stake. (See below.)

So it’s important to not run and do anything hasty. No fear-based, rushed decisions, please.

The response to the COVID-19 crisis includes all sorts of help you can look at before you need to apply for a hardship withdrawal. Use your support system first.

Get advice before you withdraw your KiwiSaver

Often there are alternatives out there we don’t even know about, but because our KiwiSaver fund is ours, we turn there first. But ideally you want to understand all the options and make a good choice.

The MoneyTalks helpline gives you access to expert financial mentors via live chat, phone, email or text:, 0800 345 123, or text 4029. You can even speak with them anonymously.

Your lenders and banks will want to help

Remember that banks and other financial service providers are willing to work with customers who are struggling financially. This could be by restructuring loans or giving access to short-term credit, for example.

You have a legal right to ask for changes to your loan repayments when you are experiencing unforeseen hardship.

Another option: no-interest and low-interest loans

Good Loans is run by Good Shepherd, and these types of loans can even be used for bills and debt to get through, and even by migrant workers. They are a great alternative to high-interest payday loans, for instance.

Government support is available during lockdown

The government has announced a number of relief packages to help us through the COVID-19 crisis. Have a look to see if any can work for you:

If you’ve lost your job, can’t work at the moment or your income has fallen, you may be able to get a benefit or some other financial help from Work and Income. If you’re struggling to meet living costs or had an unexpected bill, they may be able to help you, even if you’re working. Find more information about financial support from Work and Income or call 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week).

How big a deal is it to withdraw from KiwiSaver?

When you’re looking at how much to withdraw, you can run your numbers using our KiwiSaver savings calculator to see how it affects your long-term prospects. Enter your current balance, see what you’re on track to achieve, and then reduce your balance by the amount you want to withdraw. Your final figure will reduce significantly.

To give an idea, let’s say you’re 35 years old and have $22,000 in a KiwiSaver growth fund. If you withdrew $20,000 now, by age 65 you would end up having $74,000 less! That’s a lot to walk away from (even when you adjust for the effects of inflation over that 30 years at 2%, it would still be $41,000 less).

Fraudsters are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis

If you’re aiming to withdraw funds from your KiwiSaver to give to someone else, particularly someone you’ve never met in person, make sure you’re not the target of a scam. A crisis like the one we’re in brings out the worst in some people, and there are frauds out there exploiting the effects of COVID-19. Keep your money safe!

How KiwiSaver hardship withdrawal applications work

In what hardship situations can you withdraw your KiwiSaver early?

You are generally able to withdraw your KiwiSaver savings if you are experiencing financial hardship. This means you are not able to pay your essential living expenses or your mortgage, suffer from serious illness, or have to pay for medical treatment. It can even be for funeral costs in some cases.

The key thing to know is that significant hardship is for when you are unable to meet everyday expenses like food or shelter – but not to pay any of the following:

  • Credit card debt
  • Fines or infringement notices
  • Debt collection agency bills
  • Hire purchase debt for non-essential living expenses
  • Holidays
  • Travel to visit a sick relative.

How much of your KiwiSaver money can you withdraw?

You generally can’t take out any government money that has gone into your KiwiSaver for hardship so you’d only be able to take out money from your contributions, your employer’s and your investment returns. You may only be able to take out a specific amount.

How to apply for a KiwiSaver hardship withdrawal

After you’ve pursued all your options, contact your KiwiSaver provider directly to apply (or if you’ve been in KiwiSaver for less than three months, contact Inland Revenue).

Withdrawing from your KiwiSaver is a big decision and will shape your future in one way or another, so you want to be sure it’s a smart choice.


Comments (65)

Gravatar for Emma


9:50am | 24 Nov 2022

Dave you should transfer your KiwiSaver to another provider, it is really easy to do. Many people do not realise that it is your right to do this as it wasn't properly disclosed when they first signed up!

Gravatar for Dave


9:04am | 11 Nov 2022

I had 5 heart attacks a triple bypass
Became homeless am unable to work and still Westpac won't grant my hardship withdrawal this isn't a short term problem it's been ongoing for over 12 months now.
It appears that some banks are very different to deal with than others.
Westpac are interpreting the rules differently than others and I am not an isolated case when it come to how they deal with hardship withdrawal.

Gravatar for Pauline


3:14am | 7 Sep 2022

KiwiSaver why do you have to apply for hardship? People worked for it, so just give it and it's their money, their choice. How do they know people are going to live that long? Now I hear they are taxing your KiwiSaver. Don't get me wrong, my son had $31,000, and since Covid it's dropped to $26,000, so yeah, seems like they just wanna tax on it. By the time my kids grow up...

Gravatar for

12:57pm | 11 May 2022

I'm a temp worker last week I got 2 days work , this week nothing. I'm currently not on a benefit . I'm 185 dollars behind on my spark bill and if they cancel it I'll have bad credit . Also will have no money for rent going to be living on streets soon

Gravatar for Tom from Sorted

Tom from Sorted

3:52pm | 9 May 2022

Tena koe TWTR, thanks for commenting – we've been going back directly via email to those who have contacted us with support and information. Hardship applications need to be submitted directly to one's KiwiSaver provider, but it's good to be as prepared as possible going in.

Gravatar for TWTR


4:16pm | 8 May 2022

I see a lot of struggle has anyone been helped or has this services called or emailed you in any way for feedback?

Gravatar for Nes


8:57am | 23 Mar 2022

Struggling to get food on the table each week. Is this compliant as hardship?

Gravatar for

12:40pm | 1 Mar 2022

So they recommended going further into debt before withdrawing kiwisaver money, but you can't withdraw money to pay debts. What a wonderful scam.

Gravatar for Mary-Lucy


10:04pm | 17 Feb 2022

Hi I've just been declined a hardship withdrawal from my provider even though a budgeting service showed that each week I was short by -$279 per week. ( which was part of their criteria ) . I applied for this because in august I did not qualify for the wage subsidy back in August. Which left me short and having to use my savings. Now I'm left with no money and owing on just my personal expenses. Which will be cut off soon. Power, water, sky. Internet. Please help

Gravatar for Hannah


6:09pm | 3 Feb 2022

Hi how do I know who is holding my KiwiSaver as I have move & I don’t work anymore plus I have moved bank would my new bank be able to help me with hardship withdrawal