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Your rights and obligations: When you can cancel a credit contract


Different rights to cancel at different times

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 27–31, 35

You have various rights to cancel a consumer credit contract. The extent of your cancellation rights depends on whether the lender has given you all the information they’re required to in their “disclosure statement”, see “The information you must be given” at the beginning of this section.

If you have been given this information, then you have a “cooling-off period” (usually five working days) immediately after you get that information. You can cancel the contract at any time during this cooling-off period (for more details see below, “Cancelling during the ‘cooling off’ period”).

If you haven’t been given this information, you can cancel at any time. You’ll need to return any goods you’ve received. If you’ve already received services, you’ll have to pay the cash price for the services within 15 working days after cancelling. If the lender gives you all the necessary information later on, and you haven’t already cancelled by then, the cooling-off period starts at that point.

If you cancel, you may have to pay:

  • the lender’s cancellation expenses – but these must be reasonable
  • interest for the time that you had the credit
  • for any damage to goods that happened while you had them.

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, s 29

Note: There’s usually no right to cancel short-term consumer credit contracts – that is, when credit is provided for a period stated in the contract that’s less than two months. There’s also no right to cancel a consumer credit contract on the ground that disclosure hasn’t been made to a guarantor (see “Guarantors”)

Cancelling during the “cooling off” period

Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, ss 27, 28, 30, 31

If you’ve signed a consumer credit contract, the law then gives you a “cooling off” period – usually five working days – during which you can change your mind and cancel the contract.

The length of the cooling-off period depends on how the lender gave you the necessary information:

  • If the paperwork was handed to you directly, you have five working days.
  • If it was sent to you electronically (by email for example), you have seven working days.
  • If it was mailed to you, you have nine working days from the date it was posted.

    Note: The cooling-off period starts once the lender has given you all the information that the law requires. If the lender hasn’t given you all the necessary information, you can cancel the contract at any time.

How do I cancel?

The cancellation must be in writing. It can be worded in any way that shows you intend to cancel the contract. Consumer Protection has a template cancellation notice you can use, on its website www.consumerprotection.govt.nz

What cancelling means for different kinds of credit contracts

If you cancel a consumer credit contract, either during the cooling-off period or when the lender has failed to give you all the information the law requires, you’ll need to do different things depending on the type of credit arrangement it is.

  • If it’s a hire purchase (“credit sale”) for goods or services, your rights will depend on whether you’ve already received the goods or services before you cancel:
    • If you’ve already received the goods or services, you’ll only be able to cancel the credit part of the contract, so you’ll still have to pay the cash price of the goods or services. You’ll have 15 working days to do this after you cancel.
    • If you haven’t already received the goods or services, you can cancel the whole contract, and you won’t have to pay for the goods or services.
  • If it’s a loan, and you’ve already received money under the loan contract, you can cancel the whole contract by returning the money within the cooling-off period.
Next Section | Interest and fees

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Credit and debt

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection helpline: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics. Consumer Protection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).



Phone: 0800 345 123

Email: help@moneytalks.co.nz

MoneyTalks provides free, confidential budgeting support. They can pair you with a financial mentor to help you if you are struggling with debt or need advice on budgeting.



Phone: 0800 345 123

Email: kiaora@fincap.org.nz

FinCap can help you with budgeting information online or on the phone. They may also suggest a local budgeting service to help you with debt and other budgeting issues.

Consumer NZ


Phone: 0800 266 786

Email: info@consumer.org.nz

The Consumer NZ website provides a wide range of information on consumer credit and debt issues, including debt collectors, repossession and bankruptcy

Commerce Commission


Phone: 0800 943 600
Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz
The Commerce Commission enforces the consumer credit legislation (the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act) and the laws against misleading and deceptive conduct by traders (the Fair Trading Act). The Commission provides information on these areas on its website.

It’s All Good


It’s All Good is an animated series produced by The Commerce Commission about consumer rights.

Citizens Advice


Phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)
Citizens Advice Bureaux have volunteers trained in consumer law who can provide information and advice if you have a problem with credit and debt issues.

Dispute resolution schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers.

  • Financial Services Complaints Limited – www.fscl.org.nz
    0800 347 257
  • Email: info@fscl.org.nz
  • Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman –
    Phone: 0800 888 202
  • Email: info@ifso.nz
  • Banking Ombudsman – www.bankomb.org.nz
    0800 805 950
  • Email: help@bankomb.org.nz
  • Financial Dispute Resolution – www.fdrs.org.nz Phone: 0508 337 337
  • Email: enquiries@fdrs.org.nz

Cases in the District Courts

The Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice website has information about civil claims in the District Courts: see www.justice.govt.nz and search “Claims you can take to civil court”.

Credit reporting

Privacy Commission

0800 803 909

The Privacy Commission has information on your rights in relation to credit reporting and how to complain if you feel your rights have been breached.

Your credit record

Three credit reporting companies operate nationally in New Zealand. To check your record or correct any information, you’ll need to contact them all.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit record. You should make sure you choose the free option when you contact each company.

Centrix – www.centrix.co.nz 0800 236 874

Illion – www.illion.co.nz 0800 733 707

Equifax – www.equifax.co.nz 0800 698 332

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)


Search the PPSR register to see if there is any security interest registered against a vehicle. This can be done for a small fee by registering to check online.

Bankruptcy and other options

Insolvency and Trustee Service


Phone: 0508 INSOLVENCY (0508 467 658)

The Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS) deals with bankruptcies, no-asset procedures, summary instalment orders and some company liquidations. Information about those processes is available on its website. The ITS is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

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