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 (52)

Gravatar for Deborah Stagg

Deborah Stagg

8:57am | 25 Jan 2022

Hi am applying for hardship as I have been off work to years. I don’t keep good heath and I can not get assistance from WINZ. I need your help

Gravatar for Felicity Cusack

Felicity Cusack

9:56am | 23 Jan 2022

Hi could someone ring me to offer assistance for a hardship loan on my kiwisaver.

Gravatar for Macey-Lee Wawatai

Macey-Lee Wawatai

8:47pm | 19 Jan 2022

I'm 39 and struggling to pay my board as I've been off work for nearly a month, finding it hard to get through each week, was also wondering if I could buy a first car too.. so I start new job as they most say need own transport.
I have a bad credit rating so I have no other way of getting this loan.
So I'm asking if I can apply for hardship as my kiwisaver has $27,998.71

Gravatar for

8:33pm | 19 Jan 2022

I am 39 going on 40. Can you help me to buy a first car. I have no job and not planning on hoping on the unemployed benefit anytime soon, plus if I could get a hand to pay my board as I'm a couple weeks behind and help pay back my friends that gave me the money to survive till now, I have 27,998.71 in my kiwisaver

Gravatar for Julia


2:30pm | 19 Jan 2022

Hi I am applying for hardship cause I have been getting texts from Intercollegiate for a standing bill of $1,000.
Plz help me bad enough winz won't give me a food grant they always say you need hardship. Plz help me

Gravatar for Michael Michie

Michael Michie

2:10pm | 17 Jan 2022

Can I talk to someone about kiwasaving hardship as I need a Lil helping hand I just brought a farm and things need time to take off plz

Gravatar for No wof no reg all worries

No wof no reg all worries

9:01am | 3 Jan 2022

My cars just died on me, sick of buying models before 2010, i have 3 kids full time and want a bigger car for them for everything a car can do for us and want to buy a new or close to used new car or truck off the bat, i have dented credit
so finance is out. I keep buying cheap cars (3 last year) but with parts, labour, maintainance,gas and a.p bills not to mention rent for a solo father savings out, i dont amoke or drink and other substances or have fancy things, a new car aint matereal its needed for school coming up(4km aways aint walking 16km in the rain or every day) pak n save run and at the ready for hospitals emergencies. Want a vehicle that will last years and years low ks somwthing the kids love and practicle for my whanau to better ourselves

Gravatar for Joseph


11:48pm | 25 Dec 2021

I need money for new car so I can take my kids out and get work I lost my job because I don't have car and some money so I can take them out and pay all my bills.

Gravatar for

11:56pm | 22 Dec 2021

I'm in hardship I am a sole parent living in emergency housing it's been really tough with bills needing to pay some
Debts of my daughter's 5th birthday on the 30th I'm feeling really stressed. been to budget advice dragging my daughter around town trying to exhaust all that I needed to get but unfortunately my daughter wasn't able to walk everywhere with me was very buggered and I don't blame her either I just need some help please thanks

Gravatar for Anzac ilalio

Anzac ilalio

6:11am | 17 Dec 2021

I need money for my brother wedding next February