ATMs in Vietnam
Despite the fact that you can choose to bank in either U.S. dollars or Vietnamese dong, and while both currencies are accepted in most establishments, ATMs will only dispense Vietnamese dong. The current maximum withdrawal amount is 4 million VND. A 20,000 VND surcharge is usually added if you are withdrawing from a bank other than your own. ANZ ATMs offer a much larger withdrawal amount, while other banks limit their withdrawal amount to 2 million VND. You can immediately go back for more cash, but make sure it is within the withdrawal amount your bank allows.
Vietcombank has the best ATM network in the country, Agribank, Vietin Bank and Sacombank are also well linked across Vietnam. Most branches will have a leaflet with a list of their ATMs all over the country.
You should also advise your bank at home if you are planning on using ATMs in Vietnam, as ATMs use the magnetic strip rather than chip and pin technology. Please note that many businesses will not accept torn notes, so be careful when you receive your cash and make sure that none of the notes are badly damaged.
Visa, Mastercard and JCB are now widely accepted in Vietnam, especially in typically touristy or expat areas. A 3% commission charge is standard and those businesses which accept Amex often add on an extra 4%. HIgher end hotels and restaurants don’t usually add the additional charge.
For a cash advance using one of the above cards, you can visit most Vietcombank branches in big cities, and some foreign banks in Hanoi or HCM. If you are opening a Vietnamese bank account it is relatively easy to apply for a credit card at the same time. Please refer to our article on opening an account for more information.
Exchanging money in Vietnam
The black market operates quite liberally in Vietnam, so many shops will happily exchange money, usually dong for dollar or vice versa. While it is officially illegal, the law enforcement is virtually nonexistent, and ironically, exchange rates are usually worse on the black market than in official exchangers. You are thus better off exchanging money at a legal and legitimate exchanger, because the only benefit of the black market is the convenience of being able to
choose when and where you exchange your money.
If you are confronted by people on the street offering to exchange money for a better rate than the official one, it is too good to be true. Either by short-changing you, giving you fake notes or tricking you with the domination of notes, you will be the victim of a scam, so you should avoid these street exchangers at all costs.