Banking for foreigners in Korea.
The major banks in Korea are the Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), Woori Bank, KB Bank, Shinhan Bank and Citibank. Most banks have a currency exchange section and ATMs that can be used to withdraw money from an international card.
The currency in Korea is the called the South Korean won. For more information and pictures, click here. When travelling to Korea on holiday it is always recommended to bring some cash with you. There are many currency exchange banks at Incheon Airport and scattered around Seoul and other cities.
To take money out at an ATM machine it must have a sign located above or on the ATM machine that says international cards, cirrus, visa etc(see right picture). Use the ATMS located inside the banks. Before you leave for Korea it is best to check with your bank to see if your card can be used to withdraw money in Korea. Cards with the Cirrus or Maestro logo will work in Korea.
Opening a bank account in Korea:
Opening a bank account is a very straight forward process in Korea. You can open a bank account on a tourist visa. However if you open an account with a tourist visa you will have very limited banking options. If you have a working visa, student visa etc it is very easy to open an account. To find out how to open a bank account in Korea, visit our Bank Account Page.
Banking Hours in Korea:
Banks in Korea are open from 9am until 4pm. The lobby area is usually open from 8am until 10pm but this changes depending on the bank and location. Some banks run a special service where they are open at the weekends or 24 hours a day.
Using the ATM machines in Korea:
Nearly all ATM machines have English. If you are using a foreign card you must look for an ATM machine that has a logo or sticker saying “Global ATM”. They are usually only to be found in the bank lobby or tourist areas. Most ATM machines turn off for the night usually after 10 pm so it is best to take out enough money at the start of the night.
Exchanging Money in Korea:
Most banks have a foreign currency exchange service and to change money all you need is one form of i.d. A passport or alien registration card is best. Go to the currency exchange section and take a ticket or go to the counter. There is nearly always someone who can speak English. The whole thing should take less than 5 minutes.
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