Vietnam, a vibrant linear country in Southeast Asia along the South China Sea, enchants with its breath-taking natural beauty. From the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the tranquil Ha Long Bay to the lush landscapes of the Mekong Delta… this country offers an adventure for every traveler! To navigate this fascinating country with ease, you will need an ultimate guide on money in Vietnam. Here’s the scoop on getting local cash in Vietnam, ATMs, cash or cards, fees, and payment options to explore Vietnam without breaking the bank!
Will I need cash in Vietnam or can I use only card?
Simply put: Its a clear 50-50, for foreigners. So, if you’re travelling from the US, UK, Europe, India or any other country, you’ll need to use an ATM or a currency exchange on arrival and get local money in Vietnam for expenses.
You’ll need cash money for…
- Small purchases
- Street food vendors
- Food from local restaurants, even some sit-down
- Street shopping
- Many tour operators
- Many hostels and budget hotels
- Visa on Arrival (in VND or USD) (if this is applicable for you)
- Tuk-tuks and local taxis
- Public buses
- Local trains
You can swipe your card at…
- Fancy sit-down restaurants
- Good looking coffee shops
- Upmarket hotels
- Expensive tour operators
- Professional pre-paid taxi booking services
- Tailoring services
It is common for Vietnamese merchants to charge extra fees to swipe your foreign cards. Take a quick call to see if it is cheaper to withdraw money from the ATM or bear the swipe fees.
Pro-tip: Larger expenses – use a card. For day-to-day regular expenses – have cash.
Which currency is accepted? Can I use US Dollar, Euros or Pounds in Vietnam?
Vietnam mainly accepts its local currency Vietnamese Dong (VND or ₫). Don’t be shocked with notes like 10,000, 20,000 and 500,000! These are denominations but their value is insignificantly low compared to the US Dollar, Euro or Pound.
You can use US Dollars for…
- Visa on Arrival and Visa Fees (ensure good notes). You can pay in Dong too.
- Some resorts, hotels and local shops that quote prices in US Dollar. But if you pay in US Dollar and not in Dong, exchange rate in these payments will be poor. So pay in Dong unless you like losing a lot of money!
You can use Euros or Pounds for…
- Pretty much nothing! Euros or Pounds are hardly accepted in Vietnam so don’t rely on this!
Also read: Can I withdraw US dollars or euros abroad from an ATM?
How to get the local currency money - Vietnamese Dong?
There are 2 main ways to get the cash in Vietnam. They are:
- ATMs, or
- Currency exchange
Pro-tip: Avoid buying Dong in your home country. It’s not a popular currency so it’ll be hard to find at home and if you do, the exchange rate will be poor.
ATMs in Vietnam and where do I find them?
There are 21,000+ ATMs in Vietnam. These are operated by 25+ commercial and specialised banks including some foreign banks too. You can find hoards of them in cities and definitely a few options in smaller towns (at least 1-2 ATMs) to get money in Vietnam. But if you’re heading to far off places, islands, don’t expect to find them. ATM are common at:
- Major airports
- Market and town squares
- Main tourist streets of every major town
- Shopping malls
- Food lanes
- Bank branches
- Some corporate buildings
These are the places where it will be difficult to find ATMs:
- Small airports
- Regional bus stops
- Interior of the villages
- In small towns, off the main streets
- Religious places
- Remote resorts and retreats
ATMs in Vietnam will typically have a sign in English called “ATM” along with the bank name. E.g. TP Bank ATM (ATM of TP Bank), Vietcombank ATM (ATM of Vietcombank). Also, many might not have the word “ATM” at all. It can simply just have the name of the bank, so familiarise yourself with common bank names with the ATM Fee Saver app.
Currency exchanges in Vietnam and where do I find them?
There are so many options for this. You can use these 4 places to exchange money in Vietnam:
- Gold shops: Yes, you read that right! This is peculiar to Vietnam and few other South East Asian countries. Gold shops in Vietnam commonly exchange currencies and the exchange rates are surprisingly very good with no fees. You can find them at Hanoi’s Old Quarter at Ha Trung and Hang Bo streets, Hoi An’s main shopping street, Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen An Ninh Street.
- Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations branded as currency exchanges. Ask to see their authorisation certificate and check if they ask you for documents. These are signs of an authorised exchange centre.
- Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Dong, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
- Hotels and airports: Airports have lots of currency exchanges and so do many large and small hotels. But the exchange rates are not great. Some large hotels may offer rates similar to banks but smaller hotels near the Old quarter of Hanoi or beaches will definitely have higher fees and lower rates.
- Don’t exchange at airports – Rates are poor
- Don’t exchange at black market – You’re likely to be scammed
- Bring new notes – Damaged, dirty notes will get you lesser rates or higher fees
- For US Dollar – Rates for larger bill is higher
Are currency exchanges and ATMs in Vietnam open 24x7?
ATMs – Yes, they almost always are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Many of them are standalone ATMs so accessing them any time of the day or week shouldn’t be an issue. Some inside bank branches may be open only between 9 am to 3 pm.
Currency exchanges are not open 24×7. You will find them open typically between 9 am and 7 pm, except at airports. So if you need to get money in Vietnam and prefer exchanging currency, be mindful of the timings.
Use ATMs in Vietnam with foreign debit and credit cards? And currency exchanges also?
Yes! ATMs in Vietnam are very friendly to foreign cards.
Authorised money changers also tend to accept credit and debit cards. But typically this comes with high fees. So its best avoided and exchanged with cash notes.
Which type of cards are accepted in Vietnam?
ATMs in Vietnam will mainly accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, JCB and UnionPay. A handful of ATMs accept only Visa or only Mastercard, so try and get at least one of each type. Don’t expect a lot of them to accept Amex or Diners cards.
To swipe, Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. You may be able to use your Amex only at a handful of places.
Currency exchanges prefer hard cash for exchange, especially at gold shops. Visa is accepted at many places, mastercard next. Please be mindful of the fees you will pay if you use your card at a currency exchange.
Are ATMs in Vietnam similar to other countries?
Yes, very much. Vietnamese ATMs are modern and look and work similar to those in US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Some of them take your card inside fully during the transaction so don’t forget to take it after withdrawing cash at such ATMs.
ATMs can also offer you the option of currency conversion with ‘With Conversion’/’Accept Conversion’ or ‘Without Conversion’/’Decline Conversion’. It’s generally advisable to opt for ‘Without Conversion’ or ‘Decline Conversion’ to avoid optional extra fees.
Banks with ATMs in Vietnam
The most popular ATMs in Vietnam are:
- TP Bank
- VP Bank
- MB Bank
There are other banks with ATMs that also accept international debit and credit cards.
Some international banks also have their ATMs in Vietnam, namely:
- Shinhan Bank
Global ATM alliance: Global ATM Alliance is a partnership among many banks in the world to allow its customers to withdraw cash from all partner banks abroad without any ATM fee. Many banks in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America are part of the Global ATM Alliance, including Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and others. BUT, there is no local bank in Vietnam part of this network. So don’t rely on this.
Vietnam ATMs, PINs type and cards stripes
Vietnamese ATMs accept 4-digit and 6-digit PINs. This also needs to be a chip-and-pin card.
Also, many merchants used old machines which require a magnetic stripe on the card and not just a chip-and-pin card.
ATMs in Vietnam allow 3 language options by default – Vietnamese, English, and Cantonese. You get to choose this option at the start of the transaction itself. Don’t expect any other foreign language options. If you don’t understand these languages, it’s cool. Use Google Translate’s camera function and translate the options on your phone, live! Note – These translations are not always 100% accurate, so take your time and don’t rush through the transaction.
At currency exchange places, you can interact in the 3 languages mentioned above too to get your money in Vietnam.
Withdrawal limits and ATM fees in Vietnam
Withdrawal limit: ATMs typically restrict the withdrawal per transaction from ₫ 2 million to ₫ 5 million. Most common is ₫ 3 million. Handful of ATMs allow ₫ 9 million to ₫ 20 million.
ATM fees: Here’s the good news! In Vietnam, the range of ATM fees goes from ₫ 0 to ₫ 66000. Which means there are some ATM brands that charge absolutely no fees!
Don’t forget: When utilizing ATMs abroad, you may encounter four distinct types of fees:
- ATM Usage Fee and Currency Conversion Fee from the ATM side
- Foreign Transaction Fee and Currency Conversion Fee (Forex Mark-up Fee) from your bank
Opting for fee-free ATMs can save you significant amounts, since some charge no fees at all. So how do you find them?
Find free ATMs in Vietnam with ATM Fee Saver
You can find the fee-free ATMs in Vietnam with ATM Fee Saver mobile and web app. The app shows ATMs in Vietnam with their fees for foreign card holders along with withdrawal limits.
Even better, you can use its easy calculator to know the exact fees you need to pay for specific withdrawal of money in Vietnam. Once you pick an ATM, the app guides you to it from where you are using the navigator. It covers info for 50 countries, including Vietnam.
Best ways to avoid high fees at currency exchanges and ATMs in Vietnam
- Use fee-free ATMs in the country.
- Use the ATM Fee Saver app to find fee-free or low-fee ATMs.
- Opt for “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” during ATM transactions.
- Consider getting fee-free cards from your home country.
For more in-depth insights and alternative methods, check out our detailed article, Withdrawing cash abroad? 9 best ways to save foreign ATM fees.
For currency exchanges:
- Avoid no-fee exchange offices at all costs to get money in Vietnam – If they say no fee, which means they account for their fee in the exchange rate. Nothing is ever free in currency exchanges
- Avoid using credit and debit cards for direct transactions
- Don’t buy Dong in your home country – Its not a popular currency and you’ll get poor exchange rates
- Don’t carry a lot of Dong back home – Again, exchange rate to sell will be poor. And mostly, it wont even be bought back by currency exchanges outside of Vietnam.
Is it safe to carry cash around in Vietnam? Are ATMs safe?
Safety wise, carrying a sensible amount of cash money in Vietnam is quite alright. And necessary. To safely carry cash during your travels in Vietnam, consider these tips:
- Distribute your cash in multiple places, rather than keeping it all in one wallet or pocket.
- Use a safety belt or fanny pack for some of your cash.
- Avoid displaying a large amount of cash publicly.
- When making payments, don’t show all your cash at once.
- Opt to store your wallet in front pockets for better safety.
- Be very careful with your bags, wallets, and purses in crowded public spaces like party streets, trains, and buses.
With respect to ATMs. In general, yes it is safe. Instances of skimming are not blatant but it can happen sometimes that the ATM eats up your card. For safety when using ATMs in Vietnam:
- Use ATMs at bank branches: For faster resolutions if your card is stuck in the ATM
- Carry two cards: So if one card faces an issue, you have a backup
- Monitor your card transactions regularly: To report unauthorized transactions immediately
- Avoid public wi-fi for sensitive transactions
- Keep your card in sight at all times: To avoid handing your card to merchants who take it where you can’t see them
Golden rule of spending in Vietnam
Bargain. And then bargain some more.
In Vietnam, bargaining is the jam! Why? Because the concept of “fixed price” is fluid in Vietnam. Quoted prices are usually much higher compared to the actual price. It is not offensive if you learn the trick and do it politely. In fact, vendors expect it and welcome it. Locals do it too.
Now bargaining might sound a bit exhausting to a novice, but it is super fun if you get into it. Especially because even though you think it’s “cheap” in dollars, euros or pounds, it isn’t really in the local market and you’ll land up paying what the locals call “foreigners’ tax!”
So be smart and get on the bargaining bandwagon. After all they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” for a reason!
Are there Bitcoin ATMs in Vietnam?
As of today, there are approximately 7 Bitcoin ATMs in Vietnam, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City.
Are US, UK, Europe, Australia and other credit cards accepted in Vietnam?
Absolutely yes! You can usually use credit cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries at ATMs in Vietnam. Most ATMs accept major cards like Visa, MasterCard. American Express and Diners are going to be harder to be accepted. Just look for the symbols on the ATMs – they’ll show you which cards are accepted.
It’s smart to tell your bank you’re traveling and check if your card works at ATMs, especially in smaller places. But in general, you should be able to get cash in Vietnam with your foreign card at many ATMs.
Make sure your cards have a magnetic stripe, and a 4-digit or 6-digit PIN for a smooth transaction.
Can I withdraw cash in Vietnam free of cost?
Yes, there are 3 banks that do not charge any fees to foreign card holders. They are popular and have many ATMs across the country. Use ATM Fee Saver to find those free ATMs and get your money in Vietnam. Of course, there might be fees from your bank and also from the ATM if you “accept conversion” offered by that ATM. So hit “Decline Conversion” or “Without Conversion” when the ATM offers you that option, and you will have no extra fees, from the ATM’s side.
Are there any Bank of America ATMs in Vietnam?
No, there are no Bank of America ATMs in Vietnam.
Any Citibank ATMs in Vietnam?
Yes, but only 3-4 so they are going to be hard to find. So don’t rely on it to get cash in Vietnam.
Any Barclays bank ATMs in Vietnam?
No, there is no Barclays bank ATM in Vietnam. But you can use a Barclays bank card at local ATMs of a local Vietnamese bank.
Any HSBC ATMs in Vietnam?
Yes, there are many HSBC ATMs in Vietnam, mostly in the bigger cities of the country.
Any Standard Chartered ATMs in Vietnam?
Yes, but only 1-2 so they are going to be hard to find. So this is not really an option to get money in Vietnam.