Just a few years ago, it was hard to find an ATM in Ho Chi Minh’s streets but these days they are almost everywhere: in the shopping malls, near restaurants, bars and convenience stores. The majority of ATMs belong to local Vietcombank but you can also find many foreign banks’ ATMs of ANZ, CitiBank and HSBC.
Withdrawing money with your home country’s bank card
There is no problem with finding ATMs which accept Visa (Plus) cards, but it might be a little bit more difficult to find an ATM accepting Maestro (MasterCard) or Cirrus. To easily find your nearest ATM, you can visit MasterCard’s ATM locator or Visa’s ATM locator.
Before arriving to Vietnam make sure that your card has a magnetic strip on the back as chip-and-pin cards probably will not work in most Vietnamese cash machines. The main difference is with the length of PIN, Vietnamese bank cards have 6-digit-long PIN. You can easily solve this problem by adding two zeros in front of your card’s PIN but it does not always work, so you better ask your bank for advice. Remember to let your bank know that you are going to use your card abroad, otherwise they might take it as suspicious activity and freeze it.
Limits and fees
Most of the Vietnamese banks’ ATMs have a 2 million VND limit per single withdrawal outside Ho Chi Minh, and 4 million VND limit inside the city. The foreign banks have higher limits for one withdrawal – ANZ in Ho Chi Minh has 10 million VND limit, CitiBank has limits between 5 and 8.5 million VND (depending on the location – airports usually have a higher limit), HSBC has a limit of 4.8 million VND. If your home bank also has transaction limits, check with them before you arrive in Vietnam.
ATMs owed by the Vietnamese banks charge between 40,000 and 66,000 VND as a single withdrawal fee, so it is much better to get more cash at once rather than getting a few transactions. Foreign banks’ fees are usually at the same level or sometimes a big higher, depending on the bank. Also, your home bank may charge you fees for foreign transaction.
Vietnamese ATMs mostly dispense only Dong but might sometimes ask you if you want to be charged with your home currency – always say no as the exchange rate would be much lower than the mid-market one!
How to reduce or avoid fees
- Check if your home bank has a partnership with Vietnamese bank.
- Use ANZ, CitiBank or HSBC.
- Use a fee-free card.
- Pay with debit card instead credit card.
- Use TransferWise.
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The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), which symbol is ₫ . The VND is one of the world’s highest denominated currency, so do not worry if you see high prices with many digits for staples, and also do not get too happy seeing how much Dongs you can get for £1!
£1= 31,838.94 VND (as of 14/03/2018 – you can check the latest exchange rate here). The most used banknotes are from 500 to 500,000 VND, so be prepared to have a lot of them in your wallet because of the various denominations of VND. If a shop vendor is giving you change in coins – refuse them! Coins are out of use and then you would have problems with spending them, as they are accepted only in some banks.
We recommend you exchange some money before coming to Vietnam to get you through the first few days. You will usually need about 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 VND (approximately £47 to £63) for your first week. American Dollars are also accepted in Vietnam but it is not a good idea to pay with that currency. The local shops, restaurants and taxi divers have their own “exchange rate”, which is much different from the bank one, so you can easily end up paying more.
If you brought some cash in your national currency with you, you can easily exchange it in the bank with your passport or at a money exchange – we can recommend suitable places. When changing your money – make sure that you check and count the amount you have received before leaving the shop to make sure it is correct. If bringing in cash – please not the custom limits on the amount of cash you can bring into Vietnam:
Local Currency: Amounts exceeding VND 15,000,000 must be declared on arrival
Foreign Currency: Amounts exceeding USD 5,000 (or equivalent) must be declared on arrival
Using your bank card
If you brought your bank card with you, you can withdraw money from the ATM. There are many ATMs across the city including international banks such as HSBC & Standard Chartered. The charge ranges between 40,000 and 66,000 VND (this depends on the specific banks). Your Visa (Plus) card should work fine in every ATM, Maestro (MasterCard) and Cirrus are less common. Alternatively, you can use Transferwise, which is s very cheap option, as well as other tried and tested currency cards such as Monzo and Starling Travel Card.
Cash or card?
Card payments are widely accepted in most of Ho Chi Minh’s modern businesses and hotels. But if you want to get a taste of city’s street food, you better get cash. When paying with your card, you will be asked if you want to be charged in VND or in your home currency. Always choose to pay in VND, as it is much cheaper.
Always remember to let your bank know that you are going to use your card outside your country, so they will not see your withdrawals in Vietnam as suspicious and block your card! When paying with cash, make sure you use the right banknote, as some of them have almost identical colour. And remember to ask for your change!
Can I get a local bank account?
If you are looking to access your cash locally then there is an option for you. A Timo Card is an app based banking system (linked to VP Bank) that it very simple to set up. You simply sign up online, arrange an appointment and then go to the Timo Hangout with your passport and valid visa to complete the paper work. You can easily transfer into the account from overseas using TransferWise to be able to access money locally. The advantage of this, is you can use the card to top up your Grab Pay Credits, top up your phone as well as using it in shops without the mounting extra charges.
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If you are coming to Vietnam and wondering how to transfer money from your home country without being charged huge fees, there is an answer – Transferwise. Transferwise is a peer-to-peer platform that allows sending money internationally for individuals as well as businesses without hidden costs and for much lower fees than other such type companies. The company supports over 300 currency routes worldwide and also provides multi-currency accounts.
Transferwise already passed the test with our InternChina offices, which host interns from all over the world, helping them pay internship fees from their home country and then receiving money during their stay in China with very profitable transfer.
Transferwise started their operations in Vietnam not long time ago (in August 2016) but have already made this country one of their busiest markets in the Asia Pacific region.
How it works
The transfer fee for sending money to Vietnam with Transferwise is 1.5% (or 95,000 VND for transfers under 6,300,000 VND), the money will take maximum 2 days to arrive at the recipient’s account. So it is much cheaper and quicker than a traditional bank. Before you make the transfer, you can check how much money you will have after transferring it into the new currency, how much of a fee will you have to pay and then compare the prices with other platforms or banks. If it turns out that Transferwise is the best option for you, all you need to know to make the transfer is the recipient’s full name (English), Local Account Number, Branch Code and BIC/SWIFT Code.
If you want to get more information on how it works with Transferwise, please see this video:
Or visit their website.
Interested in doing internship in Vietnam? Why not Apply Now!