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 (42)

Gravatar for Simon patterson

Simon patterson

4:37pm | 7 Nov 2021

I'm in hardship I have been told I have 30% lung function and am not aloud to go back to work. I would like to apply for getting my kiwisaver back. How do I go about this please

Gravatar for Warren


11:51am | 7 Nov 2021

What about paying vet bills for expensive surgery?

Gravatar for Julia Urwin

Julia Urwin

4:29pm | 30 Oct 2021

I am 63 and on a caregivers benefit so as to look after my chronically ill daughter and her family. Before that I looked after my terminally ill daughter, and her family, who died from a blood cancer 3 years ago. Can I withdraw some of my KiwiSaver?

Gravatar for Ryan


1:30am | 13 Oct 2021

I am 28 beneficiary struggling to pay my way and live always run out of food and money I want to apply for hardship as my kiwisaver has 20,000 I would like to apply for my debt as well it is crippling and makes life hard to see any light from this hole of debt

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1:04pm | 8 Oct 2021

What would happen if I got some out but got my super transfered to my kiwisaver? Just behind on rent an need work gears seasonal worker not here usually this time of year

Gravatar for Troy marsh

Troy marsh

7:05pm | 4 Oct 2021

I need help as I can't even afford to pay my rent and are very behind in rent and are worried about becoming homeless

Gravatar for Thomas Martin

Thomas Martin

2:39pm | 11 Sep 2021

Hi I'm 28years old, I'm struggling to meet financial grounds, I have 5 kids my partner works full time but I'm having trouble finding a solid stable job past 2 years, I'm temping at the moment but I also have 33k in my kiwsaver, I have alot of debts and my family could really use that money for things we need,

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Morara Kara

4:32pm | 27 Aug 2021

some people wont get to make 65 which is sad to say we work hard only to be entitled to payments that we have to give back to the government when theyre taking lump sum of tax....

Gravatar for Nasreen Kamran

Nasreen Kamran

2:30pm | 25 Aug 2021

Hi I am struggling do to lockdown to pay my bill and living cost so I want to apply for my kiwisawer

Gravatar for Anonymous


9:37pm | 27 Jul 2021

My name is ree and I would like to apply for financial hardship